Coming Attractions: Analyzing the Use of Pornography in the Psychoanalyses of Two Patients

November 4, 2014
Lecturer: Susan Vaughan, MD
A lecture in honor of Ethel Spector Person, MD, with a tribute by Robert Glick, MD

The internet has made access to pornography easier and more private than ever before. After analyzing some trends in internet pornography, Dr. Vaughan will discuss how two analyses were affected by working with the pornographic images and scenes to which each patient was drawn. The ways in which analysis of pornographic material led to a new understanding of the patients’ identities over time highlights the utility of attending to masturbatory fantasies and the use of pornography within the analytic situation.

Susan Vaughan, MD is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. Her first book, The Talking Cure: The Science Behind Psychotherapy (Putnam, 1997), explores how psychotherapy changes a person’s mind as well as their brain structure. In Half Empty, Half Full: Understanding the Psychological Roots of Optimism (Harcourt, 2000) she writes about optimism as a function of our capacity for affect regulation. At the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research she designed and teaches courses on sexuality and gender.

Ethel Spector Person, MD (1934-2012) was psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who conducted pioneering research on sexual fantasy, sexuality and gender identity. Using unconventional methods such as interviewing patrons of sex shops and drag dance clubs, she authored many books including By Force of Fantasy: How We Make Our Lives, and Dreams of Love And Fateful Encounters: The Power of Romantic Passion.

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

  • Summarize the contributions of Person, Stoller, Kernberg and other analysts who wrote about sexuality and pornography
  • Understand the potential to use pornographic images to explore aspects of intrapsychic conflict as well as intergenerational family history
  • Describe contributions from sexologic work on pornography