Home   |   Forum   |   Issues   |   Contributors   |   Resources: Print + Online   |   Contact   |   Login




CURRENT ISSUE


FORUM

A preview of the current issue is available to the public and may be scrolled through. Once expanded, you can zoom in and browse. DIVISION/Review  is available in print free of charge to all members of The Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological AssociationBecome a member of Division39. If you are not a Division39 member, you can download individual back issues for $10/issue or sign up for an annual subscription to the Division/Review website. The subscription costs $25 per year and provides both print and online access.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   Next >  Last >> 
  • 11/13/2017 2:36 PM | Stephen Soldz

    In Part I last week, I discussed the Bastos et al. study out of Brazil that found long-term psychodynamic therapy (LTPDT) to have better outcomes than fluoxetine after 24 months of treatment. This week I’ll take a look at another recent study involving another randomized controlled trial (RCT) of LTPDT (called by the authors Long-term Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy or LTPP). In a study out of Britain, Peter Fonagy and colleagues examined the value of LTPDT as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression.


    To read the full article, click here

  • 11/13/2017 2:35 PM | Stephen Soldz

    Psychoanalysis and empirical research have not always been on friendly terms. Recent decades, however, have seen an increase in psychoanalytically-informed research. One area where this research has expanded is in assessing the outcomes of psychodynamic or psychoanalytic therapies. (In brief, psychodynamic therapies are based upon psychoanalytic principles but may not include all the features, such as use of a couch, of traditional psychoanalysis.)

    Much of the research on the outcomes of psychodynamic psychotherapy has focused upon short-term, if not explicitly time-limited treatments. In general, this research demonstrates that short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy is better than no treatment and is roughly equivalent in outcomes to other types of treatment.

    Study of long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (LTPP) has proven more difficult. Random assignment, the preferred technique for making strong conclusions regarding therapy efficacy, is difficult when patients are assigned to long treatments, due to patient resistance to randomization and their tendency to drop out of longer treatments that are either not working or working well enough that patients feel they’ve had enough.


    To read the full article, click here


  • 11/13/2017 1:44 PM | Karl Stukenberg

    Last year I was surprised to read an article in JAPA that was filled with statistics.  This week I was equally surprised to receive an email from APA about the current American Psychologist, to click on the link, and to find that the first reference in the article was to Freud.  Once upon a time I won a bet with a behaviorist friend that Freud was cited more during a specific time frame than Skinner, but it seemed to me that the time was long past when psychoanalytic or psychodynamic articles would be the lead in the American Psychologist.

     

    The second surprise was the title.  It appears from the title that the article is calling into question the primacy of the alliance as a predictor of therapeutic outcome.  Both my clinical and my evidence based selves reacted to this. 

     

    Haven’t we fought long and hard to have Freud’s (1937/1964) “unobjectionable” transference (which this article cites in its opening passage and which in itself was wrestled from the “objectionable”, meaning pathological, transferences - as if these and other transferences really could be, in the words of one my favorite supervisors, “analyzed away”) to become, again following the article’s lead, Greenson’s (1965) working alliance and the many mutations of that before and since?


    To read the full article, click here


  • 11/06/2017 10:34 AM | Philippe Van Haute

    When discussing Strachey’s translation of Freud (Freud, 1905/1953) the first problem that pops up is almost inevitably his translation of the German Trieb by “instinct.” Instincts, as the standard objection goes, have a predetermined object that is given to them by nature to accomplish their biological function, whereas this wouldn’t be the case with Triebe that don’t have such a pre-given object…

     

    To further discuss this question I will turn to the first edition of the Three Essays, and I will comment on some key decisions that Ulrike Kistner, Herman Westerink, and I made in discussing the first English translation of this text (Freud, 1905/2016). In doing so I will concentrate on a major distinction Freud makes in the Three Essays that passed unnoticed (or even rendered invisible) in most translations. I will argue, more concretely, that the 1905 edition of the Three Essays is not so much centered around the distinction between Instinkt and Trieb, but rather around the distinction between Geschlechtstrieb and Sexualtrieb. This distinction is completely lost in the Standard Edition and in the older French translations.1 Strachey translates them both as “sexual instinct.” This second distinction resembles the one between Instinkt and Trieb, but it is not identical to it. It should further be read in relation to the term Geschlechtsleben that is linked to it.


    To read the full article, click here


  • 08/02/2017 7:47 PM | Matthew Oyer

    In Search of a Minor Place: Review of The Political Self: Understanding the Social Context for Mental Illness

    By Matthew Oyer, Ph.D.

    The Political Self: Understanding the Social Context for Mental Illness

    By Roderick Tweedy (Ed.), London, UK: Karnac Books, 223pp., $46.95, 2017

    How many styles or genres or literary movements, even very small ones, have only one single dream: to assume a major function in language, to offer themselves as a sort of state language, an official language (for example, psychoanalysis today, which would like to be a master of the signifier, or metaphor, of wordplay). Create the opposite dream: know how to create a becoming-minor.

    (Deleuze & Guattari ,1986, p. 27)

    The alleged irresponsibility of the philosopher, Slavoj Žižek’s endorsement of Donald Trump in the run-up to the 2016 United States presidential election has been largely panned, but there does seem to be some truth to Žižek’s claim that Trump’s election would force each of us to confront our complicity in the current state of affairs. As much as we try to throw ourselves into the superiority-jouissance of reading and watching the news and the trolling and being trolled of social media, we cannot help but be tossed back into I have done nothing, to the horror of what now? Žižek (2017) noted how the Left and Right alike are engaged in politics of Fear, which leads to efforts to destroy the external object, and that what is needed is a shift to politics of Angst, that we might be compelled to transform ourselves.

    For psychologists and psychoanalysts confronting this Angst, the appearance of the Karnac collection The Political Self, edited by Rod Tweedy and released at the beginning of 2017, is a welcome arrival. As psychoanalysts, what little we do know is that Žižek is quite right in this regard; if we are to change, if the world is to change, Angst rather than fear can show us the way. Even the form of this book is apropos. One wishes for the heterogeneity of a collection: the dissent that forces us into thought, and towards, one can only pray, the act.

    Such heterogeneity is, of course, circumscribed by any collection’s editor, but Tweedy, himself, seems to cut a rather idiosyncratic figure: attracted, on the one hand to inimitable Romantic figures, the likes of William Blake, Nick Cave, and R.D. Laing; and on the other, to contemporary research on neuroscience and brain lateralization. Tweedy (2013) synthesized these interests in an earlier book on Blake’s Urizen as the god of the left hemisphere. I will speak more of this synthesizing tendency later. For now, I will only repeat that it is less synthesis and more conflict and heterogeneity that interest me.

    From this position, it is one of the strengths of the collection that it almost immediately evokes an old, but still profound and, ultimately, timely historical debate. David Smail, the book’s inspiration, and whose chapter on a “social-materialist” psychology inaugurates it, levels a pugnacious, if often uninformed, critique of psychoanalysis and Freudian-Marxism as developed by the Frankfurt School and represented within the collection by Joel Kovel’s reading of psychotherapy in late capitalism. In some respects, the differences embodied in Smail’s and Kovel’s chapters rehash a debate within the Frankfurt School, between Erich Fromm, whose disappearance from the psychological canon Smail bemoans, and Herbert Marcuse. And behind this debate, if we are convinced by Jacoby’s (1997) persuasive account, lies a yet earlier schism: that between Adler and Freud.

    Smail is critical of psychoanalysis’s elision of the social context in its overly “internal” view of psychic life. The figures he speaks of approvingly in this respect—Adler, Fromm, Horney, Sullivan, and Laing and Cooper—are precisely those figures Jacoby targets for trading “the revolutionary core of psychoanalysis for common sense” (p. 19). Smail argues that there has been a massive repression of social-cultural “interests” within psychoanalytic theory and their replacement with internal concepts like the unconscious and the drive, which are then subject to the influence of the psychoanalyst and justify his existence in the place of political or economic activism.

    Smail declares, “find it puzzling—even paradoxical—that so many of the Frankfurt writers, in order to theorise the influence of material, societal conditions on personal subjectivity, felt it necessary to turn for help to psychoanalysis” (p. 49). For Kovel’s Marcusian-inflected reading, psychoanalysis is necessary precisely to avoid lapsing into a simplistic, mechanical model of a subject buffeted and controlled by external forces. A theory is needed that can elucidate the mediating processes by which external oppression is internalized, by which phylogenesis repeats in ontogenesis: the primal father eaten by the brother clan; the identifications that sediment in the ego; Oedipus and the installation of the superego; the reality principle’s imprint on the drives themselves. It is just such a simplistic, mechanical, and common-sense model that Smail proposes. Jacoby’s (1997) critique, that all of the modernizers of the 20th century ridiculed Freud’s 19th century mechanical biologism, but that “there is nothing new or novel about the idea of the individual as an autonomous monad which is affected by outer forces” (Tweedy, p. 33), could just as well have been directed at Smail.

    For Smail, psychology and psychoanalysis ultimately disappear behind a social-materialist reading of history and political praxis.

    The crucial theoretical point I’m trying to make is that by conceiving of “drives” as “interests” we turn traditional psychology inside out, so that rather than seeing individuals pushed from within by various urges and desires for which, ultimately, they are personally responsible, they are pulled from without by the social manipulation of, in the last analysis, inescapable biological factors of being human. (p. 42).

    Without any theory of mediation or any awareness that such a theory is necessary, what role or function could either psychology or psychoanalysis play? Psychology is instead entirely explained by political and economic theory.

