Psychoanalytic Voices

 

Psychoanalysis? In my Schools!?

Psychoanalysis? In my Schools!?

Recently my girlfriend and I attended a bed and breakfast which had an extensive library in the basement. I asked to purchase a few dilapidated books from the owners at a discount price, one of which was Sartre’s Existential Psychoanalysis. “Psychoanalysis – that was the academic trend a while ago so you can have that one” said one owner. “Yes, since we’ve learned more about the brain a lot of that has become irrelevant” added the other owner. They were then surprised to hear that I had recently acquired a Master’s Degree in Psychoanalytic Counseling. The look on their faces seemed to say ‘people still do that?’ “We apply it in school settings to great effect, believe it or not!” I replied. Unconvinced they changed the subject. [Read more]
School-Based Counseling:  Better than Sushi with Ice Cream

School-Based Counseling: Better than Sushi with Ice Cream

One September day in 2014 my first child client walked through the door of my office with his head down and hands clasped tightly together. He sat in silence for the entire session. Joey had selective mutism and did not speak a word to me for several weeks—an experience teachers and students had with him on a daily basis. I remember thinking to myself that first day, “Why in the world did I sign up for the school-based fellowship program? I have no idea what I am doing when treating kids.” [Read more]
A Discussion of the Oliver Stone film, Snowden

A Discussion of the Oliver Stone film, Snowden

We might say that in some ways, the structure of Stone’s narrative follows the common anxieties of a child transitioning from innocence to growing complexity in his experience of the world. We start with Snowden being a young idealist, who doesn’t seem to notice or mind the unsavory actions of his government and views himself as part of a larger, beautiful, and all good nation where the big problems are not really reflected on and even less criticized, but just accepted as the way things are from the point of view of his reality. His girlfriend, Lindsey, has her own ideas, but he writes them off initially as just “her reality.” So he is safe in his image of being an all-good warrior fighting in the name of, and in some ways fused with, the all-good and powerful country. My country is good, and I am good. [Read more]
From Confidence to Incompetence: A Backwards Journey

From Confidence to Incompetence: A Backwards Journey

In learning theory there is the idea that we move from being in a place of “unconscious incompetence” to unconscious competence, stopping in between at conscious incompetence and conscious competence. This has been my story. I had to learn I wasn’t the therapist I thought I was, in order to get on the road toward being the therapist I wanted to be. [Read more]
Addiction: Our Best Frenemy

Addiction: Our Best Frenemy

By Guest Blogger Richard Achiro, PhD. Someone recently told me that it would be best for everyone if addicts just died. She was referring to a reality TV show featuring a miserable woman who struggles with drug addiction. Despite my initial shock at its tactlessness, her comment made me ponder the prospect that this fantasy to “off the addict” may in fact be quite widespread (albeit more hidden from most of our awareness). The fantasy that all of the problems in a family or even of the world can be packed into someone/something and then done away with is very attractive. [Read more]
MINDGAMES: Mulholland Drive

MINDGAMES: Mulholland Drive

By Jeremiah Tessier and William Sharp. Freud’s discovery of the unconscious and its impact on our daily lives brought the science of dreams into popular discussion beyond simply the spiritual and mystical. In the book, Down the Rabbit Hole, Gregory (2016) writes, “As we move downward [from consciousness to unconsciousness] we experience an affective charge—thoughts become feelings. We approach the dream in its own realm. Here the surety of signs gives way to the ambiguity of symbols. Literalism gives way to metaphorical thinking. The rational, causal view of the world breaks down, and we are left to experience the awe of uncertainty, ambiguity, and doubt. We have begun the journey. The dream is the ticket. The price of the ticket is uncertainty” (p. ix). Nowhere in my recent experience do we get a chance to see the dream work as clearly as we do in David Lynch’s (2001) Mulholland Drive. [Read more]
Avatar: The Last Airbender: A Psychoanalytic Review Or How a Kids’ Show Can Teach Analysis

Avatar: The Last Airbender: A Psychoanalytic Review Or How a Kids’ Show Can Teach Analysis

By Dr. Carol Panetta. “It’s time for you to look inward, and begin asking yourself the big questions: who are you, and what do you want?” It’s not exactly the stuff of your average American cartoon program, but this quote captures the essence of Avatar: The Last Airbender, an animated TV series aimed at 6-to-11 year olds that aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. The series wonderfully combines elements of Chinese martial arts such as kung fu and tai chi, which provide the action and excitement, with Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. More surprisingly, it presents the audience with an unexpected level of character development, revealing a psychoanalytic process of unconscious conflict, repetition, and emotional resolution through relationship. [Read more]
What Use is Free Speech If Nobody Listens?

What Use is Free Speech If Nobody Listens?

By Dr. Carol Panetta. I was perusing a recent copy of the Chronicle of Higher Education over lunch, as I often do, and I stumbled on Jason Stanley’s article, “The Free Speech Fallacy.” Stanley is responding to a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece that, in criticizing a controversial critique of Israeli policy towards Palestinians, in his view, portrays “left-wing social justice as a threat to free speech.” According to Stanley, this theme “dates back to the fall, when nationwide campus protests calling for racial justice were represented as threats to free speech.” [Read more]
Freud, Trump, and the Terrible Deliciousness of Hate

Freud, Trump, and the Terrible Deliciousness of Hate

By Dr. Mary Shepherd. I had dinner the other night with an 87-year-old friend of mine, a poet and member of the Hungarian aristocracy, who had fled in 1987 with her husband, who had survived three years in the Gulag, and landed here with only the clothes on her back. “I like to watch my Trumpy on TV,” she said with a wry grin. “Why?” I asked. “Because in Hungary I couldn’t say “I hate”. I couldn’t say I hate Stalin, I hate Lenin, I hate the Communists. I would have gone to jail.” “So, ‘Trumpy’ can say everything that political correctness prohibits, and it’s fun?” “Right,” she says. “Hitler was elected by popular vote you know.” Like the poet she is, my friend quickly juxtaposed her admission of a profound truth about human nature with her abhorrence of demagogy, vulgarity, and xenophobia. Human nature elected Hitler and may elect Trump: it’s really fun to just let fly with all our most destructive, primitive urges; out of fear of the unknown, out of our terror of the “other”, or out of our wishes to be superior and omnipotent. Nobody wants to admit that this is really how we are. But now a candidate for president legitimizes this, celebrates it, even glories in it. Now we can hate ’til our hearts content. [Read more]
The English Patient

The English Patient

By Dr. Mara Wagner. My class this semester, Unconscious Dynamics in Film, recently discussed The English Patient , and with their permission, I decided to write it up as an example of what goes on in a course such as this. The film offered what one student called "a great primer" for the beginning of the semester (Bianca Grace). The weekly assignment had directed the students to think about wishes in conflict, to seek and document evidence of their inferences about unconscious dynamics, and to discover the wish represented as fulfilled in the film as a whole, as if it were a dream. We looked at clinical challenges and transformations in the characters as well. To these ends, we engaged in much the same process as the mis-identified patient, piecing together the unconscious story that was layered throughout the film and uncovering as much meaning as we could in the limited time we had. [Read more]