Rabban Gamliel & Rabbi Yehoshua in the Analytic Training Institute: A Talmudic Text (Berachot 27b-28a) and the Group Life of Analysts | Henry Abramovitch

Published on: Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice. 6(2): 21-40, 2004.

“Analysis is a lonely venture.” (Kirsch 2000:31)

Difficulties of Group Life of Analysts
Most of our life as analysts is spent alone and the work of analysis, with patients, analysands or candidates, which can be deeply satisfying, is often intense, lonely and stressful (Allphin 1999). To balance this isolation, the group life of analysts ought to be one of mutual support, intellectual stimulation and soulful refreshment. Sadly, analytic communities do not always provide such solace and nourishment, but are themselves, all too often, additional sources of strain and conflict. Some training groups may become rent with dogmatism, cliques and power struggles, that seem, all too often, to culminate in painful splits (Casement 1995; Kirsch 2001). Members may become embittered and withdraw. Alternatively, they may become embattled and abusive, speaking in an unprofessional manner about their colleagues. At the height of such organizational and interpersonal tensions, boundary violations may occur. Analysts may even be tempted into ethical violation such as to disclose what has been said to them from behind the seal of the consulting room, or to speak ‘when an analyst speaks in a derogatory way about another analyst in the presence of the latter’s analysand’ (Allphin 1999:251). This type of organizational and interpersonal conflict is not unique to Jungians, but occurs in many of the sects that make up depth psychology, as well as other selective, elite intellectual organizations. Although much is known about the therapeutic dynamics and the individuation process, much less is known about our institutional group life. Only recently, have Analytic Training Institutes themselves been subject of any systematic inquiry. (Eisold 1994, 2001; Casement 1995; Kernberg 1996; Allphin 1999; Kirsner 2000).
In this article, I want to explore the nature of the group life of analysts, not by addressing Analytic Institute dynamics directly, but rather, via a Talmudic narrative. This Text (Berachot 27b-28a) describes an ideological and power struggle between two great Rabbinic figures, Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua, for control of the Beit Midrash (House of Study). Despite the many differences between analysts and Talmudists, I want to interpret the events described in the text, as if they were taking place in a contemporary analytic training institute. In this way, I hope to explore the dynamics of our group life as analysts from an unexpected perspective. I will also draw upon my own personal experience, first as a training candidate, then as a member of the Israel Association of Analytical Psychology, and finally, as Chairman of Israel Institute of Jungian Psychology (IIJP), one of three daughter Societies, which were created following a three way split in 2001. I will be presenting my version of events knowing full well that my colleagues may have experienced the same events in very different manner.

Parallels between Analysts and Talmudists
The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism, which remains the main focus of study by Rabbis and ordinary Jews to this very day. The Talmud is known as the “oral law” in contrast with the Old Testament which is the “written law” and originally all these discussions were memorized by heart and were only written down under duress. The Talmud is composed of two quite distinct works that nevertheless form an organic whole. The first section (Mishna) comprises a series of pithy, poetic and decisive statements that form the basic code of Jewish ritual and legal practice as well as a very brief record of disagreements on the issue at hand.
Subsequent (and even previous) generations of scholars continued a tradition of debate and inquiry into the implications and apparent contradictions of the elliptical teachings of the Mishna, as well as other traditions (tosephtot, braitot) which were not included in the Mishna. These traditions and disputes which took place over hundreds of years were edited in a unique, logically dense text. The second section (Gemara) may be said to be a kind of extended commentary on the Mishna although it is much more than that. It is dense, highly compact, collection of disputes, legends, stories, philosophical discussions, principles of interpretation and much more. The extract from the Talmud discussed below, begins with a dispute concerning the timing of the Evening Prayer but goes on to recount the story of how this conflict of opinions led to a crisis within the House of Study (Beit Midrash ).
Before approaching the Text, I will first describe some of the parallels between Analysts and Talmudist.
Psychoanalytic Training Institutes resemble the Rabbinic World of the Talmud in some important ways. First, Analysts and the Talmudists share a worldview that places enormous emphasis on learning passed directly from master to disciple in an “oral tradition” (“torah sheb’al pe”).
Analytic practice and training embody the oral tradition in two ways. First, analysis, like Talmud study, has to be experienced directly and in person. No amount of reading or written text can substitute for the analytic experience itself. One leading analyst argues that no clinical paper can really ‘represent the ‘reality’ of what happened in the consulting room’. “It is like trying to convey poetry in prose – impossible and painful too, because we know something is being lost and spoilt in the attempt.” (Wharton 1999:397). Second, Analytic training is itself strongly based on oral traditions. Despite the enormous wealth of written analytic literature, ‘much that is valuable in psychoanalysis is handed on not in learned papers but by oral tradition’ (Plaut 1999; Rickman 1951). “Control analysis” however informed by the “literature”, is essentially also done orally, in person and is the main way that the tradition of doing analysis is passed down from master to disciple.
The oral tradition of Talmudic study and analysis are both unique in embodying an enormous emotional-intellectual freedom. Adin Steinsaltz, a leading scholar and translator of the Talmud has written:
“Every subject …is worthy of consideration and analysis and an attempt is always made to delve into the heart of the matter. In the course of study, the question of whether the analyses are of practical use is never raised. We often encounter in the Talmud protracted and vehement debates on various problems that try to examine the structure of the method and to elucidate the conclusions deriving from it. …The student is expected to pose questions to himself and to others and to voice doubts and reservations. From this point of view, the Talmud is perhaps the only sacred book in all of world culture that permits and even encourages the student to question it. (Steinsaltz 1977:5).
In analysis, too, there is an enormous freedom to delve deeply into any matter, without stipulating any practical relevance. Analysands are also expected to pose questions to themselves, to voice doubts and reservations and perhaps, towards the end of an analysis, even to challenge the analyst’s authority
Second, Talmudic Rabbis and Analysts both place great emphasis on spiritual lineage. Almost every analyst can cite their analyst’s descent from one of the founding ancestors. I confess that I too, can trace my lineage directly to Jung via my analyst, who was one of the very first foreign graduates of the CG Jung Institute in Zurich.
