The International Psychotherapy Institute (IPI) and Westminster College are the proud recipients of a research grant award from the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) in support of our jointly conceived Research Grant Proposal on Teleanalysis. This proposal, written by Janine Wanlass, Principal Investigator, was submitted to the IPA by Caroline Sehon, chair of the teleanalysis working group of the International Institute for Psychoanalytic Training (IIPT) at the International Psychotherapy Institute (IPI) on behalf of IPI and Westminster College, Salt Lake City.
At the September meeting of the Teleanalysis Group, Janine Wanlass reviewed the history of the research grant proposal to the IPA. She described learning about the IPA grant, gaining the interest and expertise of her colleagues Jen Simonds and Ellen Behrens at Westminster College, and discussing the collaboration between our group and Westminster College. She then gave an overview of the study design. The practice of teleanalysis – conducting psychoanalysis through the assistance of the telephone or other high quality video connection system – is described in case studies and anecdotal accounts but lacks an empirical research base. The current study proposes development of a questionnaire to assess the frequency, format, rationale, experience, and scope of teleanalysis practice by IPA analysts. Based on these research findings, a subset of analysts will be interviewed using a grounded-theory approach to further investigate analysts’ perceptions, experiences, and challenges in practicing psychoanalysis via the use of technology. The findings from this mixed-methods approach will be presented with implications for current practice and future research.For instance, we hope to expand our research to the study of psychotherapy via technology as another arm of the project.
Janine explained that the grant money will be allocated against research expenses (such as data entry, translation of interview data, and computation) and that no researchers, interviewers, or interviewees will be paid for their participation in this study. In response to interest shown by all members of the group, Janine stated that her next step will be to invite our group over the next couple of weeks to contribute ideas that would inform the questionnaire design. Janine looks forward to collaborating with the group, and to receiving direct and specific input from project participants along the way. We anticipate that it could take three to four months to design the questionnaire needed for Stage 1, obtain IRB approval, and pilot the questionnaire. The award funds will be released as soon as we are ready to send documentation of IRB Approval from Westminster College to the IPA.
One IPA reviewer said, “This project is carefully planned and it promises to get data about teleanalysis which are not known up to now. Furthermore it is conducted in conjunction with two appropriate sponsoring institutions and with a group of experienced psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytical researchers. So it has a good basis…..” IPI’s affiliation with Westminster College was a critically important factor in the success of this research submission, as it has been in many other clinical and educational aspects of training programs at IPI and Westminster College.
Robert Galatzer-Levy, chair of the Evaluation and Research Proposals and Results Committee of the IPA wrote that the IPI/Westminster Collegegrant application “received a very high ranking in a highly competitive field. The grant will be funded in the amount of $5,000 to support your research project. This award reflects limitations in the funds available to support research.” We are delighted with the amount of the award, because itcorresponds exactly with the amount requested. IPI Board member James Finkelstein expressed the view that the honor of receiving the award is much more significant than the amount of the award. The IPI Board was unanimous in extending congratulations to faculty responsible for this successful submission.
Caroline Sehon complimented Janine Wanlass on her “hard work, keen analytical and research perspectives, and her collaboration with her research colleagues, Jen Simonds and Ellen Behrens, at Westminster College.” Sharon Dennett, Chair of the International Institute for Psychoanalytic Training (IIPT), the analytic training program at IPI, thanked the teleanalysis group “for this considerable and productive work” and offered help in whatever way IIPT could provide support.
This is a tremendous accomplishment for all, and a testament to what can be achieved when a team of many individuals and two institutions came together, working at high intensity and lightning speed to meet a rapidly approaching deadline, all with the solid support of Geoff Anderson (IPI’s Director), Jill Scharff (co-founder of IPI, past chair of the teleanalysis group, and Board member) and David Scharff (co-founder of IPI and Board Chair), Doug Dennett, Sharon Dennett and Stan Tsigounis (IPI and IIPT at IPI), Colleen Sandor (Westminster College and IPI), and last but not least, Anna Innes, Executive Administrator of IPI.