    Smail’s application of political and economic categories to psychological analysis is, of course, far less common than the opposite approach: psychologism. Recently, this has been most evident, and most impotent, in the constant debates and discussions about Trump’s mental health and his psychiatric diagnosis. Diagnosing Trump is not only delusional (a misplaced certainty that we are the masters of what is normative at a time when he has much more power to determine the normative than any psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychoanalyst [Reisner, 2017]); at best, it distracts us from real political engagement, and, at worst, narcotizes us with superiority and a sense of engagement when, in fact, we are retreating into quietism. The Political Self thankfully forgoes discussion of Trump’s narcissism, psychosis, dementia, or perversion, but it is not without contributions that rely on this kind of direct application of psychological categories to political analysis. Most notably, Jonathan Rowson’s interview with Iain McGilchrist, whose book The Master and His Emissary (McGilchrist, 2009) popularized the discussion of hemispheric differences and conflict, summarizes some of the implications of his application of neuropsychological research to a sweeping reading of cultural history.

    McGilchrist explains his formulation of brain lateralization: “it is not about what each hemisphere does, as we used to think, because it is clear that each is involved with literally everything. It is about how it is done—an approach, a stance, a disposition towards things” (Tweedy, p. 88). He suggests that we should have thought of the brain, not in the metaphoric terms of a machine, but, rather, in terms of the person (“What’s he or she like?”). If we would have begun with these questions, it is argued, we would have seen much more clearly the differences and relationship between the hemispheres: a left hemisphere that uses a decontextualized, abstract, instrumentalized rationality, impervious to challenges to its position that is colonizing a right hemisphere that utilizes a contextualized, concrete, synthetic, and affectively-nuanced reason receptive to challenges to its position. There is no question that this evokes images of good and bad angels sitting on shoulders, or at least two homunculi with distinct, if caricatural, personalities jousting across the corpus callosum.

    If Adler, Fromm, and nearly all schools of neo- and post-Freudianism sought to correct Freud’s mechanical psyche with a concept of the self, McGilchrist is not content to stop there and must even “self” the hemispheres of the brain. But, as the Frankfurt School theorists pointed out regarding the culturalist neo-Freudians (as did Lacan of the ego psychologists), with this “selving,” comes the loss of the critical decentering that Freud accomplished with his discovery of the unconscious, and with this selving, there is a return to a general psychology of synthesis. We have made our way to the self of The Political Self and to the tendency of self and text alike towards synthesis.

    Pluralism is a common feature of late capitalism: to accept and legitimize all differences and variations but only by flattening them out (Benvenuto, 2016). Exchange requires this flattening synthesis. This tendency is very evident in The Political Self: a bit of neuroscience; a smattering of Marx; a dash of attachment theory; a little twelve step between Freud and Jung on our way to the neo-Freudians and anti-psychiatrists. If we can just add a little something new, it may all work, the self and the system alike. Above all, that is what capitalism demands: it must appear to work. Lacan said, “What distinguishes the discourse of capitalism is this: the Verwerfung, the rejection, the throwing outside all symbolic fields… of what? Of castration” (Holland, 2015, p. 8). Thus, an idealized synthesis undermines the discursive heterogeneity that first seemed promised by the book.

    There is no doubt that psychoanalysis and psychoanalysts look the most ridiculous of all when clawing and cloying for respectability and a place in the major discourse: medicalization; randomized controlled trials; acronyms; psychotherapy integration; neuropsychoanalysis; media campaigns; wine and cheese open houses… Psychoanalysis: the discovery of a knowledge-in-failure; of a method of thinking with and through castration. Indeed, the moment it works, it is not.

    We have moved well beyond The Political Self, but, perhaps to the questions that inspired me to read and write about it. For, like many others, I am lost. I would like to think about how to develop a political practice, and what role psychoanalysis might have within that practice. I don’t have any answers, but I do know that whatever contribution psychoanalysis is to make, it will not be that of an addition, but of a supplement. And if it is to act as supplement, it must remember and remain what it is: ever a becoming minor.

    References

    Benvenuto, S. (2016). What are perversions?: Sexuality, ethics, psychoanalysis. London, UK: Karnac.

    Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F. (1986). Kafka: Toward a minor literature. Minneapolis MN: University of Minnesota Press.

    Holland, J. (2015). Capitalism and psychoanalysis [Editorial]. S: Journal of the Circle for Lacanian Ideology Critique, 8, 1-5.

    Jacoby, R. (1997). Social amnesia: A critique of contemporary psychology. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

    McGilchrist, I. (2009). The master and his emissary: The divided brain and the making of the Western world. New Haven CT: Yale University Press.

    Reisner, S. (2017). Crazy like a fox: Evil is not a psychiatric illness. [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty1HhODKVaI&feature=youtu.be.

    Tweedy, R. (2013). The god of the left hemisphere: Blake, Bolte Taylor and the myth of creation. London, UK: Karnac.

    Tweedy, R. (Ed.). (2017). The political self: Understanding the social context for mental illness. London, UK: Karnac.

    Žižek, S. (2017). Donald Trump’s topsy-turvy world. The Philosophical Salon: A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel. Retrieved from http://thephilosophicalsalon.com/donald-trumps-topsy-turvy-world/.

  • 08/01/2017 3:46 PM | Marie Christoff

    Suffering, the Other, and a Vote for Trump

    Maria M. Christoff

    As the current political environment in the United States swings towards a totalitarian orientation (Arendt, 1948/2004; Ellenberger, 1970; Sullivan, 2016; Z. Williams, 2017; R. Williams, 2016), it is important to critically examine the dialectic between politics and psychoanalysis. Goggin and Goggin (2001) were correct to point out that the relevant question is not only how political should psychoanalysis be in practice, if at all, but also, “What conditions in a society or political system nurture and support the profession and practice of psychoanalysis, and what conditions hinder it?” They and others, such as Danto (2005), demonstrate that psychoanalysis thrived in liberal to socialist-leaning environments, where it was free to offer its services to all, regardless of race, religion, and economic status; where academic environments were inclusive and accessible; and where healthcare, including mental healthcare, was widely available. On the flip side, it suffered in fascist and authoritarian regimes (Goggin & Goggin, 2001; Kuriloff, 2013). Regardless of the challenges psychoanalysis might face in coming years, the unconscious mind cannot now be un-thought. The idea of internal motivational forces contained within but beyond the control of the body, whether an individual body or a societal body, will persist into an uncertain future.

    Psychoanalysis for Peace

    Regarding what effect the discovery of the unconscious mind would have upon human nature and politics, early psychoanalysts were quite hopeful. They imagined a world in which drives were recognized and provided with appropriate outlets, allowing creativity and harmony to flourish (Goggin & Goggin, 2001; Danto, 2005), in addition to simply creating a political body capable of loving and working without neurotic misery. Curiously, in the 1932 correspondence between Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud titled “Why War?” (Einstein, Freud, & Gilbert, 1939), Freud seemed to sell his own theories short. He seemed to forget the assertions he had made in “Future of an Illusion” (1927/1961) and “Civilization and its Discontents” (1930/1961) regarding the constant tension between drives and civilization, and to settle instead into a comfortable notion of inevitable evolutionary progress. Einstein wrote to ask Freud what the study of psychoanalysis could offer towards world peace. In his words, “Is it possible to control man’s mental evolution so as to make him proof against the psychoses of hate and destructiveness?” (Einstein et al., 1939, p. 4).

    In his response, Freud begins by asserting the existence of two constant, interactive, and unavoidable drives, libido and aggression. He goes on to situate the instincts and will of the individual in opposition to civilization, as he described in “Totem and Taboo” (1913/1955). To deal with this, a different form of violence, called law, evolved with human societies to keep individuals in check. However, an opposing force of identification, love, and a sense of community also works to hold nations together. It is a Romantic notion; the same innate forces that struggle for primacy within the individual also duel at the societal level. Fear of violent retaliation by the law, as well as genuine affection, work in tandem to inhibit destructive libidinal and violent impulses of both the individual and the masses. Freud writes, “There is no use in trying to get rid of men’s aggressive inclinations,” but “[a]nything that encourages the growth of emotional ties between men must operate against war,” (Einstein et al., 1939, p. 11). Freud did not often speak of empathy (Christoff & Dauphin, 2018; Agosta, 2014), and neither did he in this correspondence. Talk of empathy has played a prominent role, on the other hand, in current political discussions. In this letter, Freud focused on identification as the source of emotional ties. The warm feelings of similarity he alludes to resemble a form of nationalism. If words were put to this form of identification, they might run, “You are like me. I am good, so you are good. It’s good for us to be good together, and our goodness together is better than even our separate goodnesses.” This self-centered emotional closeness is quite distinct from the reaching-into practice of empathy. I will return to the discourse of empathy in current politics below.

