In The Psychoanalytic Ear and the Sociological Eye: Toward an American Independent Tradition, Nancy J. Chodorow brings together her two professional identities, psychoanalyst and sociologist, as she also brings together and moves beyond two traditions within American psychoanalysis, naming for the first time an American independent tradition. The book's chapters move inward, toward fine-tuned discussions of the theory and epistemology of the American independent tradition, which Chodorow locates originally in the writings of Erik Erikson and Hans Loewald, and outward toward what Chodorow sees as a missing but necessary connection between psychoanalysis, the social sciences, and the social world.

Chodorow suggests that Hans Loewald and Erik Erikson, self-defined ego psychologists, each brings in the intersubjective, attending to the fine-tuned interactions of mother and child, analyst and patient, and individual and social surround. She calls them intersubjective ego psychologists—for Chodorow, the basic theory and clinical epistemology of the American independent tradition. Chodorow describes intrinsic contradictions in psychoanalytic theory and practice that these authors and later American independents address, and she points to similarities between the American and British independent traditions.

The American independent tradition, especially through the writings of Erikson, points the analyst and the scholar to individuality and society. Moving back in time, Chodorow suggests that from his earliest writings to his last works, Freud was interested in society and culture, both as these are lived by individuals and as psychoanalysis can help us to understand the fundamental processes that create them. Chodorow advocates for a return to these sociocultural interests for psychoanalysts. At the same time, she rues the lack of attention within the social sciences to the serious study of individuals and individuality and advocates for a field of individuology in the university.

chapter 1|20 pages

The American independent tradition

Loewald, Erikson, and the (possible) rise of intersubjective ego psychology

part I|69 pages

From Freud to Erikson

chapter 2|25 pages

Civilization and Its Discontents and beyond

Drives, identity, and Freud’s sociology

chapter 3|23 pages

“The Question of a Weltanschauung,” “Thoughts for the Times on War and Death,” and “Why War?”

Whatever happened to the link between psychoanalysis and the social?

chapter 4|19 pages

Born into a world at war

Affect and identity in a war baby cohort

part II|53 pages

The psychoanalytic vision of Hans Loewald

chapter 5|20 pages

The psychoanalytic vision of Hans Loewald

chapter 7|19 pages

A different universe

Reading Loewald through “On the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis”

part III|43 pages

American independence: theory and practice

chapter 8|25 pages

From behind the couch

Uncertainty and indeterminacy in psychoanalytic theory and practice

chapter 9|10 pages

Listening to James McLaughlin

Tribute to an American independent

chapter 10|6 pages

Regard for otherness

Reading Warren Poland

part IV|53 pages

Individuality as bedrock in the consulting room and beyond

chapter 11|17 pages

Toward an American independent tradition


chapter 12|18 pages

Beyond the dyad

Individual psychology, social world

part |20 pages


chapter 14|18 pages

“Could you direct me to the Individuology Department?”

Psychoanalysis, the academy, and the self