Betty Benaim, Doug and Sharon Dennett, David and Jill Scharff, Caroline Sehon, Yolanda Varela and Lea Setton (faculty of the International Psychotherapy Institute (IPI) and the International Institute for Psychoanalytic Training (IIPT) at IPI, and IPI-Panama faculty member and candidate Katia Paredes attended the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) Congress in Prague this summer. We met some IIPT adjunct faculty there too – Ira Brenner, Ted Jacobs, Otto Kernberg, Mary Kay O’Neill, Virginia Ungar, Vamik Volkan, and Rick Waugaman. The panel meetings were excellent, with proficient powerpoint and display of text .
Some of the small discussion groups were equally good, but others proved to be under-attended, although they had been fully subscribed. The Congress design was very good and the presentations were of high quality, especially the case reports and discussions.
Various roles of IIPT faculty members before and during the Congress
Sharon Dennett was busy with meetings for training directors and supervising analysts of IPA institutes in her role as Training Director of the Vermont Study Group. She also attended a pre-Congress workshop on initiating psychoanalysis. Sharon noticed that the IPA is making a big effort to translate and make accessible writings in multiple languages into English to give them a larger audience and to facilitate cross cultural communication among analysts from all regions.
Betty Benaim attended the Presidents’ Meeting in her role as Chair of the Panama Study Group, chaired by Marvin Margolis (USA). Betty found it a good opportunity to learn about the experience of psychoanalysis in other countries and to realize that the main goal everywhere is outreach to the younger psychologists to train them in psychoanalysis. She realized how much of what was being recommended is already being done in Panama where they have groups of young candidates. Ten years ago there was one analyst in Panama. Now there are seven, and soon a group of younger candidates will be graduating. Betty was also pleased that the schedule included small discussion groups, that being something that IPI members value so much.
David Scharff organized a pre-Congress workshop on behalf of the IPA Committee for Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, to which he was appointed in 2011 as chair following the death of Isidoro Berenstein.
Over a day and a half, three cases were presented from Mexico, Italy and Brazil, each had two discussants, and all of them generated lots of group discussion about couple and family dynamics — no-entry and spoiling defenses against the therapist as an intrusive, non-understanding object, collusive antilibidinal links and terror of entrapment in a couple relationship, violence as a desperate attempt at ending conflict, the therapist’s need to titrate optimal distance to avoid wounding the family with a psychotic core, and her provision of containment and space for thinking. Later in the week, David met with the committee (colleagues from Britain, Rome, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Spain and China). Among other business concerning future directions, they discussed with great enthusiasm their participation in the February 6-9, 2014 IPI weekend, chaired by Janine Wanlass (Chair of Couple, Child and Family program at IPI) and David, when some of these international colleagues will travel to Washington to join IPI members in discussing the frame and the process of assessment and evaluation in couple and family therapy.
Jill Scharff organized and chaired a teleanalysis working group discussion at which Caroline Sehon presented a vignette to illustrate working in the transference in teleanalysis.
Participants included Mary Kay O’Neill, an IIPT adjunct faculty member introduced to Jill and the group by Sharon. Thanks to that meeting, Jill was invited to present on teleanalysis at the Post-Termination Workshop that Mary Kay chairs at the January meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association. The lively discussion at the teleanalysis working group meeting served as a wonderful celebration of the newly published book Psychoanalysis Online (Karnac 2013), including chapters by IPI authors Mike Stadter, Karen Mohatt, Sue Cebulko, Jill Scharff (editor), David Scharff, Nancy Bakalar, Caroline Sehon, Betty Benaim, Yolanda Varela, Lea Setton, Geoff Anderson, Janine Wanlass, and IIPT adjunct faculty members Ernie Wallwork and Sharon Zalusky Blum.
A few highlights from some of the main IPA Congress panels and papers:
In “Tracking Transformations in Psychoanalytical Process: Unconscious and Explicit” Ricardo di Bernardi laid out the three-level model. Applying the model to vivid clinical material presented with empathy and precision by Michael Sebek (Czech Republic), Margaret Hanly (Canada) compared process notes taken at anchor points in the analysis in relation to a selected focus captured in the question, “How is the patient using the analyst at this moment?”
