NCSPP

Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology

From the Editor

by Shlomit Gorin, MA
 
Sometimes the kind of work we do is validated by what we read and hear in the media. We know from experience how powerful talking and being listened to can be. As Christopher Bollas wrote in an essay adapted from his forthcoming book and printed recently in the New York Times, “We all know the wisdom of talking. In trouble, we turn to another person...Talking to an empathic other is curative. We all know that. We all do it. We do not need ‘outcome studies’ to prove to us that it works.”
 
We also know how awful it is when there is no one to talk to, no one who is willing and able to listen. In fact, the mere threat of being alone with one’s mind, of having no one who will listen, can be terrifying. In a review of The Complete Works of Primo Levi published in the most recent issue of The New York Review of Books, we find evidence of such horror: “Many inmates of Auschwitz, Levi tells us, experienced the same dream: they would be back home trying to tell their story-the hunger, the cold, the beatings, the selections-but all too soon they would realize that their loved ones were not listening. ‘They are completely indifferent...as if I were not there.’”
 
When we don’t yet have the words, others can sometimes help us find them. In a recent Fresh Air interview by Terry Gross of Carrie Brownstein, the lead guitarist of Sleater-Kinney and co-star of Portlandia, Brownstein talked about the ways that music helped her come to terms with challenges she faced growing up. Speaking about her first transformative encounters with music as an adolescent, she stated, “[T]here is such an inarticulateness that I possessed in some ways. And I just felt so inchoate as a person. And I felt like things were being filled in for me, that all of the elements in my life that couldn't be explained that I didn't have the words for were suddenly given a shape, that I had a soundtrack, that I was being seen. And that sense of being recognized was so crucial to me.”
 
As Bollas stated, we don’t need evidence to prove to us how curative talking, being listened to, and having our experiences take shape can be. But it is nice when what we read and hear reminds us that we’re not alone.