    Continuing with Freud’s response to Einstein, at the moment when a reader of Freud might expect a fresh idea that would illuminate the topic, he asks, “Why do you and I and so many other people rebel so violently against war?” (Einstein et al., 1939, p. 12). This flies in the face of his previous assertion that on both an individual and a societal level, the aggressive drive is inescapable. Manageable and capable of sublimation, perhaps, but nomothetically present. Freud’s question to Einstein introduces the idea that while some people reject war, others thrive on it, and that there is an innate difference between these types of people. Alternatively, perhaps Freud suggests that although some people must still struggle with violent impulses, their impulses could not result in war, whereas the impulses of others may. It is puzzling and unclear. Freud explains,

    For incalculable ages, mankind has been passing through a process of evolution of culture. (Some people, I know, prefer to use the term “civilization.”) We owe to that process the best part of what we have become, as well as a good part of what we suffer from…The psychical modifications…consist in a progressive displacement of instinctual aims and a restriction of instinctual impulses…Of the psychological characteristics of civilization two appear to be the most important: a strengthening of the intellect, which is beginning to govern instinctual life, and an internalization of the aggressive impulses, with all its consequent advantages and perils. Now war is in the crassest opposition to the psychical attitude imposed on us by the process of civilization, and for that reason we are bound to rebel against it; we simply cannot any longer put up with it…And how long shall we have to wait before the rest of mankind becomes pacifists too? There is no telling. But it may not be Utopian to hope that these two factors, the cultural attitude and the justified dread of the consequences of a future war, may result within a measurable time in putting an end to the waging of war. (Einstein et al., 1939, pp. 13-14)

    Freud forgets to ask himself where those aggressive impulses go, once internalized. He pays lip service to, but quickly forgets, the perils of internalized aggression. Surely, according to his own theory, these internalized impulses will present as symptoms of anxiety. He ends by reiterating the comforting note that anything that would increase a sense of identification might prevent war—“what fosters the growth of a civilization works at the same time against war,” (Einstein et al., 1939, p. 13)—but leaves his future readers to puzzle out how humans might become pacifists without relying on a passive notion of cultural evolution to account for such a fundamental shift.

    Analyzing the Moment

    I have taken care to set the stage for my treatment of current American politics due to the many parallels between the European inter-war period and the present-day United States. There are periods in American history whose recognition is also necessary to understanding the current moment, including the post-civil war era (1865-1900) and the civil rights era (1950-1963) (Library of Congress, 2017; Gilder Lehrman Institute, 2017). One common thread among these various periods is the preoccupation with race and high levels of white nationalism. During the interwar period in Europe, centuries of anti-Semitic discrimination and persecution were rapidly coming to an apex (Arendt, 1948/2004). Similarly, in current United States politics, centuries of anti-Black discrimination and persecution, and post 9-11 anti-Muslim prejudice, are rapidly becoming prominent (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2016; Row, 2016). Another similarity between Freud’s 1932 letter on the role of the unconscious mind in politics and the pre-election period of 2016 is the mood of complacent optimism felt by much of the American public prior to November 8, 2016 (Shahani, 2016; Scharmer, 2016). Everyone, even Donald Trump’s supporters, woke on November 9 to a different world, and felt shock (Stanage, 2016). Countless websites and news articles since have scrambled to excavate and dissect the turbulent campaign season leading to the election, and to answer the question, “How did this happen?” Not only how, but also “Why?” (Tyson & Maniam, 2016).

    How can psychoanalytic thought be brought to bear on understanding this political moment? The election of Donald Trump to the office of President of the United States was a surprising unknown, and was accomplished with the votes of a mere 27% of the eligible voting population (“If ‘Did Not Vote’ Had Been a Candidate”, 2016). In this sense, his potential victory was, like an impulse arising from the dynamic unconscious, obscured from conscious recognition until it broke through in the form of an undeniable symptom. Upon recognition of the symptom, reflection of the time preceding its arrival ensues, and signs become apparent in hindsight. Also like a symptom in the psychoanalytic sense, it was, in actuality, enacted by the ego, the self. Whether ego-dystonically or ego-syntonically, despite falling short of winning the popular vote, Trump was voted into office by the American body politic. His opposition bears responsibility for his election in the same way Ernst Lanzer opened his door nightly to allow the ghost of his father to enter (Freud, 1909/1955). In the same way that a dissociated aspect of self is nevertheless responsible for the actions of the individual, so is it incumbent on the political body to allow entry to its disavowed aspects, in order to know itself (Sullivan, 1953; Stolorow, 1992; Bromberg, 1998).

    An invitation to reach into and understand the motivations of Trump voters as well as those who opposed him, and how this interaction resulted in his election, need not equate to providing a platform for hate, although careful attention to the distinction is essential. Taking a critical approach to exploring current politics, authors may imagine themselves in the role of the psychoanalyst during a psychoanalytic treatment, creating a space of reflective self-curiosity in the analysand (Winnicott, 1971). In the process, it would be wise to follow Kohut’s (1971) advice, and to align oneself with the ego of the analysand, rather than the split-off aspect of the self. The purpose of analysis, after all, is to fortify the ego, to lead the analysand towards an honest encounter with negative affect and disavowed self-states, without becoming subsumed by the id or dissolving into psychosis. In Winnicottian terms, a critical approach to the outcome of the 2016 election would provide a holding space in which to process previously dissociated affect, while refusing to allow the analyst to be destroyed in the process (Winnicott, 1969). In this case, the ego of the United States is its reasonableness, its better nature, its hopefulness, its Statue of Liberty, its American Dream. The ego with which to align is the assertion that the country will not fall from its state of democratic grace to dangerous authoritarianism, fascism, or oligarchy. These values are shared by those in all major political parties, and by those individuals who voted for any of the presidential candidates.

    Deep-Rooted Malaise

    A model for such an endeavor is to be found in the joint effort of the Frankfurt School and the American Jewish Committee in their five-volume Studies in Prejudice series (1949-1950), edited by Horkheimer and Flowerman. The project was led primarily by Jewish intellectuals who, having been forced to flee Europe during the Holocaust, turned a critical eye to their new residence, the United States. The volumes included contributions from Adorno, Bettelheim, Lowenthal, and Marcuse, among others. Recognizing that eugenics and anti-Semitism were far from localized to World War II Germany, and were instead global trends, they sought to study various aspects of these trends in American culture (Stern, 2005; Vasquez, 2016, 2017). Notable contributions of these volumes include “the f-scale,” a personality scale measuring a subject’s propensity towards authoritarian or fascist ideas and values. While the scale presented serious psychometric concerns, it is meaningful that the authors explored the personalities of the population for the origins of authoritarian regimes, rather than focusing solely on top-down power structures. This theme of looking into the suffering and frustration of the people to explain the rise of populist leaders continued into the fifth volume, Prophets of Deceit: A Study of the Techniques of the American Agitator (Lowenthal & Guterman, 1949/1970).

    An in-depth analysis of the similarities between Prophets of Deceit and the rise of Donald Trump following the announcement of his candidacy would be a timely endeavor, for which there is not room in this essay. A few points of Lowenthal and Guterman’s analysis, however, are key to this discussion. The agitator aligns himself with the “deep rooted malaise” of the struggling, unsatisfied people (Marcuse, introduction to Lowenthal & Guterman, 1970, p. viii). “The agitator’s themes are a distorted version of genuine social problems” (p. 139). The agitator gains the trust of the people by positioning them as part of an in-group, “like someone arising from its midst to express its innermost thoughts,” (p. 5) which requires the creation of a threatening enemy out-group. He presents as an “indefatigable businessman” (p. 117). The agitator refers to his enemies as vermin, especially rats. In dehumanizing and setting out to destroy the out-group, the agitator says publicly what others think privately (p. 124), and has every intention of making good on his promises to go after the enemy. In the end, however, “for all his emphasis on and expression of discontent, the agitator functions objectively to perpetuate the conditions which give rise to that discontent” (p. 140). Lowenthal and Guterman recognized that, despite being an accurate and informative study, their volume offered no solutions to resisting an agitator, should one arise.

    There are various levels of malaise and genuine social problems that contributed to Trump’s rise to power. Among his core voting constituency, “the Forgotten People,” (Gage, 2016), there is a specific and deep suffering. Rural white communities with the highest drug, alcohol, and suicide mortality rates, as well as high unemployment rates, were the biggest supporters of Trump in the 2016 election (Monnat, 2016). Monnat (2016) likens the complex picture of economics, drug dependence, and death rate to a measure of “despair,” and notes that the communities with the highest level of “deaths of despair” were also the strongest supporters of Trump nationwide. Some of these same communities have seen a sharp increase in newborns with neonatal opioid addiction (Mostafavi, 2016), which is increasing at a rate 80% higher than that in urban areas. But poor whites were not the only Trump supporters. He found support in all geographic areas, among all income brackets and all levels of education, including 53% of all white women (Lett, 2016; Sasson, 2016). Rather than the white women’s vote being a response to a specific suffering, it seemed to seek to negate the suffering of Black women and other women of color (LaSha, 2016; McDonough, 2016). Women of color felt betrayed by the white women who voted for Trump (Obie, 2017), seeing their votes as both a refusal to stand up for their civil rights and a willful ignorance of issues of race in feminism that have been long discussed by Black and Latinx feminists (Lorde, 1984; Moraga & Anzaldua, 2015). White women who voted for Trump identified with his call to “Make America great again” and responded to the sense of personal deprivation implicit in the slogan. Responding to suggestion, they unconsciously imagined themselves as the real Americans who had lost something they deserved (Kurtzleben, 2017; Gurr, 1970). Lowenthal and Guterman (1949/1970) identified the psychology in this positive identification as simple Americans, real Americans, or forgotten people: “In the characterization real Americans the abstract adjective real barely conceals the negative meaning of non-real. What the agitator implies is that his adherents are all those who do not fall under any of the categories of the enemy. His elite or in-group is essentially negative; it depends for definition on those in the out group” (p. 108). In the context of the 2016 election and victory period, Trump’s forgotten people were non-Black, non-Latinx, non-Arab, non-Muslim, non-Jewish, non-women, non-LGBTQ, and non-immigrant. The negation of difference was celebrated with giant Christmas trees (Sharp, 2016; Birnbaum & Liptak, 2016). Christian male whiteness was reinstated as the invisible standard against which all difference was thrown in sharp relief (Hall, 1992; Haraway, 1988). This is reflected in Trump’s choice of cabinet members and appointed officials (McCarthy, 2017). White suffering, in this context, took precedence over current and historical Black suffering (DuVernay, 2016; Black Lives Matter, 2016). Trump invited the assertion and voicing of white suffering, which included a silencing and whitewashing of Black suffering, immigrant suffering, and Native American suffering (Donnella, 2016; Sammon, 2016). In this election cycle, racism trumped the outward elements of progress towards inclusivity.