Just one’s status in the rabbinic world might be determined by whom your Teacher was, so too, one’s status within the analytic world is determined largely by the identity of one’s training analyst. In the Rabbinic world, one’s biological parents bring one into this world, but one’s Teachers bring one in the World of the Spirit and The World to Come (olam haba). In the analytic world, personal and training analysts act as the spirit guides and role modes for a candidate. They serve as symbolic parents who initiate the candidate not only into the realm of the unconscious, but also, into the chosen few who are accepted into the Institute. One’s standing within the Institute is often as “analysand of”. Kirsner (2000) in his book length study of the four leading American psychoanalytic institutes concluded: “Who an analyst’s analyst was signifies how good an analyst a person is – not so much whether there are good analytic results.” Another analyst notes ‘that the genealogical tree and the descent it legitimates when it can some how be traced back to Freud – should count more than one’s own personal achievement is a peculiarity of institutional psychoanalysis (Thoma 1999:50). And to use a typical Talmudic phrase, “Is not the opposite true?” Is an analyst with an “inferior” ancestry considered “second rate”, regardless of the therapeutic results. Loyalties and passions to one’s lineage are often far more power than those elicited by the institution as a whole; as a result, it is easy for institute members to minimize the importance of their institutes to themselves and to split off or withdraw from active participation (Allphin 1999; Eisold 1994).
Thirdly, Training Institutes like the Talmudic House of Study (Beit Midrash) are hierarchical organizations. Analytic Training groups typically are based upon a formal distinction between Training and Non-Training analysts. Only Training analysts are permitted to do the work of passing on the wisdom of the tribe to the next generation of training candidates. As in the academic world, the selection of new training analysts is entirely in the hands of old guard, highlighting the guild-like structure of the profession. Even when as in the old Israel Association, when training analysts-status was confirmed automatically with five-year seniority, there was always an informal hierarchy among analysts and candidates, who ranked analysts in terms of their desirability.
Fourthly, Analytic and Talmudic communities are both committed to a passionate search for Truth. Psychoanalytic Truth is of course very different from Rabbinic Truth. But the commitment to Truth has its shadow side. Such a ruthless passion for truth may, at times, come at the expense of interpersonal relations, and even lead to severe interpersonal conflict. Psychoanalytic Culture has been characterized by unrelenting hostility and distrust among various groups without a discernible basis for the presence of so much bad feeling. Eisold (1994) summarized the situation as follows:
“Typically, such conflicts are attributed to ambitious or narcissistic personalities. Yet while the role of such personalities is no doubt significant, such an explanation fails to account for the power they are able to mobilize among members of the analytic institutes and to the ubiquity of the problem. (Eisold 1994:786). As one colleague said to me, “We save our best for our patients, our worst for our colleagues.” (Abramovitch 2003). There is a tendency toward schism, for developing competing “schools”, or factions, which provide a key sense of belonging. “[W]e strongly need to preserve these allegiances because there is so much insecurity, ambiguity, and isolation in our work we do as analysts.” (Allphin 1999:253)
Eisold (2001:345) writing specifically about Jungian Institutes notes the disorder in our group life:
…there has been substantial evidence of ambivalence and internal conflict painfully internalized. Different points of view co-exist with thinly disguised hostility. This has, in its own way, often crippled the ability of institutes to develop and function effectively. Decisions are made and then undone as new factions come to power and refuse to implement them – or simply ignore and forget them. Members easily become “burned out”, alienated, disaffected and are reluctant to take on management responsibilities under such circumstances. Often, as a result, the management function tends to be taken over by authoritarian leaders who step in and save the squabbling and ineffectual members from themselves.
The split in the old Israeli Association was related to a very small number of ambitious or narcissistic personalities, who struggled for power. Each faction looked down on the other and devalued their work. Although there were ideological differences between these factions e.g. over the clinical use of transference and counter-transference (Samuels 1985; 1998) this disagreement was not the basis of the split (Young-Eisendrath & Dawson 1997; Withers 2003). Indeed, the Association was able to find a way deal with these two approaches effectively when they were discussed as it were, “for the sake of heaven”. Candidates were encouraged to select control analysts from different theoretical orientations and to display clinical competence in each tradition, however, they ultimately chose to practice. Such rational solutions were not possible when the issue became entwined with the power politics of the Association.
Faction leaders were also key figures within a network of referrals, who would refer, not only patients but also control candidates to each other. Any deviation from personal loyalty to the faction and its leader, was perceived as risky, since it might lead to exclusion from the referral network. Under these circumstances, candidates tend to become overly submissive to dogmatic and authoritative analysts, and to introject the analyst as an internal superego at the expense of their own ego (Balint, cited in Kirsner 2000). As a result, they are unable to protest or if they do, they may be attacked in an ad hominem way as needing more analysis.
Training Institutes seek to act and instill a high level of moral behavior. One precept is that the connection between patient and analyst should be unique to their therapeutic relationship. Analysts are supposed to avoid any such dual relationships and the sticky complications they involve. Training Institutes, all over the world, however, violate this rule as the seminar leaders and teachers are often the candidate’s analysts and control analysts. Moreover, the emotional attitude of the analyst based on acceptance and understanding diverges dramatically from that of training analyst, which involves evaluation and judgment. I also recall the anguish I felt when my own personal analyst taught me for the first time. I did not fear “leakage” from the analysis, but rather, saw how his introversion, which made him such an effective analyst, led him to be a rather ineffective teacher. Effective teaching does after all require a certain amount of extraversion – and I felt ashamed to think that I was a better teacher than him.

A Talmudic Text
I want to now turn to Brachot 27b-28a as illustrating the dynamics of an analytic training institute. I will provide an excerpt from the narrative in italics, followed by my commentary. Since Talmudic text tends to be highly elliptic and lacks any punctuation, I have used [square brackets] to fill out what is latent in the text, in order to make it more intelligible, as well as adding punctuation marks. All translations are those of the author.
“The evening prayer is not fixed.”
What is the meaning of “is not fixed”?
If the meaning is that one may pray all night, then it should have said:
[One is permitted to pray the] evening prayer all night.
[The meaning of “fixed” is,] rather: “The evening prayer is voluntary.
As Rav Yehuda in the name of Shmuel reported [the tradition]:
“The evening prayer – Rabban Gamliel says: [It is] obligatory;
Rabbi Yehoshua says: [It is] voluntary. “
Abaye says: The rule (halacha) is according to those who say [it is] obligatory;
And Rava says: the rule (halacha) is according to those who say [it is] voluntary.

