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Elective: The Body

November 17, 2023 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm, Wyman Classroom

Fourth Year Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2023-24, 2nd Trimester — Fridays, 3:30-5:00pm
John Cardinali, PsyD
Babs Glover, MA LMHC

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Since Freud (1923) asserted that the “ego is first and foremost a body ego” (p. 23), psychoanalysis has been rooted in the premise that body and mind are inseparable, and that behavior is more than psychologically determined.  Psychoanalytic developmental theory provides models of how the mind, and sense of self, emerge from the dynamic interplay between the infant and the external environment, including body-to-body communication especially between the infant and the primary attachment figure.  Klein, Bion, Winnicott, Reich, Anzieu and others pick up Freud’s insight about the mind-body relationship and develop it further, Relational and intersubjective theorists have added further insight to our understanding of somatic communication and resonance throughout the lifespan.  The relationship between body and mind and the communication between bodies are both central to the experience of being alive.

Some authors have used the term bodymind (Aron, 1998; Harrang, Tillotson and Winters, 2022) to connote the inseparability of body and mind. In joining the words body and mind into a single word, we have both a visual and semantic representation of the oneness of body and mind. Despite the conceptualization of bodymind, until recently, psychoanalytic technique has continued to privilege verbal communication and interpretation as the primary mutative factors in psychoanalytic treatment.  Though the unity of bodymind and communication between bodies are central to our ongoing dialogue with patients, clinical attention to these factors has often been left undrawn.

In this seven-week course, we will explore psychoanalytic conceptions of bodymind in the development of self, in relations to others, and in treatment.  Stated slightly differently, we will consider the body as an object to others (including in sociocultural context), as an original source of subjective experience within ourselves, and lastly, as an object to ourselves.  We will also take up innovations in technique to account for our developing understanding of bodymind and body to body communication between patient and analyst. Throughout, we hope to stimulate your thinking about the embodied dimension of your work with your patients and make clinical reflections and examples from all of our work integral to our discussion and activities.

We are very much looking forward to learning together as a group.  A central aspect of this experience will be engaging with our bodies during our class meetings together.  We will be utilizing some experiential exercises to assist us in the process. To this end, we hope that each class member will make a concerted effort to attend each class in person.  We recognize this is a hardship for some and accept that in person attendance may not be possible for all or some of our class meetings.  That said, we believe that sharing the same physical space together is an important part of the learning experience for this class.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the evolution in psychoanalytic thinking about the role of the body in the development of mind.
  2. Formulate clinical material in terms of the domains of both the experienced body and the observed body.
  3. Make modifications in technique to account for body-to-body communication.

November 17, 2023 — Body of Work: The place of the body in analytic theorizing

[43 pages]

We begin our discussion of the body’s place in psychoanalytic thought and practice with the introduction and opening chapter of Lew Aron’s seminal book on relational perspectives on the body.  He provides us a brief overview of the distinctions between  the body from the perspectives of drive theory versus relational theory, and begins to elaborate central themes of the course:  the body’s role in the establishment of our self-representation, our experience of ourselves and our bodies as both subject and object, and the self-reflexivity that crucially mediates both positions.  Aron incorporates brief summaries of seminal theorists’ perspectives on the bodymind, e.g., Freud, Winnicott, Anzieu, Eigen, and Ogden, several of whom we touch on again later in the course.

Aron, L. (1998). “Introduction: The Body in Drive and Relational Models” in Relational Perspectives on the Body (L. Aron & F.S. Anderson, eds.). Hillsdale, NJ:  The Analytic Press, pp xix-xxxviii

Aron, L. (1998). “Ch1: The Clinical Body and The Reflexive Mind” in Relational Perspectives on the Body (L. Aron &; F.S. Anderson, eds.) Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, pp3-37.


November 17, 2023
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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(206) 328-5315
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4020 E Madison St, #230
Seattle, WA 98112
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(206) 328-5315
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