The liberal dream of community is to establish a community wide and inclusive enough that it will become universal. But universality is not a whole. It is what divides every whole from itself, the hole within the whole. This talk will explore the ramifications of the conception of universality for the development of community.
Todd McGowan teaches theory and film at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Enjoyment Right and Left, The Racist Fantasy, Emancipation After Hegel, Capitalism and Desire, Only a Joke Can Save Us, and other works. He is the editor of the Film Theory in Practice series at Bloomsbury and the coeditor (with Slavoj Zižek and Adrian Johnston) of the Diaeresis series at Northwestern University Press. He is the cohost of the Why Theory podcast with Ryan Engley.
Our political and social moment seems destabilized by an increased emphasis on racial difference. But psychoanalysis has long ignored the stabilizing role aggression toward racial others has played in structuring society. Decades after American slavery ended, Freud, upon witnessing the horrors of World War I, first recognized within human subjects a drive toward aggression that he argued must be repressed for the sustainability of civilization. This talk reads slavery as a full manifestation of this psychic drive toward aggression. Through recourse to Lacanian theory, it argues that race functions as a source of psychic pleasure, or what Lacan calls jouissance. This jouissance is a mode of enjoyment that lures the subject to perilous transgressions that stabilize American society into its consistently oppressive racial configuration. Moving through an analysis of American slave masters’ efforts to establish slavery as a mask for what we can describe after Lacan as the psychic lack of the subject—a mask that refuted lack with racial superiority—the talk will turn to the writings of Zora Neale Hurston to describe religion and race as mechanisms through which African Americans themselves contend against social unveilings of psychic lack. Ending with a discussion of the role played by pleasure in contemporary incidents of police violence, the talk presents race as an apparatus that mediates subjective lack. Race, it argues, binds contemporary American civilization to sustained modes of psychic pleasure and discontent that grew out of the atrocity of slavery.
Sheldon George is Professor of English and a scholar of American and African American literature. He teaches courses that span antebellum to contemporary American literature, including Intro to Theory, Toni Morrison Seminar, 19th Century Boston Writers, Literature of the Jazz Age, and Psychoanalysis, Race and Sexuality. He received the Dean’s Award for Exceptional Teaching in 2010 and the Provost’s Award for Student Centeredness in Graduate Teaching in 2018.
Professor George’s scholarship focuses heavily on literary and cultural theory, with a particular emphasis on Lacanian psychoanalysis. His recent publications include a number of essays on Toni Morrison, analyses of American slavery’s continued traumatic effects, and articles on American Realism and Modernism. Professor George’s book Trauma and Race: A Lacanian Study of African American Racial Identity was published in 2016 by Baylor University Press. He is coeditor, with Jean Wyatt, of Reading Contemporary Black British and African American Women Writers: Race, Ethics, Narrative Form (Routledge 2020) and coeditor, with Derek Hook, of Lacan and Race: Racism, Identity and Psychoanalytic Theory (Routledge 2021).
On the occasion of the launch of her book Abolish the Family: A Manifesto for Care and Liberation (Salvage Editions and Verso Books), Sophie Lewis will be joined in conversation by fellow radical theorist M. E. O'Brien to discuss possible future horizons of mental healthcare beyond the material, institutional, and psychic confines of the family.
Sophie Lewis is a writer and para-academic living in Philadelphia and a teaching faculty member of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. She has an affiliation (albeit an unpaid one) with the Center for Research in Feminist, Queer and Transgender Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and is the author of many essays as well as two books so far: Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family, and Abolish the Family: A Manifesto for Care and Liberation (forthcoming, 2022).
M. E. O'Brien writes and speaks on gender freedom and capitalism. She co-authored a speculative novel entitled Everything for Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052–2072 (Common Notions, 2022). Her second book, Family Abolition: Capitalism and the Communizing of Care, will be out from Pluto in June 2023. She co-edits two magazines, Pinko, on gay communism, and Parapraxis, on psychoanalytic theory and politics. She works as a therapist, and is pursuing training as a psychoanalyst.