Our text is rooted in a practical “halakhic” discussion concerning the nature of the Evening Prayer (Ma’ariv), including whether the Evening Prayer has a time limit or may be recited all night. The discussion leads in turn to the question as to whether the Evening Prayer itself is considered obligatory or voluntary. The ideological background of this question involves the crisis in communal worship following the Destruction of the Temple and the search for new forms of worship to replace ritual sacrifice. Prayer in the morning and afternoon, paralleled and in a symbolic sense came to replace the Morning and Afternoon Temple Sacrifice. The Evening Prayer, however, has no direct parallel in Temple cult since there was no Evening Offering. This prayer cannot be justified in the same way, although the previous discussion ( “Evening Prayer may be recited all night?” ) indicates that Evening Prayer had already become standard practice.
The controversy, therefore, is entirely theoretical. In Analytic Institutes, theoretical, conceptual controversies are often extremely fierce even when there is no practical consequence of the dispute. Indeed such controversies may become so vicious because there is so little at stake… except for the analysts’ most precious possession, their personal reputation.
The Talmud is unique in the way it encourages, even demands intellectual flexibility by stating contradictory opinions and leaving the reader to think through and resolve the apparent contradiction. Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua disagree fundamentally about the nature of evening prayer, but No Reason is given at this juncture in support of either position. Each opinion is stated simply and directly in a manner that implies a profound tolerance of diversity: two opposing opinions given by two worthy opponents. Using a Jungian metaphor, we might say that both opposites were contained within a common archetypal field. The repetition of the controversy in the name of Abaye and Rava, many generations later, clearly indicates that this issue remained unresolved for many years. Ultimately, it was agreed that Evening Prayer was indeed voluntary, but that all members of the community freely took this obligation upon themselves. As a result, Evening Prayer became obligatory similar to the two other daily prayers.
This controversy might parallel contemporary psychoanalytic disagreements concerning the interpretation of transference, the clinical use of the counter-transference or the frequency of session and the requirement of lying down on the couch. Are these techniques obligatory or optional? (Stein 1995; Withers 2003; Stone & Duckworth 2003). Analysts and their Institutes tend to have very strong opinions on each topic but the matter remains far from settled. In contrast, every Jungian analyst will agree that dreams form an important part of analytic process, and that regular sessions are desirable, even if they may disagree about how to interpret dreams or how often sessions should be.
The Rabbis taught: Consider the story of a student who came to Rabbi Yehoshua and asked him: “Evening Prayer, [Is it] voluntary or obligatory?”
He said: “Voluntary”.
[The student] went before Rabban Gamliel and asked him: “Evening Prayer, [is it] voluntary or obligatory?”
He said: “Obligatory”.
[The student] said to him: “But Rabbi Yehoshua taught me it is voluntary.”
[Rabban Gamliel] said: Wait until the “shield bearers” (i.e. sages who are compared to warriors) enter the House of Study [and then ask your question].
When the “shield bearers” entered, [the student] arose and asked:
“Evening Prayer, [is it] voluntary or obligatory?”
Rabban Gamliel said: “Obligatory”.
Rabban Gamliel said to the sages: “Is there anyone who disagrees on this matter?”
Rabbi Yehoshua said: “No.”
[Rabban Gamliel] said: “But it was in your name that it was said to be voluntary.”
He said: “Yehoshua! Stand up on your feet and be examined on this matter!”
Rabbi Yehoshua stood up on his feet and said: “If I was alive and he was dead, the living could deny the dead; but now that I am alive and he is alive, how can the living deny the living?”
Rabban Gamliel was sitting and teaching while Rabbi Yehoshua was standing.
Comparing the Study House to an Analytic Institute, Rabban Gamliel has the role of the authoritarian President of the Institute. Rabbi Yehoshua is his great rival. Both are senior training analysts. An unnamed student, for our purposes, the equivalent of a training candidate poses a question to Rav Yehoshua. Instead of accepting his answer, this candidate seeks a ‘second opinion’. He goes to the Head of the Training Institute, Rabban Gamliel who gives an opposing view. The student immediately tells him what his rival, Rav Yehoshua had said. The activity of the candidate is puzzling and open to a number of interpretations. For my purposes, I will choose to interpret his action not as those of a trickster troublemaker stirring up rivalry between father figures, but rather, as an enthusiastic searcher after truth, anxious to resolve an apparent contradiction. Rabban Gamliel’s response indicates that he is not interested in exploring the issue, but in a public showdown. He plots against his rival by selecting the time and place of the confrontation when he asks the candidate to pose the question at the next meeting of the entire Institute. The student might feel that he is about to watch a brilliant confrontation of his masters.
Instead, when the question is posed before the whole membership, no debate occurs. The Head of the Institute boldly states his own opinion and then asks defiantly: “Is there a person who really disagrees about this matter?” Rabban Gamliel’s certainty parallels the narrative style in which many clinical presentations are given. Clinical events are reported in a dogmatic, theory-laden manner to illustrate the author’s chosen theoretical position, as if they have an “immaculate perception”. Such certainty betrays the ambiguity, immediacy and “poetry” of analysis and may even create an atmosphere of hostility in the audience (Plaut 1999).
Rabban Gamliel then confronts his rival who publicly submits to the President’s view. Rabban Gamliel is not satisfied and accuses Yehoshua of “heresy”. He then performs a ritual act of humiliation, leaving him standing.
Something has clearly changed in the group life of the Institute and it is an authoritarian INTOLERANCE OF DIVERSITY (Eisold 1994). Honest differences of opinions are no longer permitted. Rabban Gamliel having plotted the timing and place is no longer interested in legitimate dissent but in humiliating submission. The proof of Gamliel’s power drive is that he is not content with Yehoshua’s overt agreement, but seeks an opportunity to humiliate his rival. A legitimate Head of Institute should be asking why Yehoshua does not publicly defend the position he genuinely holds. Rabban Gamliel, as Head of the Institute demands ideological uniformity, and forces other analysts to be personally and ideologically loyal to him. It is against Rabban Gamliel’s power complex that we can understand Yehoshua’s surprising denial of his own opinion and his subsequent response:
“If I was alive and he was dead, the living could deny the dead; but now that I am alive and he is alive, how can the living deny the living?”