In “Mourning & Melancholia: After the Holocaust: A Psychoanalytic Exploration of the Deaths of Jean Amery, Paul Celan, and Primo Levi” panelists Samuel Gerson (USA), and Rachel Rosenblaum (France) explored why holocaust survivors who have written about the horrors they witnessed or experienced take their own lives in later years: The holocaust writer-survivor is a reluctant witness, caught between telling and not telling, until he decides to disclose the trauma — at which point he may perceive pain for the first time, and after speaking out, may identify the larger community as an indifferent world, and introjectively identify with it as a dead mother-object that ultimately turns against the self.
The Committee on Psychoanalysis and Culture tackled the challenge to psychoanalysis of virtual reality. Gerhard Schneider called us to become acquainted with the world of young people whose sense of time and self-concept and expression of intelligence is unfamiliar to older analysts. Drew Tillotson (USA) and Raquel Berman (Mexico) gave exquisitely relevant clinical material to illustrate the challenge to the frame, the erasure of time and space, the illusion of connection, and the use of a communication device as a psychic retreat or a bridge to mindfulness. Adela Abuela Garcia (Switzerland) asked whether, in this world of overstimulation and hyperacceleration, slow, careful listening can survive the demand of the urgent response.
In “Facing the Pain in Psychoanalysis With Severely Traumatized Chronic Depressed Analysands: New Ways in Conceptualization and Treatment,” Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber (Germany) presented her research findings, showing powerful causal links between trauma and depression, and stated that “in the absence of trauma, genetic vulnerability is usually not enough to lead to depression later in life.” Discussant Otto Kernberg (USA, and IIPT adjunct faculty) advocated for worldwide, psychoanalytic research studies to investigate the links between neurobiological and psychodynamic etiologies for depression, and he underscored the tremendous value of an object relational way of thinking and working with individuals suffering from depression and trauma. Marianne will present research on trauma with her husband Werner Bohleber at IPI in Denver, October 18-20, 2013.
Ted Jacobs, IIPT adjunct faculty member, chaired a panel that he designed, The Analyst’s Pain: The Management and Utilization of Frustration, Rage, Despair, and other Troubling Affects in the Process of Analyzing. Ted assembled presenters from three separate countries and analytic traditions: Ilany Kogan (Israel), Bernard Reith (Switzerland) and Brian Robertson (Canada, IIPT adjunct faculty), and Caroline Sehon was the reporter. The panel examined the various kinds of pain that analysts and patients experience within the transference-countertransference field and explored the emotional wounds inflicted by the patient and potentially the analyst, not only within the analytic consultation room but also within the wider professional community. The panelists presented countertransference of various kinds – sadomasochistic feelings, helplessness, and sexual tension – and described unconscious enactments that contaminated the analytic field in disappointing and surprising ways that they then worked with in the service of advancing the analytic project. The audience joined the panelists in bearing witness to pain and distress in the heat of the analytic encounter and to the benefit of having battled the raw feelings that cut right to the core (For a detailed account, see Caroline Sehon’s report in the forthcoming Congress issue of the IJP).
Anne Alvarez (London and IPI guest speaker) gave a delightful interview about her theory and practice with children.
Ron Britton (London) received the IPA award for outstanding scientific achievement. Ron confirmed that he will come to Washington as IPI weekend distinguished guest speaker, October 17-19, 2014.
A glimpse of the new presidency of IPA
Stefano Bolognini (Italy) and Alexandra Billinghurst (Sweden) were installed as President and Vice-President of the IPA. Bolognini shared the overall vision of his presidency. Here are his priorities and a few lines from his speech:
1) Improved communication strategies
2) To revitalize the website
3) Education to the new generation of psychoanalysts
4) Children and adolescents
5) Rebuilding a bridge between psychoanalysis and psychiatry
“Yes psychoanalysis has changed our lives as human beings, and this is something far too intense to be forgotten, or denied, or lost. Like a new complex instinct, this experience naturally leads us to provide listening, attunement, resonance, understanding, shared work, and interpretative formulation, from generation to generation. We are sustained by a tremendous wealth of research and theoretical clinical knowledge passed down for a century now. The positive resources that are available to psychoanalysis and to IPA are such as to allow us a feeling of well-founded personal regard for ourselves, our method and our future.” Stefano Bolognini, Prague, 2013.
