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Blackman, J. S. (2020). A Psychoanalytic View of Reactions to the Coronavirus Pandemic in China. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 80(2), pp. 119–132.

Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic, which apparently began in Wuhan in December 2019, and has persisted to the present day, has had several psychological effects in China. The real danger has produced prolonged stress. Large-group phenomena have been stimulated. Overwhelming affects generated by the real danger have led to regression in the stimulus barrier (or “filter”). The COVID-19 has also triggered unconscious defensive reactions, including obsessional cleaning, counterphobic behavior, humor, and denial. The nationally imposed home quarantine of millions of families has caused in-home conflicts and neurotic repetitions of unresolved childhood issues. Prior psychiatric illnesses have been exacerbated. Health workers, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychoanalysts, have experienced emotional depletion. Finally, in families where there has been infection or death, delayed mourning and post-traumatic phenomena have been observed. In each of these situations, different interventions based on psychoanalytic principles have been useful.

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Lentz, J. S. (2020). Resistance Revisited: Disillusionment, Hierarchies and the Brain. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 80(2), pp. 133–150.

Abstract: With the proliferation of new psychoanalytic theories and methods, some concepts, such as resistance and free association, have been cast aside. This paper looks at a pattern of forward motion and retreat that characterizes defense, but with a significant twist. The author maintains that there is an alternation between patients’ novel observations about themselves and their families and a logical sounding, authoritative dismissal of all they had just described. Considerations of left and right hemisphere functioning that echo this clinical pattern, the idea of powerful illusions being shed and the ubiquity of hierarchies are considered. A case for the importance of retaining the concept of resistance—that is, stopping the forward motion of treatment—is considered. Implications for the length of psychoanalytic treatment and the role of authority are discussed.

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Spero, M. H. (2020). On Being Able to Paint: The Revival of Aesthetic Imagination Through The ‘Dyadic Psychoanalytic Artist.’ American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 80(2), pp. 151–175.

Abstract: Vera, a middle-aged, bright and skillful mental health professional, consistently maintained throughout the first years of her analysis that she had no imagination and, indeed, exhibited during the early years of work a limited, stunted capacity for truly abstract symbolic thinking, emotional expression and playfulness. I report developments within the fourth year of Vera’s psychoanalysis, currently in its eighth year, during which Vera spontaneously began to draw objects, at first copying and eventually drawing from imagination. For a time, Vera was critical of her work, which was actually quite good, and experienced great difficulty acknowledging and appreciating the many internal dimensions and interests that her work revealed. This watershed development required an equally gradual “interpretive welcoming” on the analyst’s part so as to contain Vera’s transition from preoccupation with concrete, technical aspects of her drawings toward a more mature thirst for the aesthetic, symbolism and play. At some point, analysand and analyst began to play with cognate associations surrounding the Hebrew word for arto’ma‘nut—combined with the image of the nursing mother (o’me‘net), and fidelity, trust and faith (e’mu‘nah). This creative countertransference enactment eloquently reflected the spectrum of shared transformative aesthetic-imaginative processes within bothanalytic partners, or the emergence of the dyadic psychoanalytic artist. Discussion elucidates what has been achieved and what remains to be achieved.

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Turtz, J. S. (2020). Mysteries of the Psychoanalytic Process: Reflections on Chaos, Complexity, and Emergence. American Journal of Psychoanalysis80(2), pp. 176–195.

Abstract: Psychoanalysis is inherently messy and mysterious. The mysteries of the psychoanalytic process are viewed through the lens of chaos and complexity theory. The analyst–analysand relationship is an example of a nonlinear dynamic system, meaning that it is continuously changing, adapting and coevolving; deterministic predictability is lost in the process of continuous adaptation. The fractal nature of the psychoanalytic relationship and the emerging qualities that arise from its self-organizing system and from bottom-up therapeutic approaches are explored and examined in relationship to the nature of healing. The analyst must tolerate chaos, uncertainty, and messiness for the healing process to naturally emerge. In addition, the age-old question of free will versus determinism is examined from the perspective of complexity theory.

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Colangeli, R. (2020). Bound Together: How Psychoanalysis Diminishes Inter-generational DNA Trauma. American Journal of Psychoanalysis80(2), pp. 196–218.

Abstract: The concept of intergenerational transmission of trauma plays a fundamental role in psychoanalysis. While it is known that intergenerational trauma can be transmitted through attachment relationships, a new branch of genetics (epigenetics) has emerged to study the interaction between human behavior and changes in DNA expression. Therefore, psychoanalysis, which has proven to reduce the intergenerational transmission of trauma from a behavioral perspective, can play a positive role in regulating DNA changes caused by environmental stress. The present paper focuses on recent research suggesting a direct correlation between psychological trauma and DNA modifications. In particular, DNA changes caused by psychological trauma can be transmitted from generation to generation, validating the psychoanalytic concept of intergenerational transmission of trauma. This evidence not only supports the essential role psychoanalysis has in influencing human behavior, but also suggests that it affects not only the individuals who undergo it but their offspring, as well, via the epigenetic passage of DNA.

