In June 1978 I started psychotherapy with a psychiatrist in Philadelphia named I.J. Oberman. His work would best be described as confrontive (combative)/supportive. I felt constrained by him — his inability to remain silent and listen prevented me from developing a narrative.  (“You don’t stop talking about yourself, Dr. Oberman.” — “Like you don’t like talking about yourself, Freedman?”  —  “That’s what I am here to do, Dr. Oberman!”)

I told Dr. Oberman about my desire to do psychoanalysis. For me psychoanalysis meant freedom — to talk about anything I wanted. He told me that psychoanalysis wouldn’t do me any good. Though a trained analyst, he dismissed analysis as a “mind trip” — his expression. He said that in analysis a person goes on and on analyzing his life and never reaches a conclusion. He said a person could go on analyzing himself forever.  “There’s no end to what a person can analyze.”  He told me that his approach was what I needed.

In late August 1978 I took a trip to Italy. It was a guided tour. One of those “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium” type tours. When I returned Dr. Oberman’s office two weeks later he told me that I shouldn’t have taken a guided tour. He said I should have gone backpacking through Europe.

Do you see Dr. Oberman’s conflict relating to freedom vs. restraint? I wanted to go “backpacking” through my mind, which, for me, meant psychoanalysis. Dr. Oberman basically told me that I needed a “guided tour” through my mind, with him as tour guide.

For me psychoanalysis meant freedom — the freedom to choose my own itinerary. For Dr. Oberman, who said I should have gone backpacking though Europe, the guided tour through my mind was the psychotherapeutic treatment of choice.