Taking as point of departure the “ontological problems” of trans-identified analysands (who experience their gender issues as a life and death situation and the transition as a survival strategy) this lecture explores time, death and the drives in psychoanalysis. I will sketch a new grammar of the interaction between the “driver and the driven," taking as an analogy for psychoanalysis the role of a taxi driver to explain how a cure can be conducted and brought to a positive issue, the true destination.
Patricia Gherovici, Ph.D. is a recipient of the 2020 Sigourney Award. Her books include The Puerto Rican Syndrome (Gradiva Award and Boyer Prize), Please Select Your Gender: From the Invention of Hysteria to the Democratizing of Transgenderism and Transgender Psychoanalysis: A Lacanian Perspective on Sexual Difference and most recently (with Chris Christian) Psychoanalysis in the Barrios: Race, Class, and the Unconscious (Gradiva Award and the American Board and Academy of Psychoanalysis Book Prize), Psychoanalysis, Gender and Sexualities: From Feminism to Trans* (with Manya Steinkoler) is forthcoming in 2022.
Drawing upon her 13 years treating children with complex trauma in a rural community, Dr. Hennessy will speak about the possibilities (and difficulties) that emerge when the clinician is willing to engage with and work alongside community members. This talk will focus on creatively identifying and cultivating relationships with potential allies in the child-serving systems, with an emphasis on working productively with the legal system with children in foster care. The impact of this work on a micro and macro level will be explored, with disguised case material and discussions at the community level. And yes, we will talk about what happens when a judge and a police chief really do walk into a Lacanian session!
Kristen Hennessy, Ph.D. is a Lacanian trained clinician in private practice in Central Pennsylvania where her practice focuses on treating children with histories of abuse. Dr. Hennessy speaks internationally on childhood trauma and Lacanian psychoanalysis. She previously ran a trainer-of-trainer program for caregivers in children’s care homes in Kenya and enjoys working with systems to improve the lives of children in foster care. Dr. Hennessy is the co-editor of Psychoanalysis, Politics, Oppression, and Resistance: Lacanian Perspectives.
Contemporary psychoanalysis, like all American institutions, as well as the global community, is living through a precarious moral moment. It is a moment of converging global crises: social, political, and environmental. We are witnessing the resurgence of racism and misogyny, the emergence of existential threats to our democratic institutions and aspirations, and desperate denial of our climate emergency. We must, with full awareness, recognize the defensive ascendancy of a narcissistic and sociopathic worldview rationalized by the unconscious idealization of invulnerability and denial of the predatory and destructive logos of capitalism, colonialism, and classism—historically and in its contemporary manifestation, Neo-liberalism; we must confront these profoundly anti-democratic, fascistic developments with all the psychological and socio-political power we can muster. This presentation will propose that an emergent socio-centric psychoanalysis can contribute both to a diagnosis of the “socio-political unconscious” , analogous to Freud’s “dynamic unconscious”, and to a “communal talking cure” that can help reduce or eliminate our collective regressive defenses.
Dr. George Bermudez, Psychologist-Psychoanalyst, Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst at The Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis Los Angeles, and 2020-21 Visiting Scholar at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (PINC) has developed pioneering scholarship and practice—an expansion toward a social psychoanalysis—exploring the “social unconscious” through “social dreaming.” The author of “The Social Dreaming Matrix as a Container for the Processing of Implicit Racial Bias and Collective Racial Trauma” (International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 2018) and “Community Psychoanalysis: A Contribution to an Emerging Paradigm” (Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 2019), he has focused on numerous contemporary socio-political concerns: American Xenophobia; Whiteness and Psychoanalysis; Black Reparations; The LGBTQ Unconscious in the Trumpian Era; and The Global Unconscious in the Time of Pandemic. Dr. Bermudez’ most recent work focuses on the applications of social dreaming to the discovery of potential solutions to our climate crisis and the development of “deliberative democracy”.
