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Recurring Event Event Series: Identity and Groups I

Identity and Groups I

September 12 @ 6:30 pm - 7:45 pm, Wyman Classroom

2-Year Certificate Program (2YCP)
2022-23, 1st Term — Mondays, 6:30-7:45pm
Jeanette Farrell, MD
Karen Weisbard, PsyD
Peter Weiss, LMHC

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Welcome to Identity and Groups I, the first class in the program, newly entitled: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: Theory, Process and Social Applicability.  In this class, we will explore what it means to form a psychoanalytic learning group and how group identifications inform our work with patients.

This is the beginning of two years of learning together.  By May, 2024, you will have completed this program, and have a new facet of your identity, as a therapist with a certificate in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.  You will also have a sense of what it means to have been and to be a part of this learning group.  The group itself, and your sense of yourself in this group, will be a part of your identity.    Right now, the meaning of this group to your sense of self is nascent.   But there are other groups that you are a part of that have shaped how you come to this group today.   These include your family, your cultural group, your gender group, your training group, and many others.

As you read this list of possible group identifications, you may begin to consider that the groups you identify with are defined both by whom they include and whom they exclude.   You may also have experienced a sense of having parts of yourself feeling included or excluded in the process of becoming a group member.   What has that meant to you and how you bring yourself into this group?  These questions call for our increased reflection on a bourgeoning area of psychoanalytic theory and practice. This class is intended to help us all get more comfortably uncomfortable as we learn together what this means for our professional and personal lives.

The way our group identifications impact our psychic lives is part of what is termed our “social unconscious”.    As defined by the psychoanalyst Earl Hopper, the social unconscious refers to “the existence and constraints of social, cultural and communicational arrangements of which people are unaware; unaware, in so far as these arrangements are not perceived (not known), and if perceived not acknowledged (denied), and if acknowledged, not taken as problematic (“given”), and if taken as problematic, not considered with an optimal degree of detachment and objectivity. (The Social Unconscious: Selected Papers.  London: Jessica Kingsley, 2003.  p.126).

These unconscious arrangements are used to support social hierarchies and the power structures they uphold, which reinforce these arrangements and the urge to keep them unconscious.

When we meet with patients, the pull of these group identifications moves through the room.   Sometimes we feel a comfortable sense of joining, of feeling included in a way that bolsters our own sense of self.  Other times we may feel disrupted by these currents, as we try to manage our identity by excluding parts of ourselves and our patients.   How do we monitor and respond to the social unconscious in our work with patients?  How does this social unconscious inflect our minds and our work?  In this course we will begin to explore these questions.

In this class we will be reading four papers on aspects of the social unconscious.  These papers are meant to be provocative.   They engage with current events and with contested social ground.   They are likely to raise more questions than answers.

At the end of your two-year series, you will have a second Identity and Groups course.  By the time you take that course, you will almost be finished with your 2-year certificate program.  You will have encountered a great deal of psychoanalytic theory along the way.   In that course, you will delve deeper into the theory that has been and is being developed. All along the two years we hope that every class will challenge you to think about the social unconscious and how we incorporate these ideas into broader psychoanalytic theory.

September 12, 2022

Our first class will focus on introductions and establishing norms for our group by co-creating a “full value contract”. Following the lead of D.W. Winnicott and all children who ever existed, we will find our own sense of play in our group as we set the tone for this novel adventure in learning; an adventure that will involve not only play but also taking risks. In the words of the family therapist Carl Whittaker, “If you are not having fun, you are not doing it right”.

No readings for this class.


September 12
6:30 pm - 7:45 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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