Psi episode 4, “Believing in the Afterlife”

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On Friday, January 22nd, the Association for Psychoanalytic Thought screened an episode of the Brazilian television series, Psi, about a psychoanalyst, Carlo Antonini, his family, and his practice in São Paulo. The series is co-written by Contardo Calligaris, a well-known Italian psychoanalyst, novelist, and playwright who lives and works in Brazil. The episode screened involved a patient, Milton, who believes his dead wife is communicating with him from beyond the grave. Leading discussion of the episode were Dr. Natalia Jacovkis, Associate Professor of Spanish at Xavier University and specialist in film and media studies, and Dr. Karl Stuckenberg, Chair of Xavier’s School of Psychology.

Dr. Jacovkis introduced the screening by explaining the production environment for television in Brazil, where big-budgets and leading actors contribute to quality television programming, outshining even film production. This was well-evidenced with Psi, which is a finely-crafted, thought-provoking, and superbly-written piece of entertainment. Much of the narrative impact of the episode is created by several subplots that are tightly-integrated with the main storyline, one following Antonini’s sessions with another patient whose brother and nephew died in a car crash and a second focused on the death of his daughter’s dog. The multiple storylines involving death and mourning work together to create a thematic unity missing in much mainstream American television.

The loneliness and isolation characters experience in the metropolis of São Paulo is another striking aspect of the series, pointed out by Dr. Jacovkis. The severe, austerely-depicted city provides Dr. Antonini with a steady clientele of troubled psychoanalytic patients, but he, too, is troubled. He maintains a predominantly sterile and clinical demeanor in his interpersonal relationships, not only with clients, but also with his ex-wife and children. However, he is warm and genial with his colleagues, showing a likable side to the good doctor. In general, all the characters are complex and multidimensional, important to a series concerned with the human psyche.

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It is toward that human psyche that Dr. Stuckenberg steered the discussion after the screening, when he invoked Freud’s essay on “Mourning and Melancholia” as a lens through which to understand Milton’s delusions. Overwhelming guilt and anger are attendant with his grief, but when Milton confesses to having killed his wife’s dogs, Dr. Antonini identifies his confession as too detailed, too rehearsed. This causes Milton to erupt in an uncalculated tirade involving everything that he hated about his wife, from her telling pointless stories to smelling bad “down there.” By the end of the episode, the purgation of Milton’s feelings of anger and hatred toward his dead wife provides him with some relief, but there is still much work to be done. Ultimately, as noted by Dr. Stuckenberg in closing the discussion, it matters not whether the ghosts of our loved ones are real or imagined; we must still process our own conscious and repressed feelings toward those loved ones in order to exorcise their spirits.

Spring Psychoanalytic Poetry Festival

Presented in association with The Freud Museum – London

Freud Museum Logo

Saturday 12 March 2016, 9:30 am5:00 pm

Word & Image

In talks, readings and conversations, speakers from the worlds of poetry, film and psychoanalysis explore the power of images in memory, imagination and poetry. How is an image re-rendered in a poem, and how might perception be influenced by the poet’s internal world?

Sessions include:

Gerry Byrne on the transformational power of words and images in poetry and psychotherapy.
Valerie Sinason on the language of trauma and dissociation.
Mark Solms on ‘The Mind of the Artist’.
Eliza Kentridge, poet and artist, reading from and introducing Signs for an Exhibition, and in conversation with Mark Solms.
PoetryFilms selected by Zata Banks and introduced by the filmmakers themselves.
Maurice Riordan with a ‘poem on the couch’, conducting an in-depth analysis of a single poem, ‘Santarém’ by Elizabeth Bishop.
Pascale Petit on ‘Pained Hearts and Painted Sorrows’; how imagery and images filter pain; exploring the creative dialogue she has developed with the work of Frida Kahlo.

Tickets

£62 full / £46 concs (with £5 off for members of Freud Museum and/or The Poetry Society)

Booking now open. Visit the Freud Museum’s Eventbrite to buy your tickets.

Speakers

Gerry Byrne is a consultant nurse and child and adolescent psychotherapist, working in the NHS and privately in Oxford. He is clinical lead for the Family Assessment and Safeguarding Service (Oxon, Wilts and BaNES) and the Infant Parent Perinatal Service (Oxon). With two colleagues he runs the annual Children in Troubled Worlds conference which promotes the contributions psychoanalytic thinking and the arts can make to work with troubled children and with Janet Bolam, theatre director and writer, he runs Between the Lines – Writers and Psychotherapists in Conversation. www.bolamandbyrne.co.uk

Valerie Sinason is a poet, author, child and adult psychotherapist and adult psychoanalyst. She is Director of the Clinic for Dissociative Studies in London and Honorary Consultant Psychotherapist to the Cape Town Child Guidance Unit.

Mark Solms is Director of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town. He is a member of the British, American and South African Psychoanalytical Associations, and has won many awards, including the Sigourney Prize. He has published over 300 articles and six books. He is editor and translator of the forthcoming Revised Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (24 vols) and the Complete Neuroscientific Works of Sigmund Freud (4 vols).

