Sandor Rado Lecture • The Quest for Truth as the Foundation of Psychoanalytic Practice: Klein’s Essential Contribution to the Articulation and Grounding of this Freudian Perspective

May 3, 2016
Lecturer: Rachel Blass, PhD, University of London

For Freud the quest for truth lies at the very foundation of psychoanalytic practice. Analytic cure takes place through coming to know psychic truth and aims at being open to reality as it is, both internal and external. This view finds expression throughout Freud’s writings, but its articulation and grounding in these writings remain incomplete. Relying solely on Freud’s concepts and formulations (e.g., regarding transference interpretation) one encounters inherent problems in explaining how increased knowledge of psychic truth could ever bring about change of unconscious inner dynamics and why the person would actively seek to change in this way. This impacts the way Freud’s truth-centred approach is understood and practiced and may in part explain the contemporary interest in developmental and relational alternatives to it. Melanie Klein’s work and especially her ideas on phantasy and the life and death instincts may be seen in this context to offer a response to the problems that Freud’s writings on truth present. Her work clarifies and grounds the Freudian perspective on the quest for truth—why we long for truth and how coming to know it has the power to change who we are in a deep and meaningful way. In this lecture I will elaborate these ideas, highlighting both Klein’s essential contribution to Freud and the value of their shared view of truth for contemporary psychoanalysis.

Rachel Blass, PhD is a member and Training Analyst at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society, a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, Professor of Psychoanalysis at Heythrop College and Visiting Professor at University of London. She is editor of the “Controversies” section in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. She has published over 70 articles on topics including Kleinian thought and practice as well at Freud’s ideas, philosophy and epistemology. Her book, The Meaning of the Dream in Psychoanalysis, was published in 2002.

Learning Objectives: After the lecture, participants should be able to better

  • understand the Freudian worldview in regard to truth and its contemporary relevance;
  • critically reflect on the question of what’s therapeutic about the analytic process;
  • understand Melanie Klein’s contribution to Freudian theory and practice.

Gary Shteyngart, novelist and author of the memoir Little Failure

April 5, 2016
interview by Alison Brown, PhD

Gary Shteyngart immigrated from Leningrad to Queens at age seven. His novels include The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Absurdistan, and Super Sad True Love Love Story. His memoir, dedicated to his analyst, was described by Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times as a “keenly observed tale of exile, coming-of-age and family love: It’s raw, comic and deeply affecting, a testament to Mr. Shteyngart’s abilities to write with both self-mocking humor and introspective wisdom, sharp-edged sarcasm and aching—and yes, Chekhovian—tenderness.”

Learning Objectives: After attending this event, participants should be able to:

  • Describe analytic techniques that fostered the creative process of the presenting writer.
  • Discuss the roles of memory and autobiographical writing about cultural translocation in the development of identity.

Thinking (and Moving) Outside the Box: Psychoanalytic Treatment and Dance Movement Therapy

March 1, 2016
Lecturers: Larry Sandberg, MD and Suzi Tortora EdD, LCAT

The central importance of the body in mental life is supported by a growing research literature in affective neuroscience that elucidates the primarily embodied nature of emotional experience and thought. Psychoanalysts have become increasingly attuned to somatic experiences and nonverbal modes of communication in the analytic situation where relative immobility is an important parameter. The frame is intentionally altered in Dance/Movement Therapy where attunement to bodily experience is a catalyst for a deepening exploration of psychic experience. We present clinical material combining psychoanalytic psychotherapy and Dance/Movement Therapy to illustrate the potential synergy of these modalities for certain patients. Clinical and theoretical implications regarding containment and free association are discussed.

Larry Sandberg is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical Center and co-chair of the fourth year theory course in contemporary ideas in psychoanalysis at the Columbia Psychoanalytic Center. He is co-author of Psychotherapy and Medication: The Challenge of Integration.

Suzi Tortora has a dance/movement therapy practice in New York City and Cold Spring, New York. Dr. Tortora has published numerous papers about her therapeutic and nonverbal communication analysis work and a book titled The Dancing Dialogue.