This response is also puzzling and again open to interpretation. I believe Yehoshua’s strategy can be understood as an attempt to avoid an overt and open conflict that will destroy the entire Institute. Yehoshua’s metaphor of the living and the dead is his way of commenting upon Rabban Gamliel’s authoritarian style. The “dead” are those who have no standing, nor power within the organization; hence the powerful “living” can deny the vulnerable “dead”. When both parties are equally “alive”, then each person’s point of view must be taken into consideration. The living cannot deny the living. Two opinions expressed by two worthy opponents. It is just such diversity, which Rabban Gamliel finds to threatening.
Rabbi Yehoshua was left standing, until all shouted for Hutzpit the crier to stop [calling out Rabban Gamliel’s words] and he stopped.
They said: “How long will [Rabban Gamliel] continue to humiliate him.. He tormented him last year, during the Hebrew New Year [when he forced Rabbi Yehoshua to travel to him on the date that was the Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, according to Yehoshua’s but not Rabban Gamliel’s reckoning].
He tormented him in the case of Rabbi Zadok and the First
Born [when he also forced him to standing as a public humiliation]. Here again, he torments him.”
Like many narcissistic leaders, Rabban Gamliel goes too far in the use of his power. His very public humiliation of Rabbi Yehoshua leads directly to his downfall. Rabban Gamliel is revealed to all as an authoritarian dictator. Members now recall previous arbitrary acts i.e. forcing Yehoshua to violate his Yom Kippur. Strangely, I feel tolerant about this act of submission. The celebration of Yom Kippur, unlike the dispute over the status of the Evening Prayer, is not theoretical but has enormous practical consequences. Communities which no longer observe holy days together will very soon no longer survive as a unified community. Yehoshua’s action, then, is consistent with his action in the Beit Hamidrash. At that time, he agreed to travel on the Year’s Most Holy Day to pacify Rabban Gamliel. In the House of study, again he responds to the point of self-humiliation to avoid an open split in his community.
How an open conflict may fracture a society is revealed by the split in the Israeli Association. Although tensions had long existed, the immediate cause of Israeli split was open conflict concerning a new Jungian psychotherapy training program that one faction had organized in “secret”. Another faction felt that the program would be a direct competition to, and encroachment upon, Association prerogatives. They argued that the program must come under the aegis of the Association, while its founders felt that it was a private enterprise designed specifically for individuals who lack the requisite professional qualifications necessary to train as an analyst. The conflict became overt and public. Had this issue been referred to a committee, or to arbitration, then possibly, some compromise might have been achieved. The conflict, however, was dealt with in a series of extraordinary meetings, “in public”, in front of the entire membership, and both factions felt there was no room for compromise. When the matter was brought to a vote, the faction who had set up the training refused to recognize its legitimacy. When the vote went against them, they walked out, resigned en masse and subsequently formed a new group, New Israeli Jungian Society. Their departure destabilized something in the Association so that, despite an initial effort to reorganize in the aftermath of the split, the remaining membership itself divided in turn into two factions who felt that they could not work with each other. A decision was then made to separate by agreement into two distinct training groups: Israel Society of Analytical Psychology (ISAP) and Israel Institute of Jungian Psychology (IIJP).
Let us replace [Rabban Gamliel as Head of the House of Study].
“Who shall we put in his place?
If we propose, Rabbi Yehoshua – [He cannot be nominated since] he is an interested party [to the dispute].
If we propose Rabbi Akiva – [Rabban Gamliel] will “harm” him since [as a descendant of converts] he has no protecting ancestral heritage/lineage (zechut avot).
Let us propose Elazar son of Azaria who is wise, rich and a tenth generation descendant of Ezra. “He is wise”: If {Rabban Gamliel] puts difficult questions, he will be able to answer. “He is rich”: [So if Rabban Gamliel] may serve the Roman Caesar with gifts, he can go and do so, too, [since he has sufficient funds for travel expenses, taxes and gifts].
“He is a tenth descendant of Ezra”: He therefore has an illustrious ancestral heritage and [Rabban Gamliel] cannot harm him.
Placing these events into an analytic context, the membership of the Institute plot a palace coup to remove their highhanded President. The question arises concerning who is worthy replacement and the search for new President is revealing. Rabbi Yehoshua, as a party to the dispute cannot be seen as a benefiting directly from the overthrow of Rabban Gamliel, since this act will make Rabban Gamliel into an unremitting enemy. The Institute will then be permanently polarized into factions and most likely lead to a permanent split. Rabbi Akiva, the obvious alternative, is considered unsuitable on account of his lack of ancestral lineage. The word I have translated as “harmed” is in the original literally “punish” and is connected to a theology in which a powerful Torah scholar can cause Divine Punishment to befall a rival. An illustrious ancestral heritage (zechut avot), like an impeccable analytic lineage, provides a magical protection against such attacks. Akiva, a descendant of “converts” has no such protection and would be overly vulnerable to Rabban Gamliel’s hostile counterattack. In analytic terms, Rabbi Akiva may be seen as a leading analyst but one whose analytic lineage is suspect since he has originally come from another Training Group and is in a symbolic sense is a “convert”. His position and his authority, like Rabbi Akiva’s, would be constantly undermined. All his moves as Head of the Institute would be subject to negative interpretation: “What can you expect from someone who had so-and so as an Analyst?” or “He is acting that way because he once was a Classical/Developmental/Archetypal Jungian analyst.” (Samuels 1985).
The surprisingly selection of an eighteen year old youth, Elazar son of Azaria, helps clarify the role requirements for the President of the Institute. The President needs to be wise, economically well off and with an impeccable analytic lineage. He or she needs to be wise enough to deal with intellectual challenges; wealthy enough to be able to take time off to travel as Institute’s Official Representative, and to deal with external authorities. Elazar is descended in the 10th generations from Ezra; or in terms of analytic lineage, the new President can trace “descent” back to Jung himself, or one of his closest associates. At one point during the split, I felt akin to Elazar son of Azaria. This occurred in the period leading up to the Cambridge 2001 Congress at which all three groups were applying to IAAP as Training Groups. It was a period in which there were threats and counter-threats that one group might sabotage the application of another group. I strongly felt that it was in the best interest of all Israeli analysts that the three groups be accepted. I, therefore, traveled, at my own expense, to present the background of the Israeli situation to the Executive Committee of IAAP, who then recommended that all three groups be accepted at the ensuring Cambridge Congress, which they were.

