Issue 2: Fall 2020: “BORDERS”

Other/Wise

The Online Journal of the International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education (IFPE)

2020 Editorial Staff

Other/Wise Executive, Managing, Copy & Production Editor
Farrell Silverberg, Ph.D.

Other/Wise Associate, Copy & Voice Conservation Editor
Katherine Straznickas, Ph.D.

General Introduction to Other/Wise Fall 2020:

2019 Conference Theme

BORDERS

This issue of Other/Wise is comprised of six of the papers presented at IFPE’s 30th annual interdisciplinary conference that was held in Toronto in October of 2019 on the theme of BORDERS. These papers reflect upon the meaning and consequences of BORDERS.

Psychoanalysis has always been interested in borders and in exploring the space between consciousness and un-consciousness; the self and other; id, ego, and superego; phantasy and reality; psyche and soma; inside and outside; the individual, the family and the collective, to name a few.  We understand the more threatening aspects of crossing boundaries, as in cases of traumatic violation, and we recognize the salutary aspects of borders and boundaries as when we talk about separation and individuation, for example.

Border crossings create movement and change—a kind of traveling that is both visible and invisible. Geographical migration adds another dimension, diaspora due to politics, religion, economics are frequently stories of displacement and exile. There are also stories of those who cross borders of many kinds in order to follow their desires, sometimes courageously. Countless questions can emerge when thinking about borders and the artificially broken landscapes they reveal from political, psychological, sociological and spiritual perspectives.

As an organization and through its conferences, IFPE fosters multidisciplinary, alternative spaces to think, dialogue, and reflect on psychoanalysis, the human condition and culture––both in and out of the consulting room. Papers presented in this online journal reflect the IFPE philosophy and are the written, peer-reviewed, versions of presentations that were given at our most recent conference.

In this issue’s sampling of papers culled from IFPE’s BORDERS conference presentations, some of these perspectives on and ramifications of the concept of BORDERS will be explored in a thoughtfully variegated array. This collection of papers in this issue represents the work of 6 authors who presented a version of their papers at IFPE, and about which we provide the reader with a very short description below, a brief quote from each compelling article, and encourage you to read the articles of your choice in your own order of preference:

The Strategic Deployment of Hate in a Politics of Love

Bryan K. Nichols, Ph.D. and Medria L. Connolly, Ph.D.

In our last issue of Other/Wise (Issue 1: Spring 2020) Nichols and Connolly presented an important article entitled “Transforming Ghosts into Ancestors: Unsilencing the Psychological Case for Reparations to Descendants of American Slavery.” In this important sequel, (authored by Nichols in consultation with Connolly), Nichols discusses systemic racism from a psychological perspective and offers social solutions that recognize intrapsychic dynamics. The author includes the atrocity of slavery, Brook’s “atonement model,” Dr. King’s nonviolence, white fragility, white supremacy, Baldwin’s “politics of love,” and the concept of “deployed hate.” To quote Nichols:

“…As I understand it, authentic reparations would free European Americans from the stranglehold of white supremacy.  As such, I strongly disavow notions of ‘white people’ giving reparations to ‘Black people.’  Instead, it’s about institutions such as the federal, state and local governments, corporations, and some Universities paying that debt to African Americans on behalf of what was done in the name of white supremacy.  For instance, if the United States government provides reparations to its African American citizens, is that a case of white people paying reparations to Black people?  Does it carry all the dynamics of one group acting toward another group?  As presently constituted, the United States of America is a multi-ethnic entity which would presumably pay reparations from a tax base paid by all its constituent elements, including, paradoxically (and I think, necessarily), African Americans… I believe it is the task of a loose affiliation of individuals and groups advocating for reparations to highlight the distinction between those identified as white and white supremacy, paving the way for the death of white supremacy, and the simultaneous liberation of European and African Americans.”

Fascism, Psychoanalysis, and Mass Psychology of the Primal Horde

Farrell Silverberg, Ph.D.