Eliza Kentridge was born in Johannesburg in 1962. She moved to England in the late 1980s and has lived in Essex for the past 25 years. She is an artist who works in many media, though she is primarily known for her stitched drawings and applique flags. Her literary leanings, evident since childhood, now result in her first book of poetry: Signs For An Exhibition

Maurice Riordan’s poetry collections include The Water Stealer (Faber, 2013) and The Holy Land (Faber, 2007). He has recently edited The Finest Music: Early Irish Lyrics (Faber, 2014). He is Professor of Poetry at Sheffield Hallam University and the editor of The Poetry Review.

Pascale Petit is a poet living in Cornwall. Her sixth collection Fauverie was shortlisted for the 2014 T S Eliot Prize, poems from it won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize. Her fifth collection What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo was shortlisted for both the T S Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year, and was a Book of the Year in the Observer. Pascale has had four collections shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize and chosen as Books of the Year in the Times Literary Supplement, Independent and Observer. She is the recipient of a Cholmondeley Award. Bloodaxe will publish her seventh collection Mama Amazonica in 2017.

PoetryFilm is the highly influential research art project founded by British artist Zata Banks in 2002, celebrating poetry films and other experimental text/image/sound material. Since 2002, PoetryFilm has presented over 70 events at venues including Tate Britain, ICA, FACT Liverpool, Cannes Film Festival, CCCB Barcelona, O Miami, The Royal College of Art, and Curzon Cinemas. Zata Banks has also judged poetry film prizes for the Southbank Centre in London, Zebra Festival in Berlin, and Carbon Culture Review in America. PoetryFilm is supported by Arts Council England, and is an accredited member of Film Hub London, part of the BFI Audience Network. The PoetryFilm Archive, which at present contains about a thousand artworks, welcomes submissions all year round.

The Psychoanalysis of Politicians Like Donald Trump

Could the success of politicians like Donald Trump be the result of psychology?

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Donald Trump’s extraordinary success represents a political paradox to many opponents who reject what they perceive as his extremist xenophobic, simplistic politics. Critics continue to be perplexed as to why the richest man to run for President, attracts such passionate support from the poorest white constituency.

Or are politicians like Donald Trump simply more astute psychologists than their rivals?

Jay Frankel, from the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, at New York University, and the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, has recently published a paper entitled ‘The traumatic basis for the resurgence of right-wing politics among working Americans’….

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/slightly-blighty/201601/the-psychoanalysis-politicians-donald-trump

Raj Persaud, M.D. and Peter Bruggen, M.D. – Psychology Today

When Freud Meets fMRI

The emerging field of “neuropsychoanalysis” aims to combine two fundamentally different areas of study—psychoanalysis and neuroscience—for a whole new way of understanding how the mind works.

I am in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, surrounded by psychoanalysts. At moments, if I half close my eyes, I can imagine I’m in some European city, circa 1930: “The Kleinians have this very disturbing, I think, notion of countertransference as being something the patient does to you. They’re moving too far away from Freud’s understanding…” But in fact it’s 2010, and the conversation is new…

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/08/neuroscience-psychoanalysis-casey-schwartz-mind-fields/401999/

Casey Schwartz – The Atlantic

Therapy wars: the revenge of Freud

Cheap and effective, CBT became the dominant form of therapy, consigning Freud to psychology’s dingy basement. But new studies have cast doubt on its supremacy – and shown dramatic results for psychoanalysis. Is it time to get back on the couch?

Dr. David Pollens is a psychoanalyst who sees his patients in a modest ground-floor office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a neighbourhood probably only rivalled by the Upper West Side for the highest concentration of therapists anywhere on the planet. Pollens, who is in his early 60s, with thinning silver hair, sits in a wooden armchair at the head of a couch; his patients lie on the couch, facing away from him, the better to explore their most embarrassing fears or fantasies. Many of them come several times a week, sometimes for years, in keeping with analytic tradition. He has an impressive track record treating anxiety, depression and other disorders in adults and children, through the medium of uncensored and largely unstructured talk…

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jan/07/therapy-wars-revenge-of-freud-cognitive-behavioural-therapy

Oliver Burkeman – The Guardian

Are You a Good Candidate for Psychoanalytic Treatment?

As we enter into the new year and make our resolutions, I wanted to go back to the beginning and answer the question, “Are you a good candidate for psychoanalytic treatment?”

Whether you’ve never been in any form of psychotherapy before or you can call yourself a therapy veteran, by the end of this post I hope that you’ll be able to answer the question, “Is psychoanalysis right for me?”…

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/practical-psychoanalysis/2016/01/are-you-a-good-candidate-for-psychoanalytic-treatment/

Mihaela Bernard, MA, LCPC – PsychCentral

Should We Reopen the Book on Freud?

Is there any other modern figure as simultaneously influential and discarded as Sigmund Freud? The father of psychoanalysis poked his nose into every dark corner of the human mind and made modernity follow him into the shadows, but we’ve pulled back ever since by mischaracterizing him as a sex-obsessed, cocaine-dependent, time- and culturally limited thinker with nothing to offer us today but an hour on a couch and the dredging up of Daddy and/or Mommy issues. Novelist Richard Appignanesi and illustrator Oscar Zarate aim to cure that misdiagnosis with the graphic novel Hysteria, an in-depth, imaginative reopening of the book on Freud that will surprise you with its power to convey Freud’s continued relevance for us today…

http://bigthink.com/Picture-This/should-we-reopen-the-book-on-freud

Bob Duggan – BigThink