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Book Reviews:

Covitz, H. (2020). Book Review: The Essential Writings of Sabina Spielrein: Pioneer of Psychoanalysis, edited and translated by Ruth Cape and Raymond Burt, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2019, 178 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis80(2), pp. 219–222.

There are different types of psychoanalytic works: edited collections, original theoretical statements, clinical vignettes, attempts at synthesis, and many others. Still another, a reissuance of an author’s early psychoanalytic writings, may serve diverse functions, too. Inter alia, such publications may provide an opportunity to examine older researches that have been ignored or whose relevance has not been fully understood. It may, additionally, be intended to explore its assertions and hypotheses in a certain temporal framework that may explain later turns in our thinking and researches. And, it may assist us in learning about how this reissued work was first received in hopes of avoiding the repetition of similar mistakes, if, indeed, mistakes were made. It is mostly toward this third purpose that I commend this work to psychoanalysts and historians and towards which I draw my focus in this brief commentary.

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Castelloe, M. (2020). Book Review: Ghosts in the Human Psyche: The Story of a “Muslim Armenian,” by Vamik D. Volkan, Phoenix, Oxfordshire, 2019, 96 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis80(2), pp. 223–226.

This book investigates how traumatic events of the social sphere such as war, exile, and political strife mentally embed themselves in individuals and communities across generations. This study of one entire case in Turkey, supervised by the author, focuses on the “intertwining of internal and external events” and is addressed to psychoanalytic practitioners, teachers, and supervisors working in foreign countries (Volkan, 2015, p. ix).

The opening chapter examines how analysts have resisted considering external socio-political and historical events with the equal weight given to personal and familial ones. A review of the field elucidates how in the early 20th century Freud’s renunciation of the seduction hypothesis shifted emphasis away from external stimuli and onto infantile fantasies and oedipal configurations. Following the Second World War many clinicians left effects of the Holocaust unanalyzed in attempt to counteract their own personal feelings of helplessness when faced with this external threat to their livelihood…

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Prince, R. M. (2020). Book Review: On the Daily Work of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, by Ian Miller and Alistair D. Sweet, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2018, 228 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis80(2), pp. 227–230

The American readers’ initial reaction to On the Daily Work of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy may be the disorientation of touring unfamiliar territory with a guide who is part foreign, part native. Ian Miller is a New York interpersonal analyst transplanted to Dublin and Alistair Sweet is a training supervisor of psychotherapy based in Belfast. The therapeutic lingua franca in Ireland hails from British Object Relations. Having trained and practiced in New York, and now resident in Ireland, Miller, together with Sweet, navigate local, regional, and national currents in understanding the practice of psychoanalytic therapy across multiple languages of theory.

Beneath the ostensible modesty of their title, On the Daily Work of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is an ambitious enterprise the aim of which is no less than to provide clinicians with a pragmatic structure for understanding psychotherapeutic process. Its elements are observations of paranoid, schizoid, and depressive movements, as well as verbalizations made in the transitory shifts from one point in time to another. Though modest in title, its text is as challenging as Bion’s – not surprisingly, since it is inspired by Bion’s mathematical diction. On the Daily Work offers much but it is not to be taken by the faint-hearted reader.

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Rothschild, L. (2020). Book Review: Beyond Psychotherapy: On Becoming a (Radical) Psychoanalyst, by Barnaby B. Barrett, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2019, 281 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis80(2), pp. 231–234.

Barnaby Barratt wishes to be considered a nihilist, and here I am using the term nihilist as a critical Nietzscheian compliment (Nietzsche, 1882). In the volume under review, Barratt is not concerned with the death of God as found in Nietzsche, but with the function of psychoanalysis within institutes, schools of thought, and as a tool that has the power to aid human life on earth. Here, explicitly linking his thought to Nietzsche’s, Barratt’s concern is that psychoanalysis is in danger of being dead, and that members of the proverbial marketplace (i.e., many if not most psychoanalysts and institutes) have yet to recognize that such a death has transpired. The extent to which such a proclamation is valid, and the implications of this statement are the concerns of the book under review.

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Iscan, C. (2020). Book Review:Learning Along the Way: Further Reflections on Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, by Patrick Casement, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2019, 156pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis80(2), pp. 235–239.

Facing one’s mortality in imminence can sometimes stir passions, lead to creativity and a desire to pass along what one knows to new generations. This book stands as an example of that kind of outcome.

Stimulated by my unexpected reprieve from a near-fatal cancer (see ‘My time with cancer’, Chapter 18), I began to put together my thoughts about psycho-analytic practice in brief synopsis, ‘Ways of working’ (Chapter 4). That recall of my clinical thinking re-kindled my enduring passion for this thing called psychoanalysis, especially after having ended my clinical practice with patients when I turned seventy. So, it did not take much prompting from a supervisee for me to realize that it might be worthwhile, if I were to collate those of my writings that had been scattered between various journals and my own archive. (p. 1)

This is how Patrick Casement explains how his last book, Learning Along the Way, came to fruition. The book is dedicated to his supervisees which is also telling, in a sense that the book seems to carry a certain mission and focus.

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