Thomas Ogden

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Thomas Ogden
Born (1946-12-04) December 4, 1946 (age 76)
Occupation(s)Psychoanalyst, Writer

Thomas Ogden is a psychoanalyst and writer, of both psychoanalytic and fiction books, who lives and works in San Francisco, California.

Ogden received a BA from Amherst College, MA, and an MD from Yale, where he also completed a psychiatric residency. He served for a year as an Associate Psychiatrist at the Tavistock Clinic in London, and did his psychoanalytic training at the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute, where he has remained on the faculty. For more than 25 years he has served as Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of the Psychoses. He has also been a member of the North American Editorial Board for the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalytic Dialogues.[1]

Ogden is a supervising and personal analyst at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California.[2]

Psychoanalytic approach[edit]

Ogden has been referred to as "a poet's psychoanalyst — someone who listens to his patients on the level of voice, metaphor."[3]

Gregorio Kohon, of the British Psychoanalytical Society, remarks that "Ogden belongs to that rare group of psychoanalysts who are also good writers. ...he re-creates the vitality of his own dream-life through creative readings of poetry and the unspoken, of fiction and mourning, of analytic sensibility and the aliveness of language. Ogden transforms the relationship between reader and writer into a fruitful and intimate dialogue. One's own reveries, ruminations, daydreams, memories, and - of course - dreams, become part of the conversation with him."[4]

In his own words, Ogden has described how his "position in the analytic world has not been that of an advocate of a school of psychoanalysis (or as an adversary of 'opposing' schools of psychoanalysis.) Neither do I view myself as a 'lone voice', because that suggests that I think of myself as a renegade. I would much prefer to describe myself as an independent thinker."[5]

Thomas Ogden's style and personal contributions to psychoanalysis include:

  • his introduction of the concept of “the analytic third”
  • his use of reverie
  • a revised conception of aspects of analytic technique - including the fundamental rule, the use of the couch, and dream analysis
  • the concept of an “autistic-contiguous position” in mental experience
  • revised understandings of the male and female Oedipus complex
  • his unique perspective on the use of language in psychoanalysis
  • his approach to the psychoanalysis of schizophrenic patients
  • the relationship between psychoanalysis and literature
  • creative readings of seminal works by major 20th Century psychoanalytic writers


Ogden's honors include the 2004 International Journal of Psychoanalysis Award for the Most Important Paper of the year; the 2010 Haskell Norman Prize, an international award for Outstanding Achievement in Psychoanalysis; the 2012 Sigourney Award.;[6] and the 2014 Hans Loewald Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychoanalytic Education.


  • 2021 - Coming to life in the consulting room: towards a new analytic sensibility
  • 2021 - This will do...: a novel
  • 2016 - Reclaiming Unlived Life: Experiences in Psychoanalysis
  • 2016 - The Hands of Gravity and Chance: A Novel
  • 2014 - The Parts Left Out: A Novel
  • 2013 - The Analyst's Ear and the Critic's Eye: Rethinking Psychoanalysis and Literature (co-authored with Benjamin Ogden)
  • 2012 - Creative Readings: Essays on Seminal Analytic Works
  • 2009 - Rediscovering Psychoanalysis: Thinking and Dreaming, Learning and Forgetting
  • 2005 - This Art of Psychoanalysis: Dreaming Undreamt Dreams and Interrupted Cries
  • 2001 - Conversations at the Frontier of Dreaming
  • 1997 - Reverie and Interpretation: Sensing Something Human
  • 1994 - Subjects of Analysis
  • 1989 - The Primitive Edge of Experience
  • 1986 - The Matrix of the Mind: Object Relations and the Psychoanalytic Dialogue
  • 1982 - Projective Identification and Psychotherapeutic Technique


  1. ^ Cooper, Arnold M. (May 20, 2008). Contemporary Psychoanalysis in America: Leading Analysts Present Their Work. p. 419.
  2. ^ "PINC Members". PINC San Francisco. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  3. ^ Sprengnether, Madelon (Fall 2004). "Review "Conversations at the Frontier of Dreaming"". American Imago. 61 (3): 411. doi:10.1353/aim.2004.0036. S2CID 144170840.
  4. ^ Conversations at the Frontier of Dreaming. cover reviews: Karnac Books. Mar 1, 2002.
  5. ^ Cooper, Arnold M. (May 20, 2008). Contemporary Psychoanalysis in America: Leading Analysts Present Their Work. p. 421.
  6. ^ "2012 Sigourney Award". Sigourney Award. Retrieved 12 June 2016.