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Archetypal Meanings, Transitions, and Transformations

A free virtual Continuing Education event

December 3, 2022 @ 10:00 am 11:30 am

Trauma resists symbolization while also demanding recognition.  Literature has often moved into that gap, providing embodied experiences through which to encounter universal themes from different perspectives.  Engaging both body and mind, literature invites deep reflection upon our ethics and values, sorely needed in these challenging times.

In increasing our isolation, COVID has enforced a different engagement with self and other, both more remote and more intimate, as we learn to accommodate to what we cannot change and are invited to move past the alienation and inhabit ourselves more fully.  Emerging from the immensity of isolation, informed by the ancestral past, we find ourselves survivors in a field of wreckage.  How, then, do we live in a world both lighter and darker, glorious in its colours but cloaked in mourning?  

Important to our psychic survival are the theories that help to temper our limited perspectives and self interest, and also the characters we encounter that enable us to recognize and reconsider our lived values.  Whereas Richard Powers’ novel, The Overstory, invites us to consider our relationships to greed and waste and to the narcissism of self-interest through which we are destroying the planet and also ourselves, Mike Flanagan’s tales of horror depicted on the small screen bring issues of haunting into the intra- and interpersonal domain, the territory of psychoanalytic hope and healing. 

At the core of these stories is an encounter with the après-coup, the point beyond, when we must face damage already done, and when it is not only our survival that is at stake but also that of others.  The clinician must face these challenges in ourselves if we are to support our patients in their journeys.  In these efforts, metaphors such as Bion’s O, Lacan’s sinthome, Bachelard’s poetics of space, and Hillman’s soul-making help us to find our way in such treacherous terrain.

Presenter:  Marilyn Charles, PhD, ABPP is a psychologist and psychoanalyst at the Austen Riggs Center, Co-Chair of the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society (APCS) and Scholar of the British Psychoanalytic Council.  She is committed to mentoring future generations of psychoanalytic scholars, clinicians and researchers.  Affiliations include Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis; Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis; Universidad de Monterrey; Harvard Medical School. Books include: PatternsConstructing Realities, and Psychoanalysis and Literature: The Stories We Live; Book chapters include: ‘Creative Transformations: The Establishment, the Mystic and the Aesthetic Drive’. In. M. Brown & R. S. Brown (Eds) Emancipatory Perspectives on Madness: Psychological, Social, and Spiritual Dimensions, and ‘Literary Analysis in Psychosocial Context’. In: S. Frosch, M. Vyrgioti, & J. Walsh (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Psychosocial Studies. Forthcoming from APA Press:  Trauma, Memory, and Identity: A Clinician’s Guide.


As a result of this presentation, participant will be able to:

  1. Discuss examples of how literature provides enhanced understanding of universal themes of trauma. 
  2.  Discuss how COVID has enforced a different engagement with self and other.
  3. Identify metaphors in literature and psychoanalytic theory which support the clinician’s efforts help themselves and their patients.
Free or $25 for 1.5 CEUs
1581 Beacon St
Brookline, MA 02446 United States
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