the charismatic Anglo-Pakistani whoit was
recently revealedslept with and abused many of his patients. In
Godleys telling, he was essentially tortured by Khan from beginning
to end. It was a long and fruitless battle culminating in a spiral
Within minutes of our first meeting,
the therapeutic relationship had been totally subverted, he writes.
In later sessions Khan violated every conceivable boundary between analyst
and patient. He assaulted Godley with verbal tirades (And to think
you people ruled the world!). He gossiped freely about
his A-list social life (Rudolph Nureyev, Julie Christie, Peter OToole,
Mike Nichols) and his other patients, going so far as to arrange a liaison
between Godley (who was happily married) and a female patient (Khan
said they were handmade for one another). The three of themtwo
patients and their analysteven played poker together (Khan cheated).
In less jovial circumstances, Godley witnessed a drunken row between
Khan and his wife, the Royal Ballets beautiful prima ballerina
Svetlana Beriosova, which ended with her kicking Khan in the groin and
then passing out in the front hall.
The article was devastating because Khan
had been one of psychoanalysiss best and brightesta senior
training analyst, a director of the Sigmund Freud Copyrights, an Anna
Freud protégé, and longtime collaborator with the most famous
child analyst of the twentieth century, D. W. Winnicott (Khan edited
and, some speculate, may have coauthored much of his mentors voluminous
output of books and papers). With his impeccable pedigree he was the
link between the legendary first generation and some of todays
most important analysts. Indeed, Anna Freud insisted that Khan understood
her fathers work better than anyone (other than herself, of course),
and she defended him whenever he aroused the Societys ire.
The professional reaction to Godleys
revelations has been swift and defensive. While it is no secret that
equally serious violations of the professional boundary between analyst
and patient plague analysis today, there remains the damning fact in
his case that many of Khans contemporariesthe venerable
Winnicott includedknew of his infractions at the time he
was committing them but did nothing. This is like a return to
the days of Freud and the earliest psychoanalytic pioneers. Everything
is being criticized and re-evaluated here, everything is up for
grabs, says Gregorio Kohon, an animated Argentine émigré
and senior member of Londons Institute of Psycho-Analysis who
studied with Khan in the early 1970s. Every family has
secrets. And what we are witnessing in the family of psychoanalysis
is nothing less than the return of the repressed.
Kohon suggests that the present purging of the tradition may be the
first steps of a return to the original promise of psychoanalysis.
Between 1895 and 1905 Freuds search
for a cure for paralyzing nervous disorders developed into
a full-blown science of the mind. According to his early
theory, painful memories and feelings were repressed by the unconscious
and found expression in patients physical symptoms. After trying
hypnosis and other forms of suggestion, Freud discovered that a patient
could alleviate his own problems by free-associating, thereby bringing
these memories to the fore. But Freud noticed that in the process of
doing so the patient would direct (or transfer) the intense
emotions he associated with people from his past to his analyst.
Freuds discovery of transference
(and countertransferencethe displaced emotions from
his past that the analyst imposes on the patient) was the center
of his theory of psychoanalysis. Carefully handled, transference was
the key to psychoanalysiss curative potential, but only if the
strict professional boundaries between patient and analyst were maintained.
In Recommendations to Physicians Practicing Psycho-Analysis
(1912), Freud described the boundaries necessary to regulate the confusion
that improperly handled transference would wreak on the analytic relationship.
The analyst must listen to the patients free association in a
state of evenly suspended attention; he must remain opaque and resist
the temptation to influence or improve the patient. The goal of psychoanalysis
was for the analyst to use his own unconscious like a receptive
organ toward the transmitting unconscious of the patient, Freud
wrote. Improperly handled, the analyst and patient may reenact rather
than analyze away the vexed relationships each had with figures from
their pasts. The dangers inherent in the psychoanalytic relationship
have never been denied.
* * *
While psychoanalysis sometimes seems
in a state of perpetual crisis, even the most jaded observers
believe the Khan-Godley affair comes at a defining moment in its history.
Today nearly all of Freuds conceptstransference, countertransference,
repression, the Oedipus complexare under scrutiny. The cumulative
critiques by writers like Frederick Crews, Adolph Grunbaum, Frank Sulloway,
and Peter Swales have forced psychoanalysiss defenders to reconsider
its scientific basis as well as the standard story of its founding and
development. Psychoanalysiss most sophisticated interpreters have
acknowledged these failings, appropriated the critics insights,
and tried to move on. Research in neuroscience is affirming many of
Freuds ideas about the unconscious. Cultural critics draw insight
from Freuds philosophical inquiries. Whether the new
psychoanalysts perceive themselves as philosophers, scientists, or cultural
critics, they agree that this is a particularly fertile moment for reenvisioning
Freuds larger project. The questions at the heart of psychoanalysisits
promise to throw light on why we do the things we do, why we have trouble
doing what we want to do, and why we suffercontinue to
The theoretical debate has had implications
for the practice of psychoanalysis, and the scandal about Kahn has revived
several long-simmering disputes. Is the aim of psychoanalysis to cure
or merely to comfort? Should analysts maintain a clinical, professional
distance and respect the boundaries between themselves and
their patients (as classical analysis insists upon)? Or should they
strive for a so-called real relationship, eroding the boundaries
in order to heal the patient? And, more specifically, many are questioning
whether Khans behavior was so anomalous, or whether certain ideas
within the British tradition itself unwittingly encourage such
flagrant boundary violations. Did the very tradition that trained Khan
as an analyst fail him as a patient? Was the saintly Winnicott to blame? Was
Khanwho tormented so manyhimself a victim?
