Institute No Institute

Becoming a psychoanalyst is founded upon a subjective transformation that occurs in a personal analysis. It cannot be measured or predicted, yet it is the necessary factor that allows one to conduct analytic treatment. Neither the analyst alone nor a group of independent observers can determine its occurrence, but somehow together they may. That something so difficult to determine lies at the heart of professional transmission has troubled the field of psychoanalysis from its inception. Institutes, schools, and broader communities of psychoanalysts have struggled to harness this transformation to formal models of training. They have invariably encountered obstacles in the structures of authority and the exercise of power. While training outside institutions is not explicitly subject to the...Read More

Jamieson Webster: “Sick Bodies, Hysterical Pregnancies, ISIS Wives”

“Conversion is linked to combustible effects, to desires and fears that remain hidden, unspoken, but ripe, a demand that takes place through the body. This is certainly the situation with the original “conversion hysterics” of psychoanalysis. “I have a sounding board in my abdomen…if anything happens, it starts up my old pain,” said a woman to Breur in Studies in Hysteria (1895, p. 204). Some thirty-odd pages later, Freud takes over, as he would do, this hysteric’s imagery as his own, laying down the foundation for the existence of “unconscious ideas” and the “splitting” of the mind on the basis of her words. Freud writes, “the lively affects into which they are thrown by relatively trivial causes become more intelligible if we reflect that the ‘split-off’ mind acts like a sounding-b...Read More

Tracy Morgan: “To Disembark”

“The denouement of a ten-year psychoanalytic treatment brings to mind the story of Jane Eyre.  I was seven years deep into my analysis when I began to have the feeling that, like Jane’s blinded Mr. Rochester, my analyst had lost sight of me. From the precise moment I met Jane, and I can still see her seated in a dark room surrounded by a family not her own, she became a dear companion.  Reading this novel in childhood, I was unable to set it down.  As I walked to school, took a bath, ate dinner, I read.  So intent was I on absorbing Bronte’s words, I parted with them only to sleep.  Such was their elixir-like power over a seven year old me. Jane, “a motherless woman,” eventually makes her way as a governess. Late in the novel, and after much hesitation, she accepts the hand of her em...Read More

Interview with Patricia Gherovici: “The Unconscious is the Last Activist”

PATRICIA GHEROVICI: I was first a writer before I became an analyst. I was working as a journalist while I was a student and I did a lot of journalistic writing. There was a continuation of that early career in my practice of analysis. Indeed, the process of analysis could be seen as a process of writing, with the difference that the writing is made by the analysand. A successful analysis works like writing. In some cases, certain novelists use writing as an analysis. When an analysis functions successfully, something similar to what is at stake in writing has to have been produced, and in that sense they are perhaps an extension of each other. There is something that has to do with writing, inscription, and editing that takes place in analysis. They are parallel processes. CASSANDRA SELTM...Read More

Steven Reisner: Just One More Question – New York Times Couch

“Eventually, we came around to my problem, which, of course, had echoes of former problems of mine with which he was familiar. He listened closely and, after a pause, looked me squarely in the eye, and with a deep knowledge of me, said, “You will not be fully yourself until you are wholly aligned with your sexuality.” I tried to soften and generalize what he was saying to me: “You mean my life drive?” He shrugged as if to say, Eh, that’s not quite it. “No, not your life drive,” he said. “That’s not your problem. Your sexuality.” Martin’s generation of psychoanalysts had worked to tame sexuality, focusing instead on a more general need for relationships. This gentler version has become prominent in today’s psychoanalytic circles. But for Martin, this was only half the story. The other...Read More

Manifesto Fest in DIVISION/Review

A group, including many Unbehagen members, presented a Manifesto Fest at the 2015 Division 39 Spring meeting in San Francisco. Click here to read the manifestos of Will Braun, Jill Gentile, Lynne Layton, Tiffany McLain, Tracy Morgan, Jonathan Shedler, Esther Sperber & Robert Stolorow, published in DIVISION/Review (posted with permission from DIVISION/Review).

