Impulse is a community newsletter produced by the Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology (NCSPP) and distributed electronically at no cost to subscribers. We envision Impulse as an integrative source for local news, events, and thinking of interest to the psychoanalytically inclined. Our goal is to be your guide as you explore the Bay Area's rich array of analytic resources.

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by June Lin-Arlow, AMFT 

“Recently he has become obsessed with things being broken. He is using aggressive language: ‘rotten,’ ‘burst,‘ ‘fall,’ ‘break.’ He will squeeze together some clay, throw it down, and say ‘broken’ over and over again pointing to how it broke,” a parent tells me looking concerned. The identified patient, a 3-year-old boy, looks over at me and scowls, sizing up this new Oedipal rival. He walks towards me and knocks me over. Who’s on the phone vying for mother’s attention? I can't help but smile at how true his words feel about gestures wildly at everything

Once things were whole, and now they are broken. The playground was open, and now it is closed. Dance class was fun, and now it is closed. Friends are closed. When people get too close, it is scary. They need to stay away. “When he sees someone not wearing a mask, he starts screaming ‘mommy they’re not wearing a mask!!’ I can’t calm him down, and it’s so embarrassing,” his mother says to me, hands covering her face. How confusing and distressing it must feel to be a little nervous system moving through the world right now absorbing grownup anxieties. 

by Amber Trotter, Psy.D.


Par for the perpetually paradoxical course, this past year of COVID has been both stagnant and electric. Technology-mediated psychotherapy has been catalyzed, catapulted into a new dimension, questions about its limitations sidelined by more pressing matters.

I have felt deeply grateful for technology during the pandemic. I have always appreciated the associative freedom of the phone and have been moved by the emotional richness of video treatments. Part of my practice will likely remain remote. Good work is happening with patients I have never met in person. I have also been seeing patients in person throughout COVID, and it’s been interesting to compare notes. I want us to think about teletherapy from every angle: to be receptive, generous, critical, principled, cynical. Certainly, technology can reduce barriers to accessing care and yield unique clinical benefits. I maintain the value of being bodies together, and yet I struggle to articulate what precisely I find important. There are many variables at play, and many different situations. It can also be challenging to parse essential limitations of teletherapy from limitations of presently existing technology—or of technology in a particular circumstance. 

by Molly Merson, MFT

Your Predominantly White Academic Organization (Yes, Even Yours) Is Exactly One Live-Tweeted Racist Event Away from Public Disgrace. This piece explains the deep culture shift needed for predominantly White institutions and organizations to truly become anti-racist, and offers suggestions for work that these organizations can do to stop enacting racist harm on BIPOC.

A Letter from Gaza: This Must End. A Palestinian psychiatrist, deluged with bombs in Gaza, describes the decades of settler-colonialism in Palestine. He pleas with the global community to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state and stop the settler-colonial advances on Gaza and the Palestinian people.

May 25 Should Be A Day of Mourning for George Floyd. While the piece dives into mourning and “potential space,” the title says it all.