de Staal, A. (2021). Against the Disembraining Machine. What is Psychoanalysis (Still) Capable of? American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 431–443.
With the intensification of the practices of social networks and the phobia of the internal world, operationalist thinking ends up presenting itself as a (false) universal and automatic response to the human need for meaning and sharing. What can psychoanalysis do in the face of such a hypothesis? What concepts does it have at its disposal to think about the psychic impoverishment and hatred that seem to crystallize the pain of thinking that characterizes our times?
Charles, M. (2021). Meaning, Metaphor, and Metabolization: The Case of Eating Disorders. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 444–466.
Eating disorders mark deficits in the ability to be nourished and to symbolize embodied experience. Such deficits can be traced to difficulties in early relationships that inhibit the development of self-regulatory functions and the progressive differentiation of self from other. Often, we find mothers who are insufficiently developed, leaving the child either austerely avoiding intrusion or struggling to digest maternal provisions without becoming lost in them. Explorations that link anorexia to deficits in symbolization are in line with psychoanalytic theorizing that marks the concretization of meanings in anorexia. Bulimia, in contrast, has been linked to deficits in self-regulatory capacities that are not necessarily tied to deficits in mentalization. Clinical experience suggests that people with bulimia are often “failed anorexics” who have achieved higher levels of self-development. Case examples explore some of the dynamics underlying such difficulties and how metaphors aid the work with those for whom embodied experience remains largely unsymbolized.
Prince, R. (2021). Pandemic psychoanalysis. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 467– 479.
Our clinical practice is contextualized by a co-participant trauma constituted by a confluence of upheavals–pandemic, politics, an epistemological crisis, pervasive distrust of expertise and evidence. Psychoanalytic work, parallel to the external world, has become defamiliarized, if not, at sometimes unrecognizable. The affect on the frame and the boundaries of the therapeutic frame and of the psychoanalytic institution are explored with an awareness of the uncertainty of the future. The experience of the onset of the pandemic is discussed with awareness of an unknown future.
Gonzalez-Torres, M. A. & Fernandez-Rivas, A. (2021). Experiences of Space and Time in the Covid-19 Pandemic: Letter from Bilbao. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 480– 495.
The COVID-19 pandemic has become a global phenomenon with powerful effects. The deaths and suffering, and the measures taken to mitigate the propagation, are changing the way we relate, work, and enjoy ourselves. The psychological impact on individuals and groups can only be partially known yet, but deserves examination. We focus on the specific place where we live: the city of Bilbao in northern Spain. The response of its people could represent an example of the COVID-19 experience and its effects, and some aspects might be generalized elsewhere. This paper reflects on the influence of the pandemic on some relevant social dimensions: personal and public spaces, affected by estrangement, time, subject to a slower pace, which pushes us into a different contact with our internal world. It also addresses a social vision of the pandemic as a punishment for our errors in the socio-economic and environmental fields, the role of uncertainty that generates strong defensive movements at the group level, and the expressions of personal and group courage throughout the process. The intensity of the pandemic in Bilbao and many parts of the world still prevents reflection on the long-term effects, which will have to be investigated in the future.
Levin, E. C. (2021). An Exploration of Implicit Racial Bias as a Source of Diagnostic Error. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 496–510.
Recent events led this author to realize that an error made during the Vietnam War by him and others had been due to focusing too narrowly on predisposing factors for PTSD while failing to consciously acknowledge acute systemic stressors. In not accepting that along with the stress of combat, Black troops daily experienced acute pervasive systemic racism, he failed to understand correctly their disproportionately higher levels of PTSD when compared to white troops. Motivating factors to examine this error included a recent movie by Spike Lee. Oral histories of Black veterans were then used to research the experience of Blacks in the military in two world wars and the Vietnam War. Little change in the treatment of Black service members was evident across the time frame which included WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War. An understanding of Shay’s concept of moral injury was found very valuable in understanding the consequences of PTSD.
Detrixhe, J. J. (2021). Against Recording Sessions for Supervision. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 511–526.