Note: The IPA is trying to adapt to the future — catch the presidential speeches on You tube!
It wasn’t all work, of course. In various combinations, we went out to see the city and its extensive Jewish quarter,
enjoying its interesting architecture,
lovely river ,
first-rate international cuisine,
and wonderful music in exquisite chapels.
Boston July 22-25, 2015
The next IPA Congress has the intriguing title “Changing Worlds: the Shape and the Use of Psychoanalytic Tools Today.” In a very welcome letter of August 17, 2013, the new IPA president Stefano Bolognini and vice-president Alexandra Billinghurst apologized for the heavy-handed approach to maintaining confidentiality at the Prague Congress and promised to make amends to non-members by devising a better system for assuring confidentiality, by refunding part of the admission price, and by offering substantial discounts to non-members who attend the next IPA Congress. They believe that the IPA Congress should offer us all extraordinary opportunities to share in the excitement of new discoveries in psychoanalysis, meet analysts from every part of the world, interact and participate in debates, develop ideas with our colleagues, and see things through the eyes of analysts who may have very different approaches from our own. See you at the seaport in Boston, July 22-25, 2015.
This recent article in the New York Times is an important admission by the psychiatric community that the notion of having the biological answer to mental illness is a myth. What biological psychiatry is still missing is the important biological evidence that is revealed in affective neuroscience and developmental psychology about the underpinnings of the development of the unconscious relational self in attachment, affect regulation, and mentalization. By looking for cellular level structure problems they are missing the idea that the human brain develops primarily after birth in a relational matrix. It is encouraging to see a step back from the certainty that biological structure determines behavior and that there are deeper mysteries to yet be explored.
The training for psychotherapy by and large focuses, as it should, on the development of capacities within the therapist that enable him or her to make contact with the emotional and psychic-unconscious dimensions of the self and through this “self development” comes the capacity to be able to tune in and detect the unconscious of the patient’s mind, self and personality. The development of empathy, intuition, patience, perspective, context, symbolism and the negative capability are all emphasized in helping a person prepare for the rewarding, though incredibly demanding profession of psychotherapist. I want to share some thoughts I’ve come by in the study of our most demanding profession.
For some years I have been a member of a group of colleagues who have been studying the primitive dimensions of the human personality. Not only through various schools and approaches within psychoanalytic psychology but also through myth, anthropology, sociology and the history of religion. During that time I was fortunate to come upon the origin of the word therapist. This occurred when a colleague of mine commented on a seminar he had attended and how the presenter made mention of the root of the English word therapist being the Greek word Therapon. My colleague said it had to do with the master-slave relationship between a royal and his servant.
I was struck by this idea and my research revealed the Greek word Therapon described an individual whose job or role was to be an attendant,companion of lower rank, aide,minister, slave, servant or replacement committed to the willing sacrifice for a human master or supernatural deity. It was used in the Old Testament to describe Moses’ relationship to his god, and was understood as “servant” of god. I was especially impressed by the “sacrificial” aspect of the term when understood as “slave,” “servant” or “replacement.” Further research revealed the use of the Therapon in Homer’s Iliad regarding the role of Patroclus.
In the Iliad, Patroclus, Therapon to mighty Achilles, takes up Achilles’ cause when he (Achilles) peevishly withdraws from the battle against the Trojans after an argument with King Agamemnon. In that dispute Agamemnon demanded a certain public deference from Achilles as well as demanding that Achilles give up his beautiful female slave to Agamemnon. Patroclus, recognizing the de-moralizing threat of Achilles’ withdrawal, put on his master’s majestic armor and went out onto the field of battle to fight the mighty Trojan warrior, Hector. Patroclus sought to save the day for Greece and to save Achilles’ sacred name. Of course he did neither. Hector immediately killed Patroclus and his death spurred the mighty Achilles to take us his weapons and defeat the Trojan army and drive them back behind the Walls of the city.