Learning objectives: After the lecture, participants should be able to

  • Recognize clinical situations where “the talking cure” may be advanced by the introduction of body-based therapies.
  • Reevaluate the conventional meanings of the terms “containment” and “free-association.”

International Scholars Lecture • The Clinical Common Ground: Shared Intersubjective Experience

February 2, 2016
Lecturer: Ricardo Bernardi, MD Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay

To what extent, and on what basis is a fruitful dialogue among colleagues with different theoretical and technical backgrounds possible? In Uruguay, there has been a shift from a dominant Kleinian position to a pluralistic stance. This has led at the same time to both greater freedom of thought and considerable confusion. The same words are found to have different meanings and the same facts are given different names. Psychoanalytic schools of thought tend to close ranks around some unquestioned and unquestionable postulates or assumptions. Is the fate of pluralism to become a “plurality of orthodoxies”, or might it open an argumentative space where diverse perspectives can interact? The central question is if a common clinical ground can be found which would support such a space. Dr. Bernardi will discuss common ground at different levels. At a phenomenological level, he will focus on the shared resonance of the material in the third ear of participants. At a more conceptual and descriptive level, he will discuss the identification of different dimensions of clinical change in the 3-LM discussion groups he has run under the sponsorship of the IPA. Finally, the existence of shared explanatory hypotheses will be considered.

Dr. Bernardi is Emeritus Professor of the School of Medicine at the Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay. He has served as Regional Editor for Latin America of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. He is member of the IPA Research Committee and of the IPA Clinical Observation Committee, and, amongst numerous other awards, is the winner of the Mary S. Sigourney Award (1999), and the International Journal of Psychoanalysis Best Paper Award (2003).

Learning Objectives: After the lecture, participants should be able to

  • Describe different ways in which specific psychoanalytic schools of thought conceptualize the meanings of the same terminology.
  • Describe therapeutic action of clinical work from different theoretical perspectives and ways these might overlap or co-occur.

Race and Culture in Psychoanalysis: the African American Experience

January 5, 2016
Panelists: Dionne Powell, MD and Anton Hart, MD

Since the early 20th century, African Americans have pursued psychodynamic and psychoanalytic training, treatment and application despite tremendous obstacles. We will explore pertinent aspects of that history as relevant to psychoanalysis. Slavery, Jim Crow, explicit and implicit racism continue to affect all Americans as the current racial climate has seen an explosion of injustices toward African-American people, exemplified by Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, The Emanuel AME Church in Charleston SC, Sandra Bland, James Blake, Tamir Rice, Lacquin McDonald and others. The analytic community has been been relatively silent about these events in our writings, on the couch, in our supervisions, and in the classroom. The body of psychoanalytic candidates and faculty fails to represent our nation’s diversity. Moreover, given that inquiries about race as issues emerge in society and in our consulting rooms are valuable openings for understanding and insight regardless of racial pairing, this is a lost clinical opportunity. Tonight we explore our collective silence and consider the factors that make addressing these issues so difficult for psychoanalysts. The panelists will share their ideas about both the individual and societal conflicts and anxieties that result in our avoidance of discussing race and diversity.

Clinical examples along with video excerpts from the film “Black Psychoanalysts Speak” will be presented. And (with special permission) we have a rare opportunity to view excerpts from a videotaped conversation between Drs. Ellis Toney and Ralph Greenson, circa 1976. (Ellis Toney, MD a graduate of the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, was in analysis with Greenson from 1948-1954. He is one of the earliest black psychoanalysts). We will take this material as our point of departure in initiating long overdue dialogue about matters of race and discrimination in psychoanalysis and in broader society.

Dionne Powell, MD is a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst at the Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Most recent contributions include: The African American Experience: Psychoanalytic Perspectives, edited by Salman Akhtar, 2012 Aronson Press. Contributor, book chapter: Psychoanalysis and African Americans: Past, Present and Future. Presenter, Presidential Symposium Diversity, January 2015, meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association, New York, NY.

