Announcement: APsaA Conference Externship Program

Calling all undergraduate juniors and seniors and graduate students…in all disciplines!

Applications are now being accepted for an expenses-paid externship to the next Annual Meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA): January 31 – February 5, 2023
Hilton Midtown Hotel, New York City

Professors: Let your students know about this fantastic opportunity!

Application deadline: November 10, 2022.

Please open this pdf document for further details and application instructions:
APsaA 2023 Externship

Teaching 𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑡 Psychoanalysis and Teaching 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ Psychoanalysis; or, Contemporary Undergraduate Psychoanalytic Education and the Future of Transferential Pedagogy

by Max Cavitch

Launched three years ago, the “Psyche on Campus” blog has continued to be extremely fortunate in its contributors—including academics, clinicians, and students from many colleges and universities in the U.S. and the U.K.—and extremely fortunate in its readers. In fact, the blog now has well over 10,000 readers in dozens of different countries. And in 2022, for the second year in a row, “Psyche on Campus” has been selected by FeedSpot as one of the “15 Best Psychoanalysis Blogs and Websites.” Posts continue to be published every 6-10 weeks, and readers can anticipate forthcoming posts by Jane Abrams, Gila Ashtor, Rachel Conrad, Brian Connolly, Marcia Dobson, and Nicholas Ray, among others. (If you have an idea for a post of your own, please let me know!) And our “Syllabus Archive” continues to grow. (Again, relevant syllabi from your own courses are very welcome!)

Meanwhile, the blog’s third anniversary seems like a good occasion to take stock of what’s been said and what remains to be discovered about psychoanalysis and undergraduate education. It’s a topic that still gets relatively little attention, but one that many of us believe has important ramifications, both for the intellectual life of colleges and universities and for the field of psychoanalysis itself.

Those of us who teach in one of the handful of formal, undergraduate psychoanalytic studies programs (including, in the U.S., at Colorado College, Emerson College, Hampshire College, NYU/Gallatin, and the University of Pennsylvania, and, in the U.K., at Birbeck, University of London and the University of Essex) have seen some of our students go on to pursue post-baccalaureate education and training in the field. This is especially heartening because, as the statistics show, the profession continues to age and therefore needs more bright young minds to rejuvenate and perpetuate the whole range of psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies practiced around the world.

Of course, most of our students don’t go on to become psychoanalysts. But all of them carry forward an enhanced understanding of the human condition and a stronger capacity for empathizing with themselves and with those who are different from themselves. Intellectually, they carry forward knowledge of what continues to be the most comprehensive and nuanced account of human subjectivity—an account always being freshly energized and augmented on many fronts (not least, in the exciting new field of neuropsychoanalysis).

When it comes to assessing the current place of psychoanalysis in undergraduate education generally, hard data are difficult to assemble. But the available evidence strongly suggests that undergraduates—especially in the U.S.—are unlikely to learn much about psychoanalysis in departments of psychology (see Redmond and Shulman 2008, 398). Indeed, in their “Epilogue” to a 2019 special-issue of Psychoanalytic Inquiry on “The Future of Psychoanalysis in Undergraduate Education,” Marcia D.-S. Dobson and John H. Riker emphasize the extent to which psychoanalysis “has been attacked and dismissed…by psychology departments in American universities and colleges” (Dobson and Riker 2019, 469). Similar concerns are expressed by the authors of a recent article about the “Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Teachers’ Academy” sponsored by the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA): “Psychology textbooks are often peppered with caricatures of, and outright misinformation about, psychodynamic theories and treatments” (Tasso et al. 2021, 28).

Undergraduate courses with significant psychoanalytic content are far more likely to be found in a range of other social-science and, especially, humanities departments, including departments of anthropology, English and comparative literature, film and media studies, gender and sexuality studies, history, philosophy, and sociology (see Riker et al. 2018).

But what, exactly, are students learning about psychoanalysis in these largely humanities-oriented courses? To what concepts are they being introduced? Which analytic writers are they being asked to read? To what extent do the history and theory of clinical practice (in addition to metapsychological theory) get incorporated into such courses? And, perhaps most importantly, how could (or should) psychoanalytic ideas and techniques inform the practice of pedagogy itself?

