A Self-Psychological Approach to the Study of Biography

The Interplay of Narratives in Psychoanalysis and Biography


Address for correspondence: Sandra G. Hershberg, MD, Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, Training and Supervising Analyst, 6317 Kenhowe Drive, Bethesda, Maryland 20817. hershbs@erols.com


This chapter is an exploration of the psychoanalytic aspects of biography and the biographical aspects of psychoanalysis. The narratives that emerge from biography and psychoanalytic treatment incorporate elements of empathy, ideology (theory), and transference/countertransference and are co-constructed within an intersubjective field involving the subjectivities of both participants, the biographer and her subject and the analyst and her analysand. I will provide examples that demonstrate the way in which these processes play out in the biographical realm. Correspondingly, I will illustrate the way in which the analyst's biography and analysand's autobiography change in the course of the psychoanalytic treatment. Salient differences between biographical and psychoanalytic endeavors are also discussed.