Presidents Remarks

by Elise Geltman, LCSW
The past is what makes the present coherent, and the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly.
--James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son, 1984
James Baldwin was a great mind, a feeling man, and a profound social critic. Baldwin was also critical of psychoanalysis. He warned that psychoanalysis could be used to normalize, reinvent, and reinvest in the status quo. He noted the potential for those with power and privilege to use psychoanalysis as a means of narcissism, avoidance, denial, and escape from accountability.
I find his critique and skepticism of psychoanalysis compelling, important, and interesting. For when I hear and read Baldwin's words, it strikes me that he too was engaged in a profoundly deep social psychoanalysis of America and its people. His incredible ability to listen carefully, to look beyond surface, to feel as a way of knowing, and to think and speak clearly about murky, hidden, or disavowed terrain seems quite close to the psychoanalytic endeavor.  

His words remind me that we must practice our craft with integrity, self-analysis, and intentionality because "the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do" (Baldwin, The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction, 1985).

THINKING ABOUT THE BODY: Conversion Disorder
In March, Dr. Jamieson Webster, a spirited and esteemed psychoanalyst from New York, will be in discussion with the Bay Area's own Dr. Israel Katz for a special workshop entitled "Thinking about the Body: Conversion Disorder," which will be held at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis. This is a unique opportunity to think with Dr. Webster who will only be in town for a short visit. As seen in the NCSPP brochure:
"Conversion Disorder"--a classical psychiatric term for the 
conversion of psyche into soma--is a fascinating way of 
thinking about the present. With so many patients complaining 
of bodily symptoms, armed with cadres of healers; with so 
many seeking recourse to pharmacological treatments or bodily
modification of various sorts, plastic and otherwise; with young 
men and women seemingly willing to direct violence at any 
body, including their own, in the name of powerful religious 
ideals--something continues to insist on the level of the body.
Considering conversion disorder from a more gender-neutral perspective, it carries within itself the failure of medical diagnosis and the mapping of many bodily issues that seem to follow the fault lines of culture. In this event, we will look back at Freud's original use of the term and its implications in clinical issues today.

For more event information, please visit:

SEEKING: Program Division Chair
This is an important role that serves on both the NCSPP Board and the NCSPP Executive Committee. The individual in this role helps guide and support all of our programming endeavors, works in collaboration with various NCSPP committees, and helps guide NCSPP's direction. We are seeking a psychologist for this role. However, all interested parties should contact Elise Geltman by e-mail at