I was stunned when I read Godleys
piece. Although skeptical about the scientific basis for and efficacy
of psychoanalysis, I had always thought of the Winnicottian tradition
that produced Khan as defined by its gentleness and empathymuch
like Winnicott himself. Khan was especially popular among literary and
creative people; he analyzed Christopher Bollas and Adam Phillips, analysts
and prolific writers whose work explores what Phillips has called the
post-Freudian Freud, or the wild Freud who champions
creativity and the fully lived life over the stern Enlightenment
Freud who prescribes rigorous interpretation and self-knowledge.
I had previously written about Phillips, who, as one who was analyzed
by Khan, and had authored an excellent monograph on Winnicott, clearly
perceived himself as carrying on their tradition. From Winnicott
to Khan, to Bollas to Phillips, the move is toward finding and enlarging
the self, writes Linda Hopkins, a psychoanalyst who is writing
Blessings and Humiliations, the first full-length biography of
Khan. The aim of the new analysis is to help a person
to feel alive, to be open to change, not to be cured of an illness.
The analyst seeks to deepen and enlarge the scope of experience. It
is better to be alive, real and mad than to be living from
a false self.
But the monstrous Khan described by Godley
bore no relation to the warm, whimsical man Phillips recalled so fondly
to me. Did Khan have a split personality? Or were the conflicting accounts
of Khans behavior merely proof-positive of his empathic talent
for transforming himself into the analyst a patient neededthough
perhaps did not want? Did Khan represent the perverse, reducto ad absurdum
of Winnicotts ideas, or did he embody their the most perfect,
* * *
I made an appointment to talk to Godley
and one late-summer day drove ninety miles north of New York City to
Bard College. The Levy Economics Institute is housed in a turn-of-the-century
mansion looking down over an ornate Italian garden and out across the
wide, green expanse of the Hudson River. At age seventy-seven, Godley
has the unmistakable bearing of an aristocrat. Tall and slender, with
a lean, handsome face, he is dressed with the nonchalance of those truly
to the manor born: scuffed slippers, worn khakis, a frayed
blue shirt and a baggy maroon wool sweaterno matter that it is
a sweltering late-summer day.
Over lunch Godley tells me about Khan
with a mixture of ennui and despair; his tone is so remote he might
well be recounting someone elses analysis. During their
seven years of daily analytic sessions, Godley says Khan discouraged
him from recounting his childhood or past: everything of real
significance, Khan assured him, was taking place between the two of
them. Of course this gave him a license to interfere actively,
judgmentally, and with extraordinary cruelty in every aspect of my daily
life, writes Godley. Khan would occasionally show up at Godleys
house, drunk and unannounced, to torment his stepdaughter (who was herself
in analysis with Winnicott, Khans mentor) and harass his wife.
Godley wont allow me to record
our conversation and seems as if he is trying to keep from mentioning
any details beyond those hes already revealed. So when I pose
what seems to me the obvious questionWhy didnt you simply
leave Khan?he seems thrown off-script.
His eyes dart around the restaurant nervously
before he looks down and speaks slowly, using words I later learn are
paraphrased from another scriptan e-mail discussion
he participated in with several analysts. I had been beaten into
the ground and made a Faustian bargain, he says gravely. In
return for my servitude I was granted an incredibly deceptive appearance
of a life and of worldly success, which seemed to do everyone credit.
It was doomed, of course. All this left me with a sense of shame which
took a long time to discharge . . . he trails off. But
dont you think that the real question is not why I stayed,
but why Khan was admitted to the Institute of Psycho-Analysis in
the first place?
Godley tells me about his unhappy childhood.
Raised amidst great wealth by a distant, alcoholic father and an erratic
mother (she would occasionally parade in front of her son naked while
describing the intense pleasure she got from sexual intercourse),
he felt unmoored from the start. After Oxford, where he was mentored
by Isaiah Berlin (who became a lifelong friend), and a brief career
as a professional oboist in Paris, Godley began a career at the Treasury.
He married the sculptor Jacob Epsteins daughter, Elizabeth, who
had previously been married to the artist Lucian Freud (Sigmunds
grandson). Despite his successful career and marriage Godley was tormented
by depression and hallucinations and sought help from the only analyst
he knew of, D.W. Winnicott, then president of the British Psycho-Analytical
Society. Winnicott referred him to Khan, who wasunbeknownst to
Godleyboth Winnicotts protégé and patient.
