“Psyche on Campus” Named One of the Top Ten Psychoanalysis Blogs to Follow in 2021!

Thanks to our thousands of readers and subscribers around the world, “Psyche on Campus” has been chosen as one of the “Top 10 Psychoanalysis Blogs You Must Follow in 2021” by Feedspot. You can see the full list here: https://blog.feedspot.com/psychoanalysis_blogs/

Subscribing to the blog is free–just click the “Subscribe” button in the bottom right corner of your screen.

And remember: If you have an idea for a post of your own, just let us know by writing to: cavitch@english.upenn.edu.

 

Psychoanalysis as Argo: A Podcast Setting Sail in the Virtual Classroom

by Anneleen Masschelein and Yael Segalovitz

It was June 2020, about two months into the whirlpool, which—we then had no way of knowing—would swallow up our lives for many more months to come. In Israel, Yael was at home with her two young boys (who couldn’t fathom why the playgrounds were empty and cordoned off by yellow tape), rushing to meet the deadline for an article on autotheory and psychoanalysis. In Belgium, Anneleen was in a similar situation: torn between the demands of her child, her teaching, and her research during the early stages of what would become a seemingly endless lockdown.

We didn’t know each other at the time. Yael chanced upon an article by Anneleen that, echoing her own thoughts, questioned why—to paraphrase Maggie Nelson—Winnicott is everywhere to be found in contemporary American culture decades after the British analyst and pediatrician had reached the peak of his fame. Why did Yael feel the urge to reach out? Perhaps as a way of counteracting the growing sense of isolation. In any case, we formed a strong bond and, with the support of Ben Gurion University, we decided to craft a joint course on Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Anglo-American Culture. In retrospect, it was a naïve idea—we didn’t anticipate the amount of work that would be involved in launching an international online seminar. Nevertheless, the project provided us with a steadying anchor during these disturbing times.

In the months to come, in between naps and lockdowns, we forged ahead, shooting introductory videos on Freudian psychoanalysis, Ego and Self Psychology, and Object Relations to give students the background they would need to read contemporary works. We evaluated a wide assortment of materials to find what might work well for both B.A. and M.A. students, at our respective institutions. And we negotiated the bureaucratic complexities of establishing a virtual platform that could be shared by all of our students.

Since time was already out of joint, we decided to add yet another incredibly demanding task. We’re an ocean apart, we thought, and so are our students; they will not meet face-to-face during our course, if ever. If speech will be our chief means of encounter, then perhaps we could add even more voices to the mix, ones that would amplify the opportunities for verbal exchange embedded in this otherwise constrained virtual format. We reached out to thinkers and writers whose work we’d decided to assign and whose engagements with psychoanalysis we found crucial to the revival we felt was taking place in the adjacent fields of psychoanalysis and literature: Judith Butler, Maggie Nelson, Jane Gallop, Patricia Gherovici, Emma Lieber, Amy Allen, Ben Ogden, and David Stromberg. We didn’t really expect responses; we ourselves could hardly lift our heads above the muddy waters of the pandemic, and these were all very busy writers. The responses, however, were overwhelmingly positive. Perhaps, we thought, others, too, were craving conversation, intimacy, and a reminder that lively intellectual dialogue could still take place, even though the world around us, politically and otherwise, was in crisis.

Our course launched in February, and the first class featuring our podcast was dedicated to Thomas and Benjamin Ogden’s book, The Analyst’s Ear and Critic’s Eye. It was a joy to hear Ben answer students’ questions in his recorded voice. One student asked, for example, why the Ogdens felt the need to present a new mode of psychoanalytic literary interpretation, to which Ben responded: “It is a difficult question…psychoanalysis for quite some time built walls around itself and saw itself as having all of the answers in a certain sense, having a kind of confidence, bordering on arrogance if I’m being honest, that put off a lot of people.” The conversation then drifted to the topic of “arrogance” in the context of psychoanalysis, and the early North American reception of this field of knowledge as mastery-seeking. It took students by surprise that Ben answered these questions for them, since, as they told us, they frequently felt like the scholars they were reading were abstract, unreachable entities rather than accessible, flesh-and-blood people. And indeed, in the following class devoted to Nelson’s The Argonauts, they seemed not yet to have grasped that the link we sent them was to an interview conducted by their own professors with them in mind. “She has the same vocal voice as she does in writing,” one student remarked; “whimsical and playful and at the same time so knowledgeable.”

