Negotiating a Personal Idiom
Early in graduate school, I decided to train as a psychoanalyst. That choice had a long and in some ways, natural history; both my parents were Freudian analysts. I had grown up with psychoanalytic jargon in my ears, had listened at the perimeter to the complex and intriguing conversations of my parents’ analyst friends. Something special and a bit mysterious was going on in their frustratingly soundproof offices and I wanted to be part of it. And so, when a high school English teacher introduced me to the fundamentals of psychoanalytic thought, I followed my father’s intellectual tradition (he was also a literature scholar) by trying to apply it to Dostoyevsky. Being only 16, I didn’t do it very well. But my father encouraged me, implicitly inviting me into the grownup world and symbolically letting me know I could succeed there. That invitation would become crucial to my professional identity.