    Shaun King, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist and historian, situates Trump’s rise and election as the response of a historically racist country to its first Black president (University of Michigan, 2017). Like a reaction formation, having allowed love for a Black father figure to surface to consciousness, and this affection being so anxiety provoking, a surge of reactionary fear and hatred overcompensated. Reporter Van Jones, on election night, referred to this reaction formation-like phenomenon as “whitelash” (Cama, 2016). Following a period of expansion of civil rights to LGBTQ people, increased access to healthcare for low-income people and minorities, and increasing discourse surrounding gender and racial inequality during the Obama administration, the country elected a leader who is explicitly racist (O’Connor & Marans, 2016), sexist (Cohen, 2017), xenophobic (Sargent, 2016), and ableist (Baer, 2016). As though global atrocities following the first world war, from the Holocaust to the genocide in Syria, were not enough to disprove Freud’s optimism regarding a natural evolution of civilization (Einstein et al., 1939), the election of Trump as the 45th president of the United States can be described as a national return of the repressed (Freud, 1933/1964). The 2016 election shows that, contrary to a passive evolutionary process, dynamic forces continue to operate and influence the course of history, despite the efforts of methods such as psychoanalysis and activist movements to shape history in the direction of progress (Coates, 2015; Davis, 2016). Moving from an exploration of the psychology of a nation to an individual, a case example demonstrates how dynamic unconscious forces can influence political acts.

    Case Material

    Aidan is a 20-year-old white college student majoring in mechanical engineering. He attends a four-year commuter university in the Midwest. His parents, with whom he lives, are very religious Baptists of lower-middle income. Aidan presented for treatment to address moderate self-harm and suicidal ideation. He started cutting during high school, and it has persisted through his two and a half years of college. Aidan is conscientious, agreeable, and thoughtful. In the course of therapy, Aidan has identified that his urges to self-harm arise from feelings of unbearable guilt when he fears he may have emotionally hurt his friends. The cutting, when it occurs, provides relief, but generates more guilt, as he is letting down those who he has promised he would stop cutting, those who care about him most. Aidan’s care for his loved others is ego-syntonic and a source of pride. He has a special non-sexual relationship with a woman his age whom he has known since childhood, Ramona. Ramona is the first person Aidan reaches out to in his emotional suffering. His commitment to continuing to live when he felt actively suicidal, before starting treatment, emerged with her invitation to be used as his source of primary identification. She said, “Imagine if I was the one telling you I felt this way. That’s how I feel when you tell me you want to die.” Through empathic mutual recognition (Benjamin, 1988), Aidan developed a semi-internalized good introject (Klein, 1975), which he has slowly learned to rely upon except for in his most guilty and fragmented states, when he reaches out to Ramona for support. Reaching out to Ramona always works, and the urge to self-harm is diminished.

    Throughout the course of the therapy, Aidan has expressed only liberal political views and opinions. He has expressed his support for same-sex marriage, for women’s reproductive healthcare rights, for religious diversity, and for race equality. He supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary race. For this reason, I was surprised when, on November 9, Aidan revealed to me, “I’m a pretty good liar.” What did Aidan mean? He was sometimes insincere. He would sometimes read people’s expectations and respond accordingly, instead of honestly. This ranged from the standard “Good,” in response to “How are you?” in casual conversation, to allowing his parents and others in his community to go on thinking he believes in God, although he identifies as atheist. In this case, he had withheld the truth from Ramona about his having voted for Trump.

    Like most liberals, Aidan felt that Hillary Clinton would surely win the election. Like most Democratic party voters, he viewed Trump’s candidacy as a bizarre endeavor doomed to failure. Of course the country would not elect such a person as its president. Comedian Roseanne Barr, interviewed on Marc Maron’s podcast, might have articulated even the most cynical liberal perspective with her assertion about Clinton’s impending win, “She already has the receipt” (Maron, 2016). Aidan confessed he had voted for Trump, “as a joke, because it would be ironic if he won. I never really thought it could happen, though! The good thing is my county went to Clinton, so it didn’t matter anyway.” Aidan and his guy friends hung out in a group chat through the night of the election, watching history unfold like satire. The guilt did not come on until Aidan spoke to Ramona the next day. She was distraught, like so many others, worrying about the future of the country, especially the marginalized groups Trump had promised to target (Wang, 2016; Merica, 2017). Aidan empathized with her grief, consoled her, and kept the knowledge of his vote to himself. After his confession that session, the issue of Aidan’s vote for Trump did not come up in therapy again. The salient material, after all, was the mutual empathy between him and Ramona, and his identification with her.  

    In my reveries of Aidan following that session, I chalked his vote up to a youthful naiveté, to a lack of the context that comes from years of participation in American politics. I reflected that I had also thrown away my first presidential vote, having voted for Ralph Nader. That vote, in theory, may have helped hand the election to Bush, but, like Aidan, my county went to Gore anyway. On closer inspection, however, my naiveté had the flavor of a bubble of optimism, where Aidan’s had a cynical negativism. In both cases, the explanation is more complex than my initial impressions, and both votes contain meaningful dynamic considerations. Aidan’s vote was a negating disidentification with the very order he consciously identified with, and expected to take precedence, regardless of his political action. It was, from that perspective, a self-negating political act. Following a similar pattern to Aidan’s self-harm, aggressive impulses were so unmanageable, they had to be denied and redirected. Encountering Ramona’s perspective brought him into uncomfortable contact with a disavowed emotional state, namely anger, which generated guilt. In a sense, she talked him back into his own morality, reminding him, through his empathy for her, to stretch his empathy further outward into identification with the marginalized others who may suffer as a result of the election. Having taken these steps, he was able to undo his guilt and move on.

    Aidan’s vote for Trump falls under the umbrella of a projective identification (Bion, 1959, 1983; Ogden, 1977; Bollas, 1987). His aggression, detached from consciousness entirely ego-dystonic, was thrown outward into the political sphere, a mere joke. This joke, however, does not fit the description of humor as a taboo impulse disguised and transformed into a shared sense of pleasure (Freud, 1905/1960, 1928; Christoff & Dauphin, 2018). Instead, it tells a lie about Aidan. It tells the story of a disaffected young man who values dominance, competition, and similarity. This is neither how Aidan identifies nor who I know him to be. He is a good person who values difference, equal rights, and caring for others. I am also not suggesting that Aidan harbors unconscious hatred for the marginalized groups who are already being negatively affected by Trump’s presidency (Hersher, 2017; Santos, 2017; Lewin, 2017), or that he unconsciously believes in Trump’s message, while finding this stance simultaneously unacceptable to consciousness. Rather, I am suggesting that Aidan’s banishing of his own aggression from consciousness, especially aggressive impulses towards cared-for others, prevented him from taking a political action that accurately represented his values. On the social political level, projective identification takes on the form of false projection, or pathological projection, as described by Horkheimer and Adorno (1944/2002).

    False Projection

    The “Elements of Anti-Semitism” described by Horkheimer and Adorno (1944/2002), although specific to the perspective of German Jewish refugees during World War II, are also applicable to current American trends in hate. It was Adorno and Horkheimer’s clearly identified desire to use their historical placement to understand more general emergent themes in the dialectic of history. False projection, like projective identification, situates disavowed impulses or self-aspects into a fabricated other, created for the purpose of this projection. The group (in the case of false projection) or person (in the case of projective identification) exists in its own right, but the perception of that other is skewed in the eyes of the projector, due to the disavowal of self-aspects. Writing during World War II, they focused on the most prominent example of false projection of their time, anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism, they wrote, arose from “the urge to make everyone the same” (p. 139). Like projective identification, “if mimesis makes itself resemble its surroundings, false projection makes its surroundings resemble itself” (p. 154). As part of this projection, “[i]mpulses which are not acknowledged by the subject and yet are his, are attributed to the object: the prospective victim” (p. 154). The “Bad Hombre” that Trump sees in Mexican immigrants, then, is a disidentified mimetic projection of himself. Divorced from the self, it must then be destroyed. Walls must be built. Borders must be enforced. Law and order, that form of violence dressed in civilization, must prevail. This process, however, consistently fails to cure the world. Instead, those who enact false projection “transform the world into the hell they have always taken it to be” (p. 165). Trump’s supporters and those that fail to oppose him, in turn, must participate in the pathological projection, in order to carry it through to concrete action. The manner of participation is manifold. From Aidan’s repressed aggression that usually surfaces as self-loathing (Freud, 1917/1957), to the most explicit forms of malignant hatred (Domonoske, 2016), false projection depends upon the complicity of the people.