With regard to teaching metapsychological content, psychoanalysis is often presented as a model of the mind with more historical significance than contemporary relevance. Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan appear most frequently on course syllabi that include psychoanalytic content—quite often to the exclusion of other and more recent contributors to the field. Psychoanalysis is commonly presented to students as if it were a static field more than adequately represented by the work of these two great thinkers, rather than as a dynamic field that continues to grow and change by building on, but also radically rethinking, Freud and Lacan’s contributions. Thus, one of the crucial roles played by undergraduate psychoanalytic studies programs is the more comprehensive presentation of psychoanalytic history, theory, and practice through the expansion and diversification of the curriculum and through recognition of the field’s continuous self-examination and revitalization. Syllabi for such courses include works not only by Freud and Lacan but also by Sándor Ferenczi, Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Hanna Segal, D. W. Winnicott, Heinz Hartmann, Harry Guntrip, Margaret Mahler, Masud Kahn, Erik Erikson, Hans Loewald, Karen Horney, Otto Kernberg, Margaret Mahler, Jean Laplanche, Juliette Mitchell, Julia Kristeva, Stephen Mitchell, Jeanne Spurlock, Philip Bromberg, Donnel Stern, Néstor Braunstein, Nancy Chodorow, Christopher Bollas, Farhad Dalal, Jessica Benjamin, Shinhee Han, Mark Solms, and many other major analysts and analytic thinkers from the full range of analytic schools of thought and practice. And these works are read not as settled wisdom but as contributions to an ongoing exchange and revision of ideas.

With regard to teaching about clinical practice, many stereotypes and misconceptions first need to be overcome. The caricature of the superannuated, taciturn, “classical” psychoanalyst who authoritatively “interprets” the patient’s opaque and chaotic discourse needs first to give way to an appreciation of the field’s numerous and increasingly interpersonal clinical styles. The best way to achieve this is by bringing psychoanalysts themselves into the classroom—whether as academics who are also clinicians, or as co-instructors with their academic counterparts, or as visitors and guest-lecturers. Here at the University of Pennsylvania, for example, most of the courses we offer in our undergraduate psychoanalytic studies program are team-taught by a standing faculty member from the School of Arts and Sciences and a practicing psychoanalyst from Penn’s psychiatry department and/or the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia (Philadelphia’s oldest analytic training institute). Not only do students read about different schools of thought and practice, but they also get to know at least one contemporary clinician—not as some limited and often idealized figure in a published case history, but as a unique, embodied personality, with their own clinical style and methodological orientation.

Yet it may be with regard to teaching as such—whether it’s done by a single academic faculty member or clinician or by an academic-clinician teaching-team—that psychoanalysis has the most to offer undergraduate education, including the teaching of courses both with and without psychoanalytic content. In his 1918 essay “On the Teaching of Psycho-Analysis in Universities,” Freud himself draws an important distinction between learning “something about psycho-analysis” and learning “something from it” (1956, 15). Among other things, psychoanalysis is a revolutionary theory of epistemology—of how we know what we know. Indeed, the very possibility of knowing, in the positivist sense, is a central question in all schools of analytic thought. Awareness of the unconscious dimensions of human experience throws knowledge—knowledge of the self, in particular—into an especially problematic, but also fortuitous, light.

Before Freud, the “self” most often seemed to be a problem of knowledge. But, after Freud, knowledge itself became the problem, and the ancient dictum “Know thyself!”—which had so often been questioned before—finally gave way, as Adam Phillips puts it, to “a radical and formative insufficiency, something that cannot be solved by knowledge. With the post-Freudian description of the unconscious, the idea of human completeness disappears. We are not in search of wholeness…we are in search of good ways of bearing our incompleteness” (1996, 7).

In other words, instead of holding fast to the notion of a “subject supposed to know,” psychoanalysis makes locating, defining, and representing this “subject of uncertainty” its interminable epistemological project. This project depends, not chiefly on a discourse of rationality, but on the exploration of a sustained transferential dynamic between self and other. Thus, the pedagogical value of psychoanalysis—like its therapeutic value—inheres in a sustained willingness, on the part of both teachers and students, to patiently persevere in the search for “good ways of bearing our incompleteness.”

