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The Origins of Psychoanalysis and Foundational Theory

September 12, 2022 @ 8:00 pm - 9:15 pm, Wyman Classroom

2-Year Certificate Program (2YCP)
2022-23, 1st Term — Mondays, 8:00-9:15pm
James Basinski, MD
Karen Weisbard, PsyD

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Over 100 years after the origin of psychoanalysis, Nobel-prize winning scientist Eric Kandel reflected that it “still represents the most coherent and intellectually satisfying view of the mind.”  In the next two years, you will be exploring a rich world of ideas, stories, and approaches to understanding the mind and society.  This is the first of several “theory” classes in the curriculum.  We aim to orient your journey into the pluralistic field of psychoanalysis by beginning at the beginning, with Freud himself; his historical context, biography, and some of his most important and revolutionary ideas.  We will study Freud’s theories, read some contemporary takes on specific ‘Freudian’ topics, and briefly outline the directions that psychoanalytic theory went after Freud. In the second half of the class, we will spend some time on Ego Psychology, a dominant branch in post-WWII America through the 1980’s .  Later courses in the curriculum will explore other contemporary branches in depth.

We hope to support your unique development as a clinician as you integrate your personal experience, training, and clinical work with the new ideas from your readings, instructors, and classmates.

We are inspired by the words of our colleagues Julie Wood, MA and Melissa Stoker, MS, LMHC who wrote in a recent introductory theory class:

We encourage you to consider why you like or dislike a theory, where you feel an affinity or a prejudice, how you practice now, and how you envision your future practice. We encourage you to wonder about why theory is valuable or not, how it is clinically useful and how it can be limiting. And we hope that you will feel the aliveness and vitality of where you sit at SPSI; that you are now a new branch in the family tree of psychoanalytic thinking.

September 12, 2022

Presenters: James Basinski, MD, April Crofut, MD

[15 pages]

We will begin with the first chapter of the Textbook of Psychoanalysis, written by former SPSI faculty member, Daria Colombo.  She outlines Freud’s biography, the cultural/historical context in which psychoanalysis arose, and the major pillars of Freud’s theoretical work, which we will study in more depth in weeks 2-4.

The optional readings offer two unique perspectives on the influence of Freud’s identity on his work.  We chose them because they speak to some of our (Jim and April’s) personal transferences to Freud’s personhood and theory.  As we continue in the class together, we encourage you to consider what draws you to or turns you away from Freud.  Where do you resonate, and where do you find friction?  Does this connect with your identity, culture, and/or individual psyche?

Seminar Objectives:

  • Outline the origins and intentions of psychoanalysis
  • Appreciate the impact of Freud’s life and time on the development of psychoanalysis
  • Consider the ever evolving nature of psychoanalytic theory and clinical work across time, cultures, and individuals including yourself

Colombo, D. (2012) Ch1 “Freud and His Circle.” in Textbook of Psychoanalysis, 2nd Ed (Gabbard, Litowitz, and Williams, Eds.) American Psychiatric Publishing, pp3-17

Optional Reading

Bank, S. & Kahn, M.D. (1980) Freudian Siblings. Psychoanalytic Review 67:493-504

Gaztambide, D. (2015). A Preferential Option for the Repressed: Psychoanalysis Through the Eyes of Liberation Theology. Psychoanal. Dial., 25(6):700-713.


September 12, 2022
8:00 pm - 9:15 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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