Robert Bergman, MD

Robert Berman, MDRobert Bergman, MD, has been a psychiatrist for more than 50 years. Some years ago, he was the chief of the mental health program for the Navajo Nation and the chief of mental health programs for the Indian Health Service nationally. He is a supervising and training analyst at the Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and institute, and a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington. He has taught and consulted with many therapists and analysts. Bob’s book of essays is a collection of his engaging and humorous talks given annually to the Seattle psychotherapy community and covers topics such as Shame as an Interactive Phenomenon, Criticism and Defensiveness, The Need to be Better Than Others, Injury and Bitterness, and Enthusiasm and Meaning. He brings a lively interest to a wide range of applications of psychoanalytic thought.

Available In-Service Topics

Insecurity and Defensiveness

The mixing together of people from all over has destroyed our certainty that we know how to live. The perception of social failure—shame—permeates the daily experience of the people we work with, and ourselves. It leads to the impulse to be defensive, which is universal and hard to resist, but defensiveness, some of which is embedded in common psychotherapeutic practice is destructive. Avoiding it improves our interactions with anyone and especially with the people who come to us for assistance.

Feelings and Motives

We do best when we pay attention to feelings, but feelings are secondary to motives, rather than motivating in and of themselves. Speaking of the circumstances that give rise to the emotions we observe or especially those we think are hidden is more likely to be useful than telling them what we think they feel. For example, “It’s a bad time for me to be away,” is more likely to lead to frank and useful dialogue than “You’re angry because I’m going to be away.”

Almost All Therapy is Cross-Cultural

American society has become so heterogeneous that it is rare that both people in therapist’s office are from the same subculture. Working with people of a markedly different culture throws into strong relief the need to be alert to misunderstandings and ignorance of the other person’s assumptions about life.

Some Idiosyncratic Opinions About Being a Parent

Many parents these days are over involved, over protective and over controlling. Quality time from the children’s point of view is often time when their parents leave them to their own devices. It is more valuable to promote occasions when children can play freely with their friends than to have play dates or adult-organized games. Freedom may lead to kids getting into Harvard, but if it doesn’t, they are better prepared for life and happier anyhow.

Bob is also available for consultation.