  • 08/01/2017 3:44 PM | Marie Christoff

    Suffering, the Other, and a Vote for Trump CONTiNUED


    False projection’s opposite, freedom from oppression, celebration of difference, neither mimesis nor domination, “would depend on whether the ruled, in face of absolute madness, could master themselves and hold the madness back. Only the liberation of thought from power, the abolition of violence, could realize the idea that has been unrealized until now: that the Jew”the Black person, the Muslim refugee, the Mexican immigrant, the disabled person, the LGBTQ person, the woman“is a human being,” (Horkheimer & Adorno, 1944/2002, p. 165). Such a step, Horkheimer and Adorno assert, “would indeed prove the turning point of history” (p. 165). In contrast to Freud’s evolutionary process of civilization as passive (Einstein et al., 1939), what is suggested here is active and arduous. True empathic realization of the humanity of others is difficult, and often comes at a personal cost. While systems of power larger than the individual shunt us into pathways of pathological projection and complicity, only an intentional and persistent process of self-exploration, followed by ego-syntonic political action, can lead to the end of violence. The exploration is shadowy and threatening. Like Aidan’s psychotherapy process, it will require encountering affects and complexes we would prefer to repress. Once they have been encountered again and again and recognized, however, we might have more flexibility regarding our choice of action, more control over the course of history.

    Unconscious processes on individual and social scales will always affect the political environment. The solution to their eruption in unexpected and dangerous directions, arrived at with the help of Freud (Einstein et al., 1939) and the Frankfurt School, suggests that perhaps the vision of a better world where things are done on purpose and in keeping with the ego-syntonic American ethos can one day come to fruition. If so, however, the unconscious forces to be acknowledged and examined are formidable. The work required will be grueling, but meaningful.


    References

    Agosta, L. (2014). A rumor of empathy: Rewriting empathy in the context of philosophy. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137465344

    Arendt, H. (2004). The origins of totalitarianism. New York, NY: Schocken Books. (Original work published 1948)

    Baer, D. (2016, October 17). Let’s talk about Trump’s ableism. New York Magazine. Retrieved from http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/10/lets-talk-about-trumps-ableism.html

    Benjamin, J. (1988). The bonds of love: Psychoanalysis, feminism, and the problem of domination. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

                Bion, W. (1959). Attacks on linking. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 40, 308-316.

    Bion, W. (1983). Attention and interpretation. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

    Birnbaum, G. & Liptak, K. (2016, December 25). Trump, fist raised, wishes all a Merry Christmas. CNN Politics. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/25/politics/trump-christmas-tweet/

    Black Lives Matter. (2016). We don’t want ice cream, BBQ’s or hugs. We want to live. Retrieved from http://blacklivesmatter.com/we-dont-want-ice-cream-bbqs-or-hugs-we-want-to-live/

    Bollas, C. (1987). The shadow of the object: Psychoanalysis of the unthought known. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

    Bromberg, P. M. (1998). Standing in the spaces: Essays on clinical process, trauma, and dissociation. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.

    Cama, T. (2016, November 9). Van Jones: Trump’s election showing a ‘whitelash.’ The Hill. Retrieved from http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/305111-van-jones-trump-victory-a-whitelash

    Christoff, M., & Dauphin, V.B. (2018). Freud’s theory of humor. In Virgil Zeigler-Hill & Todd K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of personality and individual differences. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

    Coates, T.-N. (2015). Between the world and me. New York, NY: Spiegel & Grau.

    Cohen, C. (2017, January 20). Donald Trump sexism tracker: Every offensive comment in one place. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/politics/donald-trump-sexism-tracker-every-offensive-comment-in-one-place/

    Danto, E. A. (2005). Freud’s free clinics: Psychoanalysis and social justice, 1918-1938. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

    Davis, A. Y. (2016). Freedom is a constant struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the foundations of a movement. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books.

    Domonoske, C. (2016, August 5). Former KKK leader David Duke says ‘of course’ Trump voters are his voters. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/08/05/488802494/former-kkk-leader-david-duke-says-of-course-trump-voters-are-his-voters

    Donnella, L. (2016, November 22). The Standing Rock resistance is unprecedented (it’s also centuries old). Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/11/22/502068751/the-standing-rock-resistance-is-unprecedented-it-s-also-centuries-old

    DuVernay, A., Averick, S., & Barish, H. (Producers) & DuVernay, A. (Director). (2016, October 7). 13th [Motion picture]. United States: Netflix.

    Einstein, A., Freud, S., & Gilbert, S. (1939). Why war?: A correspondence between Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. London, England: Peace Pledge Union.

                Ellenberger, H. F. (1970). The discovery of the unconscious: The history and

    evolution of dynamic psychiatry. New York, NY: Basic Books, Inc.

                Freud, S. (1928). Humour. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 9, 1-6.

    Freud, S. (1955). Notes upon a case of obsessional neurosis. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.), Standard edition (Vol. 10, pp. 151-320). London, England: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1909)

    Freud, S. (1955). Totem and taboo. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.), Standard edition (Vol. 13, pp. 1-164). London, England: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1913)

    Freud, S. (1957). Mourning and melancholia. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.), Standard edition (Vol. 14, pp. 237-258). London, England: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1917)

    Freud, S. (1960). Jokes and their relation to the unconscious. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.), Standard edition (Vol. 8, pp. 1-247). London, England: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1905)

    Freud, S. (1961). The future of an illusion. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.), Standard edition (Vol. 21, pp. 1–56). London, England: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1927)

    Freud, S. (1961). Civilization and its discontents. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.), Standard edition (Vol. 21, pp. 64–148). London, England: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1930)

    Freud, S. (1964). New introductory lectures on psycho-analysis. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.), Standard edition (Vol. 22, pp. 1-182). London, England: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1933)

    Gage, B. (2016, November 10). Who is the ‘Forgotten Man’? The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/opinion/election-night-2016/who-is-the-forgotten-man

    Gilder Lehrmen Institute of American History (2017). Post-Civil War America, 1865-1900. Retrieved from https://www.gilderlehrman.org/collections/groupings/post-civil-war-america-1865-1900

    Goggin, J. E. & Goggin, E. B. (2001). Death of a “Jewish science”: Psychoanalysis in the Third Reich. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.

                Gurr, T.R. (1970). Why men rebel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Hall, C. (1992). White, male, and middle class: Explorations in feminism and history. Malden, MA: Polity Press.

    Haraway, D. (1988). Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. Feminist Studies, 14(3), 575-599.

    Hersher, R. (2017, February 15). DACA recipient sues U.S. government after he is detained by immigration authorities. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/15/515389634/daca-recipient-sues-u-s-government-after-he-is-detained-by-immigration-authoriti

    Horkheimer, M. & Adorno, T.W. (2002). Dialectic of enlightenment: Philosophical fragments (Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, Ed., & Edmund Jephcott, Trans.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. (Original work published 1944)

    Horkheimer, M. & Flowerman, S.H. (Eds.) (1949). Studies in prejudice series. New York, NY: Harper & Bros.

    If “did not vote” had been a candidate in the 2016 presidential election, it would have won by a landslide. (2016, November 13). Retrieved from http://brilliantmaps.com/did-not-vote/

                Klein, M. (1975). Love guilt and reparation: And other works (1921-1945). New York, NY: The Free Press.

                Kohut, H. (1971). The analysis of the self: A systematic approach to the psychodynamic treatment of narcissistic personality disorders. Madison, CT: International Universities Press.

    Kuriloff, E. (2013). Contemporary psychoanalysis and the Third Reich: History, memory, tradition. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Kurtzleben, D. (2017, February 8). Since the election, Americans grow more supportive of Obamacare. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2017/02/08/514161163/since-the-election-americans-grow-more-supportive-of-obamacare

    LaSha. (2016, November 26). The colorblind sisterhood fantasy: Black women voted for white women—and white women voted for themselves. Salon. Retrieved from http://www.salon.com/2016/11/26/the-colorblind-sisterhood-fantasy-black-women-voted-for-white-women-and-white-women-voted-for-themselves/

    Lett, P. (2016, November 10). White women voted Trump. Now what? The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/10/opinion/white-women-voted-trump-now-what.html?_r=0

    Lewin, L. (2017, January). These are the faces of Trump’s ban: People directly affected by the travel ban share their stories. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/01/politics/immigration-ban-stories/

    Library of Congress. (2017). The civil rights act of 1964: A long struggle for Freedom. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/civil-rights-act/civil-rights-era.html

    Lorde, A. (1984). Sister outsider. Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press.

    Lowenthal, L. & Guterman, N. (1970). Prophets of deceit: A study of the techniques of the agitator. Palo Alto, CA: Pacific Books. (Original work published 1949)

    Maron, M. (Producer and host). (2016, August 1). Interview with Roseanne Barr [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episode-729-roseanne-barr

    McCarthy, T. (2017, January 3). Trump’s cabinet picks: Here are all of the appointments so far. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/09/donald-trump-administration-cabinet-picks-so-far

    McDonough, K. (2016, November 17). The quiet racism behind the white female Trump voter. Retrieved from http://fusion.net/story/370440/white-women-racism-donald-trump/

    Merica, D. (2017, January 30). Trump signs executive order to keep out ‘radical Islamic terrorists.’ Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/politics/trump-plans-to-sign-executive-action-on-refugees-extreme-vetting/

    Monnat, S. M. (2016, December 4). Deaths of despair and support for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. The Pennsylvania State University Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education Research Brief. Retrieved from http://aese.psu.edu/directory/smm67/Election16.pdf

    Moraga, C. & Anzaldua, G. (Eds.). (2015). This bridge called my back: Writings by radical women of color (4th ed.). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

    Mostafavi, B. (2016, December 12). Study: Rural communities see steep increase in babies born with opioid withdrawal [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://labblog.uofmhealth.org/industry-dx/study-rural-communities-see-steep-increase-babies-born-opioid-withdrawal

    Obie, B. (2017, January 23). Woman in viral photo from Women’s March to white female allies: ‘Listen to a Black woman.’ Retrieved from http://www.theroot.com/woman-in-viral-photo-from-women-s-march-to-white-female-1791524613

    O’Connor, L. & Marans, D. (2016, February 29). Here are 13 examples of Donald Trump being racist. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-racist-examples_us_56d47177e4b03260bf777e83

    Ogden, T. H. (1977). Projective identification and psychotherapeutic technique. New York, NY: Jason Aronson, Incorporated.