There is a good deal of attention, in Lacanian social theory, to racism as the theft of jouissance. But what if this is an inadequate formula? Presumably, more work needs to be done to refine and qualify this thesis. Unexpectedly, perhaps, an answer of sorts is to be found in the work of Frantz Fanon, who offers a series of speculative thoughts on the masochist drive underlying particular forms of white racism. This talk will explore this particular (masochistic) modality of white racist jouissance. It will focus, particularly, on how a form of defensive projection - the white woman being seen as desiring the Black man as a means of obscuring denying the same order of desire on behalf of the white man - plays an instrumental role here. A careful attention to the mechanisms of defensive displacement and condensation here yields interesting results, not only in respect of how a matrix of white heterosexuality is supported and affirmed, but also in terms of Blackness is produced as an instance of embodied negation.
Derek Hook is an associate professor in psychology and a clinical supervisor at Duquesne University. He is one of the editors of the Palgrave Lacan Series and also of the four-volume 'Reading Lacan's Ecrits' series. Along with Sheldon George he edited the recent collection 'Lacan on Race'. He began his analytical training in London, at the Center for Freudian Analysis and Research. He is also the author of 'Six Moments in Lacan', in addition to many papers on various facets of the clinical and cultural dimensions of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. He runs a YouTube channel with many lectures on Lacanian Psychoanalysis.
This presentation will be in three parts. First, I will describe the recent attempt to set up a 'Red Clinic' in the UK as an internationalist initiative making connections, while respecting the necessary disconnection between politics and clinical work - between the 'red' and the 'clinic' aspects of our work (link: https://www.redclinic.org/). Second, this will be linked to a reflection on what we learn about the relationship between psychoanalysis and revolution in different contexts, outlining the rationale for the recently co-authored project 'Psychoanalysis and Revolution' (link: https://psychoanalysisrevolution.com/). Third, we will then look at the difference between closed bureaucratic visions of communism, those characterised as ‘stalinist realism’ and a more inclusive democratic conception of communism and its implications for psychoanalytic work.
Ian Parker was co-founder in 1991, and is currently co-director (with Professor Erica Burman), of the Discourse Unit (www.discourseunit.com). His research and writing has been in the field of psychoanalysis, psychology and social theory, with a particular focus on discourse, critical psychology, mental health and political practice. He is Emeritus Professor of Management at the University of Leicester, and has visiting professorial posts in Brazil, South Africa, Spain and the UK. He is a practising psychoanalyst, and is currently Honorary Secretary of the College of Psychoanalysts - UK. He is Secretary of Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix and Managing Editor of the Annual Review of Critical Psychology. Details of his books can be accessed at https://parkerian.com/.
Drs. Oyer and Dent will present their reflections on their efforts over the year to develop a community-based program for psychosis and other extreme states. The theoretical underpinnings of this program will be discussed, particularly those inspired by the tradition of institutional analysis and psychotherapy, which emphasized treating mental illness through collective interventions. Drs. Oyer and Dent will share with participants the advancements and challenges encountered, as well as highlight partnerships that have been cultivated with Brooklyn-based community organizations. Finally, participants will be encouraged to provide critical feedback with the hope of fostering in the program a spirit of self-reflexive inquiry to guard against institutional inertia and misuses of power.
Dr. Loren Dent is a psychologist in private practice in Brooklyn, New York, and a training co-director at the Greene Clinic. He is the editor of DIVISION/Review, a publication of the American Psychological Association's Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology, and an instructor in psychoanalytic theory at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.
Dr. Matthew Oyer is a licensed psychologist and psychoanalyst. He is the Co-Director of the Externship program at the Greene Clinic, Assistant Clinical Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine, and Adjunct Supervising Faculty in the clinical psychology doctoral program at City College. He completed his doctoral training at the City University of New York and his doctoral internship at New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (NYPSI) and Mount Sinai Medical Center. With a small group of others, Dr. Oyer created and implemented a program of independent psychoanalytic training through which he continues to pursue lifelong formation.
