In 1976, Dr. John M. Dorsey, M.D. published his autobiographical sketch An American Psychiatrist in Vienna, 1935-1937 and his Sigmund Freud. For the previous 15 years Dr. Dorsey had occupied the chair of Wayne State University’s first University Professor. His professional educational experience began at the University of Iowa from 1918 to 1928 and continued at the University of Michigan from 1928 to 1938, including two years of sabbatical study at the University of Vienna and the Viennese Psychoanalytic Institute. During this latter period, Dr. Dorsey kept a journal, oriented mostly around his exciting mental growth, associated with his discovery of the rare power of the one and only psychoanalytical rule, namely, free association.
While all of Dr. Dorsey’s scientific works have been purposefully of an autobiographical nature, in this volume, formulated near the end of his life, he provides the key to understanding his numerous books and other writings. Using description, narrative, and exposition he accounts for all of his meaningful living in terms of his own psychogenesis (mental development). The close-ups of his chosen self-analyst, Dr. Sigmund Freud, are rare contributions detailing Dr. Dorsey’s sustained efforts to help himself by cultivating his own self-knowledge with this “peerless scholar of the mind.”
As I read through this work I found myself reading three different Dr. Dorsey’s. Naturally. First there were entries from his original journal while in Vienna and including insights, which came through his self-analysis with Freud. Dorsey then was 35 years old and had never undertaken the discipline of free association. But this work, American Psychiatrist, was compiled in the late 1970’s almost 40 years after that life-changing experience, by the Dr. Dorsey, now 76 years old, with 35 years practice of "making the unconscious conscious". One sees all of the Dr. Dorseys present and working in this work. Dr. Dorsey had gone to Vienna not intending to become a psychoanalyst, but to further his understanding of psychiatry. His personal encounter with Freud, however, had powerful and deep meaning for Dorsey who went on to become one of the leading psychoanalysts of his day.
In the preface of this book, Dr. Dorsey records:
Living the spirit of psychoanalytic helpfulness in Vienna saturated my self-identity with its power far beyond what might be understood as resulting from my studying about it, and furthered my practicing myself in free association there…By psychoanalysis here I mean specifically loyal devotion to working with the metapsychological method and insights first worked up by Sigmund Freud. (xiv)
And his preface ends with:
Whoever makes this writing his own will find later on that I learned the lesson that all help must be self-help in the only way possible to learn it effectively, namely, by growing it as precious painful experience of mine.
My most difficult language lesson teaches: My every word can be nothing but my own linguistic growth, despite the fact that I can and do enjoy its functioning as if it is not referring to me at all. * Therefore, I carefully record: All I can mean by describing Sigmund Freud must really refer to my image of my Sigmund Freud. (* See my chapter, "Idiolect," in Communication of Scientific Information, ed. Stacey B. Day (Switzerland:S. Karger, Basel, 1975, pp. 12-27)
Elsewhere, Dr. Dorsey describes this awakening to his solipsistic idiolect as his feeling thunderstruck, even humiliated, then experiencing his living as “wide awake” and “extremely sane.”
Now, it has been almost 40 years since his passing, and Dr. Dorsey is not remembered as one of the great psychoanalysts. Other names such as Menninger, Szasz, Rogers, Maslow, Erikson are bigger ---until just recently.
In 1996, Peter M. Newton, professor of psychology at the Wright Institute, Berkeley, California and his colleague Beate Lohser, member of the Core Faculty a the San Francisco School of Psychology, Berkeley, both practicers of psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy wrote their book, Unorthodox Freud: The View from the Couch. “Based on existing full-length accounts by patients who were treated by Freud in the 1920s and ‘30s, this volume reveals an unexpected Freud ---one who is quite different from the current stereotype.”
“Contrary to the capricious Freud of in-house clinical lore, the starched Freud of Strachey’s Standard Edition, and the blank screen of traditional orthodoxy, Losher and Newton demonstrate that Freud was explicit about defining the primary task (making the unconscious conscious), directively instituted free association as the means to accomplish the task, and actively monitored his patient’s compliance with it…(thus)”organizing the treatment dyad in terms of its primary task and the division of labor between himself and his patient.”
One of these only 5 book length accounts of intimacy with Freud is Dr. Dorsey’s book, An American Psychiatrist in Vienna, 1935-1937, and His Sigmund Freud.
In her September/October 1980 Laird Letter, Mrs. Laird wrote:
A few years ago I gave a Seminar in Washington, D.C. with the text, “All consciousness is Mind, God, an infinite and not a finite consciousness.” (Mary Baker Eddy, Unity of Good, 24:12-16) Two incidents made the Seminar a momentous one. I had not talked very long when I realized the three women down front were listening with such understanding that my imagination took off beyond the words I had prepared. The second incident came after the morning session. A woman in the audience said, “I see you have been reading Living Consciously: The Science of Self.” “No, I have never heard of it.” She said it was written by two M.D.’s – a Dr. Dorsey, Dean of the Psychiatry Department of Wayne State University, Detroit Michigan and a Dr. Seegers, Dean of the Physiology Department. That afternoon she brought me a copy of the book, co-authored by these two eminent physicians, and I was thrilled to find the coincidence of the human and divine expressed in their language. This reading resulted in sending a copy of the first edition of Christian Science Re-explored to Dr. Dorsey. The book brought enthusiastic letters from both men, with the comment: “Your phrase, ‘conscious of’ implies a dualism the rest of your book rejects. How could consciousness be conscious OF something ‘other’ if consciousness is all there is? The exchange of these books brought a close association with Dr. Dorsey, resulting in his writing the Introduction to the second edition of Christian Science Re-explored. (There follows in this Laird Letter notes from Dr. Dorsey’s last Adult Education Class which Mrs. Laird says indicates the common ground the Psychology of Self-divinity has with Christian Science.)
When you cannot see what is happening in a group, do not stare harder.
Relax and look gently with your inner eye.
When you do not understand what a person is saying, do not grasp for every word.
Give up your efforts. Become silent inside and listen with your deepest self.
When you are puzzled by what you see or hear, do not strive to figure things out.
Stand back for a moment and become calm.
When a person is calm, complex events appear simple.
To know what is happening, push less, open out, and be aware.
See without staring. Listen quietly rather than listening hard.
Use intuition and reflection rather than trying to figure things out.
The more you can let go of trying, and the more open and receptive you become,
the more easily you will know what is happening.
Also, stay in the present.
The present is more available than either memories of the past or fantasies of the future.
So attend to what is happening now.
(John Heider - The Tao of Leadership – pg. 27)
My Self-consciousness always transcends my “other” reasoning. (A Dorsey insight)