The point here is that the Therapon is prepared to sacrifice his, or her, life for the good of the master. The implication being, that at the core of the human unconscious is a sacrificial component, an archetype if you will, that motivates an individual to take up a particular form of subjugation and sacrifice as their life’s work. This seemed to be very important to reflect upon.
Heinrich Racker in his brilliant treatise on the role of the therapist, Transference and Countertransference (1968) writes compellingly about the unconscious need at the core of the therapist’s personality to rescue his or her own internal damaged objects. He says we become therapists to repair and restore these precious objects in order to free ourselves from the responsibility and guilt of having let them down or aggressed against them. Ultimately, Racker believes, that our metabolization of this guilt provides the path to become a competent, caring and realistic professional, empowered but limited, motivated but not manically so. As Freud says that we must be careful not to seek cure at any price. The goal of therapy, Freud says, is to offer the patient the awareness of choices and then ultimately to stand back so he or she can make the choices that define their life.
Racker seeks to remind us that it is the encounter with our unconscious that prepares us for the encounter with the patient’s. It is our ability to acknowledge our limits and our vulnerabilities, our terrors and our dreams, that help us to offer this form of integration and humility to our patients.
In the work with the most difficult and demanding group of patients, those that occupy the class that Freud (1923) described as manifesting the “negative therapeutic reaction” (NTR), we frequently encounter the collision of our therapeutic self with the split self of the patient. The patient’s self is split due to the operation of traumatic components that have driven that individual to both desperately seek help and simultaneously to resist help and the dreaded dangers of change and transformation. We realize after some time and a great amount of suffering that the collision between these two aspects of the patient’s self means a great challenge to our therapeutic self.
With such patient’s there is a desperate need to see the self as “innocent” and the “victim” of circumstances. These needs clash with their unconscious dimension of self-awareness that perceives the aggression and conflict that flows and has flowed from their self toward their objects. This battle between their love and hate, that is their primordial ambivalence, is complicated by the attack of the super-ego that holds them in a dreadful state of moral judgment and condemnation. Melanie Klein (1935) defines this moment as the crisis of the “depressive position.” Often their only recourse is to projectively identify their dilemma into and onto the therapist and ask us to take their place on the sacrificial altar of their relentless self-judgment, punishment and guilt.
Here the battle between empathy and enmeshment is most acutely engaged. The patient frequently feels that “if we loved them” we would take their place in their struggle with their bad-object conscience. Other times they identify with the bad object and seek to have us offer up ourselves so that they may remain free and clear of any responsibility for the injuries to their love-objects. In either the depressive or the paranoid version of the request, the patient is asking us to become the “scapegoat” for them. It is here that we must be able to delineate the various sectors of their unconscious to help them to see what they are asking of us, and what their internal world of bad objects hold over their souls. We might say at moments like these that are repeated over and over again, across a great span of time, that the patient is asking us to renounce our role of “therapist” and take on the role of Therapon.
Wilfred Bion (1970) says that the therapist must be able to “suffer” what the patient is tortured by in order to establish credibility with them. He says we must be able to enter into an at-one-ment (atonement) with them in order to offer them the evidence that they are not locked away in the past position of abandonment or withdrawal being lived out in the transference. As with all such states of identification, they are transitory. Eventually they must be aided to see they are not the monsters they fear nor the angels they dream of. Neither love nor hate will ever produce the desired outcome of integration, acceptance and most importantly, the mourning of the impossible dream lurking at the core of the self.
Our attention and attunement is to be directed toward the internal conflicts that are at the core of the patient’s problems and become projected on to and into the therapeutic relationship. We can offer help that might assist them in solving their problem but we must not climb upon the sacrificial altar in their place. Such sacrifice might meet the therapist’s unprocessed needs but does not lead the patient forward to be able to realize the complexity of their circumstances and the requirements necessary to achieve a productive separation and creative independence.