Psychoanalysis and its various permutations often take the individual as its singular unit of analysis, at times engaging in theoretical excursions into the linguistic, relational, and socio-cultural "matrix" they are embedded in. These extensions of theory and practice, however, remain wedded to a fundamentally individual metapsychology which creates a stumbling block for how to "bring in culture" or bring up politics." "Wait for the client to bring it up" and "the therapist should bring it up" are statements often pitted against each other in clinical debate, reducing the question of culture, politics, and identity to a matter of voluntarism and individual agency. This presentation will question the terms of the debate through a kind of "return to Freud" via the work of Frantz Fanon. Acknowledging Fanon's use of Lacan and Ferenczi, it will be shown how a Fanonian reading of Freud reveals the unconscious is structured like a language of both relationship and verticality, of tenderness and of power, which, if attended to, renders the question of therapeutic voluntarism moot. By putting Freud on Fanon's couch it will be argued, using illustrative clinical examples, that attending to the language of hierarchy allows a "royal road" not only to organic and natural therapeutic dialogue on race, class, gender, sexuality, and power, but to the unconscious as such.
Daniel José Gaztambide Nuñez, PsyD, is assistant director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology at the New School for Social Research, where he also directs the Frantz Fanon Lab for Intersectional Psychology. He is also a practitioner in private practice, and in psychoanalytic training at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. He is the author of the book A People's History of Psychoanalysis: From Freud to Liberation Psychology, and was featured in the documentary Psychoanalysis in El Barrio. He is the recipient of a 2021-2022 Mellon Foundation Fellowship supporting his research on colonial mentality, and writing for an upcoming book on psychotherapy theory and practice under racial capitalism.
On February 27, 1924, Carolyn Newton, a young and wealthy American social worker, delivered her address to the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society. She titled her membership lecture: "The Application of Psychoanalysis to Organizations for Social Welfare." In her talk, she referred to all the ways Americans could benefit from psychoanalysis. During the lecture, she impressed Freud with the idea that thousands of American social workers, who were making headway towards being part of welfare institutions, courts, and hospitals as well as factories, schools, and churches, might be interested in his theory and put it into practice. On her return to The United States, Newton had plans to establish a psychoanalytic outpatient clinic in New York modeled on the Ambulatorium in Vienna. It was the nature and structure of psychoanalytic training in America that had prevented this from materializing. Based on original archival materials, Ophir uses the micro-history of the incident with which Caroline Newton's name became associated, to throw light on the road not taken by American psychoanalysis.
Orna Ophir is a psychoanalyst in private practice. She holds a PhD from the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University and teaches at Gallatin School for Individualized Studies at NYU. Ophir taught at the Humanities Center at JHU (2015-2017) and at the Doctoral Studies in Clinical Psychology at LIU (2013-2015). She is the author of Psychosis, Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry in Postwar America (Resling, 2013; Routledge, 2015). Ophir was selected to give the Frieda Fromm- Reichmann Memorial Lecture at The Washington Center for Psychoanalysis (2011) and was a runner up of the Tyson Award (IPA, 2013). As a clinician she worked at Shalvata Mental Health Center affiliated with the School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University (1992- 2008). Her new book Schizophrenia: An Unfinished History will be published by Polity in 2022.
For many centuries, physicians have searched in vain for the biopathological origins of what has come to be known as “schizophrenia”. In spite of innumerable genetic, biochemical, and neuroanatomical investigations, researchers have not identified a clear form of organic causation. More recently, traditional psychiatric investigators have begun to appreciate the role of powerful “expressed emotion” in the families as schizophrenic patients as well as the high incidence of histories of sexual abuse.
