Elective: Field Theory and Development of the Self of the Analyst

This course, designed by the cohort, has three distinct yet related sections. The first four weeks will focus on learning some of the most recently remerging psychoanalytic theory. The next four weeks will be “Coffee with an Analyst”. During this time, we will interview four analysts on their perspectives on theory, their practices over decades, and the development of their sense of analytic identity. The final three weeks will be focused on our own emerging sense of analytic identity in ourselves as psychotherapists. We will address our own development as a learning cohort, as individual professionals, and our emerging identities as psychoanalysts.

Section I – Field Theory: Maureen Pendras, MSW and Ann De Lancey, PhD

Classes 1-4.

[Detailed Learning Objectives, Clinical Impact of the Knowledge or Skills Learned, and References will be distributed to class separately]

Introduction and Overview

Welcome to the Field Theory part of your elective. We are excited to explore and learn about this topic together.

Antonio Ferro has likened the analytic process to cooking, and to the unique character of what any dyad creates together.  We consider this course in a similar vein: our own attempts to create something together with you: something that is changed through the process of being and talking together and that is different from and more than the sum total of its ingredients.

“We should keep our discourse on the unconscious subversive… It should be fresh. It should be free.”
—From Giuseppe Civitarese, An Apocryphal Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. New York: Routledge. In New Books in Psychoanalysis Podcast, June 4, 2019.

Civitarese’s Two Favorite Metaphors

From Civitarese, G. (2019). An Apocryphal Dictionary of Psychoanalysis.  New York: Routledge.

Three Blind Mice

Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice?


Charlie Brown, from PEANUTS
This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA





A Penny for your Thoughts?

Google Search — Charlie Brown and Lucy: A Penny for Your Thoughts

Section II – Coffee with an Analyst

Classes 5-8 will address the following topics regarding development of analytic identity: Changes over time in regards to theory and practice, how the work of psychoanalysis has impacted sense of self and intimate relationships, wisdom gained over time, the intersection of psychoanalysis with social and political issues, beliefs on the healing effectives of psychoanalysis.

Section III – Goodbye Process
Maureen Pendras, MSW

How did I Get Here? Evolving Analytic Identity

“Allow yourself to think in terms of all your parts, the ones with which you are very familiar, the ones with which you are not familiar, the ones which you have not developed and the ones you may not know exist. Think of each of your parts as a resource, regardless of whether it is the same or different from everyone else’s or whether you consider it good or bad. Whatever you have represents new possibilities for yourself ….”
—Virginia Satir (1978)

“Health is the ability to stand in the spaces between realities without losing any of them—the capacity to feel like one self while being many.”
—Philip Bromberg (1993)

Not everyone chooses psychoanalysis. Were the endeavor free, many still wouldn’t choose it, let alone apply the tremendous commitment and investment it calls for. It means something for each of us that we are here, and that we have chosen to be here.

In this course we aim to consider the interrelationship between our individual experiences and our evolving psychoanalytic identity. Our course will be oriented towards personal stories and reflection upon your own experiences. We are not looking for “right” answers, but rather an exploration of how our analytic identity has been fashioned and made up of human and often imperfect experiences.

Our readings are personal in nature and mostly written in an informal or interview style. We hope to invite lively conversation and engagement with the concept that your analytic identity has been shaped by your experiences of psychoanalysis, teaching, consultation, the Institute, the greater community, and our socio-political culture. In turn, your evolving identity as a psychoanalyst will impact how you engage with psychoanalysis, teaching, consultation, the Institute, the greater community, and our socio-political culture for years to come.