The New Yorker's Recent Online Feature Continues Its Longstanding Engagement With Psychoanalysis

In a recent edition of its online weekly feature Sunday Reading (available here:, the New Yorker magazine collects several articles from its archive on the topic of "The Psychological Realm."

Adam Gopnik's "The New Theatrics of Remote Therapy," published last year, considers the increasing prevalence of remote therapy owing to the pandemic. Gopnik has interviewed analysts and non-analysts and he postulates that video therapy makes apparent the "theatrical" elements built-in to the practice of therapy, more generally. New Yorker readers may already be familiar with Gopnik's impressive 1998 article, "Man Goes to See a Doctor," in which he recollects the range of responses he had in relation to his own analysis as a young man.

Also featured is Janet Malcolm's 1980 article, "The Impossible Profession." She offers an expansive overview of psychoanalysis from Freud to the time of that article's writing. The piece is anchored in interviews she conducted with a New York analyst, whom she seems to have found an interesting character and whom she describes down to the detail of his build and manner of dress. "The Impossible Profession" is reminiscent of a time when the average New Yorker reader could have been expected to be familiar with, and at least mildly fascinated by, the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. 

One final featured article I will mention is Andrew Solomon's "Anatomy of Melancholy," first published in 1998. This is an assiduously chronicled first-person account of the onset of Solomon's depressive illness, which happened three years after his mother’s death and around the time he began to experience various forms of success in his life. It was, he makes clear, utterly perplexing to him that this should have been the time in life when he might become so deeply depressed. Those reading Solomon's piece can gain from the depth and candour of the descriptions of his illness and the hopelessness he felt as he sought to get better. But analysts may be left wishing for more details about the losses, relationships, and early life memories that, from a psychoanalytic point of view, cannot easily be separated from an understanding of a depressive illness. 

The New Yorker has a long tradition of engaging meaningfully with psychoanalytic ideas. "The Psychological Realm" shows that, even at a time when fewer of its readers may have exposure to psychoanalysis, the magazine continues to see value in carrying on this tradition.

Bradley Murray, DPhil, MEd, FIPA, is a psychoanalyst based in Toronto. He is the author of The Possibility of Culture: Pleasure and Moral Development in Kant's Aesthetics. He has taught in the philosophy department at the University of British Columbia and the psychology program at the University of Guelph-Humber. His research and writing focus on the history and philosophy of psychoanalysis and psychiatry, as well as issues at the intersection of psychoanalysis and digital culture.