Although researchers have begun to embrace the possibility of a psychosocial aetiology, psychoanalytical researchers have long suspected that the causes of severe psychoses may be located in early infancy. Drawing upon his many years of clinical work with long-stay, in-patients diagnosed as schizophrenic, Professor Brett Kahr will consider the role of unconscious death wishes in the development of this severe and debilitating state of mind. He will consider a variety of categories of death wish, including actual death threats and, also, both conscious and unconscious death wishes. He will illustrate these theories with case material from intensive, multi-frequency psychoanalytical and psychotherapeutic work.
Professor Brett Kahr has worked in the mental health profession for over forty years. He is Senior Fellow at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London and, also, Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis and Mental Health at Regent’s University London. He is also Consultant in Psychology to The Bowlby Centre and, additionally, Consultant Psychotherapist at The Balint Consultancy, and works in full-time independent psychoanalytical practice with individuals and couples in Central London.
Trained at the University of Oxford, the University of London, the University of Cambridge, and, at both the Tavistock Clinic and Portman Clinic, he has specialised, over the years, in treating psychotic, forensic, and disabled patients, as well as couples and families. He served for many years as Staff Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Young Abusers Project, helping to promote early intervention for severely mentally ill children and adolescents at risk of perpetrating crimes.
Over the years, Kahr has worked not only as a clinician but, also, as an academic and as a broadcaster. He served for several years as Resident Psychotherapist to the British Broadcasting Corporation, speaking to over 15,000,000 people weekly about mental health matters. He is also Chair of the Scholars Committee of the British Psychoanalytic Council, designed to improve dialogue between psychoanalysts and academics.
As an historian of psychoanalysis, Professor Kahr has maintained a long-standing relationship with Freud Museum London and served as a Trustee for many years. More recently, he has become the museum’s Honorary Director of Research.
He is the author of sixteen books on a range of topics and series editor of an additional seventy titles. His solo-authored books include the very first biography of Donald Winnicott – D.W. Winnicott: A Biographical Portrait (Karnac Books, 1996) – which received the Gradiva Award for Biography in 1997, as well as The Times best-seller Sex and the Psyche (Allen Lane / Penguin Books, 2007) – a study of the traumatic origins of over 20,000 adult sexual fantasies. His most recent books include: Bombs in the Consulting Room: Surviving Psychological Shrapnel (Routledge, 2020) and Dangerous Lunatics: Trauma, Criminality, and Forensic Psychotherapy (Confer Books, 2020).
His forthcoming book is entitled Freud’s Pandemics: Surviving Global War, Spanish Flu, and the Nazis (Karnac Books, 2021), which has drawn upon his archival research at the Freud Museum London, investigating how Sigmund Freud survived a lifetime of violent attacks.
This talk explores psychological expressions of self and collective assertion of sumud (stalwartness), as living practices under violent occupation and settler colonial violence in Palestine. The speakers will share a number of painful cases that speak to the politics of psychical and psychological asphyxiation imposed upon the Palestinian people by the settler colony known as Israel. These cases will highlight how Palestinian clinicians attend to how Palestinians, circumscribed by violence and death, operate internally and communally, within a psychic political-economy of life that defies being objectified as legible victim through human rights discourse. The speakers will centre how Palestinian psychoanalytic clinical practice and Palestinian “livability” function as various forms of sumud and a refusal to be metabolized by an apolitical psychoanalytic framework or Zionist ideological negation.
Lara Sheehi, PsyD (she/hers), is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at the George Washington University's Professional Psychology Program. She teaches decolonial, liberatory and anti-oppressive theories and approaches to clinical treatment, case conceptualization, and community consultation. She is the secretary and president-elect of the Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology (APA Division 39), and the chair of the Teachers' Academy of the American Psychoanalytic Association. She is co-editor of Studies in Gender and Sexuality; co-editor of CounterSpace in Psychoanalysis, Culture, and Society and on the editorial board for the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Lara is on the advisory board to the USA–Palestine Mental Health Network and Psychoanalysis for Pride. She is co-author with Stephen Sheehi of the book, Psychoanalysis Under Occupation: Practicing Resistance in Palestine (Routledge, 2022).
