East Bay ISG Segments 2018-2019:

32 Weeks | September 6, 2018 — May 9, 2019
Thursdays | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Location: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church
2837 Claremont Boulevard, Berkeley, CA 94705

Deadliness and Enlivenment
Sam Gerson, Ph.D.
September 6, 13, 20, 27; October 4, 11, 18, 25

In this seminar, we will enter the domain of the “negative” through in-depth discussions of the struggle between deadliness and enlivenment as represented in both clinical practice and in contemporary drama. We will engage psychoanalytic theories of trauma, perversion, and narcissism through close readings of four plays: Long Day’s Journey into Night, by Eugene O’Neill; Who’s Afraid of  Virginia Woolf, by Edward Albee; Buried Child, by Sam Shepard; and The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh. These authors will provide a sociological as well as literary frame for discussion of therapeutic challenges and potential that we confront in our work.

The play readings will be augmented with an unpublished paper of my own, “The Enlivening Transference,” an article on perversion by Ruth Stein, and some readings about “ghosts” taken from two of Adrienne Harris’ edited books: Ghosts in the Consulting Room and Demons in the Consulting Room

Eros and Thanatos: The Erotics of the Death Drive
Megan Rundel, Ph.D.
November 1, 8, 15, 29; December 6, 13; January 3, 10

In this section, we will explore ways that elements traditionally associated with the death drive live in erotic subjectivity. We will consider sadomasochistic relationships, “perversions,” and wishes for fusional states in a non-pathologizing, curious way that opens up new areas of thinking. We will consider how current understandings of gender and sexual fluidity, engagement in erotic technoculture, and nontraditional relationships challenge our traditional views of the negative. Readings by Freud, Bataille, Ghent, Laplanche, Stein, Dimen, and Saketopoulou will be included. 

On the Border
Alexander Zinchenko, Ph.D.
January 17, 24, 31; February 7, 14, 21, 28; March 7

In this seminar, we will discuss intra-subjective, often unsymbolized and undiffer­entiated states of mind within a cultural context. Through discussion of clinical material and film (Kurosawa’s Rhapsody in August and Makavejev’s Hole in the Soul), we will grapple with the tension between experience and its representation; the symbol and that which is symbolized; mourning and monument; society and “the primitive.” We will think about a psychotic patient’s experience and how it lands in both the therapist’s mind and institutions’ treatment modalities. I will situate this discussion on the borders of psychoanalysis (Matte-Blanco, Resnik), sociology (Goffman), anthropology (Turner), philosophy (Merleau-Ponty), and literature (Nabokov). 

From Negative Therapeutic Reaction to Negative Capability
Andrea Walt, Ph.D.
March 14, 21, 28; April 4, 11, 18; May 2, 9

“Of all the hateful possibilities, growth and maturation are feared and detested most frequently.” 
                                                                                     —W.R. Bion, Attention and Interpretation (1970)

As clinicians, we are invariably drawn into a drama of opposing forces as we encounter the tension between the forward reach for change and the regressive pull toward stasis. The repetitive tropes of transference and the rhythmic patterns of narration and action swaddle the therapeutic process in a cloak of familiarity, protecting against the dread and shock of the unknown. The focus of this section is a re-interpretation of the so-called negative therapeutic reaction, as the therapist observes the tenacious grip of the known while nurturing the innate yearning for the unknown. Ultimately, we are striving in psychoanalysis to increase our capacity to tolerate the unknown, referred to by Bion as negative capability.