That sort of sustained willingness is tough to achieve—not least, because it calls for everyone’s tolerance of a very different temporality than the linear, cumulative temporality of traditional pedagogical practice. “Proceeding not through linear progression, but,” as Shoshana Felman puts it,

through breakthroughs, leaps, discontinuities, regressions, and deferred action, the [transferential] learning-process puts indeed into question the traditional pedagogical belief in intellectual perfectibility, the progressistic view of learning as a simple one-way road from ignorance to knowledge. (1982, 27)

And this very different temporality can’t be achieved through conscious effort alone. It is, predominantly, the temporality of unconscious experience.

But the classroom, like the consulting room, is first and foremost a space of human relationship and therefore strongly characterized—whether we like it or not—by various forms of resistance, defense, idealization, projection, aggression, desire, identification…in short, by lots and lots of unconscious as well as conscious communication. This is why teaching and learning make us nervous: the classroom’s transferential dynamics are always pulling us toward that very different temporality of “breakthroughs, leaps, discontinuities, regressions, and deferred action,” toward that very different experience of learning in which, for example, all sorts of narcissistic investments are challenged and might be undone.

Indeed, any form of education that seeks to do more than induce intellectual compliance or to go beyond the rote delivery and assimilation of “information” is likely to threaten our libidinal attachments to cherished people, ideas, and beliefs—whether we are teachers struggling with anxieties about authority, competence, and the love of our students, or students struggling with anxieties about autonomy, worthiness, and the love of their teachers.

Deborah P. Britzman, who has written several books about psychoanalysis and education, rightly observes that, with the recognition of the transferential dynamics of pedagogy, what we’re used to calling “education” endures a salutary delay: “Learning is delayed because we feel before we know and learn before we understand, akin to Freud’s notion of ‘remembering, repeating, and working through’” (Britzman 2015, 44). The immediate—often hollow and transient—satisfactions of knowledge-acquisition are deferred, and, in that space of deferral, frustrations arise.

Teaching students, primarily through our own example, how to tolerate such frustration, while at the same time helping them to cope with affective disturbances and runaway meanings—“accommodating not-understanding, the limits of knowledge, and feelings of uncertainty” (Britzman 2021, xii)—is perhaps the greatest potential gain of introducing psychoanalysis into the undergraduate classroom, whatever the content of a particular course might be. In courses on anthropology, economics, law, literature, medicine, neuroscience, philosophy, political science, psychology, or whatever, teachers and students who attend to the classroom’s transferential dynamics are more likely to recognize their implication in both the content of the course and in the way that content is presented and handled: “To implicate oneself in one’s own narratives of learning and teaching means turning habituated knowledge back upon itself and examining its most unflattering, indeed, for many, its most devastating features. It also means exploring how even this most unflattering moment may offer insight into making significance” (Britzman 2021, 26).

Still, even the canniest teachers and students will always be tempted to inhibit or ignore the intrusions of what Christopher Bollas calls “the unthought known” (1987). Unconscious thoughts, feelings, memories, and fantasies are always ready and waiting to make learning unruly. They have the potential to disrupt accustomed patterns of gratification-seeking; to “spoil” cherished identifications; and to unmask our carefully constructed alibis for resistance, indulgence, sympathy, discipline, and denial. They unleash desires that seem “out of place”—but only because the place of desire at the heart of epistemology is so damnably inconvenient for traditional pedagogy.

Teaching with, as well as about, psychoanalysis can open up possibilities for education that make this inconvenience not just tolerable but (so to speak) desirable. Teaching with psychoanalysis can help illuminate and, ultimately, transform the “objects of knowledge” that all of our academic disciplines are “supposed to know.”


Works cited

Augustine. 1961. Confessions. Tr. R. S. Pine-Coffin. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Bollas, Christopher. 1987. The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known. New York: Columbia University Press.

Britzman, Deborah P. 2015. A Psychoanalyst in the Classroom: On the Human Condition in Education. Buffalo: SUNY Press.

