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Showing posts from May, 2015

Evan Connell’s Mrs. Bridge and Ava Duvernay and Paul Webb’s Selma – The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Connects Two Stories About Race Told From Opposite Sides of the Divide

Mrs. Bridge is a finely told story – one that feels timeless - in Evan Connell’s description of the life of a “Country-Club Matron” in the middle of the twenty century in the middle of the country.  It is a life of privilege but with little sense of purpose – though the latter is not emphasized.  The writer is strangely sympathetic to his subject – allowing her to be – presenting her to us as best he is able – and letting us judge her – and judge it seems we must – without being harsh.

Selma, one of those movies that I should have seen last year but didn’t get to, is about a piece of a very purposeful life – the one of Martin Luther King, Jr.  It is about the strategies that he employed – the tactics that he used – to further his agenda.  It is about his taking on some of the biggest bullies of his time – the sheriffs and petty politicos of the south who wielded absolute power in their districts and President Johnson – a man who knew how to get what he wanted accomplished.
Both have …

Psychology and Torture – The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Continues to Explore the Dark Side of Professional Life

On September 11, 2001, things changed radically here in the United States.  We became viscerally aware of how vulnerable we are to terrorist attacks.  I think this awareness can be thought about, psychoanalytically, as a particular kind of communication – one that we call projective identification.  In this form of communication one of us (a terrorist) gets another (the rest of us) to feel the way that he or she does by doing to us what he or she feels has been done to him or her.  The challenge, when this happens in the therapeutic setting, is to resist acting on the communicated feeling – it is challenging because these feelings are always intense - and the immediate wish is to get rid of the feeling by retaliating – which simply starts a never ending battle of tit for tat.  So the challenge is to find a new way of responding which can lead to new ways of relating.
Slowly emerging news suggests that the American Psychological Association (APA) may have failed at the effort to conta…

Andrea Celenza on Sexual Boundary Violations - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Thinks about Psychotherapy

Writing about psychoanalysis is usually fun.  I like blogging.  The time goes quickly, but I feel like I have accomplished something during those flying moments.  Writing about Psychoanalytic sins has not been fun.  It has taken much longer than usual to write this blog, and it is clunky - I put off writing it (OK, it's also the end of the school year and there hasn't been time for it) and now some of the details have become foggy.  At the same time, I have been bedeviled by the theme and I have had trouble articulating my bedevilment.  Instead of writing about the stuff that is troubling me, I have found myself dutifully reporting stuff - facts and impressions - and not talking about other stuff - shadowy disturbing stuff - the underside of the world of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy more generally.  So please, forgive me ahead of time that the following is not as cogent as I would like it to be.  And please know that I will try to write about the shadows, as far as I am a…