By Allison Katz (USA) and André Sassenfeld (Chile), Co-chairs
2017 has already proven to be a rich and diverse season in which we have presented stimulating web seminars covering some of the most salient topics in contemporary relational psychoanalysis.
Donna Orange’s (USA) recent webinar, “Supporting the Ethical Turn in Psychoanalysis and Humanitarian Work,” part of a busy first few months of 2017 for IARPP’s webinar series, was an interesting, enlightening, and often moving experience. During this webinar Donna, along with the many participants from around the world, discussed several chapters from her 2016 book, Nourishing the Inner Life of Clinicians and Humanitarians: The Ethical Turn in Psychoanalysis. The group engaged with the material from various perspectives, including clinical, theoretical, and philosophical viewpoints, along with personal experiences. It was moderated by André Sassenfeld (Chile), co-chair of the Webinar Committee and IARPP board member.
The pace of this webinar seemed different from the pace of others; although there was not an avalanche of posts, the threads and discussions that developed seemed to be particularly deeply felt. Possibly this is because addressing the topic of ethics is central to our experience in what Philip Cushman has called “a burning world.” In this context, Donna has argued for the idea of an ethical turn in psychoanalysis, highlighting the need for explicit ethical stances among psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists.
The discussion focused on concepts from the chapters the participants read, including especially the nature of radical ethics as described by Emmanuel Levinas, along with Donna’s related idea of clinical hospitality. One important discussion point took up the nature, similarities, and differences between a radically ethical stance and masochism. Can putting oneself radically in the service of the other resemble a masochistic attitude? Or are these separate and distinct phenomena? And what distinguishes a philosophical idea like Levinas’ from a clinically ethical point of view? These and many other questions were taken up during this webinar, one that was perceived by the participants as enriching and stimulating. It was a meaningful contribution to the dialogue between philosophy and relational psychoanalysis.
Following this program, we were lucky to have another fantastic webinar, “The Dissociative Mind in Psychoanalysis: Understanding and Working with Trauma,” featuring presenters Sheldon Itzkowitz (USA) and Elizabeth Howell (USA), engaging with themes from their recently published book. Participants from around the world came together from March 6 through 19 to discuss the integration of trauma work within a psychoanalytic perspective. Moderated by Christina Emanuel (USA), the discussion covered historical, theoretical, and clinical implications of dissociation and trauma.
The group spent time considering the extent to which psychoanalysis has its origins in the study of trauma and dissociation, which was the jumping-off point for discussion in which Shelly and Elizabeth clarified such complex concepts and terminology as hypnoid states, absorption, the relationship between reverie and dissociation, and the differences between repression and dissociation. The participants brought in clinical examples and questions, particularly regarding body work, trauma, and dissociation, as well as work with alters present in patients experiencing dissociative identity disorder. This webinar was particularly successful due to the generous teaching and steadfast attentiveness that Shelly and Elizabeth shared with the group, as well as the ongoing enthusiastic engagement of the webinar participants.
We have recently concluded our webinar in Italian, which ran from March 27 through April 9. The title of this program was “The Supervision Experience.” The list of faculty included Arcangela Derosa (psychoanalyst), Valentina Desiderio (psychotherapist, candidate psychoanalyst), Susanna Federici (faculty and supervisor), Giuseppe Magistrale (psychotherapist, candidate psychoanalyst), Gianni Nebbiosi (faculty and supervisor), Maria Silvia Soriato (psychoanalyst), and Paolo Stramba-Badiale (faculty and supervisor). The program was moderated by Carmine Schettini. Each presenter is a member of the Institute Isipsé (Institute of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology and Relational Psychoanalysis) in Rome. Both faculty and participants engaged in a thought-provoking discussion that aimed to reflect on the many complicated dynamics of supervision.
Along with the Candidates Committee this past January we presented the annual online webinar geared toward candidates and early career psychoanalysts. Led by Sandra Buechler (USA) and moderated by John Skrovan (USA), the group actively discussed several chapters of her book Making a Difference in Patients’ Lives.
Plans for the rest of 2017 and the 2018 webinar season are already in motion and will be announced soon!
Allison Katz, LCSW
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André Sassenfeld, MA
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