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Intersectionality, Social Context, and the Co-Creation of Clinical Experience

March 24, 2023 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm, Wyman Classroom

Second Year Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2022-23, 3rd Trimester — Fridays, 3:30-5:00pm

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Intersectionality describes the way in which identity encompasses a number of dimensions including race, ethnicity, nationality, immigration status, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, religion, ability, age, and the way in which these aspects of the self are lived in a particular social context. These ontological categories are also limiting, culturally bound, and imbued with power dynamics, conscious and unconscious. These dynamics are present in every clinical encounter, whether or not they are consciously experienced or addressed and whether or not the analyst and patient experience themselves as similar or different from one another (along multiple axes). In this ten-session class, we have chosen to focus attention on current psychoanalytic theories about identity, internalization of racism, defensive structures, and dissociation. We are highlighting major concepts and theories that are foundational to contemporary psychoanalysis. 

At the conclusion of this course, we hope that you will read and engage with theory and clinical material with a deeper understanding and curiosity about layers of identity – your own and those of your patients. We have chosen materials we hope will spark discussion. We welcome you to talk with us about your experience in class as we proceed. 

In a presentation to the New Center for Psychoanalysis in 2021, Anton Hart noted that the idea that individuals could eliminate “blind spots” is inconsistent with psychoanalysis. In his words, “we are all blind to aspects of ourselves and if we are able to become aware of our pervasive blindness and more receptive to the presence of our biases, we will be better able to persist in deep and uncomfortable conversation and listen with less chance of inflicting our biases on others.” As instructors, our hope is to encourage self-reflection and genuine engagement, yours and ours. Our subjective experiences are unique and we exist together in a sociocultural and historical context. We will inevitably enact unconscious dynamics, get uncomfortable and over our heads. At those moments, we hope we can help one another notice the need to pause, slow down and unpack enactments that may be occurring. Specifically, we will all need to attend to how power arises and is used, whose experience tends to be centered, whose experience may be marginalized and how we relate with one another as we explore this material.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, candidates will:

  1. have engaged with current psychoanalytic ideas about the relationship between the intrapsychic and intersubjective within our social and historical context.
  2. understand more consciously the ways in which we defensively veer away from or foreclose interpersonal and clinical moments related to difference, power and social context.
  3. have explored psychoanalytic ideas about racism, racial melancholia, adaptive defenses to racial trauma, normative unconscious processes and their clinical applications.
  4. have greater awareness of the intrasubjective and intersubjective dynamics related to racialized enactments and understand ways of responding clinically. 5. Understand contemporary theories related to intergenerational transmission of racial trauma.

March 24, 2023 — Ontology, Radical Openness, and the Normative Unconscious

[30 pages]

We chose the readings for this first class to get us thinking about subjectivity, categorization, the power behind who defines our categories and how this plays out within us and between us in groups. We will consider what occurs intrapsychically and what gets enacted relationally when subjectivities come into contact. Hart asks us to think about how we listen and advocates an ethic of taking the other into one’s care. He notes that listening with “radical openness” involves relinquishing what we think we know and an openness to what we might not know or recognize about ourselves. His ideas about safety, risk and recognition will guide our opening discussion about how we will engage with one another in class.

Hart, A. (2017). From multicultural competence to radical openness: A psychoanalytic engagement of otherness. In The American Psychoanalyst, 51(1), pp.12-27.

Hunt, S. (2014). Ontologies of Indigeneity: the politics of embodying a concept. Cultural Geographies. 21(1): 27-32.

Layton, L. (2020) Author’s general introduction in Toward A Social Psychoanalysis (Leavy-Sperounis, M., Ed), New York, Routledge, pp.xxviii-xxxv


March 24, 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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