Anton H. Hart, PhD is a Fellow, Training and Supervising Analyst and on the faculty of the William Alanson White Institute. He was associate co-producer for the film, Black Psychoanalysts Speak, (available for streaming on PEP Web) in which he also appears.

Learning Objectives: After the meeting, the participant will

  • increase their understanding of our own and societal resistances to discussing race in and out of the therapeutic situation.
  • increase their comfort with and curiosity in exploring these issues with their patients, peers and society at large.

The Fight to Defend Long-Term and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: Parity, Out-of-Network Benefits, and Insurance Companies

December 1, 2015
Panelists: Rachel Fernbach, Esq., June Feder, PhD, Bob Raymond, PhD
Moderators: David Gutman, MD and Juliette Meyer, PhD

For those of us in private practice with patients who are in long-term dynamic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, parity and the availability of out-of-network benefits are vital. Health insurance plans under The Affordable Care Act do not include any out-of-network benefits at all, and insurance companies are increasingly limiting and even eliminating out-of-network coverage. At the same time, insurance companies are requiring reviews of clinical treatment records even if the clinician is an out-of-network provider. How are the APA and NYSPA trying to deal with these increasing problems? What is parity? What are some of the legal issues? What legislation is pending in Albany and how can we influence it?  And how can clinicians advocate for their individual patients directly with insurance companies to ensure that long-term treatment continues to be reimbursed?  

Rachel Fernbach, June Feder and Bob Raymond discuss these questions and educate about this impending threat.

Rachel Fernbach, Esq. is the Deputy Director and Assistant General Counsel for the New York State Psychiatric Association and an associate attorney at Moritt Hock & Hamroff.

June Feder, PhD is a licensed psychologist in private practice in New York City. She is currently the New York representative to the Council of the American Psychological Association and serves on NYSPA’s Executive and Insurance Committees.

Bob Raymond, PhD is a psychologist and psychoanalyst with over 30 years experience treating individuals in long term psychodynamic therapy and psychoanalysis. He practices in New York and New Jersey.

On the Analyst’s Identification with the Patient: The Case of J.-B. Pontalis and the novelist Georg Perec

November 3, 2015
Lecturer: Henry Schwartz MD
Discussant: Alfred Margulies, MD

The writer Georges Perec was in psychoanalysis with Jean-Bertrand Pontalis for four years in the early 1970s. In this talk Dr. Schwartz presents the exceptional interest this analyst took in his patient, and the ways in which that interest manifested itself in his work, psychoanalytic and otherwise. The many correspondences suggest that identificatory processes persisted beyond the treatment and were maintained into Pontalis’ later life. While primarily meant to provide evidence to support this view of a specific case, Dr. Schwartz closes with some thoughts on how this may be a more general phenomenon between analysts and their analysands and the reasons for it.

Georges Perec was a French novelist, filmmaker and essayist. A child of Polish-Jewish immigrants, his father was killed as a soldier in World War II, and his mother was killed in Auschwitz. Perec’s many experimental and semi-autobiographical writings take up themes of loss, absence and memory. His works include La Disparition (1969), W, or the Memory of Childood (1975) and Life, A User’s Manual (1978). Jean-Bertrand Pontalis is best known for his 1967 collaboration with Jean Laplanche, The Language of Psycho-Analysis. Starting in the 1980’s he began publishing memoirs and novels.

Henry P. Schwartz, M.D. practices in both adult, and child and adolescent psychiatry. After completing his adult training at Yale University, and child and adolescent training at New York Hospital’s Westchester Division, he went on to psychoanalytic training at the Columbia Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research where he continues to serve on the faculty. He is a past director of training for child and adolescent psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, and past president of the APM. He has written on the topics of intersubjectivity, neutrality, Roland Barthes, and the work of Roy Schafer among others.

Alfred D. Margulies, M.D. is Associate Chair of Psychiatry at the Cambridge Health Alliance and training and supervising analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute. He is Distinguished Life Fellow at the American Psychiatric Association and has been awarded the Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching at Harvard Medical School. He has written about French psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, art, introspection and empathy. His book, The Empathic Imagination, was published by W. W. Norton & Co.