They went and said to [Elazar son of Azaria]: “Is it pleasing for you to become Head of the House of Study?”
He said: “I will go and consult with “members of my own house”. ”
He went and consulted with his wife.
She said: “What if they replace you [the way they replaced Rabban Gamliel]?
He responded [with a proverb]: “It is worth using a precious glass today, even if it breaks tomorrow.” [meaning that a person should take advantage of today’s opportunity which come his way and not worry about losing them in the future.]
She said: “You have no white [hair – the sign of a wise elder].
On that day, he was eighteen years old and a miracle occurred. Eighteen lines of white hair appeared on his head.
Hence Rabbi Elazar son of Azaria used to say: “Behold I am as seventy years, and not, seventy years.”
Elazar’s wife understands the realpolitk of the Institute much better than he does, and asks prophetically, ‘Why will your leadership end differently from Gamliel’s?’ – This is exactly the question I ask analysands wishing to switch analysts. Why is it going to be different this time? – The better the answer the greater likelihood of success.
Elazar with all the enthusiasm of youth responds in the spirit of carpe diem (“seize the day”), i.e. take opportunities as they come and do not worry about the future.
The one thing that counts against Elazar is his youth. His youth may be seen as a compensation for Rabban Gamliel, an elder who is acting like a negative “senex”, opinionated, closed to new experience and envious of the young. Elazar, worried about not having the persona or ‘look’ of a leader, overnight develops the appropriate persona, 18 lines of white hairs, to look ‘as seventy years’, a well known line included in the text of the Passover Hagada. His physical transformation may reflect a sense of how certain individuals grow wise in their new roles.
On that very day [when Rabban Gamliel was replaced], the gatekeeper was removed and [all] students were allowed to enter [the House of Study]. Rabban Gamliel had decreed and stated: “Any student whose “inside is not as his outside” (tokho kevaro) shall not enter the House of Study.”
On that very day, more seats were added.
Abba Yosef son of Dostai and the Rabbis [disagreed about the number of extra seats]. One said: 400 seats were added; the other said: 700 seats.
Rabban Gamliel’s mind weakened (halash da’atei) and he said: “Is it possible that I prevented Torah study from [the people of] Israel?” He dreamed of white jars full of ashes [which his supporters understood as indicative that the students were unworthy] but it was not so. It was only to calm his mind that they showed him this dream.
On that very day, the Tractate Eduyyot (Testimonies) was composed and anywhere where it is stated “on that very day” refers to this day [when Rabban Gamliel was replaced.] and there was not any doubtful halakhic issue in the House of Study that was not discussed and decided. Moreover, Rabban Gamliel did not absent himself from the House of Study for even a single hour [even though he was no longer President] as it is taught:
On that very day, Judah a convert from Ammon [in Trans Jordan] appeared before the House of Study and asked them: “May I enter the Community [and marry an Israelite woman]?”
Rabban Gamliel said: “You are forbidden to enter the Community.”
Rabbi Yehoshua said: “You are permitted to enter the Community.”
Rabban Gamliel said to him: “Is it not written, “An Ammonite or a Moabite is not to enter the assembly of God. (Deuteronomy 23:4).”
Rabbi Yehoshua said to him: “Are Ammonites and Moabites living in their place! – since Sancharib, the King of Assyria has mixed up all the nations as it is written: “I have erased the borders of peoples;I have plundered their treasures, and exiled their vast populations” [ Isaiah 10:13]. [The rule is:] “An exemplar is indicative of the majority.” [i.e. most nations are now mixed up so this “convert” whose ancestry is unknown may be accepted and not treated an Ammonite in the time of the Bible]
Rabban Gamliel said to him: “Is it not written: “But afterwards I will restore the Ammonites from captivity – declares the Lord [ Jeremiah 49:6].”? And they already returned.”
Rabbi Yehoshua said to him: “Is it not written: “I will restore My people Israel from captivity [ Amos 9:14].”?
But they have not yet returned. Immediately, he [the Ammonite] was permitted to join the community.”

Under the new leadership, the selection criteria of the Institute changes dramatically. The gatekeeper, reminiscent of the doorman in Kakfa’s parable “Before the Law”, had the job to exclude the unworthy. Candidates were rejected if their inner qualities did not match their outer ones (ein tokho kevaro). In Jungian terms, candidates who had something to hide or whose persona did not reflect Self were rejected. A variant manuscript explains that Rabban Gamliel felt that a student whose inner and outer qualities did not match was fundamentally dishonest and therefore could never become a training candidate. Elazar son of Azaria countered with the argument that an imperfect student, through by hard work and study, can become perfect, or at least “good enough”. The Gatekeeper’s dilemma is how to know who is worthy enough to enter. Selection committees in Training Institutes, act as gatekeepers and often reject candidates on the basis of a perceived flaw in the person’s character. Such exclusion is typically justified in terms of keeping up standards but implicitly creates an emotional superiority in those who are accepted and devaluation of those rejected. Eisold notes that throughout training when questions are raised about ‘the emotional capacity of some candidates to practice’, the decision as to how to deal with them is often based on ‘the need of the community to sustain its professional reputation,’ (Eisold 2001:349) and not on how to provide the necessary assistance to the candidate.
In the new Israel Institute of Jungian Psychology, (IIJP), we had a change of policy similar to that instituted by Elazar son of Azaria. Previously candidates went through a Selection Interview in which candidates were assessed in terms of whether they met some vague criteria of psychological health and analytic potential. This approach, as in the case of Rabban Gamliel’s Beit Midrash, excluded many candidates who wished to learn. On reflection, the members of the new Institute felt that this view preconceived the idea of what an analyst should be like. Such unconscious or preconscious preconceptions may have subtly biased the selection process to choose candidates who resembled members of the selection committee. Instead of a Selection Interview (“Is this person worthy?”), we introduced a Rejection Interview (“Is there sufficient evidence to reject this person?”) in which we sought, not to accept candidates, but rather to establish whether there were sufficient grounds to reject them. These grounds were clearly stated: severe psychopathology, such as a personality disorder, or a clear sense that this person would prove disruptive to the group learning environment. One candidate who I interviewed would not have been accepted under the old system, but there were insufficient grounds to reject him. He was accepted and indeed came to the opening meeting of the Training. During the following week, he realized on his own that he was not yet ready for training. Instead of a humiliating rejection to be left standing outside the door of the Institute, this applicant left voluntarily. Should he reapply, he may do so from a position of self-insight and not woundedness.
