by: DIANE SWIRSKY, PH.D
I got an email from my daughter's school reporting that teachers were out of paper for the year and there is no money in the budget for more. This is a public school in the affluent Oakland Hills, and I could tell from the listserv response that parents will rally together and bring paper to the school.They will donate money and volunteer their time. The library will be kept open a few hours a week, and the teachers will get the basic supplies they need. I couldn't help but think, though, about the schools where the parents have no extra money or time.
Occupy Oakland has been loud in this city where I live and work. The police helicopters circle over my office from time to time. I hear from my patients about the city's mandatory furlough days, public library closures, the lack of police services, the jobs and health insurance lost, and treatment that will have to be cut back. I share their anxiety about melting polar ice and our excessive use of resources. I wonder how we in the psychoanalytic community can be helpful and relevant as we watch the social supports crumble in our cities. How do we keep our bearings as we face undeniable evidence of climate change? As I begin my year as President of NCSPP, these thoughts and feelings weigh heavily.
At the same time, I believe deeply in the power of the therapeutic process and the work we do. I know that our theories are meaningful and that people change. I believe we can continue to hold a vitally important space for quiet reflection, insight and relationship at the same time that we acknowledge that action is necessary. I believe we can help repair the splits that have led us to avoid the truth, and that we can help each other face the grief inherent in our current global situation.
Sometimes, however, we (and our patients) do have to act up, be subversive, join groups, make noise and cause trouble. There are many ways, large and small, to use the knowledge and power of our psychoanalytically informed values and ideals to fight for change. There is much for us to do. NCSPP is the largest Division 39 chapter in the country. We are 650 voices and we know an enormous amount about what heals. Let's get to work.
Diane Swirsky, Ph.D.