However awful Godleys account,
one shouldnt get the impression that Khan hated him. Quite the
contrary. The strange thing is that Masud really loved
Godley. He was one of his favorite patients, one analyst tells
me. Indeed, Khan was as capable of generosity as he was of sadism. Even
as he tormented Godley he also showered him with presents: a complete
set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, a Leger lithograph signed
by the artist, expensive first editions of books. Once, when Godley
had the flu, Khan sent another patient (a physician) to his home to
take care of him. I opened my eyes and saw this man, who I knew
was Khans patient, leaning over me with a stethoscope. I tried
not to giggle, but I found the whole situation absurd, Godley
remembers. (Godley says that Khans destructive influence was eventually
undone at the hands of a skilful, patient and selfless American
Soon after Godleys article appeared,
Donald Campbell, then the Societys president, launched a full-scale
investigation, which included studying minutes of past council and committee
meetings and interviewing senior members who had known Khan. A closed
meeting was called to discuss the affair. It had two aims, Campbell
tells me. First, to think about how the Society failed to protect
Khans patients and psychoanalysis, and, second, to focus on the
institutional issues and the unconscious collusion that took place,
in order to better safeguard the practice of psychoanalysis in the future,
When the confidential report was shared
with members (though not the public) it became clear that the Societys
collusion had begun with Khans training in 1946. Although he failed
to complete his first psychoanalytic case successfullya case,
moreover, supervised by Anna Freud herselfKhan was nevertheless
officially qualified as an analyst, which was a blatant violation of
the Societys rules. Reading the minutes [of Khans
evaluation sessions] one gets the impression that there is a certain
momentum to his getting through the training, the confidential
report observes. Thus blessed, Khan was on his way.<-13>He became
an analyst in 1950 at the remarkably young age of twenty-six. After
being rejected three times <-13>for unspecified reasons,
the report continues, Khan was made a training analyst in 1959. Clearly,
some at the Society had doubts about Khan from the beginning.
According to the investigation, members
of the Society continued to collude with Khan even after he had an extremely
public affair with a patient who was training with him to be an analyst.
When her husbandwho was also training at the Institute,
although not with Khancomplained to the Institutes president,
it was some time before he was even believed and action was taken.
(Khan later had an affair with a woman whose husband he was treating.)
The report also found a variety of less
serious boundary violations. Khan dined regularly with the father of
one of his high profile female patients. He frequently phoned
patients in the middle of the night and barged into their homes, drunk
and disturbed. I wasnt the only one, says Godley.
Khan was a serial killer.
Tall (6'2";), darkly handsome, and impeccably
tailored (Saville Row with a dash of the Raj), Khan was hardly the stereotypical,
self-effacing shrink. He claimed to be a Pakistani prince and had a
gold nameplate affixed to his door that read His Royal Highness
Masud Khan. Eschewing the leafy Hampstead suburb favored by London
analysts, he lived smack in the middle of the busy city, near Harrods
in an elegant Hans Crescent apartment building. Sir Michael Redgrave
and his family were neighbors. Khans apartment was filled with
valuable Impressionist and post-Impressionist art, as well as a fine
collection of first editions of contemporary French and English novels.
In 1959 he married the ballerina Svetlana
Beriosova, through whom he acquired a far-flung set of celebrity friends.
Rudolph Nureyev, Julie Christie, Peter OToole, Mike Nichols, Francois
Truffaut, Princess Margaret, and Julie Andrews (Beriosova was her daughters
godmother) attended parties where Khan circulated among guests performing
instant analyses as a kind of party trickan act which
inspired his friend, the literary critic Frank Kermode, to dub him a
circus analyst. (In a further twist, Kermode became Godleys
friend when they were scholars at Cambridge, and it was he who recommended
Godleys memoir to the London Review of Books.)
Despite his considerable charm, Khan
could also be ill-behaved and overbearing. He did rather outrageous
things, much like an impetuous undergraduate or, worse still, the lord
of the manor, Kermode tells me. He recalls an evening when Khan
bullied Kermodes wife, reducing her to tears as the three shared
a quiet dinner. Kermode warned Khan to stop or they would leave. When
Khan didnt stop, Kermode got up to go, only to find that Khan
was blocking his path. When I got up he said, You cant
get out unless I move! I said, Oh, I can, actually.
Ill just get up on the table and scatter your fine crystal and
chinaware on my way out! Kermode had one foot on the table
when Khan finally allowed them to leave. On another occasion Kermode
was one of a dozen guests at one of Khans formal dinner parties.
As the first course was served, Khan swept into the dining room with
a black cape and cane and announced that he had an engagement at the
Pakistani Embassy to attend. He told his guests to leave.
Khans manners were no better when
he kept his appointments. The director Mike Nichols, a close
friend in the 1960s, remembers a dinner party at which Khan spied a
man flirting with a woman at the end of the table. You are wasting
your time, sir! You are barking up the wrong tree! bellows Nichols,
imitating Khans clipped Pakistani accent. Cant you
see that she is a lesbian! On another occasion, Nichols
says, Khan sent a chocolate cake to an obese man at another table at
the restaurant, calling across to him as it was delivered, So
that you might die sooner! Some suspected Khans mischief
was designed to show off his Svengali-like powers of persuasion. Once,
while drinking champagne with the French analyst Andre Green, Khan deliberately
nudged the bottle off the table, sending it crashing to the floor. He
then turned to the man at the adjacent table and demanded an
apology, creating such a scene that the innocent diner eventually bought
them a new bottle.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about
Khans behavior was that it usually went unchallenged. One reason,
suggests Kermode, was Khans intelligence. He recalls a standing-room-only
lecture by Lacan at Londons Institute Français in the mid-1960s,
when the French analyst was at the height of his fame. It was
boring and went on for three hours. Finally, Masud strode up to the
stage and interrupted him saying, No, youre explaining this
incorrectly. Khan then proceeded to offer his own
version of Lacanian theory while Lacan beamed with admiration. He
was obviously quite fond of Masud, Kermode tells me.