Likewise, the discussion concerning whether to allow previously excluded Ammonites into the community, paralleled our experience. The old Israel Association excluded a number of mental health professionals. They were left standing outside the door. Such “Ammonites” included Expressive Therapists and Educational Psychologists. The new Institute revised application requirements and instituted a more open policy in which talented “Ammonites” might apply.
As a result, the “chairs” in the institute increased, not by 700 or even 400 new candidates. But for the first time, an Art Therapist and a Dance Therapist were accepted as training candidates.
“On that day”, the culture of debate in the Institute returned to one of open debate. Issues were no longer decided in an arbitrary manner, but discussed and debated and decided by vote. In the old Israel Association, we could hardly discuss any issue without ad hominem arguments. In the new Institute, we have tried to create a culture in which people can express feelings and attitudes and ideas with passion, but without disdain or derision. The future will reveal how successful we have been.
There is one further point and it concerns the behavior of the deposed Rabban Gamliel who did not absent himself from the House of Study for even a single hour. Deposed leaders, driven from positions of power in their Associations, often withdraw from all Association activities. They may even seek to undermine the current leadership from outside. Their absence often creates a ‘loyalty conflict’ in which their analysands, candidates and “faction members” feel forced to choose between their analyst and the Association. It is hard to underrate the destructive impact of such withdrawals on the well being of the Association and its members.
Rabban Gamliel, to his credit behaves in a different fashion. He does not remove himself from Association activities, but rather continues to play a central role in its debates, making his voice known. “On that day”, we do observe an electrifying intellectual debate between the two great rivals. Rabban Gamliel’s presence helps create a healthy pluralism (Samuels 1989).
Rabban Gamliel said [to himself]: “Seeing as it so [that the house of Study is following Rabbi Yehoshua] I will go and reconcile with Rabbi Yehoshua.” When he arrived at the house of Rabbi Yehoshua, he saw that the walls were blackened. He said to him: “From the walls of your house I see that you are a charcoal maker” [Rabbi Yehoshua] said to him: “Woe to the generation that you are its leader! You do not know the sorrows of the sages or how they support themselves and make a living!”
[Rabban Gamliel] said: “ I have wronged you. Forgive me!”
But Rabbi Yehoshua refused
The narrative now shifts back to Rabban Gamliel, who has a change of heart. He feels remorse towards his bitter rival, and presumably toward his previous, exclusionary policies. Earlier, the Text relates that he had dreamt of white jars full of ashes. Rabban Gamliel’s supporters understood the “ashes” in the dreams as indicating the “worthless fellows” which the open door policy has admitted to the Institute. A variant reading actually says the jars contained “waste material”. But the Talmud narrative suggests that this soothing interpretation was false. It is hard to interpret this dream without knowing the relevant personal associations or cultural amplifications. What kind of jars were they? Where were they located? What are white jars associated with? Were ashes normally kept in such receptacles? These are questions to which we have no answers. Clearly, however, there is a sharp contrast between the container and the contained (Jung 1921), the jar outside and the ashes inside. Ashes and jars are both transformed by fire yet in opposite directions. A jar begins as soft and pliable clay, but becomes hard and solid ceramic; a dead body is hard and mostly solid, but becomes soft ash, easily scattered by the wind. Ashes do suggest a sense of penance, the way of ashes. (Bly 1991). This latter interpretation finds support in Gamliel’s visit to the blackened room, where Yehoshua worked making charcoal, although another tradition suggests he was blacksmith making needles. Yehoshua can be seen, symbolically, as someone who is comfortable with blackness, in symbolic terms the shadow, the dark side of the personality. Rabban Gamliel in trying to be too pure, denies his own shadow.
Gamliel’s visit to Yehoshua’s blackened abode is apparently his very first. His unexpected discovery of Yehoshua’s profession shows how out of touch Gamliel was with the lived life of the members or their economic realities. Gamliel resembles an elitist President whose concern with maintaining standards leaves him out of touch with the direct impact of his policy.
Rabban Gamliel, unlike most faction leaders, realizes that he has wronged his rival. He asks for forgiveness but is rebuffed. Forgiveness is something analysts often discuss with their analysands (Durham 2000; McCullough et. al. 2000), but I suspect it something they rarely discuss with colleagues. I recall the surprising reaction of my control analyst, after reporting a rather unpleasant experience with the Association’s certifying board. Even though I had actually passed the exam, he said, “Never forgive them!” Only after I was accepted as a member of the Israel Association, did I understand that he had experienced my difficulties during the exam as a hostile act directed against him (Allphin 1999). He felt that I was not being examined on my own merits, but as one of “his candidates”. I have no idea if such was the case, however, candidates are often identified with their “fictive genealogy” as “analysand of X” or “supervised by Y”. At times of organizational tension and intrigue, candidates’ difficulties during the evaluation process, are widely perceived as meta-communication between rival analysts. One may take revenge on a rival by criticizing their “progeny” and thereby implying that their analyst and/or supervisor are themselves inadequate and unworthy.

[Rabban Gamliel pleaded:] “Do it for the sake of my father!”
They reconciled.

Member of the House of Study pondered:
“Who will go and tell the sages?”
A “washerman” said: “I will go and tell.”
Rabbi Yehoshua sent the following [cryptic] message to the House of Study: “He who wears a uniform, will wear a uniform; he who does not wear a uniform will tell the one who does: Take it off and I will wear it?”