Bion, W. (1970), Attention and Interpretation. London, Karnac, 1984.
Freud, S. (1923), The ego and the id. Std. Edition, Vol 19. , 48-59.
Klein, M. (1935) A Contribution to the Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States. Int.J. Psycho-Anal, 16.
Racker, H. (1968), Transference and Countertransference. IUP, Madison, CT.
By Yeshim Oz, MS, LMHP 2nd Year Student Core Program
As we come nearer to the IPI weekend in January, I became curious about the guest speaker, Michael Parsons. In the age of technology, it was not difficult at all to come across tens of articles written by him by just one click. (Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration; you have to enter your username and password to use the fabulous Pep-Web). Since I am a child therapist and play is part of my life, one of his articles, although not a recent one stood out for me: The Logic of Play in Psychoanalysis (1999).
Although there is nothing extra-ordinary about the use of play in child psychotherapy, the idea of play in adult psychoanalysis might seem a little peculiar at first. However, in his article, Parsons demonstrates beautifully how play, with its paradoxical nature, is ever-present in psychoanalysis. “The paradoxical reality” he says, is “where things may be real and not real at the same time”. Isn’t it the essence of transference? When the patient experiences the analyst as the father or mother, it is true in the sense that the patient experiences it, but it is also an illusion. As Parsons reminds us, Klauber suggested that the therapeutic value of transference does not depend on resolving the illusion but on accepting its paradoxicality. This acceptance opens up a space for the therapeutic couple to do the analytic work without undermining the experience of the patient as a mere illusion. Where is the play element in here? Parsons says, ” the play element functions continuously to sustain this paradoxical reality”. The “as if” quality of play enables the patient -and the analyst as well- to think, imagine, and play with possibilities.
Parsons continues to explain the intricate connections between play, playfulness, humor and irony and stresses the spontaneity and the importance of the analytic frame. He gives excellent examples from clinical material that show how each of these aspects emerges spontaneously from the interplay between the patient and the analyst that would deepen the analytic process.
With all its seriousness, the article evokes in the reader a sense of playfulness, which might have been long forgotten, especially for those who work with adults. As far as I am concerned, it gave me a new understanding when thinking of my young clients who often express, silently or quite loudly, how magical the therapy room (a play framework- in other words) feels to them and to me at times. I am certainly more excited now than before for the January IPI weekend with the anticipation of a playful, humorous, yet serious work.
The first International Psychotherapy Institute (IPI) Gala Awards Dinner and Dance took place onSaturday October 22, 2011 at Kenwood Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. The guest of honor was Jason Aronson MD, Premier Publisher of psychotherapy books and Co-Founder, IPI,and inaugural recipient of the David and Jill Scharff Award for contributions to mental health. The dinner was held in Dr. Aronson’s honor and in appreciation offounding board and faculty members 1994-1996. The event was organized by Gala Chair Sheri Rosenfeld and her committee Joanna Bienko, Anabella Brostella, Karen Greenberg, Jill Scharff, andLea de Setton.
Sheri Rosenfeld, IPI Board Development Chair welcomed the guests to the IPI benefit and handed over to Michael Stadter, IPI Founding Faculty and Board Vice-Chair, as Master of Ceremonies.
Michael introduced faculty to describe IPI’s community involvement. Caroline Sehon (Chair, IPI Metro Washington) spoke about the videoconference teaching program for therapists in remote areas. Colleen Sandor (Co-Chair, IPI Salt Lake) attested to the value of IPI’s affiliation with Westminster College. Carl Bagnini (Co-Chair, IPI Long Island site) his work with Latino fathers. Lastly Vali Maduro (Chair, IPI Panama) and Anabella Brostella (Chair, Foundation for Healthy Relationships at IPI Panama) showed IPI-Panama’s film of work with Operation Smile plastic surgery programs to correct children’s congenital deformity, suicide prevention efforts, and programs for teenage mothers.