We devoted the first part of our conversation to the book’s title, considering Barthes’s own use of the Argo metaphor: a ship whose parts have all been replaced but remains the same ship, symbolizing continuity through transformation. We transitioned to a discussion of Nelson’s engagement with Winnicott and relationality. But by the end of class, the Argo reappeared on the horizon—this time in response to Nelson’s spoken words. Our students wanted to hear more about Nelson’s experience teaching psychoanalysis, and we listened to her explain how “people would say to me all the time, oh I don’t read Freud because I don’t believe that I want to kill my father and sleep with my mother….Why, if that is what somebody thinks is the foundational structure of the human condition, why should I read that?….To me…having a gender-complex household, as is every household, I do believe there is such a thing as a family romance….It might not be constitutive, but it’s certainly an interesting lens by which to look at systems in the family.”

The class was about to end (in fact we went over time) but a student who rarely speaks was moved to share a question that turned into a luminous insight: “What then remains,” she wondered, “if everything about Freud’s theory changes? If people reject the Oedipal structure and replace it with others, so that Freud’s theory almost disappears?” She paused. “Can it be then that psychoanalysis is the Argo?” We could almost hear Nelson’s delighted laughter in the room. And so we sail on.

We’ve thus far launched three episodes and conducted six interviews, with two more scheduled and many others planned (or, more precisely, wished for). Each episode is 20-30 minutes long and includes 7-8 questions, opening with the most urgent—“Why psychoanalysis, now?”—and continuing along the route determined by the interviewee’s work. Because producing the podcast requires connecting Yael in Israel, Anneleen in Belgium, and the interviewee at her home location, the sound quality can be somewhat uneven. But Buzi Raviv, our audio editor, has put his heart (and ear!) into the project and helps not only our three voices but also the dialogue between psychoanalysis and literature come to life as much as possible. We invite you to explore what we’ve done via the links below.

 

“Psychoanaliterature,” a companion podcast for academic courses in English literature at Ben Gurion University (Israel) and at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), hosted by Prof. Anneleen Masschelein and Dr. Yael Segalovitz:

https://open.spotify.com/show/43xctmwr1PIFgqcJiMrijT

or

https://psychoanaliterature.pinecast.co/

 

Teaching Psychoanalysis with Children’s Literature *

by Lawrence D. Blum

I’ve designed a syllabus for a novel way to teach basic psychoanalytic principles and child development. Although originally developed with undergraduates in mind, a course based on this syllabus has been taught with great success to candidates at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia by my friend and colleague, Dr. Susan Adelman. I’m posting here about the course both to encourage others to use it as the basis for possible courses of their own and to solicit from readers (students and teachers alike!) suggestions for improving or expanding it.

Continue reading “Teaching Psychoanalysis with Children’s Literature *”

Teaching Winnicott: On Listening and More Than Listening

by Jordan Alexander Stein

We teachers don’t always know how to walk the line separating the pedagogical from the extra-pedagogical.  Years ago, when I was fairly new to the job, I found myself in office hours listening to a student in some amount of pain.  I gave her a hearing, brokered an accommodation, and sent her on her way.  But as the day went on, I began to fret that I hadn’t done enough––that I could and should have been more encouraging, or at least told her I recognized the bravery that comes with asking for help.  So I turned to friends for advice, and one memorably emailed to say “Therapy is 95% listening and 5% things you’re not qualified to do.”  Their point was that, in doing no more than listening, it may well be that I’d done enough.

