Papers by Allen M. Siegel, MD
Theory Is Personal
“In “Theory Is Personal,” Allen Siegel M.D., a Chicago psychoanalyst and Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center, shares the very personal story of how he came to his theory. Sometimes, we find our theory. Other times, Siegel argues, it is our theory that finds us. In this chapter Siegel catalogues his early encounters with figures historical and real, from Sigmund Freud to influential department chairs to an analyst who would become legendary for introducing a bold new theory into the psychoanalytic canon. Charting key experiences that shaped his adoption of this new approach—a depression in response to his first patient, a clinical treatment with Heinz Kohut, and exposure to others who dared to challenge Freud—Siegel describes the theory that brought both himself and his patients to life. After outlining the principles that guide the new theory and practice known as self psychology, Siegel tells of the empathic ambiance that can now emerge in the consulting room. Finally, he shows how this new theory of human motivation provides not merely a rationale for psychotherapy but an explanatory apparatus for understanding human action in the world beyond the consulting room. He turns to a brief study of aggression and war as expressed in a 1932 correspondence between Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud to illustrate how the understanding of aggression and war changes significantly when empathy is the field’s data collecting instrument.”
The Turn of the Screw: Henry James and Contemporary Psychoanalysis
“It is no secret that Sigmund Freud’s ideas have been roundly attacked during the last 20 years, however I believe that his contribution has been roundly misunderstood. While Freud’s work does hold a number of issues that merit criticism, his central and, I believe, irrefutable contribution will stand the test of time. Freud’s central enduring conceptualization is that human thought, feeling, and behavior are motivated by non-conscious forces, within the human mind, which are entirely outside of human awareness. This idea is such an enormously important step within the advance of our self knowledge that it ranks with the Copernican notion of the heliocentric galaxy and with Darwin’s ideas of natural selection and its evolutionary outcome. “
A Wrinkle in Time: Narcissism, Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and a 16th Century Kabbalistic Myth
“A torrent of recent news reports suggests that narcissism is on the rise. Pundits find proof of this “ominous calamity” in the explosive growth of social media where self-preoccupation assumes that trumpeting once private matters interests the entire world. These pundits find further proof in “reality shows” that reveal the private in public and cite the selfie craze as yet another example of the narcissism tsunami.
“I take issue with these dire warnings. I’m certain narcissism is the same as it’s always been. The tsunami is not of narcissism but of the technology that’s fostered an instant flow of information once held close.”