Lately, much has been said and written about the dangerousness and divisive characteristics of narcissistic leaders, however, in Silverberg’s article, the focus is upon illuminating the elements of the human psyche, possibly with roots in human DNA since pre-history, that align with authoritarian and fascist governance––a tendency that is revivable in all humans. The author invokes the pre-civilized organizing principle that Darwin called the “primal horde,” and that Freud incorporated, to highlight important mass psychological principles that are very relevant to this pivotal moment of history wherein the worsening or betterment of humankind may, again, be at stake. The author writes:

“…A key to understanding the appeal of Trump, the pro-fascist nationalist movement that is supporting him, and the disinhibited “early adopters” of the genocidal philosophy in their commission of murderous hate crimes can also be found in is Theodor Adorno’s post-WWII concept of the “great-little-man” (1951/1991, p. 137). In many ways, Donald Trump is the epitome of a “great little man,” who openly admires murderous dictators such as: Kim Jung-Un who had all threats to his rule killed, including his uncle (reportedly killed with an antiaircraft gun), and brother (killed by a nerve agent); Rodrigo Duterte with his the drug populace killing––even by his own hands; and Vladimir Putin, whose enemies mysteriously were poisoned with radioactive isotopes. Conversely, traditional allies, such as the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, and Germany––non-dictators all––are now considered weak and even enemies of the country…”

Border Security and the Self

Chet Mirman, Ph.D.

Using the lens of psychoanalytic theorists Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion, Mirman looks at present day political divides when fears are exacerbated as exemplifying regression under stress into Klein’s paranoid schizoid position and Bion’s dependency-oriented assumption group. The author, in this psycho-political paper, suggests that both forms of regression are in the service of attempting to alleviate anxiety through the use of primitive positions when there is a sense of danger from a foreign “other.” Mirman notes that, in the grip of such regressions, Trump’s political base supports him because of the psychological nature of their attachment to him, and not because of matters of policy.  To quote Mirman:

“Conversations about Trump have focused on his polices, attitudes and personality (and, I might add, what has been described by numerous mental health professionals as a serious personality disorder [Lee, 2017]).  Conspicuously absent, however, is a discussion of the psychology of the country, particularly that of his core supporters, that has made his preoccupation with border security such an effective political tool for him. This paper, therefore, is not about Donald Trump, per se. It’s about the psychological state that he has been extraordinarily effective in fostering for his political and personal purposes. Of particular importance is Trump’s ability to activate the anxieties, and the sense of vulnerability, associated with the psychological state referred to by Melanie Klein as the Paranoid Schizoid Position (Klein, 1946). Equally important are the solutions that he has offered to address the fears that he has stirred up, all of which align so well with the primitive concerns associated with this psychological state.”

Freud in Cambridge: Relational Geographies of Psychoanalysis

Laura Jean Cameron, Ph.D.

Cameron’s paper is a psychoanalytic detective story that crosses borders between anthropology, biology and philosophy, as she gains access to heretofore cordoned off sections of the Freud Archive in a relentless pursuit of knowledge. Ultimately, her writing offers a heartfelt homage to her mentor, friend and co-author, the late John Forrester. Dr. Cameron’s narrative provides readers with a glimpse into the process of professional collaboration at its very best, peppered with personal details that will remain in memory, such as the blooming of “John’s Wisteria.”  To quote Cameron:

“John Forrester, my friend and my late co-author, was a brilliant and open-hearted Cambridge historian and philosopher. We created Freud in Cambridge (2017) together. And, in addressing this book, I want to remember and celebrate the life and work of this scholar. Our book explores how psychoanalysis, in a particular place and period, was able to cross into a host of disciplines ranging from psychology to anthropology, from biology to education, literature to philosophy. Diverse ideas and practices stemming from this fertile episode—participant observation, the ecosystem concept, Practical Criticism, Therapeutic Positivism, the Malting House experiment in childhood education—bear the stamp of psychoanalytic encounter. The book also considers how, in some instances, psychoanalysis did not travel or take hold in any lasting way.”