Books by IPI authors were on display for guests to browse.
Sharron Dennett with IPI Director Geoffrey Anderson
After dinner, in a short program to honor and thank colleagues and supporters, Geoffrey Anderson IPI Director, recognized the contributions of founding faculty 1994-1996. Pictured, from left, are Founding Faculty members Carl Bagnini, Yolanda de Varela, Charles Ashbach, Walton Ehrhardt, Sharon Dennett, Judith Rovner, Lea de Setton, Mike Stadter, and Michael Kaufman. (Not present: Kent Ravenscroft and Paula Swaner)
Chris Hill, Treasurer, IPIrecognized the Founding and Inaugurating Board of IPI (then IIORT) 1994-1995. Pictured are Kent Morrison, David Scharff (Founding Co-Director), Jill Scharff (Founding Co-Director)Jason Aronson (Founding Board Member, NYC). (Not pictured are Dennis Blumer, Yvonne Burne, Dickson Carroll, and Lorna Goodman.)
Michael Stadter, Board Vice-Chair, IPI announced the inauguration of the David and Jill Scharff Award. Drs. David and Jill Scharff are co-founders of the International Psychotherapy Institute. They teach and supervise at IPI and IIPT and practice psychoanalysis and psychotherapy with children and adults, couples and families in Chevy Chase. They spearhead IPI’s international outreach, our message carried in translations of their many books on psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in German, Italian, Chinese, Korean, and Russian.
David Scharff, Co-founder, Board Chair, IPI and Jill Scharff, Co-founder, IPI introduced the recipient of the award. Dr. Jason Aronson, a physician and psychoanalyst, founded and directed for over 35 years Jason Aronson Inc., the premier publishing company of highly regarded, professional, scholarly books by respected and gifted authors in the field of psychotherapy until 2003, when Jason Aronson became an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield. In 1994, Dr. Aronson joined David and Jill Scharff as the third co-founder of IIORT, now called IPI, and has been a good friend to IPI ever since. Dr. Aronson was the founder and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Psychiatry. He resides in New York City with his wife Alice Kaplan. His daughter Jane and her family live in California.
The Scharffs presented the award, an engraved tray, to Dr. Aronson who accepted it with thanks. Dr. Aronson’s remarks began with gratitude and ended with an amazing act of generosity and inspiration when he announced his intention to come out of retirement in order to spearhead a publishing division at IPI for the creation of e-books to be distributed FREE to any mental health professional. Visiting professor Horst Kachele from Germany jumped to the podium to contribute the first book of the series.
A delighted audience rose to its feet in thanks and expressed its exuberance on the dance floor thereafter.
The Gala was a terrific success, both in terms of attracting support and in giving all our guests an enjoyable, entertaining evening. Donations of table décor from Jonathan Willen, graphic design from Leanne Poteet, photography by Darin Del Rosario, and plant materials from American Plant Food were gratefully received. With their help and the generosity of our guests, IPI raised $22,000 to support outreach programs.
Dorothy and Larry Arnsten, Arnsten Foundation, in honor of Jason Aronson
Nancy and Richard Bakalar
Lawrence Birnbach, in honor of Jason Aronson
Jim and Elise Blair
Meg and Jim Cooper
Steven, Susan and Malka Drucker, in honor of Jason Aronson
Walt and Carol Ehrhardt
Bonnie Eisenberg, in honor of the Founding Faculty
Cleo and Michael Gewirz
Michael Kaufman and Maria Ross
Steven and Susan Levine
Jaedene and Chuck Levy
Doris and Scott Mattingly
Kent and Dale Morrison
Mary Jo Pisano
Helen and Paul Schmitz
Eleanor and Arthur Siegel
Suzanne St. John, in honor of Charles Ashbach
Stan and Hilary Tsigounis
Wendy S. Wall, in honor of Jill and David Scharff
Kim and Judy White
Tappy and Robin Wilder
Dennis and Tansy Blumer
Henri and Rachel Parens, in honor of Jason Aronson
In reading the reports and investigative results regarding ongoing and extensive child sexual abuse at Penn State it occurred to me that what happened at the institution can be viewed as a covert narcissistic male sub-culture of collusion, power dominance, and ruthless self-indulgence. The overt behavior against children was denied, justified, and covered up for years, by a good old boys club, reeking of mutual stroking. In maintaining the huge money maker, Penn State football, and coach Paterno’s god-like reputation the “group” rationalized hatred and envy of young children, by reducing them to objects of lust and control.