—. 2021. Anticipating Education: Concepts for Imagining Pedagogy with Psychoanalysis. Gorham: Myers Education Press.

Felman, Shoshana. 1982. “Psychoanalysis and Education: Teaching Terminable and Interminable.” Yale French Studies 63: 21-44.

Freud, Sigmund. 1956. “On the Teaching of Psycho-Analysis in Universities.” International Journal of Psychoanalysis 37: 14-15.

Phillips, Adam. 1996. Terrors and Experts. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Redmond, Jonathan and Michael Shulman. 2008. “Access to Psychoanalytic Ideas in American Undergraduate Institutions.” Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 56.2: 391-408.

Riker, John, Marcia Dobson, and Alexandra Wong-Appel. 2018. “Psychoanalysis and Undergraduate Education.” The American Psychoanalyst 52.3,, accessed 11 January 2022.

Tasso, Anthony F., Kevin Barrett, and Bindu Methikalam. 2022. “Who Will Teach Psychodynamics in the Future? A 10-Year Follow-Up.” The American Psychoanalyst 56.1, 28-29.

Psychoanalysis through a Psychosocial Lens

by Stephen Frosh

Forty years ago, I wrote and published a short paper—one of my very first—in the Bulletin of the British Psychological Society (now known as The Psychologist). It was called “Teaching Freud to Psychology Students” and was all of two pages long. I don’t remember fully what it said (I’m not even sure if I still have a copy), but I do recall that some of my academic colleagues were irritated by what they took to be my complaint that there was insufficient attention paid to psychoanalysis in the psychology curriculum.

Continue reading “Psychoanalysis through a Psychosocial Lens”

“Grief Garden”: Rites of Private and Public Mourning

by David L. Eng

March 16, 2022 marked the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta Spa Shootings. Six of the eight victims were Asian American women. That same week, in my course, “Introduction to Asian American Literature and Culture,” I asked my students if they could name even one Atlanta victim. They could not. Nor, for that matter, could I. So we did our research, and I will name them here:

The victims at Young’s Asian Massage were:
Daoyou Feng, age 44
Paul Andre Michels, age 54
Xiaojie Tan, age 49
Delaina Ashley Yaun, age 33

The victims at the Gold Spa were:
Hyun Jung Grant, age 51
Suncha Kim, age 69
Soon Chung Park, age 74

The victim at Aromatherapy Spa was:
Yong Ae Yue, age 63

Continue reading ““Grief Garden”: Rites of Private and Public Mourning”

Psychoanalytic Psychology and the Academy: Identifying and Addressing the Growing Crisis

by David Ramirez

Among those contemporary college students who seek counseling—and despite their heterogeneity along lines of class, culture, race, gender identity, and sexual orientation—most share similar experiences of discomfort, distress, and a desire for relief. Something’s not right in their life, and it’s taking a toll: interfering with simple pleasures; undermining productivity; compromising functioning; obstructing relationships; causing, in some cases, thoughts of suicide and/or self-destructive behaviors like heavy alcohol- or drug-use and cutting. Moreover, many of them tend to perseverate on certain existential questions: What am I doing? Why am I here? Whose life am I leading? How do I know what I really want?

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Child’s Play at APsaA: Discovering Psychoanalytic Play Therapy

by Esha Bhandari

Starting college, I thought I had everything figured out. I was going to study the social sciences, enlist myself as a research assistant in a few of my university’s psychology research labs, and then eventually I’d get my Ph.D. and begin my life as a clinical psychologist. By my junior year, I had taken nearly every psychology course that was offered at my university—courses that spanned what I thought was every field in the discipline, including social psychology, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, cultural psychology, educational psychology, psychology and the law, and community psychology.