Exegesis of the Tao Te Ching, Genesis, With Borders and Without Borders

Jack Wiener, LP, CDMT

In this paper, Wiener traverses the various ebbs and flows that range from the amorphous everything that gave birth to the universe, down to the flow of motion in the “interplay of muscles” in our bodies.  The author describes borders and boundaries between mind and body, and between partners, as exemplified in misalignments, defenses and splitting––and makes a case for helping foster the capacity for experiencing wordless tactile awareness without borders or separations, as central to living in the moment. Wiener writes:

“…Presence is what I call this experience of the person improvising. Presence rivets the observer’s emotional attention. The improvisor’s non-verbal feelings traverse like quantum energy onto our sentient unconscious. Space and time don’t seem to matter. The borders between observer and observed seem to melt away and in the observer, and there is that feeling of the initial unity mentioned at the outset of this paper. Neuro-psychoanalysis tries to explain (Smith & Solms, 2018). Explications fall short of how deeply we are moved. It testifies to the silent sensate transmissions during the first weeks and months of life when such transmissions are borderless and amorphous. It reinforces for me, the depth of our psychoanalytic commitment, as well as the resistances to wholeness with which we contend. We need to reawaken to the amorphous as constant, alongside of our capacity for analytic differentiations and dualities, and embrace our longing for unity. To sustain the tactile requires a physical sensory awareness and the capacity to both differentiate, and to experience the amorphous.”

The Immigrant Adolescent and the In-body Issue

Marcela França de Almeida, Ph.D.

In this paper, de Almeida employs Lacanian ideas, especially Collette Soler’s (2019) concept of the in-body (l’en-corps de sujet),  to explore the effect that crossing a geographical border has upon an adolescent in the midst of the process of immigration. From this perspective, the author discusses the development of the case, the progress of treatment, and describes the way the patient’s body communicates about her experience––drawing analogies regarding boundaries between the colonization of geographical territory and self-determination over her own person. In presenting the treatment, the author states:

 “…At this point in her treatment, I helped Sarah with the pivotal task of working to reclaim this territory, the territory of having preferences or desires, and of wanting some self-determination in her life. It is not an uninhabited territory: it is just that this inhabitant (Sarah) doesn’t know how far she should go to work her own soil.  So many statements and so little understanding of what governs an appropriation. But, no, her body hadn’t been fully appropriated, she is struggling against the attempts. Sarah is struggling, that is, she has not been fully colonized. She has desires that are not recognized, not even by herself at the beginning of treatment, but that at the moment she can already talk about them… Her territory would never be without marks of conquerors, but for her to become her own person, she needs to continue to cross borders and discover coastlines from where she should start navigating in the directions of her own choice.”

Articles in this issue:

The Strategic Deployment of Hate in a Politics of Love

Journal Text (Recommended) or PDF for Download

Bryan K. Nichols, Ph.D. and Medria L. Connolly, Ph.D.

Fascism, Psychoanalysis, and Mass Psychology of the Primal Horde

Journal Text (Recommended) or PDF for Download

Farrell Silverberg, Ph.D.

Border Security and the Self

Journal Text (Recommended) or PDF for Download

Chet Mirman, Ph.D.

Freud in Cambridge: Relational Geographies of Psychoanalysis

Journal Text (Recommended) or PDF for Download

Laura Jean Cameron, Ph.D.

Exegesis of the Tao Te Ching, Genesis, With Borders and Without Borders

Journal Text (Recommended) or PDF for Download

Jack Wiener, LP, CDMT

The Immigrant Adolescent and the In-body Issue

Journal Text (Recommended) or PDF for Download

Marcela França de Almeida, Ph.D.

Issue 2 Fall 2020

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