When brilliance wasnt enough, Khan
was skillful at manipulating his outsider status as a tall, dark, confrontational
Muslim in a world of small, white, taciturn analysts. He continually
used subtle measures to make all the superior Westerners feel very inferior,
writes Judy Cooper, Khans patient and first biographer. Godley
suggests Khans dual personaethe bully and the charismaticwere
uniquely suited for exploiting British reticence and reserve. When not
daring an opponent (or analysand) to call his bluff, he seduced them.
Karl Menninger often told the story of Khans lecture at his clinic,
after which he promised to send Menningeran avid horsemanfour
Arabian stallions from his royal stables in Pakistan. Needless
to say, they never arrived. Years later, when confronted by a colleague
of Menningers, Khan didnt dispute the account. Dont
you know? he explained, I always tell people what
they want to hear.
* * *
How did Freuds science of
the mind end up producing someone like Khan? How did Kahn thrive
in the most exclusive precincts of the psychoanalytic world? One theory
I heard as I talked with British analysts is that Khans adopted
country provided peculiarly fertile soil for the iconoclastic practitioners
of Freuds iconoclastic methods. Psychoanalysts and their
patients were tolerated as part of a wild but harmless bunch of eccentrics
in a land of eccentrics, writes Gregorio Kohon in the introduction
to The British School of Psychoanalysis, his edited collection
of the classic papers from the Independent tradition.
As distinct from the story of psychoanalysis
in America, where renegades founded far-flung institutes dedicated to
every conceivable variation of analysis, British psychoanalysis (or
psycho-analysis, as it is known there) developed within
the confines of a single official organization: The Institute
of Psycho-Analysis. While there are many schools in BritainFreudian,
Kleinian, Independent, Anna Freudian, attachment theorythey all
exist (uneasily, at times) in one place.
And that place was the singlehanded creation
of Ernest Jones. Today best known as the author of Freuds authorized
biography, Jones had already established a successful neurological career
when he grew frustrated by medicines inability to understand the
quirks and pathologies of the mind. He read Freuds Dora
in 1905 and met Freud himself in Salzburg in 1908 at the first Psycho-Analytic
Congress, where Jones was presenting his paper, Rationalization
in Everyday Life, in which he coined the term. Jones was subsequently
analyzed by Sandor Ferenczi (psychoanalysiss most famous boundary
violator, he was infamous for kissing and hugging his patients) between
1911 and 1913, and in 1919 he established the British Psycho-Analytical
Society, over which he presided until 1944.
From the moment it was founded, the tension
at the Society was between those who wanted to maintain Freuds
project and those who wanted to depart from it. The two central
debates were over child analysis and the role of the environment
(sometimes called object relations)as opposed to libidinal
internal drivesin diagnosing and treating mental illness.
Freuds British followers always
emphasized psychoanalysiss applicability to children. This emphasis
deepened in 1926 when Jones invited Melanie Klein to immigrate to London
from Berlin. Kleins first paper, Notes on the Psycho-analysis
of a Child Aged Five Years, argued that childrens fantasies
were linked to their weaning and toilet training. Klein argued that
the Oedipus complex emerged in the earliest months of life, rather than
between age three and five years as Freud believed. Her most dramatic,
though indirect, challenge to Freud came when she opened a 1927 symposium
on child analysis with a vigorous critique of Anna Freuds Introduction
to the Technique of the Analysis of Children. Many, including
Freud, wondered whether Klein was breaking with psychoanalysisas
Jung had done earlierrather than merely extending it.
World War II brought a deluge of European
analysts to London, including Freud himself, who escaped from Vienna
only after Jones, Princess Marie Bonaparte, and William Bullitt, the
American Ambassador to France (both he and Bonaparte had been Freuds
patients), struck a deal with the Nazis. When the Freud entourage arrived
in London on 6 June1938, they were grateful but also fearful that Kleins
ideas might already have supplanted Freuds own.
When Freud died in September 1939 the
fighting among his children intensified. While some venerated
Anna as a brilliant child analyst, others suspected her renown resulted
from nepotism and resented her self-appointed role as guardian of her
fathers legacy. And Anna rightly suspected that many of her fathers
students disliked her. Even Jones, close family friend and savior, suggested
in a letter to Klein that Anna was a tough and indigestible morsel
[who has] probably gone as far in analysis as she can and has no pioneering
The Freud-Klein debate came to a head
during the 19431944 Controversial Discussions. In
the midst of the Blitz, Britains psychoanalytic establishment
waged a war of its own. Where many people found a new communality
under the threats of war, Eric Rayner observes delicately in his
study, The Independent Mind in British Psychoanalysis, the
opposite happened to psychoanalysts in London.
Essentially, the Freud-Klein debate was
over the primacy of caring versus confrontation
in analysis. Anna Freud held that the point of child analysis was to
help ill children, a goal she believed required a positive, caring connection.
Given a childs limited verbal facility, Freud didnt believe
it was possible for the classical transference relationship to develop;
she conceived of child analysis as a process of play, which
would help the analyst make various interpretations.
In contrast, Klein equated childs
play with the psychoanalytic free association of adult patients and
used it to work back to a childs early aggressive fantasies. Klein
argued that this aggression was far more vicious than anything the Freudians
could imagine. For Freud, the child is a selfish savage,
observes the historian Peter Gay. For Klein, it is a murderous
cannibal. Furthermore, Klein insisted on confronting patients
directly with the meaning of their aggressive fantasiesa technique
which downplayed the importance of the care Anna Freud believed essential
for a successful analysis.
