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The Truth Just Twists

The following post includes an analysis of Bob Dylan’s lyrics entitled Psychedelic Irony in “The Truth Just Twists: Psychadelic Irony in “The Gates of Eden” by Sara Gates followed by a response entitled “Deep Listening, Close Reading; or How are a Songwriter and an English Professor like a Psychoanalyst?” by Mara Wagner. [Read More]

More Movie Analysis: The Lovers

I attended the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute’s (BPSI’s) film night at the Coolidge Corner Cinema in May, where The Lovers was on the screen and “off the couch” in the discussion that followed. In this film (spoiler alert) a middle aged married couple carry on long term, lackluster affairs with needy lovers and avoid each other at home, each hoping the other has to “work late” again. The action, slow and almost painfully protracted, is as if choreographed in slow motion; the BPSI discussant likened it to a silent film in this regard. Indeed, there is little language. We feel the unhappiness, the boredom, the stuckness of this couple not only with each other, but with their whining and threatening lovers who are demanding that their slack partners tell their spouses they will be leaving the marriage immediately. The symmetry of the situation is near isomorphic, and to be fair, this part is a bit funny. [Read More]

Psychoanalysis? In my Schools!?

Recently my girlfriend and I attended a bed and breakfast which had an extensive library in the basement. I asked to purchase a few dilapidated books from the owners at a discount price, one of which was Sartre’s Existential Psychoanalysis. “Psychoanalysis – that was the academic trend a while ago so you can have that one” said one owner. “Yes, since we’ve learned more about the brain a lot of that has become irrelevant” added the other owner. They were then surprised to hear that I had recently acquired a Master’s Degree in Psychoanalytic Counseling. The look on their faces seemed to say ‘people still do that?’ “We apply it in school settings to great effect, believe it or not!” I replied. Unconvinced they changed the subject. [Read More]

School-Based Counseling: Better than Sushi with Ice Cream

One September day in 2014 my first child client walked through the door of my office with his head down and hands clasped tightly together. He sat in silence for the entire session. Joey had selective mutism and did not speak a word to me for several weeks—an experience teachers and students had with him on a daily basis. I remember thinking to myself that first day, “Why in the world did I sign up for the school-based fellowship program? I have no idea what I am doing when treating kids.” [Read More]

From Confidence to Incompetence: A Backwards Journey

In learning theory there is the idea that we move from being in a place of “unconscious incompetence” to unconscious competence, stopping in between at conscious incompetence and conscious competence. This has been my story. I had to learn I wasn’t the therapist I thought I was, in order to get on the road toward being the therapist I wanted to be. [Read More]

Avatar: The Last Airbender: A Psychoanalytic Review Or How a Kids’ Show Can Teach Analysis

By Dr. Carol Panetta.

“It’s time for you to look inward, and begin asking yourself the big questions: who are you, and what do you want?” It’s not exactly the stuff of your average American cartoon program, but this quote captures the essence of Avatar: The Last Airbender, an animated TV series aimed at 6-to-11 year olds that aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. The series wonderfully combines elements of Chinese martial arts such as kung fu and tai chi, which provide the action and excitement, with Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. More surprisingly, it presents the audience with an unexpected level of character development, revealing a psychoanalytic process of unconscious conflict, repetition, and emotional resolution through relationship. [Read More]

Freud, Trump, and the Terrible Deliciousness of Hate

By Dr. Mary Shepherd. I had dinner the other night with an 87-year-old friend of mine, a poet and member of the Hungarian aristocracy, who had fled in 1987 with her husband, who had survived three years in the Gulag, and landed here with only the clothes on her back. “I like to watch my Trumpy on TV,” she said with a wry grin. “Why?” I asked. “Because in Hungary I couldn’t say “I hate”. I couldn’t say I hate Stalin, I hate Lenin, I hate the Communists. I would have gone to jail.” “So, ‘Trumpy’ can say everything that political correctness prohibits, and it’s fun?” “Right,” she says. “Hitler was elected by popular vote you know.” Like the poet she is, my friend quickly juxtaposed her admission of a profound truth about human nature with her abhorrence of demagogy, vulgarity, and xenophobia. Human nature elected Hitler and may elect Trump: it’s really fun to just let fly with all our most destructive, primitive urges; out of fear of the unknown, out of our terror of the “other”, or out of our wishes to be superior and omnipotent. Nobody wants to admit that this is really how we are. But now a candidate for president legitimizes this, celebrates it, even glories in it. Now we can hate ’til our hearts content. [Read More]

Working with Negative Feelings

Negative feelings, such as anger, envy, hopelessness, fear and disgust, are part of being human, but they often present the biggest challenge when working with patients, colleagues, or institutions. This is especially true for frontline mental health workers who work with complicated and challenging cases. This Fall, a panel of BGSP alumni presented examples of dealing with difficult feelings in a variety of mental health settings, including a hospital diversion program, a group home and a home-based treatment program. [Read More]

The English Patient

By Dr. Mara Wagner. My class this semester, Unconscious Dynamics in Film, recently discussed The English Patient , and with their permission, I decided to write it up as an example of what goes on in a course such as this. The film offered what one student called “a great primer” for the beginning of the semester (Bianca Grace). The weekly assignment had directed the students to think about wishes in conflict, to seek and document evidence of their inferences about unconscious dynamics, and to discover the wish represented as fulfilled in the film as a whole, as if it were a dream. We looked at clinical challenges and transformations in the characters as well. To these ends, we engaged in much the same process as the mis-identified patient, piecing together the unconscious story that was layered throughout the film and uncovering as much meaning as we could in the limited time we had. [Read More]