    Row, J. (2016, November 23). A safe space for racism: Clashes at sports stadiums between white crowds and Black Lives Matter. New Republic. Retrieved from https://newrepublic.com/article/138990/safe-space-racism

    Sammon, A. (2016, September 9). A history of Native Americans protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Mother Jones. Retrieved from http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/09/dakota-access-pipeline-protest-timeline-sioux-standing-rock-jill-stein

    Santos, F. (2017, February 8). She showed up yearly to meet immigration agents. Now they’ve deported her. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/08/us/phoenix-guadalupe-garcia-de-rayos.html?_r=0

    Sargent, G. (2016, September 1). Trump returns to his old standbys: Xenophobia, hate, lies, and yes, mass deportations. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/09/01/trump-returns-to-his-old-standbys-xenophobia-hate-lies-and-yes-mass-deportations/?utm_term=.d38d495a3ce6

    Sasson, E. (2016, November 15). Blame Trump’s victory on college-educated whites, not the working class. New Republic. Retrieved from https://newrepublic.com/article/138754/blame-trumps-victory-college-educated-whites-not-working-class

    Scharmer, O. (2016, November 11). On the making of Trump—The blind spot that created him. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/on-the-making-of-trumpthe-blind-spot-that-created_us_58264d03e4b02b1f5257a1ca?timestamp=1478908400601

    Shahani, A. (2016, November 10). An app saw Trump wining swing states when polls didn’t. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/11/10/501613521/an-app-saw-trump-winning-swing-states-when-polls-didnt

    Sharp, J. (2016, December 18). Mobile official apologizes for Christmas tree at Trump rally removed from public park. Retrieved from http://www.al.com/news/mobile/index.ssf/2016/12/mobile_chief_of_staff_apologiz.html

    Southern Poverty Law Center. (2016, November). Ten days after: Harassment and intimidation in the aftermath of the election. Retrieved from https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/com_hate_incidents_report_final.pdf

    Stanage, N. (2016, November 9). Trump shocks the world with White House win. Retrieved from http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/305034-trump-wins-white-house-delivering-shock-to-political-system

    Stern, A. M. (2005). Eugenic nation: Faults and frontiers of better breeding in modern America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

    Stolorow, R. D. (1992). Contexts of being: The intersubjective foundations of psychological life. (George E. Atwood, Ed.) Hilldale, NJ: The Analytic Press.

    Sullivan, A. (2016, May 1). Democracies end when they are too democratic. New York Magazine. Retrieved from http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/04/america-tyranny-donald-trump.html

    Sullivan, H. S. (1953). The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

    Tyson, A. & Maniam, S. (2016, November 9). Behind Trump’s victory: Divisions by race, gender, education. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/behind-trumps-victory-divisions-by-race-gender-education/

    University of Michigan. (2017, January 23). Shaun King: A talk on activism and movement building [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPYG93CGME4

    Vasquez, T. (2016, May 27). White Southern girlhood and eugenics: A talk with historian Karin Zipf. Retrieved from https://rewire.news/article/2016/05/27/white-southern-girlhood-eugenics-talk-historian-karin-zipf/

    Vasquez, T. (2017, January 30). ‘State of Eugenics’ film sheds light on North Carolina’s sterilization abuse program. Retrieved from https://rewire.news/article/2017/01/30/state-eugenics-sheds-light-north-carolinas-sterilization-abuse/

    Wang, A.B. (2016, November 4). Donald Trump plans to immediately deport 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/11/13/donald-trump-plans-to-immediately-deport-2-to-3-million-undocumented-immigrants/?utm_term=.b8e8d3b2b5a6

    Williams, R. (2016, March 18). The rise of authoritarianism: The popularity of and opposition to authoritarian leaders is rising. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201603/the-rise-authoritarianism-in-america

    Williams, Z. (2017, February 1). Totalitarianism in the age of Trump: Lessons from Hannah Arendt. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/01/totalitarianism-in-age-donald-trump-lessons-from-hannah-arendt-protests

    Winnicott, D. W. (1969). The use of an object. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 50, 711-716.

                Winnicott, D. W. (1971). Playing and reality. New York, NY: Routledge Classics.

  • 08/01/2017 3:38 PM | Blue Chevigny

    The Political Self: Understanding the Social Context for Mental Illness

    By Roderick Tweedy (Ed.), London, UK: Karnac Books, 223pp., $46.95, 2017


    Talking Politics in the Therapy Room

    Blue Chevigny


     Over the last year, politics and social justice are moving to the front of the discussion in my exchanges with friends, family, acquaintances, the personal and professional groups in which I participate (both online and in person), and the conversations I am having with my patients in my work as a psychotherapist.

    The topics my patients want to talk about have changed. They feel that they are living in a new context since the election. None of my patients support the Trump administration. They often want to talk about politics during sessions, and I have dispensed with whatever illusion of neutrality there may have been previously, sometimes commiserating when it comes to these topics. Many of my patients are now struggling more than they were before with questions of balance: how to tolerate the constant flow of new information, much of it distressing; how to take action on issues that seem urgent; and meanwhile, how to go about the business of being alive and being their “old selves” at the same time. In some cases these needs seem at odds. I find many of my patients to be swooping dramatically back and forth between the feelings of anger, fear and helplessness associated with following the events in our government, and daily life activities like preparing meals for themselves and, in some cases, their families, getting enough sleep, and completing whatever tasks are demanded by jobs or other pursuits. For many who had not been as politically tuned in or outraged previously, these two poles seem utterly unintegrated. It is almost as if each of us is two people, and we are allotting great effort to the job of being each of these two people, exhausting ourselves. My hope is that, over time, a more integrated sense of ourselves grows out of the current crisis, where an idea of ourselves as both grocery-shoppers and protesters can co-exist in our minds.

    If you go by what is happening in my practice, people have become politicized. Some already were, and those that weren’t are now. We are involved. This essential fact, observed widely, is remarkable, and has helped energize me since the first day back at work after the election. This engagement has developed and grown rather than waned since November, and I continue to feel quite hopeful in my work. Based on this experience, I suspect that the election outcome may, in fact, be making people less myopic and self-involved.

    People who were comfortable in the belief that progress was happening without too much of a fight, and that we could just sit back and more or less let it march forward, were rudely awakened. While some in my office do feel at times hopeless and overwhelmed, there are other moments in which they feel more resilient and clearer of purpose than they have in the past. There is a new awareness of the larger world and a sense that “now, it really matters what I do.” This is giving some who were not previously able to focus their attention on much, something to focus on. The Political Self, a collection of essays on the ‘social context for mental illness’ edited by Rod Tweedy (2017) thus arrives in a timely manner.

    In Sue Gerhardt’s chapter, “The Selfish Society: the Current State of Things,” she writes about the erosion of empathy in individuals, and the rise of narcissism and self-interest (p. 69). Gerhardt points out that for those with depression and some character pathologies “the bottom line is that they have difficulties with the quality of their attachments to other people and often find it a struggle to think of others’ needs” (p. 84). Gerhardt argues that selfishness or unselfishness within a society is cultural—and that selfishness is connected to social isolation, impulsiveness, addiction, etcetera (pp.81-82). She is a drawn to a feminist “ethic of care” in which we become aware of and deliberate about the ways in which we care for, and are cared for by, others all day long. It promotes an openness to the ways in which others are different and experience things differently from ourselves (p. 76). Around me, in my practice and beyond, I see people forming community groups, gathering with others to talk and process what is happening, and strategizing actions and protests. Many have more of a connection to their neighbors and larger community than they did a few months ago. I really wonder whether this current Trump-resisting climate of raised consciousness, protest, and urgency, if sustained, could lead to a greater collective empathy and the ability to look beyond one’s self toward the interests of others. Perhaps this moment in history is an opportunity to change the culture.

    But how does the shift on the cultural level translate into the work in the office? This leads to a point that has sharpened for me in these last weeks: my sense that actually being “in this together” with my patients has created something of therapeutic opportunity. The experience of learning about extraordinary developments in politics, and processing them simultaneously with my patients, having something momentous happen to us together, has been an equalizing force in the therapy room.

    The principle that we are collaborators in the work of therapy, that I don’t hold the answers or possess any great wisdom to hand down to a patient about themselves, has guided my work as a central belief since long before the election. Believing in that principle, however, doesn’t by itself erase the power dynamic between therapist and patient. As Nick Totten explains in the chapter, “Power in the Therapeutic Relationship”,  my role in the relationship with my patients automatically confers on me some authority, and some of the ability to convince that goes with authority, whether we like it or not. To pretend otherwise is to willfully deny reality, and Totten writes that for therapists “its bad practice to pretend that we are not operating from a set of beliefs.” ( p. 36) He posits that we can work to repair this imbalance by not being seduced by the part of us that wants “to assert our authority as expert and healer” and by bringing “awareness, the magic ingredient, to the situation” (p. 39).