Rabbi Akiva said to the Rabbis: Shut the gates so that the servants of Rabban Gamliel will not enter and disturb us. When Rabbi Yehoshua learned of the matter, he said: “It is better if I arise and go by myself.” He went and knocked at the door and said: “The sprinkler, son of a sprinkler, has the right to sprinkle. But whoever is not a sprinkler, nor son of a sprinkle, can he tell the son of sprinkler: “Your water is not sanctified; your ashes are not sanctified.”? Rabbi Akiva said to him: “Rabbi Yehoshua, are you reconciled? Everything we did [in deposing Rabban Gamliel] was done to protect your honor. [If you are indeed reconciled] then tomorrow morning, you and I may go to [reinstate and] salute Rabban Gamliel [as Head of the House of Study].”

They said: “What shall we do [with Elazar son of Azaria]? Shall we remove him?”
The rules states:” In matters of holiness, one raises up, one does not lower down.”
“If one expounds one Sabbath and the other on the next Sabbath, they will be jealous of one another.” Nor will Rabban Gamliel agree. [A compromise was agreed, whereby] Rabban Gamliel was in office for three Sabbaths in a month and Elazar son of Azaria for one Sabbath. So it was said: “Whose Sabbath was it?” “It was the Sabbath of Elazar son of Azaria.”
In the Hebrew tradition, one is commanded to seek forgiveness from an injured party on three separate occasions. Yehoshua agrees at the second attempt. He agrees to do so for the sake of Gamliel’s father, who was apparently Yehoshua’s teacher, or in analytic terms, Yehoshua’s training analyst. The text does not say that Yehoshua forgave Rabban Gamliel, but only that he reconciled with him. Reconciliation falls short of true forgiveness, but it nevertheless allows the resumption of a practical relationship. It is often very difficult to resume a healthy interaction between analysts after once has felt slighted or done against by the other. The very sensitivity of analysts to the feeling realm may make actual forgiveness all the more difficult. Reconciliation, however, may offer a third way, between forgiving and not forgiving, that allows for a resumption of cooperation.
The reconciliation once again changes the politics of the Institute. The old faction moves to reinstate Rabban Gamliel and a struggle between factions ensues. Rabbi Yehoshua, however, personally intervenes to bring reconciliation between the factions. The “washerman” who has offered to convey the latest dirty “gossip” misunderstood and mis-conveyed Yehoshua’s phrase, “The one who wears a uniform, will wear a uniform; he who does not wear a uniform will tell the one who does: Take it off and I will wear it?” The gossip reports the phrase not as an ironic question, but as a direct command: “Take it off and I will wear it!”
But Yehoshua had always intended that Rabban Gamliel’s restoration not be at the expense of Elazar so that both off them will wear the “uniform” of the office.
Yehoshua’s brilliant compromise brings about, neither the return of the Old Guard, nor a power struggle by the Young Turks to retain their newfound supremacy, but shared leadership between the “puer” and the “senex”. Three weeks out of a month, Gamliel will be in charge, while one week Elazar will do so. Each will have a chance to lecture and set the tone for the Institute. Joint leadership by its very nature works against dogmatic authoritarianism, since it is based on an ethic of sharing in which each leader can compensate and counter-balance the other. Note that alternating the leadership is rejected since this seemingly fair solution would inevitably lead to conscious or unconscious destructive envy on the part of the more senior analyst.
The background of the split in the Israeli Association was the existence of cliques and the resentments it produced. In the few years prior to the split, one faction had dominated many of the official positions and committees of the Association, while the leader of another faction had withdrawn from active participation. This senior analyst had bided his time until a number of “his” candidates were accepted as new members. He then returned to active participation in Association activities, in what was perceived by the other faction, as an attempt to retake power, much as the supporters of Rabbi Yehoshua felt. The fight over the psychotherapy training program, the immediate cause of the first split, was fought against the background of this power struggle. One lesson learned from the factions and the splits is that the centralization of power must be prevented. In most Training Institutes, centralization of power is limited by the fact that Heads of Institutes and Committee serve for a limited time period. Other proposals include limiting the total number of candidates any one analyst may have in personal or control analysis and other experiments in joint leadership.
And the student, who was he? – Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai!
At the beginning of the narrative, the identity of the student who asked the question concerning Evening prayer was not given. At the end of the text, we are told he was none other than Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who became one of the most famous Rabbis in the following generation, renowned as the putative author of the Zohar, the Book of Splendor the central text of Jewish mysticism. The final line reworks the meaning of the story to be an introduction to the early career of Rabbi Shimon and part of the folklore of the Institute. It provides a trans-generational case study in the creation of new leadership. From the point of view of the well being of Training Institutes, it shows how much a good question can accomplish.

Many analysts feel ambivalent toward organizational life of their Institutes. Yet group life is necessary. It is necessary for training of candidates and to help us think together about the key issues in this “impossible profession”. It may also help to enact a collective identity and provide soulful refreshment. In this article, I have tried to use a Talmudic Text to provide some deeper understanding of the nature of our group life and its organizational tensions.
At the beginning of the story, Rabban Gamliel, the dogmatic authoritarian leader of his Institute humiliates his opponent, but does not withdraw from Institute affairs when he himself is deposed. He looks to his dreams to help him understand his personal role in the organizational crisis. He asks for forgiveness and does not feel insulted when he is rebuffed, but persists until some sort of reconciliation is achieved. Finally, he agrees to structural changes in the governance of the Institute as part of a shared leadership – which guarantees pluralism and tolerance of diversity. It is because of these changes, I believe, that he is given a second chance to head the Institute.
The turning point for Rabban Gamliel occurs when he asks himself “Is it possible that I prevented Torah study from the people of Israel?” Even though Rabban Gamliel and his followers initially respond that the newcomers are merely worthless trash, his question evoked the shared values of the collective, in this case, Torah study. In the midst of a power struggle, I think it is naïve to expect powerful or narcissistic leaders to question themselves and become aware of the damage they are causing colleagues and the collective. But I do believe it may possible, even then, to reaffirm the shared values and the overall purpose of the Training Institute. If the group can agree about the “why” of the Institute, then perhaps disputes about the “how” can be discussed “for the sake of heaven”. During the Israeli splits, the one thing that all groups agreed upon was that the training of candidates should not be harmed by the split. Training, indeed, did continue.
