William H. Gottdiener

William H. Gottdiener

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2000 PhD,  The New School for Social Research, New York

1994 MA,    The New School for Social Research, New York

1990 BA,     Psychology, Hunter College of the City University of New York



Professor Gottdiener received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 2000 from The New School for Social Research and subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in substance abuse research at National Development and Research Institutes that was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. He has been a faculty member at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York (CUNY) since the fall of 2003. He is also a faculty member of the Graduate Center--CUNY. He is a licensed psychologist in New York  and maintains an active part-time clinical practice. His theoretical orientation is psychodynamic and integrative.

Professor Gottdiener is especially active in the field of psychoanalysis, most notably in the Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association and in the American Psychoanalytic Association. In Division 39 he is currently the chair of the fellows committee and serves on the research committee. Previously Professor Gottdiener served on the Division membership committee, fellows committee, the Division Board of Directors, and was the President of the Psychoanalytic Research Society of the Division. He is on the editorial board of the Division's journal, Psychoanalytic Psychology, which is the leading psychoanalytic journal in the world. He has also served as a mentor to several early career psychologists through the Division's Scholar Program. Professor Gottdiener's work was also recognized by the Division when he was honored in 2015 with its prestigious Research and Scholarship Award.

In the American Psychoanalytic Association, Professor Gottdiener is a Master Teacher in its Teacher's Academy and he has served on the editorial board of its journal, The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, one of the leading psychoanalytic journals in the field.

Professor Gottdiener has served as a visiting scholar to the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA and in the psychiatry department of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Medical Center in New York City; has been a guest faculty member and supervisor at The New York Psychoanalytic Institute, and is on the faculty of the Washington Square Institute in New York City.

Professor Gottdiener has received grants for his research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Far Fund, and CUNY and he has numerous publications and presentations and is one of the leading psychoanalytic scholars and researchers on the subject of addictive disorders.

Course Taught

Current Teaching

Research Methods in Meta-Analysis

Drugs and Crime


Research Summary

Defense Mechanisms and Addictions

According to psychoanalytic theory, defense mechanisms, which can be defined as unconcious automatic coping mechanismns that aim to protect the sense of self, are integral to understanding and treating psychopathology and to understanding non-pathological behavior and mentation. Defense mechanisms can be categorized into 2 groups: Adaptive and maladaptive. A more frequent use of adaptive defenses is related to being well-adujusted and a greater capacity to cope with life's problems. In contrast, more frequent use of maladaptive defenses is related to less effective or poor adjustment and a worse capacity to cope with life's problems. Importantly, all defenses are used in well-adusted and poorly-adjusted people, but the proportion of the available defenses that are used varies in relation to the quality of a person's adjustment.

Professor Gottdiener's research has been primarily engaged in understanding the defense mechanisms that are used by people with addictive disorders, broadly speaking. Most recently, his lab has been examining the relationship between defense mechanisms and decision making. All defense mechanisms ameliorate emotional sufferring and as a result lead to decisions to engage in behaviors that help to facilitate that relief, but maladaptive defenses lead to decisions with long-term maladaptive consequences such as, drug abuse. The connections between defense mechanisms and decison making are only theoretical. His lab is currently conducting studies to concretely determine the nature of this relationship. The key therapeutic implication of this research is that treatment of psychopathology should be focused on increasing the use of adaptive defenses while reducing the use of maladaptive defenses.