    A positive byproduct, then, of this experience of our political climate, in which I am quite openly as perplexed as anyone else, is that it moves my idea of being my patient’s collaborator from principle into practice.  Any perceived authority is diminished by my clear lack of expertise in at least the area of the current crisis. Now, in conversations with my patients, I feel as though there is a freer way between us than there used to be, and that when I “throw an idea out there,” my patients are more likely to genuinely regard it as what I say it is: a trial balloon. This feeling now often pervades sessions. Whether we are speaking about the latest news out of Washington or about their grandmother’s possible motivation for commenting negatively on their appearance, I feel as if several of my patients are giving my words a little less weight. Because of the frequent reviewing of our social context, we are in the “conversation zone” more safely than we used to be, and I consider this an improvement over what, in retrospect, seems like it was at times a somewhat manufactured “therapy zone” which was more stilted, and at times awkward. This zone feels more creative and spontaneous. It feels as if, now, we are thinking together, rather than you, the patient, thinking over there in your chair, and me, the therapist, thinking over here in mine.

    The idea that we, as therapists, think we are meant to be the source of insights is deeply flawed and always has been. It must be questioned repeatedly as we engage in psychotherapeutic processes. It turns out that when it comes to their own lives and choices, patients hold the keys and our job is to be able to be present, listening, and deepening the understanding on both sides, when the answers emerge. Totten compares this process to creating a new, unique language, a mixture of the languages with which the patient and therapist entered the treatment (p. 40). When it comes to larger questions of how to come back from the current crisis as a country, this small-scale creative action between two people may be transferable. The act of listening more carefully to one another, and acknowledging all the moments and all the ways in which we each don’t hold the answers, but are groping along together in the dark, is more essential than ever.

  • 08/01/2017 3:15 PM | Flora E. Lazar

    Literary Criticism, Psychoanalysis and the New Politics of Otherness

    By Flora E. Lazar, Ph.D., L.S.W

    I, like many of us, feel chronically behind in my reading not just with my New Yorkers, which I mercifully don’t see in stacks any longer thanks to my iPad e-subscriptions, but even with the New York Times. As someone who entered the clinical world after a long career in research and public policy, the pressure to “master the professional literature” is especially acute. So when my eye caught a small New York Times article about the seemingly effete topic of who gets to write novels about whom, I was surprised that I did not simply leave it to the literati. But I was intrigued that it had reached the top 20 on the Times Most Popular List, so I checked out this dispatch from this year’s celebrated Brisbane conference.

    The article, it turns out, concerned the keynote speech by novelist Lionel Shriver about what she and others have referred to as identity politics gone mad, or to be more specific, the increasingly popular idea that writing about people who do not share one’s “identity” is an act of cultural appropriation akin to identity theft. In her speech, Shriver complained that the increasingly shrill critiques about writers with one identity writing about characters with another would ultimately produce characters “so hedged, so circumscribed, so tippy-toe, that we’d indeed be better off not writing the anodyne drivel to begin with.” (Shriver, 2016) Not long into the speech several of Shriver’s colleagues stood up and walked out, setting in motion a literary conflagration that spread to the pages of newspapers around the world and prompted the hasty organization of “counter-programming” to express the literary world’s consternation over her remarks.

    Why should we, as psychoanalytically-informed psychotherapists, be concerned about this dust-up among writers at a literary enclave in a far corner of the world?  Because if differences of identity proscribe us from gaining an intimate understanding of the experiences of others, we are stripped of what psychoanalysts from Freud’s time have regarded as one of our most potent tools for helping those who seek our assistance. The singular importance that psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut attached to empathic understanding, which Kohut’s biographer Charles Strozier (2001) says he defined alternately as “vicarious introspection” and “feeling one's way into the experience of another,” is by now well known. But as psychoanalyst Steven T. Levy  has pointed out, the importance of empathic understanding in psychoanalysis is not new to Kohut, even if theorists have questioned its relative importance. Freud, himself, underscored the importance of empathy as a form of identification, calling it “the mechanism by means of which we are enabled to take up any attitude at all towards another mental life” and “the process…which plays the largest part in our understanding of what is inherently foreign to our ego in other people” (Freud , 2012)

    Indeed, we are often called upon as psychotherapists to address—whether in our own minds or directly to our patients—the fundamental question raised by the work of French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (1979) about whether it is possible, ultimately, to know “the other.” It is a question that goes to the heart of the promise of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy. Certainly some psychoanalysts have questioned the limits of empathic understanding, and they have done so in terrain less contentious than those that are part of the cultural appropriation debate. Intersubjective theorist Robert Stolorow’s (2011) has questioned the extent to which the trauma of one can be fully grasped by another. Russell Bryant Carr (2014) argues, from his work with combat veterans, that clinical effectiveness does not simply call into question the limits of our ability to understand certain experiences such as combat violence—it virtually demands that we admit it.

    In the contemporary cultural appropriation debate that turned white hot in Brisbane, this question is posed far more narrowly. If we do not share a gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, social class or other identity, can we truly know or identify with someone who carries that identity? And what is the price of this supposed blindness?

    For decades such differences were assumed a priori to interfere with psychotherapy rather than to be an arena for dynamic exploration. As Kimberlyn Leary (2000), who has helped advance our thinking considerably on the psychoanalytic exploration of race, has noted, the relational turn in psychoanalysis has immeasurably enhanced our ability to work with the varied meanings of dimensions such as race in treatment. Underscoring Cheryl Thomson’s (1996) contention that “black is never simply black” and that racial content can have multiple meanings, even simultaneously, Leary perhaps unintentionally calls into question whether one has to possess an identity to understand that identity in another.

    Over the years, a mushrooming scientific literature has examined what impact factors such as racial or gender matching have on the effectiveness of treatment. A meta-analytic review by Cabral & Smith (2011) of preferences, perceptions, and outcomes around racial/ethnic matching in mental health services provides compelling evidence that while patients may have a modest preference for such matching, it is hardly decisive in the impact of treatment. The study concluded that “across 53 studies of client outcomes in mental health treatment, the average effect size was 0.09, indicating almost no benefit to treatment outcomes from racial/ethnic matching of clients with therapists.” (Cabral, 2011, p.537)

    All of this makes me wonder if we are not rolling back the clock by dividing ourselves between “me” and “not me.” Have not advances in understanding gender identity and sexual preference made us more circumspect about the idea of binaries? So far, the psychotherapy community has remained remarkably silent on the broader implications of the identity and cultural appropriation debates for our profession.

    The consequences of this debate over identity, even if construed somewhat more narrowly, have historically had a profound, if not always acknowledged, affect not just on psychotherapy, but on many of the human services that are informed by our theories. Such questions have, for example, undergirded the preference for religious matching that dominated child welfare decisions until this system was successfully challenged in the Wilder case, only to return, somewhat ironically in the debate over the impact of transracial adoption (Bernstein, 2011; Samuels, 2009).

    As a recent graduate of the University of Chicago social work school and survivor of the widely-reported campus identity debates—often conducted in the name of mental health—I have had a ring-side seat to these discussions and what they mean for psychotherapists. Those a bit more removed would do well to keep an eye on the latest incarnation of this debate, Brisbane’s literary spectacle, and its aftermath. It has both implicitly and explicitly invoked mental health as an outcome, but will almost certainly spill into our world as a question of method.  

    The Indian journalist and novelist Hari Kunzru, whose most recent book was about the American Southwest, could have been writing for a psychoanalytic publication when he wrote in The Guardian in the aftermath of Brisbane, “Attempting to think one’s way into other subjectivities, other experiences, is an act of ethical urgency.” He went on to argue that “good writers transgress without transgressing, in part because they are humble about what they do not know. They treat their own experience of the world as provisional. They do not presume. They respect people, not by leaving them alone in the inviolability of their cultural authenticity, but by becoming involved with them.” (Kunzru, 2016)

    Sound a bit like psychoanalysis? One of Lionel Shriver’s fiercest critics, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, notably claimed in a letter to the editor of the New York Times, “Difficult conversations will make us all uncomfortable. Good. That discomfort is how we improve.” I think I have heard that said of psychoanalysis. (Abdel-Magied, 2016)

    References

    Abdel-Magied, Y. (2016, October 5). [Letter to the editor]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/06/opinion/a-call-for-difficult-conversations-not-censorship.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=1

    Bernstein, N. (2011). The lost children of Wilder: The epic struggle to change foster care. New York, NY: Vintage.

    Cabral, R. & Smith, T. (2011). Racial/ethnic matching of clients and therapists in mental health services: a meta-analytic review of preferences, perceptions, and outcomes. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58(4), 537-554.

    Carr, R. B. (2014). Authentic solicitude: What the madness of combat can teach us about authentically being-with our patients. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology9(2), 115-130.

    Freud, S. (1959). Recommendations for physicians on the psycho-analytic method of treatment. Collected papers (Vol. 2, pp. 323-333). (Original work published 1912c)

    Kunzru, H. (2016, October 1). Whose life is it anyway? Novelists have their say on cultural appropriation. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/oct/01/novelists-cultural-appropriation-literature-lionel-shriver

    Leary, K. (2000). Racial enactments in dynamic treatment. Psychoanalytic Dialogues10(4), 639-653.

    Levinas, E. (1979). Totality and infinity: An essay on exteriority (Vol. 1). New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.