Stephen Sheehi (he/him; Michigan, Ph.D) is currently the Mary L. Cornille Distinguished Visiting Professor of the Humanities at the Newhouse Center for Humanities at Wellesley College. He is also the Sultan Qaboos Professor of Middle East Studies in the Asian and Middle East Studies Program at William & Mary, where he is the founding Director of the Decolonizing Humanities Project. Prof. Sheehi is author of a number of articles, book chapters, commentaries and books; most recently, his co-authored book with Lara Sheehi, Psychoanalysis Under Occupation: Practicing Resistance in Palestine (Routledge, 2022) and Camera Palaestina: Photography and the Displaced Histories of Palestine, co-authored with S. Tamari and I. Nassar (University of California Press, 2022). He is a scholar of modern Arab culture, photography, and politics, Islamophobia and racism in North America, and decolonial studies.
This talk maps the intersections of politics, philosophy, and radical psychiatry in twentieth-century France. It focuses on a psychiatric movement called “institutional psychotherapy” which had an important influence on many intellectuals and activists, including François Tosquelles, Jean Oury, Felix Guattari, Frantz Fanon, Georges Canguilhem, and Michel Foucault. Anchored in Marxism and Lacanian psychoanalysis, institutional psychotherapy advocated a fundamental restructuring of the asylum in order to transform the theory and practice of psychiatric care. More broadly, for many of these thinkers, the asylum could function as a microcosm for society at large and as a space to promote non-hierarchical and non-authoritarian political and social structures. Psychiatry, they contended, provided a template to better understand alienation and offer perspectives for “disalienation.”
Camille Robcis is Professor of French and History at Columbia University. She specializes in Modern European History with an emphasis on gender and sexuality, France, and intellectual, cultural, and legal history. She is especially interested in the intersections of politics and ideas. Her first book, The Law of Kinship: Anthropology, Psychoanalysis, and the Family in France was published by Cornell University Press in 2013 and won the 2013 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize. It examines how French policy makers have called upon structuralist anthropology and psychoanalysis (specifically, the works of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Jacques Lacan) to reassert the centrality of sexual difference as the foundation for all social and psychic organization. Her second book, Disalienation: Politics, Philosophy, and Radical Psychiatry in Postwar France (University of Chicago Press, 2021) traces the history of institutional psychotherapy, a movement born in France during the Second World War that called for the profound transformation of the theory and practice of psychiatric care, through the lens of Marxism and Lacanian psychoanalysis. She is currently working on a new project, The Gender Question: Populism, National Reproduction, and the Crisis of Representation which focuses on the protests against the so-called “theory of gender” throughout the world, especially in their conceptual links to populism. She has received fellowships from the Penn Humanities Forum, LAPA (Princeton Law and Public Affairs), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.
In the early 1930s, a popular Viennese newspaper published the article “psychoanalysis for the destitute” to report on the city’s accessible mental health programs. While requests for treatment at the psychoanalysts’ free clinic subsequently hit record numbers, the ambulatorium was actually just one of their many community-based services for poor or working-class people of all ages. Anna Freud advocated (as her father had) for an enlargement of state responsibility for mental health and, from the mid-1920s on, developed counseling centers located in the public schools and municipal housing. As this emerging research shows, the psychoanalysts of the first and second generations after Freud accomplished far more in marginalized communities than has been acknowledged to date.
Elizabeth Ann Danto is emeritus professor at Hunter College – City University of New York, and an independent curator who writes and lectures internationally on the history of psychoanalysis as a system of thought and a marker of urban culture. She is the author of Historical Research (Oxford University Press, 2008) and her book Freud’s Free Clinics – Psychoanalysis and Social Justice, 1918–1938 (Columbia University Press, 2005) received the Gradiva Book Award and the Goethe Prize.