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Ten Questions for a Psychoanalyst

by Marlowe Demisch Salerno

I've known Eyal Rozmarin for my entire life, and I never quite realized how special of a job he has. Eyal got a degree at the New School in New York. He was born in Israel, and learned

English as his second language, while getting his PhD in psychoanalysis. On March 14th, I sat down with Eyal and asked ten questions to Eyal that I hope you find interesting. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Interviewer: So Eyal, describe what it means to be a psychoanalyst?

Eyal: It means that I spend my days sitting with people, and helping them try to figure out what's bothering them, what's making it difficult for them to have the life they want to have, and to understand what they want from life.

Interviewer: Interesting. Do you interact with people’s dreams?

Eyal: One of the most basic assumptions in psychoanalysis is that there is such a thing called the unconscious. Which means that a lot of what we feel, what we think, what we know, what we experienced in life, we are not aware of. That it sits somewhere inside us or around us, and influences our lives a lot, but we don't understand how. A lot of what we are trying to do is understand what's unconscious. And dreams are a good way to learn what's unconscious because dreams are kind of a coded message we get from ourselves when we are asleep.

Interviewer: That's very cool. Did you know what a psychologist was at 14 years old? When did you have your first thought to become a psychoanalyst?

Eyal: No. Well it's a complicated answer, because first I became interested in what people are and how we understand people and what they are like inside. At first I became interested in psychology, and when it started to happen, I was maybe 17. There was one book that really blew my mind and made me really interested. It's called the Divided Self. Then I understood that there was such a field called psychology. Only later I understood there was a field called psychoanalysis - that psychology is related to. It took many years to actually begin studying that field.

Interview: I see! What is the most common point of conversation with your patients?

Eyal: I think the most common thing that happens is that people don't understand what's going on with them, they don't understand why they feel a certain way, why something happened to them. They don't understand what certain people think about them. There's a sense of kind of mystery, and it's often trouble and anxiety.

Interviewer: Okay! Do you ever get scared or annoyed at something your patients said?

Eyal: That's a very good question. Sometimes people say things that are almost designed to annoy you because part of what happens in therapy, is that people are testing how much they can trust you. And trying to annoy you is one way they can see if they can trust you. Can they trust you when you're annoyed? Or angry? Or disappointed? They are trying to see if you will stay when others may have rejected them or hurt them.

Interviewer: Are you allowed to laugh when you're with your patients?

Eyal: Of course! We laugh a lot. Humor is very important in life.

Interviewer: What was the issue you were dealing with, with your last patient?

Eyal: So here's my answer: one of the most important rules of my profession is confidentiality. That I cannot tell you anything about anybody in particular. One of the most basic assumptions that people make is that these conversations are absolutely private. It's part of the trust I told you before.

Interview: Haha I was expecting that. Could you tell me the general things people are worried about?

Eyal: Some are worried about what life is going to look like after the pandemic. Some are worried about the political situation in this country or other countries. But mostly people are interested in their own singular lives and what's bothering them personally.

Interviewer: How old is your youngest patient and your oldest patient?

Eyal: The youngest is 11, the oldest is 70.

Interviewer: Follow up question: Do they all live in New York?

Eyal: No they are all over the world. I have patients in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East.

Interviewer: Do you ever not like your job?

Eyal: I feel very lucky that my work is having really interesting, intense conversations with people all day long, and that these conversations are helping them. But sometimes it can be difficult and exhausting. It takes a lot from me to be present and helpful all the time.

Interviewer: Thank you for answering all my questions!

Eyal: You’re welcome! Feel free to ask more questions because as you can tell I have a lot to say.

I would like to thank Eyal for partaking in this interview and I hope you enjoyed these ten questions for a psychoanalyst.

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