The American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2014 injunction that supervisors must listen to recorded sessions of their supervisees’ work is based on a rich and thorough body of research, and yet it entails a narrative of psychotherapy as a discipline of Science. If psychotherapy is understood as an endeavor also of the Humanities, recording sessions may be anathematic to supervision and training. Developing ideas from Greenberg’s (2015) theory of “controlling fiction,” the writer presents a narrative of psychotherapy in which it is not wise to review recorded sessions in supervision.
Miller, I. S. (2021). The Relevance of Martha C. Nussbaum’s Human Rights Capabilities Approach for Today’s Psychoanalytic Inquiry. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 527–533.
The long disruptions of Covid-19 lockdowns together with the gathering pace of political and social global unrest provide fertile ground for catching up with cross-disciplinary literature, informing contemporary psychoanalytic thought. Notable at a time when news cycles crackle with the multiple infractions of United Nations member-states to the United Nations’(1948) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Martha C. Nussbaum’s clean and Spartan presentation in Creating Capabilities. The Human Development Approach (2011) speaks directly to headline imperatives across political, social, economic, and psychological domains, as human destructiveness degrades not only our relations with one another but also our relations to the biological and geological structures upon which we depend in this Anthropocene age.
Foehl, J. C. (2021). Book Review: Freud, Sullivan, Mitchell, Bion, and the Multiple Voices of International Psychoanalysis, by Marco Conci, International Psychoanalytic Books, New York, 2019, 721 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 534–538.
The political philosopher Isaiah Berlin (1953) uses an age-old metaphor that offers an engaging way of introducing Marco Conci and his most recent book, awarded the American Board & Academy of Psychoanalysis Book Prize in 2020. Berlin refers to a distinction between styles of thinking drawn from a quote of the early Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing” (p. 1). Whereas the fox sees multiplicity and paradox at every turn, the hedgehog integrates a multitude of ideas into a single principle, an unending pursuit of a general theory that the fox inevitably upends. This question of monism vs. pluralism has been thematic in psychoanalysis since its beginning. As our first great hedgehog systematizer, Freud integrated a theory of mind and culture, a method of research, and a mode of treatment under a general theoretical frame. He identified several shibboleths, crucial theoretical tenants for determining inclusion or exclusion, to cull numerous competing hedgehogs from the psychoanalytic guild. And yet, throughout its history, psychoanalysis has had its foxes, thinkers who defy categorization, are not easily pinned into any specific system of psychoanalytic thought even while they stay nimbly and playfully within our psychoanalytic family. Freud had his Ferenczi, Klein had her Winnicott, Sullivan had his Levenson, all gadflies to the systemization of theory, independent thinkers who defied sectarian shibboleths.
Miller, I. S. (2021). Book Review: One Life Heals Another: Beginnings, Maturity, Outcomes of a Vocation, by Franco Borgogno, (A. Elgar, trans.), International Psychoanalytic Books, New York, 2021, 169 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 539–543.
Anglophone readers unfamiliar with the writing of Franco Borgogno, the author of Psychoanalysis as a Journey (2009) and an editor of Reading Italian Psychoanalysis (2016), should brace for surprise with this capstone work, One Life Heals Another: Beginnings, Maturity, Outcomes of a Vocation. The surprise is that this is a memoir unique in contemporary psychoanalysis. Modest in length, Borgogno’s reflections link three psychoanalytic lecture presentations with a fourth concluding chapter; yet the constructed bijou that is Borgogno’s outcome is fastidious and profound, operating upon the reader at multiple levels. Composed as if in direct opposition to his experience of “excessive severity and indifference (a sort of anti-emotional and anti-relational vein running through psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytic community…)” (p. 16), Borgogno’s deep observations ricochet from beginning to end. They trace
personal reflections upon patients, colleagues, supervisors and analytic mentors, exposing the unspoken psychoanalytic omerta of “no entry,” intuited through Borgogno’s early recognition….