Aware that her confrontational method
clashed with the more compassionate techniques of the Society, Klein
told Jones she feared her concept of depression is for many people
too painful and too difficult to accept and has therefore the effect
of making them regress to former and safer positions.
This safer position was precisely the territory in which
Winnicotts analysis of Khan was conducted. The emphasis was on
creating a secure situation, not so much for interpretation but so Khan
could experience a reliable relationship with his analyst. The difficult
feelings that undoubtedly arose between the two menKhans
narcissism, and his intimidation of Winnicott; Winnicotts paternalism
toward, and extreme dependence on Khanmay have required a more
confrontational, structured analytical relationship in order to be resolved.
* * *
By the conclusion of the Controversial
Discussions the chasm had so widened that the Society struck a
quintessentially British compromise: they would agree to disagree
on the nature of psychoanalytic theory and practice, ensuring only that
future generations of analysts be exposed to both perspectives.
They divided the Society into three groups: A teachers were
drawn from the Society at large, and B teachers from Anna
Freuds followers. Furthermore, the supervisor of a candidates
first analytic case would come from his own group, but the supervisor
of his second case would be an analyst who identified with neither
the Kleinians nor the Anna Freudians. In precisely this safer
position, a nether region between the Freudians and the Kleinians,
between compassion and confrontation, the Middle Group (now called the
Independent Group)among the most prominent of whom were Winnicott,
Khan, Margaret Little, Marion Milner, W. R. D. Fairbairn,
Nina Coltart, Michael Balint, and John Bowlbywas born.
From the start, the Middle Group was
more concerned with the relationships between people than with
the drives within them. While Freud and Klein had charted
the tumultuous inner world, Middle Group analysts like Winnicott and
Khan appropriated their insights and used them to understand interpersonal
Winnicott placed the environmentprimarily
the mother-child relationshipat the center of his work. For him
a mother has a dual responsibility: first, to protect the infant from
the environment; second, to survive the attacks of her murderous
cannibal, the Kleinian child. Winnicott called this protective
process holding and he extended its use to his adult
clinical practice. In his quest to develop a safe holding space
he often blurred classical formalities of psychoanalysis, taking phone
calls from patients during sessions and offering extended visits at
odd times. With some patients Winnicott literally held their
hands or heads, much as one might cradle a scared infant. For the most
troubled patients, like Khan, Winnicott believed that a safe holding
environment was all that analysis had to offer. <-13>
* * *
In the 1960s, at the height of Kahns
career, psychoanalytic London<12.000000> seemed like the center
of the world. Psychoanalysis was in the vanguard. Its marginality
made it special. It wasnt quite of the university or of the medical
tradition. It had a very independent relationship to the culture,
says Dr. Peter Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac, who underwent
analysis while a student at Cambridge. Peter Fonagy, a Hungarian émigré,
who is now a professor of psychoanalysis at University College London,
found the analytic firmament exhilarating as a student there. The
university held a series of lectures by analysts and even the largest
auditoriums werent big enough to hold the audience. They had to
be relayed by television to overflow rooms. Richard Wollheim, Erik Eriksonthey
were like rock stars to us, he tells me.
Like many émigrés, Gregorio
Kohon was drawn to 1960s London by its openness to experimentation.<14.000000>
After qualifying as a clinical psychologist in Argentina he came
to Britain to study with R. D. Laing, the leader of the anti-psychiatry
movement who had famously tried to synthesize Marxism and Freudianism
in his 1967 Dialectics of Liberation Conference, which featured
the unlikely trio of Herbert Marcuse, Allen Ginsberg, and Stokely Carmichael.
By day Laings students discussed
T.S. Eliots Four Quartets, Christian mystics, Sartre, and
Buddhist texts. By night they lived in makeshift communes, abandoned
houses they had occupied and rehabilitated. Kohon shared his house with
five roommates; two other Laing students and three patients who suffered
from various degrees of schizophrenia and psychosis. It was a
very unstructured institutional living situation. The idea was to create
a space for psychoanalysis in which patients didnt feel persecuted.
We were training and treating them by participating in their
lives, he says. Everyone shared the housekeeping tasks. One of
Kohons obsessive-compulsive flatmates would begin cooking dinner
at ten in the morning and become so involved in the recipes that by
ten that night the meal would still not be ready. Another ate only uncooked
grains; on his nights in the kitchen, Kohon resigned himself to uncooked
rice and rock-hard beans.<14.000000>
Like Laing, Khan was perceived as a revolutionary.
As a clinician, Khan was known for taking on the tough cases,
the patients whose previous analysts had given up on them. He used unorthodox
methods, breaking the analytic frame by shocking a patient, sometimes
violently. Anything to establish a real relationship.
Khan was an equally iconoclastic teacher.
He was an abuser, but he was also one of the most inspired teachers
Ive ever had, says Kohon. Hed walk into a seminar,
point to a student and say, Ive been hearing a lot about
you! And what he had been hearing was obviously from the
couch! Now, if you are a student and a teacher says that to you,
you dont dare open your mouth.