    Samuels, G. M. (2009). “Being raised by White people”: Navigating racial difference among adopted multiracial adults. Journal of Marriage and Family,71(1), 80-94.

    Shriver, L. (2016, September 8). Fiction and Identity Politics. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/13/lionel-shrivers-full-speech-i-hope-the-concept-of-cultural-appropriation-is-a-passing-fad

    Stolorow, R. D. (2011). World, affectivity, trauma: Heidegger and post-Cartesian psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Strozier, C. B. (2001). Heinz Kohut: The making of a psychoanalyst. New York, NY: Macmillan.

    Thompson, C. (1996). The African-American patient in psychodynamic treatment. In Perez-Foster, R., & Moskowitz, M. (Eds.). Reaching across boundaries of culture and class: Widening the scope of psychotherapy. New York, NY: Jason Aronson, Incorporated.

     Is there a citation to accompany Steven Levy’s point?

     Citation for Freud 2012 reference?

  • 08/01/2017 3:15 PM | Flora E. Lazar

    Literary Criticism, Psychoanalysis and the New Politics of Otherness

    By Flora E. Lazar, Ph.D., L.S.W

    I, like many of us, feel chronically behind in my reading not just with my New Yorkers, which I mercifully don’t see in stacks any longer thanks to my iPad e-subscriptions, but even with the New York Times. As someone who entered the clinical world after a long career in research and public policy, the pressure to “master the professional literature” is especially acute. So when my eye caught a small New York Times article about the seemingly effete topic of who gets to write novels about whom, I was surprised that I did not simply leave it to the literati. But I was intrigued that it had reached the top 20 on the Times Most Popular List, so I checked out this dispatch from this year’s celebrated Brisbane conference.

    The article, it turns out, concerned the keynote speech by novelist Lionel Shriver about what she and others have referred to as identity politics gone mad, or to be more specific, the increasingly popular idea that writing about people who do not share one’s “identity” is an act of cultural appropriation akin to identity theft. In her speech, Shriver complained that the increasingly shrill critiques about writers with one identity writing about characters with another would ultimately produce characters “so hedged, so circumscribed, so tippy-toe, that we’d indeed be better off not writing the anodyne drivel to begin with.” (Shriver, 2016) Not long into the speech several of Shriver’s colleagues stood up and walked out, setting in motion a literary conflagration that spread to the pages of newspapers around the world and prompted the hasty organization of “counter-programming” to express the literary world’s consternation over her remarks.

    Why should we, as psychoanalytically-informed psychotherapists, be concerned about this dust-up among writers at a literary enclave in a far corner of the world?  Because if differences of identity proscribe us from gaining an intimate understanding of the experiences of others, we are stripped of what psychoanalysts from Freud’s time have regarded as one of our most potent tools for helping those who seek our assistance. The singular importance that psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut attached to empathic understanding, which Kohut’s biographer Charles Strozier (2001) says he defined alternately as “vicarious introspection” and “feeling one's way into the experience of another,” is by now well known. But as psychoanalyst Steven T. Levy  has pointed out, the importance of empathic understanding in psychoanalysis is not new to Kohut, even if theorists have questioned its relative importance. Freud, himself, underscored the importance of empathy as a form of identification, calling it “the mechanism by means of which we are enabled to take up any attitude at all towards another mental life” and “the process…which plays the largest part in our understanding of what is inherently foreign to our ego in other people” (Freud , 2012)

    Indeed, we are often called upon as psychotherapists to address—whether in our own minds or directly to our patients—the fundamental question raised by the work of French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (1979) about whether it is possible, ultimately, to know “the other.” It is a question that goes to the heart of the promise of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy. Certainly some psychoanalysts have questioned the limits of empathic understanding, and they have done so in terrain less contentious than those that are part of the cultural appropriation debate. Intersubjective theorist Robert Stolorow’s (2011) has questioned the extent to which the trauma of one can be fully grasped by another. Russell Bryant Carr (2014) argues, from his work with combat veterans, that clinical effectiveness does not simply call into question the limits of our ability to understand certain experiences such as combat violence—it virtually demands that we admit it.

    In the contemporary cultural appropriation debate that turned white hot in Brisbane, this question is posed far more narrowly. If we do not share a gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, social class or other identity, can we truly know or identify with someone who carries that identity? And what is the price of this supposed blindness?

    For decades such differences were assumed a priori to interfere with psychotherapy rather than to be an arena for dynamic exploration. As Kimberlyn Leary (2000), who has helped advance our thinking considerably on the psychoanalytic exploration of race, has noted, the relational turn in psychoanalysis has immeasurably enhanced our ability to work with the varied meanings of dimensions such as race in treatment. Underscoring Cheryl Thomson’s (1996) contention that “black is never simply black” and that racial content can have multiple meanings, even simultaneously, Leary perhaps unintentionally calls into question whether one has to possess an identity to understand that identity in another.

    Over the years, a mushrooming scientific literature has examined what impact factors such as racial or gender matching have on the effectiveness of treatment. A meta-analytic review by Cabral & Smith (2011) of preferences, perceptions, and outcomes around racial/ethnic matching in mental health services provides compelling evidence that while patients may have a modest preference for such matching, it is hardly decisive in the impact of treatment. The study concluded that “across 53 studies of client outcomes in mental health treatment, the average effect size was 0.09, indicating almost no benefit to treatment outcomes from racial/ethnic matching of clients with therapists.” (Cabral, 2011, p.537)

    All of this makes me wonder if we are not rolling back the clock by dividing ourselves between “me” and “not me.” Have not advances in understanding gender identity and sexual preference made us more circumspect about the idea of binaries? So far, the psychotherapy community has remained remarkably silent on the broader implications of the identity and cultural appropriation debates for our profession.

    The consequences of this debate over identity, even if construed somewhat more narrowly, have historically had a profound, if not always acknowledged, affect not just on psychotherapy, but on many of the human services that are informed by our theories. Such questions have, for example, undergirded the preference for religious matching that dominated child welfare decisions until this system was successfully challenged in the Wilder case, only to return, somewhat ironically in the debate over the impact of transracial adoption (Bernstein, 2011; Samuels, 2009).

    As a recent graduate of the University of Chicago social work school and survivor of the widely-reported campus identity debates—often conducted in the name of mental health—I have had a ring-side seat to these discussions and what they mean for psychotherapists. Those a bit more removed would do well to keep an eye on the latest incarnation of this debate, Brisbane’s literary spectacle, and its aftermath. It has both implicitly and explicitly invoked mental health as an outcome, but will almost certainly spill into our world as a question of method.  

    The Indian journalist and novelist Hari Kunzru, whose most recent book was about the American Southwest, could have been writing for a psychoanalytic publication when he wrote in The Guardian in the aftermath of Brisbane, “Attempting to think one’s way into other subjectivities, other experiences, is an act of ethical urgency.” He went on to argue that “good writers transgress without transgressing, in part because they are humble about what they do not know. They treat their own experience of the world as provisional. They do not presume. They respect people, not by leaving them alone in the inviolability of their cultural authenticity, but by becoming involved with them.” (Kunzru, 2016)

    Sound a bit like psychoanalysis? One of Lionel Shriver’s fiercest critics, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, notably claimed in a letter to the editor of the New York Times, “Difficult conversations will make us all uncomfortable. Good. That discomfort is how we improve.” I think I have heard that said of psychoanalysis. (Abdel-Magied, 2016)

    References

    Abdel-Magied, Y. (2016, October 5). [Letter to the editor]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/06/opinion/a-call-for-difficult-conversations-not-censorship.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=1

    Bernstein, N. (2011). The lost children of Wilder: The epic struggle to change foster care. New York, NY: Vintage.

    Cabral, R. & Smith, T. (2011). Racial/ethnic matching of clients and therapists in mental health services: a meta-analytic review of preferences, perceptions, and outcomes. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58(4), 537-554.

    Carr, R. B. (2014). Authentic solicitude: What the madness of combat can teach us about authentically being-with our patients. International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology9(2), 115-130.

    Freud, S. (1959). Recommendations for physicians on the psycho-analytic method of treatment. Collected papers (Vol. 2, pp. 323-333). (Original work published 1912c)

    Kunzru, H. (2016, October 1). Whose life is it anyway? Novelists have their say on cultural appropriation. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/oct/01/novelists-cultural-appropriation-literature-lionel-shriver

    Leary, K. (2000). Racial enactments in dynamic treatment. Psychoanalytic Dialogues10(4), 639-653.

    Levinas, E. (1979). Totality and infinity: An essay on exteriority (Vol. 1). New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.

    Samuels, G. M. (2009). “Being raised by White people”: Navigating racial difference among adopted multiracial adults. Journal of Marriage and Family,71(1), 80-94.

    Shriver, L. (2016, September 8). Fiction and Identity Politics. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/13/lionel-shrivers-full-speech-i-hope-the-concept-of-cultural-appropriation-is-a-passing-fad

    Stolorow, R. D. (2011). World, affectivity, trauma: Heidegger and post-Cartesian psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Strozier, C. B. (2001). Heinz Kohut: The making of a psychoanalyst. New York, NY: Macmillan.

    Thompson, C. (1996). The African-American patient in psychodynamic treatment. In Perez-Foster, R., & Moskowitz, M. (Eds.). Reaching across boundaries of culture and class: Widening the scope of psychotherapy. New York, NY: Jason Aronson, Incorporated.

     Is there a citation to accompany Steven Levy’s point?

     Citation for Freud 2012 reference?

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   Next >  Last >> 

© 2017 - Division | Review


                   

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software