The re-evocation of common values may then act as a counter-ballast to the opposing loyalties to pair bonding, cliques and power complexes and even create the conditions for a revitalization of the collective. These shared values can act as part of a temenos, holding the group together. Enacting these values, especially in times of tension, may require non-standard sessions involving e.g. social dream matrix, sharing favorite myths and fairy tales, singing and drumming, watching a movie and sharing personal reactions, retreats and meditation sessions may each contribute to create a lively sense of ongoing community
I believe that just as we share the clinical and theoretical aspects of our work with our analysands, we must start to do likewise with our group life. I believe we need to explore and understand the conditions under which difficulties arise and how they may be dealt with in a manner that improves the well being of the Association and its membership. During the most painful periods in the Israeli split, I realized that we were not the only group who had been through this separation process but that there was no forum for sharing the lessons of previous splits. I believe that such forum, working group, conference or workshop might prove valuable to provide a collective understanding of the tensions in our group life and the tendency toward splitting. It might provide actual assistance or act as a resource to a group in the process of internal fracturing.
Just an individual needs to know when to go for analysis, I believe that Associations of analysts need to know when to seek professional help. Eisold (1994) has suggested a role for organizational consultants and experts in group work. During the many stormy sessions in the Israeli Association, long before the split was on the horizon, a number of members did propose inviting a consultant to help improve the group process. The suggestion, however, was never taken up. In retrospect, it seems like a lost opportunity.
I wonder if a more serious preventive medicine is not in order. Just as one should not wait for a serious disease to select one’s physician, I do not think groups should wait for a crisis or power struggle to consider a group consultation. Instead, I would encourage Institutes to initiate contact with a group consultant who would then have at least some basic knowledge of the group dynamic and who could be called upon in times of group tensions.
In some cases, splits may be inevitable. Anthony Stevens and others have suggested that when a group gets to a certain size, then a split may be necessary and natural, as for example occurs among villagers in the Amazon Basin. With well under fifty analysts, I doubt whether the Israeli Association had ever reached that limit. Splits, as in splitting the atom can released both creative and destructive energies. In Israel, there is consensus that each of the three groups is more active and creative than the entire former Association. On the other hand, so much negative feeling was engendered in the process of the split that many members are not on speaking terms. Had there been some ability to reflect upon and contain group tensions, then the outcome may not have been so strained. It remains to be seen if some sort of reconciliation in the future, along the lines of Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua, will ever be possible.
Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua show us that group life in our Analytic Institutes need not be one dominated by power struggles, factionalism, dogmatism and splits. Instead, they established a lasting format for intense intellectual debate, which embodies both the passion for truth and tolerance for diversity. Open discussion was seen as the best way of clarifying issues. “I am right” did not necessarily imply “You are wrong.” Indeed much of Talmudic discourse involves trying to reconcile apparent contradictions. At the same time, there was a profound rejection of the humiliating behavior of Rabban Gamliel. The worst thing a scholar could do was to shame a fellow in public. Such public shaming was considered as a symbolic equivalent of murder. Blushing in shame – blood coming to the face – was seen as a form of bloodshed, as when one says “I died of shame.”
Collectives need to create a firm consensus concerning which types of behavior are unacceptable in a public forum and to create situation-appropriate sanctions against violators. Public shaming is not exactly an ethical violation and needs to be dealt with in another way. For example, all individuals in a training group might take upon themselves a pledge not to shame each other in public and agree in advance what sanctions violators would voluntarily impose upon themselves. These sanctions could be mild (e.g. not to attend the next meeting of the Institute) or more severe (e.g. to resign from all committees).
New members would be socialized to these shared group norms, which would form part of the tradition of group life of the Institute.
Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua together helped found a group life for seekers of truth
imbued with a lasting tradition of passionate, but tolerant debate.
Can we not learn from their example?
I would like to thank members of Forgiveness Study Group, Elul, Jerusalem, with whom I first encountered and
studied the text; Shlomo Naeh, Professor of Talmud, Hebrew University, Jerusalem for his generous assistance
in the translation; and members and candidates of the Israel Institute for Jungian Psychology to whom I first
presented this material at our fall conference 2003 at Pilgrimhaus Tabgha, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
1a. There are 50 groups recognized by IAAP and at least twenty of them have undergone a split. The first split in the Jungian world occurred in Italian Association, six months after the death of its founder and seems to have set the tone for many splits to come. There were no great theoretical differences between the two groups and the conflict was based purely on personal grounds (Kirsch 2000:151). In UK, the initial split between Michael Fordham (SAP) and Gerhard Adler (AJA) was followed by a further division within Adler’s group which became the Independent Group (IGAP). Other splits have occurred in Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Denmark, CIPA, Ontario, Pacific North West, Venezuela, Zurich (Kirsch 2000). New splits are in process in NY Association, Spain. (Murray Stein, personal communication). In other regions, pre-existing divisions between analysts have delayed (e.g. Denmark) or even prevented the formation of an Association (e.g. Pittsburgh).
1b. Psychoanalytic writing tends be written in a dogmatic, theory laden manner in which clinical vignettes are selected to illustrate the author’s theoretical point. (Plaut 1999). In sharp contrast, there are a number of books that embody tolerance to diversity by presenting the same clinical material from different perspectives. These include Fosshage (1989) in which a dream series is analyzed from 8 different perspectives; Withers (2003) in which case material and theoretical controversies are compared from various Jungian and Kleinian perspectives; Young- Eisendrath & Dawson (1997) includes ‘The Case of Joan’ which is analyzed from three different Jungian perspectives; Astor (2000) compares two approaches to internal supervision; Samuels (1992) discusses clinical pluralism.
2. For decades, American Psychoanalytic Institutes was open exclusively to MDs, even though a medical education is hardly conducive to becoming a psychoanalyst. Jungian Institutes differ widely according to whether they require Professional Qualifications and licenses prior to training or not. In a number of cases, disputes concerning qualification requirements or training analyst status has itself become the “immediate cause” of a split. (Kirsch 2000).
3. The Talmud does contain an extensive “dream book” in the same tractate Berachot. There is no definitive discussion of this rich material.
4. Based on variant reading from Talmud manuscript, Paris 671.
5. Although training continued, it was not without problems. No attempt was made to meet with candidates and help them process what was happening within the Association. Joint attempts to administer the training soon broke down. Individual factions sent contradictory letters or regulations to candidates. In the end, candidates had to decide to which of the three groups they wished to belong.

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