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Making “Black Psychoanalysts Speak”

by Basia Winograd

[Note: Director Basia Winograd’s 2014 documentary, Black Psychoanalysts Speak (which can be screened via YouTube, here), is required viewing in many of the undergraduate courses that I and my colleagues teach in the Psychoanalytic Studies program here at the University of Pennsylvania and in many such courses at other colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Whether our students are interested in psychoanalytic theory or in the history of psychoanalytic practice, they find that this splendid film answers many of their questions about the changing face of the profession and the changing terms of clinical and metapsychological discourse. What is the place of race in analytic thought and practice? Why are there still so few African American psychoanalysts? And what do they have to say about their own professional formation and about the extent to which discussions of race and related sociopolitical, cultural, and intergenerational experiences have been, until recently, virtually excluded from the analytic consulting room? My own students continue to be both dismayed and encouraged by the stories they hear from the analysts Winograd interviews in the film—stories of institutional and personal racism, stories of patients whose experiences as African Americans are routinely ignored or dismissed, and stories of gradual but meaningful change. Because Black Psychoanalysts Speak features in so many contemporary undergraduate courses on psychoanalysis, I’ve asked Basia Winograd to tell the readers of Psyche on Campus a bit about the making of the film and about the relation between cinema and psychoanalysis from the filmmaker’s perspective. Happily, she’s agreed!  —Max Cavitch, editor]

As a documentarian, I’m often approached by someone convinced they know what my next film needs to be. Almost invariably, the project they have in mind is the moving portrait of an organization grappling with one of our civilization’s most pressing problems: climate change, poverty, gender inequality, racism, etc. I hate to sound cynical, but I’ve learned over time that such “films” rarely turn out to be more than vanity projects: fundraising videos disguised as art. I understand the need for fundraising, and I’m as terrified as anyone about all the world’s current and impending cataclysms. But let’s keep our categories clear. I went to film school. I know what a film is.

Thus, when I was approached in 2013 by a group of Black psychoanalysts searching for a filmmaker, I had my doubts about getting involved. At the time, I had only the vaguest notion of what a psychoanalyst was. Kind of like a psychologist, I thought, but maybe more eccentric? Maybe even a little perverse? I have plenty of admiration for mental health practitioners, but also a strong suspicion of anything that smacks of eurocentrism…like a universal theory of human behavior developed by a cigar-smoking middle-class doctor in turn-of-the-century Vienna.

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Loving Yourself Workshop: A Poem

by Susan M. Schultz

According to a JED Foundation Survey published October 22, 2020, eighty-two percent of college students deal with anxiety, sixty-eight percent with depression, and one in five (nineteen percent) of students have had suicidal thoughts in the past month. In bold print, the report asserts, “Mental health should be a top priority for schools.” I have spent the past seven years advocating at the University of Hawai`i-Mānoa for better campus mental-health services. If you read recent press releases from UHM, you would think these services had improved dramatically. But if you pay closer attention, you will hear the hollowness of the language of care. In fact, even as the rhetoric improves, the level of care diminishes.

Thus begins my essay, “The Language of Care in (My) Neo-liberal University,” which is based on a talk I gave at the recent Webinar Colloquium, “Poetics and the University in Crisis” (March 3-5, 2021). My argument—based on many years of activism at the University of Hawai`i-Mānoa (UHM)—was that the university, in its response to demands for better mental health care, gave only the semblance of actually caring. Communicating a public message of ‘care’ fulfills the university’s public relations priorities while downplaying its unwillingness to spend the money that would be needed to strengthen the Counseling and Student Development Center. It was one more sign, sad to say, of the university’s overall unwillingness to revive the notion of the university as a community of care.

Continue reading “Loving Yourself Workshop: A Poem”

Discovering Psychoanalysis as a Business School Student

by Ryan Collins

My exploration of psychoanalysis began with philosophy. Like many people my age, I was seeking answers to certain existential questions: “Who or what governs our behaviors, and are they rational?” Philosophers—from Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius to Descartes, Hume, Kant, and beyond—have been asking similar questions for millennia. Although he was not a philosopher, Freud’s founding of psychoanalysis tackled such questions as well. While many of his theories have been challenged and revised, his discovery that our behaviors are often governed by unconscious conflicts between our desires and internalized societal demands remains relevant today. Although Freud continues to be a controversial figure, he critically challenged our belief in human rationality by demonstrating the unconscious and “irrational” nature of most of our behavioral tendencies.

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