Continue reading “Teaching Winnicott: On Listening and More Than Listening”

Impossible Professions: Teaching Literature and Psychoanalysis

by Emma Lieber

In “Analysis Terminable and Interminable,” Freud famously claimed that psychoanalysis is one of the three “impossible professions”—the others being education and government. The recent political environment in America certainly gives us a lens onto the impossibility of the latter, and perhaps what “impossible” means in these contexts, though the high drama of the Trump administration may also obscure what’s at stake. What is the aporia—the irreducible, unassimilable gap—at the heart of these vocations? What are their desires and aims, and what within them challenges, not so much the achievement of those aims, but any conventional notion of what achievement means? In what way do these pursuits underscore what Lacan for one designates as the impossibility of desire? And how might recognizing the impossibility of these endeavors influence the aims and techniques of their practitioners?

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The Use of a (Cinematic) Object: Emotional Experience with Film

by Kelli Fuery

Psychoanalysis and the field of cinema and media studies have shared a long, if turbulent, history. From the mid 1970s to the late 1980s, both Freudian and Lacanian approaches contributed to the method that became known as psychoanalytic film theory, serving as the cornerstone of cinematic apparatus theory as developed by Jean-Louis Baudry (1974) and Christian Metz (1974, 1982). Cinematic apparatus theory sought specifically to examine the interrelated structures of cinematic space, screen, and spectacle within the predominantly linguistic frame of Lacanian psychoanalysis. During the same period, psychoanalytic film theory expanded to include theories of spectatorship, feminist film theory (de Lauretis 1984, 1987; Doane, 1987, 1991; Mulvey 1975; Penley 1989), and cinematic textual analysis.

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How Psychoanalysis Helped Me Rethink Police Brutality

by H. N.

This article addresses sensitive political matters regarding the Hong Kong/mainland China relationship. The author has decided to not provide their full name or contact information to avoid running afoul of Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong.

“Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time!” “Five demands, not one less!” “Corrupted cops, may your whole family die!” These chants of protestors penetrated me as I marched with a million peaceful demonstrators. I was initially hesitant to join in the cursing of the families of corrupted cops, wondering how spreading further hatred could be helpful at all. But the urgent cries for justice brought back images of police brutality; rage seemed to infiltrate and spur me, and I found myself, too, chanting fiercely the words of hatred: “Corrupted cops, may your whole family die!”

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War Neuroses on the Twenty-First-Century College Campus

by Michael McAndrew

The United States has been engaged in the “Long War” of post-9/11 conflicts for eighteen years. If that war were a person, it might be getting ready to go to college. Indeed, many of the almost three million veterans who have served in the post-9/11 conflicts are also returning to college—though many may be significantly older than eighteen, as they now begin or continue their college educations.

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Race and Psychoanalysis: Some Resources for Undergraduate Education and Counseling

by Max Cavitch, Ph.D.

Note: There are terrific posts by Kelli Fuery, Michael McAndrew, H.N., and others awaiting publication—please be on the lookout for them in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, given our extraordinary present circumstances and—as educators, students, and clinicians—our need to adapt to them as we prepare for an uncertain new academic year, it seems important to jump the queue with this selected bibliography of resources—to which readers are welcome and encouraged to contribute in the “Comment” section.

Many of us will be spending the summer preparing to resume teaching in a world transformed, not only by Covid-19, but also by the revitalized struggle against systemic assaults on black bodies and minds. The psychic fallout of state-sponsored violence—including racially motivated police brutality and the extrajudicial murder of black men, women, and transgender folk—has scarcely begun to be calculated, much less adequately addressed, by the psychoanalytic community. How might those of us who teach psychoanalysis at the undergraduate level, or provide psychodynamic therapy to college students, do a better job of centering black lives—and matters of race even more broadly—in our classrooms and counseling facilities?

Continue reading “Race and Psychoanalysis: Some Resources for Undergraduate Education and Counseling”

Psychoanalysis and the Pre-Med

by Harris Avgousti

As a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, I study biology and chemistry, and I plan to pursue a medical degree after graduation. Throughout my education, I’ve been very STEM-focused, doing research in radiation oncology, tutoring for organic chemistry and physics, and so on. But a recent course on psychoanalysis helped me begin thinking in new ways about what I’m learning now and how I might someday practice medicine.

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