In the Shadow of Freud’s Couch: Portraits of Psychoanalysts in Their Offices is part memoir, part history, part case study, and part self-analysis. It is the culmination of psychoanalyst and photographer Mark Gerald’s fifteen-year project of photographing psychoanalysts in their offices across 27 cities and 10 countries and forms a complex portrait of psychoanalysis today.
The book is about as much of an insider’s look at the profession as one is likely to ever get, especially into a world often obscured by its confidential nature and clouded by outdated stereotypes.
Overcoming those stereotypes is definitely one of the books key strengths. Gerald has been quoted as saying, “I found psychoanalysis extremely vibrant and current and yet it was being talked about in popular culture and some mental health circles as very passé—something of the 19th century, something that had really seen its heyday and was over. I didn’t feel that way. People I saw coming into the field were a very diverse group of people and that wasn’t being shown in pop culture and the movies. It was always the old European-voiced white man with a beard silently taking notes. I wanted to show what I was experiencing,” he said.
In his artist statement, Gerald writes about his intersecting life as a psychoanalyst and photographer: “I have always been interested in seeing people in their surface appearance, and in the deeper sense of who they are. Both psychoanalysts and photographers try to attain a vision of their subjects that is rich in the complexity and interaction between what is shown and what is concealed. Attending to how people present themselves in their facial expressions, body language, attire, and what they chose to surround themselves with can result in a clearer picture of the multifaceted nature of the self.”
In the Shadow of Freud’s Couch showcases a diversity of analysts: male and female and classical and contemporary. The book explores how the growing variety in both analysts and patient groups, and changes in schools of thought have been reflected in these intimate spaces, and how the choices analysts make in their office arrangements can have real effects on treatment.
Along with the presentation of over fifty environmental portraits of psychoanalysts in their offices, Mark Gerald explores the powerful relational foundations of theory and clinical technique, the mutually vulnerable patient-analyst connection, and the history of the psychoanalytic office.
In the Shadow of Freud’s Couch: Portraits of Psychoanalysts in Their Offices will be of great interest to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists, as well as psychotherapists, counselors and social workers interested in understanding and innovating the spaces used for mental health treatment. It will also appeal to interior designers, office architects, photographers and, well, anyone who ever considered entering a psychoanalyst’s office…
Mark Gerald is a psychoanalyst and a photographer. He has two Masters degrees in psychology from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in psychology from New York University. On the photographic front he has studied at both the Pratt Institute and at ICP.
— Samantha Reinders