The fear of exposure of the abuse has a history. The facts were known. The house of cards from top to bottom was maintained due to the narcissistic motives of the men in the positions of power and influence. The homo-affiliative nature of sports, especially “contact” sports like football fosters in older males insecurity and repressed envy of the young. The young have a long life ahead, while the elders fear death and facing the questions of how good a life has one lived? Inflated self-importance is rampant among ageing men who see young and virile athletes as reminders of time passing, and lost physical prowess. Mentally and emotionally these fears create a veil of secrecy, and denial, and in Sandusky’s case, the full blown acting out of a malignant narcissistic pedophile. What type of environment could rationalize or deny abuse was taking place in a public space? We did not abuse the children, only he did? A flimsy excuse to any thinking individual, and the cover up was deep and wide. There had to be, in addition to administrative bottom line motives (Penn State economics) to cover up the influence of a group “culture” that avoided the personal pain and suffering involved by “knowing” what was occurring. Why the lack of conscience? Was Sandusky so beloved he could weave a Svengali web of innocence? It is too simplistic an assumption that one person relied totally on charisma and the scam of “devotion to improving the lives of children”. How could one man continue getting away with criminal behavior inside a locker room shower while others knew?
Narcissism in groups is well established; the worst example is Nazi Germany where people including victims followed orders and perpetrators later insisted they did not know the extent of the planned extermination of millions of countrymen, women and children. We are all subject to the narcissist’s seductive smile. We long to bask in his acceptance since it can be so intense because it is so fleeting. Sandusky, Paterno and others in power and in lower positions had to be caught up in denial by idealizing the institution—the god-like Football program, Penn State and the cold hearted credo we are “too big to fail” (remember Wall Street and the big banks?).
But beneath the now obvious institutional loyalties we must admit to a malignant negation that played its more sinister unconscious part: the hatred of the children’s vulnerabilities, that as victims they threatened the established belief system and its denied truths. In a caring world victims have justice, and by denying them protection and a voice the group ensured it was faultless, or justified. The victim is hated, not the victimizers. They are the scapegoats. That is group negation at its worst because any heinous crime can be rationalized.
Narcissism and the hatred of children exist in our society. When we hurt children with impunity or bear witness to acts of cruelty and are indifferent, or when we turn away from large scale cuttings of services to children and families, we are all responsible; but only if we remain silent as individuals or in groups can insidious forms of abuse, such as at Penn State go on institutionally—the end of a humane civilization is determined by the quality of care of our children and the elderly. We need to remember the old Pogo cartoon with its sage warning: “We have met the enemy and the enemy is us”.
The following article link was sent to us by Dr. Horst Kaechele. Dr. Kaechele was our distinguished guest presenter at our October 2011 Weekend Conference. Dr. Kaechele is a German psychoanalyst and researcher. His work has done much to demonstrate the usefulness of psychoanalytic treatments when other groups have been claiming there is no research basis for analytic work. This current article is on changes in brain activity in depressed patients after analytic treatment.
Kent Ravenscroft, author of Haiti Fair Well, and Emeritus faculty of IPI, was selected by the Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disasters of the American Psychiatric Association to receive the 2012 Bruno Lima Award for his volunteer work in training mental health workers in Haiti after the earthquake. The Bruno Lima Award recognizes outstanding contributions of APA District Branch members to the care and understanding of the victims of disasters. Contributions include designing disaster response plans, providing direct service delivery in time of disaster, or in disaster consultation, education, and/or research. IPI members may remember seeing in this blog prepublication drafts from Kent’s diary of his time in Haiti. IPI congratulates Kent on his achievement.
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