top of page

Judith Bowerman . Unknown Matter

Autobiographical Cases

In this seminar, we will read and discuss autobiographical “cases” published by analysands. There are many examples of this genre, including self-reports by patients of Freud and Lacan, along with more contemporary accounts. They come in many forms—literary, memoir, graphic novel, poetry, and testimonies of the passe.


What are the problems and possibilities of writing one’s own case/experience as a part of the analytic experience? In contrast with analysts who write and publish case studies to share insight or technique, what is the aim of analysands who write and publish their own cases? How might this practice add to or subtract from the experience of analysis? Do these examples offer a conclusion, a way to let go of the analyst or symptoms, or a way to hang on? 


We will consider similarities and differences between the accounts in autobiographical cases and the direction of the treatment according to Freud and Lacan. Fantasy and trauma will be two important considerations. We will draw from Lacan’s work on the logic of fantasy and his commentaries on writing. The seminar will also invite experimentation in writing/working with fragments of your own autobiographical writing.


We’ll ask: What are the potential risks and benefits of re-telling one’s own case? What are the differences between having an audience of one (the analyst) and an imagined audience of readers? What are the possibilities and limits of “self-analysis”? What is it that analysands as autobiographers construct? What is the role of the analyst/reader in such constructions? How “accurate” can the author and their constructions be?


Suggested readings:

We will read some combination of the following, with the exact readings to be determined jointly with the group:

Theoretical texts related to the case materials selected:

“Formation of the Analyst,” Psychoanalytical Notebooks, Issue 36, December 2020 (a collection of testimonies of the passe)

Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother

Marie Cardinal, The Words to Say It

H. Doolittle, Tribute to Freud

Dan Gunn, Wool Gathering or How I Ended Analysis

Emma Lieber, The Writing Cure

Georges Perec, “The Scene of a Stratagem” in Species of Spaces and Other Pieces

Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind

Elyn Saks, The Center Cannot Hold

Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick, A Dialogue on Love

Kate Daniels, Slow Fuse of the Possible (poetry and autobiography)

Diane Ackerman, Origami Bridges (poetry)

Betty Milan, Analyzed by Lacan: A Personal Account (avail Nov 2023) and the film Adieu Lacan

This seminar is open to members of the school and interested others. This seminar is for those

Who are interested in the question of what constitutes a case,

Would like to explore how autobiographical writing about the experience of psychoanalysis might inform the formulation of analytic cases, 

Enjoy the (sometimes voyeuristic) pleasure of reading autobiography.

Faculty: Leslie Goldenberg

Dates and Times: First meeting Sunday September 10, 9-11am, and then 3rd Sunday of the month October 15 through May 19, 2024, 9-11am

Location: Online via Zoom

Fee: Free, donation to the School encouraged
Contact: Leslie Goldenberg (

Leslie Goldenberg is a Candidate Scholar at the Lacanian School. She practices as an analytic coach, working with leaders to hear (and address) the unconscious at work in organizational life. She is also an award-winning ceramic artist, currently creating projects that investigate the functions of the mask as metaphor and object.

bottom of page