Reminiscent Images

Manhattan Psychiatric Center

A number of years ago, I did my pre-doctoral clinical psychology internship at Manhattan Psychiatric Center in New York City, a huge (more than 1,300 long-term patients) state psychiatric hospital. It was located on Ward’s Island in the Hudson River just east of Harlem, and it was common then for patients to remain in the hospital for many, many years.

One of my fellow interns was Michael Fenichel, a younger relative of the deceased psychoanalytic pioneer, Otto Fenichel. Dr. Fenichel now has an outstanding website devoted to mental health care, internet resources and (one of his deep interests) photography. His website can be found at:

Among the many photographs that are available from his site are those shown below (Michael gave me some of these pictures many years ago, which I highly value):

Times Square (early 1980’s)

Paris: Boulangerie

Turkish Peach Peddler

Please click on the link below to visit Dr. Fenichel’s excellent website: Fenichel

A Quiet Voice of Self Reflection

Self Reflection

It has long been too common to make a dichotomous distinction between the internal and the external. This kind of polarity includes posited divisions such as innate characteristics versus the experiential; intrapsychic versus interpersonal; fantasy or imagination versus perception; psychic reality versus material reality; inner world world versus outer world; asocial versus social.

It is quite probably more the case that the internal plays a role in shaping the external and the external plays a role in shaping the internal. Proposing a distinction between the two is deceptive, unless it is actually recognized that each contributes to the shaping of the other. Deciding where the emphasis should lie in a particular instance depends upon a sense of heuristic art.

With the foregoing in mind, it still remains the case that we all have inclinations and abilities for self examination, while at the same same time we all have disinclinations and disabilities. We are always at the edge of awareness of trying to self reflect. We are always trying not to do so.

We are always more self inquiring than we think, and always less. We are always both more and less keen to examine what we regard to be the best in our natures. Self reflection is neither the crisis activity of the painfully troubled, nor the distinguishing flourish of a highly intellectual elite. It is the everyday activity of everyone. A most pressing kind of business, which we are always both for and against.

Finally, in the full range of self examination we are always synthesizing what we call self and other. Even if some of what we refer to seems only about “inner,” and some only about “outer,” all is really about both. It is always self/other inquiry. We cannot examine ourselves without also thinking of what surrounds us, nor of our surround without reflecting upon ourselves.

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