Friedman, H. J. (2021). Book Review: The Unconscious: A Bridge Between Psychoanalysis and Cognitive Neuroscience, edited by Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber, Simon Arnold, and Mark Solms, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2017, 219 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 544–548.
Psychoanalysis as conceived by its founder, Sigmund Freud, was both a study of how the mind evolved and functioned and a therapy for those who suffered from some interference in comfortable and presumably healthy functioning. Freud began as a neurologist and only gradually found himself as a psychologist but one who understood and decoded what he called the unconscious rather than concerning himself with the
consciously known mind of an adult. He eventually distanced himself from what would be called neuroscience and the structures of the brain that result in a functional mind. Freud’s initial desire appears to have been a wish to become a biologist of the mind; his Project (1895), never published in his lifetime, outlined much about the brain’s anatomy and how it generated mental content but clinical experience with patients moved him in another direction: to consider psychoanalysis an exclusively psychological endeavor that could map the unconscious as an entity in itself. Furthermore, the actual concern of all who chose to follow him as psychoanalysts in the exploration of minds in turmoil and conflict have followed Freud’s inclination to see psychoanalysis as a study of the unconscious mind.
Iscan, C. (2021). Book Review: Illusion, Disillusion, and Irony in Psychoanalysis, by John Steiner, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2020, 167 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 549–553.
John Steiner is well-known for the psychoanalytic reader. His first book, Psychic Retreats was published in 1993 followed by Seeing and Being Seen: Emerging from a Psychic Retreat (2011). He is coming from the British Kleinian psychoanalytic tradition and Kleinian ideas permeate every inch of his new book with Steiner’s distinct voice at the same time.
Steiner has established his seminal ideas, his concepts of “pathological organizations” and “psychic retreats” in his earlier work. In Psychic Retreats, he discussed patients who he identified as a subgroup with a certain characteristic clinical presentation….. Steiner extends his idea of “psychic retreats” to “psychopathology of everyday life” in his new book. This book has less clinical focus and more universal themes……
Sabbadini, A. (2021). Book Review: Narcissistic Fantasies in Film and Fiction: Masters of the Universe, by Ilany Kogan, Abingdon & New York, 2020, 161 pp. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 554–557.
A main psychological developmental process, from birth onwards, consists in the gradual abandonment of our original narcissistic omnipotence. Babies, who are at first entirely dependent on those caring for them, feel overwhelmed by primary needs such as being fed, being kept warm, being touched and hugged, being looked at and talked to. These needs have to be met without delay, as tolerance of frustration is at this early stage minimal.
As, inevitably, the environment will fail to always provide immediately or satisfactorily what is required, babies will have to find ways of coping with their disappointments for instance, by “hallucinating” the feeding breast or replacing it auto-erotically by sucking their fingers. Such solutions, however, have only limited effectiveness and only serve as stop-gaps before the child’s needs are properly satisfied.
Rachmani, V. (2021). Book Review: The Shadow of the Tsunami and the Growth of the Relational Mind, by Philip M. Bromberg, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2020, 215 pp. First published in 2011. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 558–561.
This is my most personal book review of Philip Bromberg’s most personal volume. I’ve often been surprised, and in truth somewhat saddened, when colleagues remark that when reading Bromberg it feels as if he is writing to them personally: I am not alone. As a newly-minted intern at the Karen Horney Psychoanalytic Center, I was confronted by a patient with whom I was far out of my depth. She spoke of her many personality components of which she was aware– and somewhat in charge – and mapped them out in schematic drawings so that I could better understand her personality composition and daily challenges. What little I knew about so called multiple personalities came from films like Sybil or Three Faces of Eve: But this woman claimed more than twenty selves.
Keve, T. (2021). Correction to: The Jung-Ferenczi Dossier, American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81(4), 562.
Copyright for the letters by Carl Jung and Emma Jung are held by the Foundation of the Works of C. G. Jung. A non-exclusive license was granted retrospectively to reproduce the letters in this article.