Although controversial, Khans techniques
were more or less in keeping with the 1960s experimental culture
of people like Laing, and even of the far tamer Independent School of
analysts. In the wake of Winnicotts ideas about the importance
of the analytic relationship, a number of analysts experimented
with the analysts side of that coupling. The stereotypical
passive analyst was out of fashion. In her seminal paper, Slouching
towards Bethlehem . . . or Thinking the Unthinkable in Psychoanalysis,
Nina Coltart describes a patient who brooded silently day after day
until Coltart became so filled with rage she screamed at him. I
simply and suddenly became furious and bawled him out for his prolonged
lethal attack on me and on the analysis, she writes. This
outburst of mine changed the course of the analysis.
One hears sometimes that the Independent
Group is not a middle group but a muddled group.
There is some truth to this, writes Gregorio Kohon. While analysts
in the Independent tradition pride themselves on their clinical skills,
they confess they are often less theoretically rigorous than, say, the
Kleinians. This flexibility, they argue, allows them to be more alert,
more available for their patients. They consider
the Independent analysts ability to listen, to open himself to
his patients experience, one characteristic that sets the Independents
apart from (and often above) other schools. Unimpeded by rigid theory,
they are reputed to be the mavericks of psychoanalysis. Dislike
of system-building, often characteristic of empiricism, can bring about
neglect of coherent theory, which at best can give strength to the practice
of a difficult technique in the face of adversity, writes Eric
Rayner in his study of the group.
Kohon makes the point more bluntly. What
other people might see as their handicap is in fact the Independents
strength. What they have to offer is primarily but not exclusively a
professional stance, a professional attitude. This is what allows
the necessary distance of the analyst from the patient, he writes.
But what happens when an analyst fails
to maintain a professional attitude, fails to respect
the distance between the analyst and the patient, as Khan did? Is it
an accident that the very theoretical scaffolding which helps an analyst
keep his distance from a patient was alien to the tradition that trained
and treated Khan?
If you dont have a good theory
of the interaction process, you are at the mercy of it, says Peter
Fonagy. This doesnt mean you need the right
theory, but you need to have a firm and good theory to hold on
to. Otherwise the interpersonal encounter with the patient is so powerful
that it simply washes you away. The trouble with the Independents is
that they have been so keen on the experiential aspect of analysis they
forgot about the psychological mechanisms. They didnt know what
the hell was going on and some got washed away.
Getting washed away by the
power of the analytic relationship has been one of the occupational
hazards of psychoanalysis since its inception. Freuds first collaborator,
Joseph Breuer, fled from Anna O. when she aroused sexual feelings in
him. In The Future Prospects of Psychoanalysis, Freud labeled
this experience countertransferencethe process in
which an analysts emotions, positive or negative, are aroused
by the patientand diagnosed it as a neurosis which an analyst
must overcome in order to do his job properly.
Since Freud, there have been three main
attitudes towards countertransference, explains Robert Young, a Texas-born,
London-based analyst who was formerly the publisher of Free Association
Books and a Cambridge don. He sums up the history of countertransference
for me, citing several papers he has written on the subject. An
analyst can get rid of his countertransference through analysis and
concentrate on the patients transference. He can try to exploit
it in a controlled way, as Freud says when he advocates using the therapists
unconscious as an instrument for fathoming the patients unconscious.
Or he can, more or less, just go with it, and treat this
unconscious-to-unconscious communication as the only authentical
communication between analyst and patient, he tells me.
One of the clinical techniques the Independents
are most proud of is their use of countertransference. Given the
emphasis on this interrelation between patient and analyst, countertransference
has developed as the source of the most important clues for the formulation
of transference interpretations, writes Kohon. The notion that
analysts should go with it, that they should rely on their
countertransferential responses to the patient for importantperhaps
the most importantdata was in vogue during Khans
training. For the Independents, countertransference went from being
pathological, to being normal, to being essential. In the wrong hands,
the danger of relying on countertransference is clear. Basing
all interpretations on countertransference feelings denies what the
patient has to say, Kohon warns.
* * *
<-13>Mohammed Masud Raza Khan was
born in 1924 in the Punjab area of India (now Pakistan). His mother
was a ravishing seventeen-year-old dancing girl when his father, a wealthy
seventy-six-year-old landowner, took her as his fourth wife. Khan never
recovered from the ignoble circumstances of his birth, and some have
suggested that his theoretical work, which emphasized the damage done
by maternal indifference, was rooted solidly in his biography. Khan
was in despair when he began analysis in 1946, his father and sister
both having recently died. His <-13>training analysis started with
Ella Sharpe. Khan was a precocious, intellectually gifted studenthe
claimed he had written a prize-winning M.A. thesis on Ulysses<-13>and
devoured back issues of The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis<-13>while
travelling back and forth to his sessions with his second analyst. When
Sharpe died after only a year of treating Khan, he went into analysis
with Dr. John Rickman, who had undergone two analyses: with Freud in
Vienna and with Klein in London. Khans analysis was again cut
short when Rickman died in 1951, after which he immediately began analysis
Speculation about Khans fifteen-year
analysis with Winnicott has become a mini-industry, studied by those
looking for the seeds both of Khans self-destruction and of psychoanalysiss
flaws. Theirs was a complex relationship, alternating between filial
indulgence and collegial rivalry. Winnicott, the chief theorist of childhood,
hadnt been able to have children with either of his two wives
(the first of whom was psychotic) and longed for a son. Khan meanwhile
was ashamed of his mother and grieving for his father, not to mention
his first two analysts. By the time he started analysis with Winnicott,
Khan had been so traumatized by the loss of Sharpe and Rickman that
when Winnicott (who had suffered several heart attacks) would occasionally
fall asleep during Khans session, Khan would start up, anxiously
looking behind the couch to make sure his thirdanalyst hadnt
died. To complicate matters further Winnicott also analysed Khans
first andsecond wives. During one period Khan felt that Beriosova
(his second wife) needed Winnicott more than he did and lent
his sessions to her.
