Practicing Psychoanalysis at the Intersection of Covid-19, the Murder of George Floyd, and Trump’s Presidency: A Brown Analyst Speaks

Tuesday, November 9, 2021 at 8pm

Practicing Psychoanalysis at the Intersection of Covid-19, the Murder of George Floyd, and Trump’s Presidency: A Brown Analyst Speaks

Presenter: Aisha Abbasi, M.D.

Discussant: Sandra Park, M.D.

Location: Register via the button below to receive the Zoom link

In this paper, Dr. Abbasi, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst of Pakistani origin, working in America since 1987, describes particular challenges placed on her psychoanalytic work with patients in the last few years. She speaks about how the Covid-19 pandemic stirred up certain childhood memories within her and her evolving understanding of these memories as she worked with her patients to help them with their sense of destabilization, anxiety, terror, and counterphobic feelings and behaviors. She goes on to examine both the emergence and the suppression of analytic patients’ feelings about the brutal murder of George Floyd. The pandemic hitting America with full force in March 2020 and Floyd’s murder in May 2020 both occurred with Mr. Trump’s presidency as the backdrop. Dr. Abbasi, working with patients with diverse political and socio-cultural views, found herself yet again, as a brown analyst, straddling various mental continents, as both she and her patients struggled to find their analytic footing while navigating treacherous terrain. She shares these difficult and deeply moving clinical moments in this paper.

Most of Dr. Abbasi’s scholarly work is centered on the study of the day-to-day, minute-by-minute clinical interactions going on in the analyst’s office and how much there is to explore and learn from such interactions. Prior to this paper, Dr. Abbasi has written and presented about patients’ reactions to her being different from them from the early years of her analytic career. After 9/11, Dr. Abbasi shared powerful clinical material about patients’ responses to her as a Muslim analyst of Pakistani origin and how she and her patients navigated turbulent analytic waters during that period.

Aisha Abbasi, M.D. is a Training and Supervising Analyst at The Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute and a Supervising Analyst at The Florida Psychoanalytic Center. She is the author of The Rupture of Serenity: External Intrusions and Psychoanalytic Technique and the Co-Editor of Privacy: Developmental, Cultural and Clinical Realms. She is a member of the Board of Directors of The Psychoanalytic Quarterly. She is the pro bono Executive Director of the Mel Bornstein Clinic for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Michigan, a non-profit, insurance accepting mental health clinic where non-insured patients are also treated at a low fee.

Sandra Park, M.D. is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who holds voluntary faculty appointments at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center and the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Treatment and Research. She has lectured on a number of topics including theories of the self and narcissism, psychodynamic psychotherapy, women’s mental health, and cultural psychiatry. She is the recipient of many awards, including the outstanding teaching award from the psychiatry residents at New York Presbyterian Hospital and the Alexander Beller Award from the Columbia Psychoanalytic Center for Training and Research.