Without History: An Experimental Case Presentation

“For today’s event, we have asked our three analysts to present the same case, which is an ongoing psychoanalysis, being conducted by yet another clinician who’ll remain anonymous. Our three analysts will present this case based on a set of process notes only, without access to case history or other information about the case. Also, no one in today’s audience will have access either to the process notes or to any case history. This includes the event’s planners: neither I nor any member of the planning group has looked at the process notes, nor do we know details of the case. We’ve designed this event so that, aside from the three presenters, everyone else in the room will listen from a radical position of—“not knowing.” We’ve designed this event flexibly, with a number of possible d...Read More

Jamieson Webster: Speaking into the Void of the Unbehagen SalOon Listserv

DU tends to forget itself, which isn’t a bad thing. And the idea of DU, and its various allegiances, shift and grow and mutate which is a small miracle in often stuck communities. There are a lot of new people on the list serve, people who haven’t attended events, people who only know one another virtually, which is also a new situation. It is something of this new culture which I think creates tension on the list serve and a growing rhetoric of splitting- academic v clinical psychoanalysis, affects v language, interpretation v relationship, intellect v feeling, Lacan v everyone else. That’s fine. It’s an important stage. Personally, I think these are false divisions- in particular the academic v clinical psychoanalysis one, which I think tends to break things down ...Read More

Evan Malater & Cecilia Wu: Rumplefreudskin – The Fantasy of the Immortal Plaque

In a famous letter to his interlocutor Wilhelm Fliess, Freud imagined that the place where he had and decoded the Irma injection dream would be one day marked by a plaque. ” Do you suppose that one day a marble tablet will be placed on the house, inscribed with these words:  ‘On July 24, 1895 the secret of dreams was revealed to Dr. Sigmd Freud.’ A few days ago, I was talking to Cecilia Wu of the plaque fantasy as an example of the brash confidence of the early Freud, only to have her tell me that the tone of the letter is hardly triumphant or brash.  “What do you mean?,” I said.   Cecilia pointed out that he goes on to write, “At this moment I see little prospect of it.”  That is to say, he saw little prospect that his plaque fantasy would ever be anything bu...Read More

a/cephalic discontents: an event series curated by das unbehagen

“A dictionary begins when it no longer gives the meaning of words, but their tasks. Thus formless is not only an adjective having a given meaning, but a term that serves to bring things down in the world, generally requiring that each thing have its form. What it designates has no rights in any sense and gets itself squashed everywhere, like a spider or an earthworm. In fact, for academic men to be happy, the universe would have to take shape. All of philosophy has no other goal: it is a matter of giving a frock coat to what is, a mathematical frock coat. On the other hand, affirming that the universe resembles nothing and is only formless amounts to saying that the universe is something like a spider or spit.” – Georges Bataille, Formless Click here to view the details f...Read More

Double Entendre: Katy Bohinc, Rachael Wilson & Jamieson Webster respond to Alain Badiou

Wendy’s Subway presented performances and discussion of Bohinc’s “psycho-sexual thriller” Dear Alain, Webster’s The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis (Karnac Books, 2011), which addresses Badiou’s theory of love and asks how it may be conceived from the psychoanalyst’s discourse; and Wilson’s “Fifteen Theses,” on her artist’s book created from Badiou’s Being and Event  to investigate the rhythms of reading, pleasure in distraction, and the book as a “cover.” Badiou attended performatively, as an audience member. Click here to listen to Jamieson Webster at Wendy’s Subway Click here to listen to Rachel Wilson and Katy Bohinc at Wendy’s Subway Post-show discussion from the Unbehagen SalOon Cecilia Wu responds to Jamieson Webster’s “Alain Badiou is Not a Walk...Read More

Muriel Dimen: A Last-Minute Breakthrough – New York Times Couch

“Julia returned after the August vacation that we New York psychoanalysts customarily take. Well, not right after. She missed the first session. A family obligation, she said. Were I a traditional analyst, I might have wondered to myself: “Is there ambivalence here? Perhaps she doesn’t want to come back?” But I didn’t think that, or rather I ignored that flicker of doubt. I should have trusted my suspicions. When she did show up, Julia told me that she wanted to end the therapy. Very forthrightly, too. Cordially. She asked me about my summer and then said that this session would be her last.” Click here to read more

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