For most of his fifteen-year analysis,
Khan was Winnicotts de facto secretary (an independently wealthy
man, Winnicott also had a paid, full-time secretary), performing various
editorial tasks for his many books and articles. The first definitive
evidence of their collaboration was a joint review of Ronald Fairbairns
Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality for The International
Journal of Psycho-Analysis, which they composed in Khans second
year of analysis. While Winnicott was an indifferent scholar and professed
to know little about Freud, Khan had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the
literature. Five times a week Khan would lie on Winnicotts couch
for analysis; most afternoons he would stop by Winnicotts study
to work on his papers. As writer and editor the relationship was extremely
productive; as analyst and patient it was a dismal failure.
Why it failed has been the subject of
heated debate. Some have suggested that Winnicott immediately realized
that Khans narcissism made him essentially unanalyzable. As per
his theory, Winnicott may have concluded that all that remained for
Khan was a prolonged treatment of holding. But this may
have been the worst possible treatment. Dr. Glen Gabbard, an expert
on boundary violations in psychoanalysis, suggests that Winnicott failed
by not confronting Khan directly. If there is anything about the
Winnicott tradition that leads to boundary violations, it has to do
with the way it is reluctant to deal with a patients aggression.
A common theme in the boundary violations I have studied is the disavowal
of aggression in both analyst and patient. The analyst tries to, essentially,
love the patient to health, while not recognizing that the excessive
love of the analyst for the patient is often a defense against the analysts
hate, and can undermine the treatment, he tells me.
Donald Campbell, who was until recently
the Societys president, believes there was good reason Khans
analysts might have harbored complex hostility towards their patient.
Campbell was a student of Khans and remembers how the charismatic
Pakistani disturbed students with ridicule and abuse. One should note
how much Winnicott was intimidated by Khan, whom he saw as a kind of
biographer, interpreter, and apologist for him. Seduction and sadism
were important parts of Khans repertoire for relating to people. I
would not be surprised if Winnicott had been affected as well,
he told me.
Undoubtedly Winnicotts intellectual
dependence on his patient hurt Khans analysis. Brett Kahr, a psychotherapist
who is writing a biography of Winnicott, faults him for putting his
needs ahead of Khans. He took advantage of Khans brilliance,
his industry, and his vulnerability by treating him primarily as an
unpaid secretary, rather than as a patient first and foremost,
he says. How on earth could Khan have believed that Winnicott
cared fully about him as a person, rather than as a mere administrative
aid? Clearly their relationship stifled Khans creativity.
It was only after Winnicotts death in 1971 that Khan published
his own four books.
Kahrs most significant conclusion
is that their unhealthy relationship was not anomalous, but has actually
been quite common in the history of psychoanalysis. He calls it the
Secretarial Neurosis, the process by which patients and
disciples are turned into secretaries. Winnicotts own analyst
James Strachey turned to him for help in the preparation of The Standard
Edition, just as Stracheys own analyst, Sigmund Freud, had
called upon Strachey to undertake extensive translation works for him.
Freuds teacher, Jean-Martin Charcot, had earlier prevailed upon
him to translate his neurological writings into German, he writes.
Far from an exception, Kahr argues that
Khan was part of a long, de facto counter-tradition in psychoanalysis:
a guild in which boundary violations between patient and analyst are
the rule, not the exception, where the patients wish to have a
realrelationship with his psychoanalyst is realizedrather
than analyzed away. While these analysts were trained to maintain a
strict analytic frame with their patients, their ownexperiences
of analysis taught them otherwise. The intimacy and love Khan experienced
in his analysis with Winnicott may have taken a markedly different form
when he tried to apply these lessons to Godley, the otherwealthy,
aristocratic Englishman in his life.
Khans descent into madness accelerated
when his mother and Winnicott died only months apart in 1971. Beriosova
moved out a few months later. He had just received the proofs for Winnicotts
last book, Playing and Reality, when he learned of his mentors
death. I enjoyed a protected childhood with him, Khan wrote
in a letter to his friend, the analyst Robert Stoller, when Winnicott
died. Now I must assemble myself and become an adult. Khan
was forty-seven years old.
The final blow came when the will was
read and he learned that Winnicott had appointed his wife, not Khan,
as his literary executor. After years of selfless editorial service,
Khan felt cruelly cast out. His already heavy drinking intensified.
He became sexually involved with a number of his patients and was seen
hitting a girlfriend in public. Khan even turned against his mentor.
At a conference on Winnicotts work Khan announced to a stunned
audience of analysts that Winnicott had been sexually impotent.
Khans behavior grew more erratic.
At a conference in Geneva he slipped out from one of the panels and
stole an expensive watch from a boutique, spending the night in jail
until one of his colleagues bailed him out. His sadistic and sexualized
relations with others intensified. When the analyst Susie Orbach (a.k.a.
Princess Dianas shrink) and a colleague met with Khan as part
of their training, he received them from a throne-like chair and proceeded
to gossip about his patients sexual habits. At one point
he showed us a sword, which he claimed he had used to kill a dog a patient
had brought with him to a session. I knew then that I was in the presence
of someone who was deeply troubled, she says. On their way out,
Khan gave them a book by the Marquis de Sade. Khans behavior during
these years, says the director Mike Nichols, reminded him of the way
his friend, the novelist Jerzy Kozinski, acted before committing suicide.
There was a certain extremeness and desperation, says Nichols.
Masud became an indescribable creep, a nightmare. He essentially
In 1976 Khan was diagnosed with cancer
and had part of a lung removed. That same year he was divorced by Beriosova.
In 1977 the Society withdrew his right to train students, but not his
right to analyze ordinary people. The analysts of tomorrow were safe
from Khan, but the civilians, the patients of the day, were
not. In 1987 the cancer spread and his larynx and part of his trachea
were removed. He became agoraphobic, rarely leaving his apartment.
Somehow he continued to write, and in
1988 he published The Long Wait. The book was rumored to have
several offensive sections, and when it appeared, the Societys
ethics committee immediately ordered twenty-five copies.
They were not disappointed. The books
central case study, A Dismaying Homosexual, described Khans
treatment of Mr. Luis, a suicidal, gay Jew. Khans
railing culminates with a particularly loathsome speech: Yes,
I am anti-Semitic. You know why, Mr. Luis? Because I am an Aryan and
had thought all of you Jews had perished when Jesus, from sheer dismayand
he was one of youhad flown up to Heaven, leaving you in the scorching
care of Hitler, Himmler and the crematoriums.
Khan was too ill to travel to the Society,
so was struck off in absentia. Determined to have the last
word, he resigned before receiving official word of his expulsion. The
Society immediately began receiving anonymous bomb threats
which could only be coming from Khan. Although he was at the time agoraphic,
alcoholic, riddled with cancer, and confined to his bed, Khan so frightened
the Society that the president hired a security guard. That was
precisely the kind of terrorism that Khan could plant in somebodys
mind, recalls Kohon.
The man the analyst Charles Rycroft called
the damaged Archangel died on 7 June 1989. Khan was defiant
to the end. In The Long Wait he tells of an impetuous patient
who confronts him with the fact that the Society had, prior to expelling
him, forbidden Khan to train new analysts. I could not care a
damn about it, he replies. I am sought after from all over
the world. And even if I were not, I can return to my ancestral estates
in Pakistan, make no mistake about it!
* * *
What happened to Masud Khan? Some answers
may lie in his personal papers, which are sealed until at least 2039.
But those who have seen them caution that they may pose more questions
than they answer. He had three levels of diaries, some of them
written in code. So it isnt clear how they relate to each other,
which ones are true and which ones are fantasy, Judy Cooper, Khans
patient and first biographer tells me.
Linda Hopkins, Khans second biographer,
believes he suffered from an undiagnosed bipolar disorder, although
she suspects his upbringing and analysis hindered him as well. She argues
that Khan was neither an anomaly nor the result of a fatal theoretical
flaw in British psychoanalysis. Rather, she contends that Khan was a
genuine paradox: a brilliant clinician and theorist who helped some
patients and tortured others; a man who inspired love and admiration
from analysts like Adam Phillips and Christopher Bollas and fear and
loathing in others. Philosophically-inclined analysts talk about
paradox all the time, but when theyre confronted with
someone like Khan who is a genuine paradox, they dont know
what to do with him, she says.
One day, while reading about Khan, I
stumble on a letter from his friend Robert Stoller that suggested the
possibility of the ultimate paradox: that Khan may actually have
fabricated the case studies he writes about in The Long Waitthe
very cases that record the behavior, such as in A Dismaying Homosexual,
for which he was banished from the Society he so loved.
In a letter composed immediately after
Khans death, Stoller wrote, any obituary [I would have written]
would be unacceptable. I would have stomped up and down in my anger
at Masuds lying . . . his total fabrication of the clinical
material in the last book.
I begin to wonder. Was even Khan capable
of such bizarre, self-destructive behavior? To being hoist by a petard
that wasnt really a petard, but a pseudo-petard, which
he had planted, and then convinced his opponents to use against
When I try this theory on Cooper she
directs me to some lines from the first chapter of her book: Khan
seemed to live in that transitional space between inner
and outer experience that he understood so well. It could be said that
he lived in the interface between fact and fiction, truth and metaphor,
reality and fantasy. Others suggest that this was precisely the
kind of paradoxical finale Khan would have loved; that he would have
savored the sheer absurdity of it.
* * *
As my lunch with Wynne Godley draws to
a close I explain my theory of Khans self-sabotage and ask whether
he believes Khan fell victim to his own extreme deviousness . . .
whether he was ultimately incapable of saving himself from himself.
By way of answer he explains the title,
Saving Masud Khan, that he gave to his London Review
of Books article. Khan was always telling his patients that
he had saved our lives. He said that nobody else
could have done it and that we should be thankful to him. And, of course,
we believed him, he says. I dont know much about psychoanalysis,
but I gather that Winnicott had a theory that a baby who isnt
taken care of properly feels he has to save his mother. That the uncertainty
of his environment is an indication not that he is in trouble,
but that she is, he explains.
But you and Khans other patients
werent able to save him, were you? I ask. Well,
Godley says, smiling for the first time today, it certainly
wasnt for lack of trying.
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