Undergraduates meet analysts in unique collaboration at Institute
Colorado College Professors Marcia Dunbar-Soule Dobson and John Riker organize a class on analysis for their undergraduates with support from the Institute every summer.
For the past 11 years, the Institute has played a unique role in helping to communicate a passion for psychoanalysis to Colorado College students as the site of Dobson's and Riker's popular summer school course, “Contemporary Psychoanalysis.”
Faculty serve as guest lecturers throughout the four-week program. For example, the students read several chapters of Allen Siegel’s Heinz Kohut and the Psychology of Self, then meet Siegel at his home for a cookout. Faculty who presented during the June 2017 course include Arnold Goldberg, Arnold Tobin, Frank Summers, Brenda Solomon, David Terman, and others.
Riker and Dobson met as teachers at Colorado College and married decades ago. In 1998, after Dobson received her second PhD in Clinical Psychology -- the first is in Classical Philology, and her professorship is in the Classics department -- they created a minor in psychoanalysis at the school.
The couple connected with the Institute in 2003, when Riker was Kohut Visiting Professor at University of Chicago. A philosophy professor, his recent work includes the 2010 book Why It Is Good to Be Good: Ethics, Kohut's Self Psychology, and Modern Society and his 2017 Exploring the Life of the Soul: Philosophical Reflections on Psychoanalysis and Self Psychology.
“When we returned home, I spoke longingly to John expressing the wish that we could have these exceptionally gifted people come to speak at Colorado College for our Psychoanalysis Minor,” Dobson recalled recently. “We both understood this would be too expensive.”
“'Then John said, 'Well, if we can’t bring them here, why don’t we go to them?' she recalled. Institute faculty under the leadership of David Terman, former Director, welcomed the five-week program and the visiting class was born.
Analytic courses for undergrads
Riker and Dobson say that as far as they know theirs is the only undergraduate course at a psychoanalytic institute in the country. Students must have taken at least one previous course on psychoanalysis before traveling to Chicago for “Contemporary Psychoanalysis,” although many have taken far more.
“For me, the takeaway has been the opportunity to talk with psychoanalysts who are working in the present day,” said Dylan Ward of Vermont, entering his senior year. Ward created his own major in human motivation, combining psychoanalysis, literature, and film. “One theme that keeps coming up with a lot of analysts is empathy, and using that as a tool in analysis.”
Echoing that experience, Alexandra Appel, from San Diego, appreciated that the class focused less on theory than other courses. “It’s about people, not systems,” she said. Another plus of the class was the chance to learn more about non-Eurocentric notions of analysis and get beyond reading canonical texts. Appel said she plans to major in psychology with a minor in psychoanalysis and eventually to work as a clinician.
Dobson said students have gone on from the psychoanalysis minor at Colorado College to further study to become social workers, get a doctorate in psychology, or other programs, including at George Washington University, Smith College, University of Chicago, Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago, Denver University, and elsewhere.
The class is the crown jewel of the school’s minor in psychoanalysis program, according to Dobson: “We get people interested in psychoanalysis, and once they’re interested they really want to pursue it.”
Barr-Harris director speaks at Huntington's Society conference
The first focused on Losing a Loved One: How to Cope and Find Hope. She also co-led a session on mental health awareness with Miranda Spencer, a registered nurse and member of the group’s National Youth Alliance. Spencer has four family members that are gene-positive for HD and has many other family members at risk. Both sessions focused on providing practical tools and insights for families and individuals living with Huntington’s Disease.
Huntington’s is best known as the disease that took the life of folksinger Woody Guthrie at the age of 55 in 1967. The roots of the society started in work by Guthrie’s widow to raise awareness of efforts to combat the disease.
Faculty member David Dean Brockman's new book available now
David Dean Brockman has penned a new book, A Psychoanalytic Exploration of Dante's The Divine Comedy. Published by Routledge, Francis & Taylor, the book is available in Kindle and hardcover editions and can be ordered via Amazon.
In this work, Brockman connects spirituality with psychoanalysis as he looks at Dante’s early writings, his life story and his "polysemous" classical poem The Divine Comedy. Dante wanted to create a document that would educate the common man about his journey from brokenness to growth and a solid integration of body, self, and soul.
This book draws the resemblance between Dante’s poem and the "journey" that patients experience in psychoanalytic therapy. It will be the first total treatment of Dante’s work in general, and The Divine Comedy in particular, using the psychoanalytic method.
"This fascinating study of Dante’s The Divine Comedy will be of interest to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists, as well as those still in training. Academics and students of psychology, spirituality, religion, and literature may also be interested in Brockman’s in-depth study of Dante’s work," according to the publisher.
In addition to serving as Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst and emeritus faculty at the Chicago Institute, Dr. Brockman is also a clinical professor in the University of Illinois Department of Psychiatry. He has had a clinical practice of psychiatry and psychoanalysis for more than 50 years.
Schiffman joins 'Walking through Grief' Author Wednesday
Barr-Harris Clinic's Judy Schiffman will be in conversation with Mary E. Plouffe, PhD, about her new memoir "I Know It in My Heart: Walking Through Grief with a Child" (She Writes Press | May 2017), 6 p.m. Wednesday at Seminary Co-Op Bookstore in Hyde Park, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave. The bookstore requests, but does not require RSVPs for the free event.
Mary Plouffe has counseled others through grief for more than 35 years, but when Mary's sister suddenly and unexpectedly died, she had to mitigate her own grief while also caring for her three-year-old niece.
When Mary Plouffe’s sister, Martha, decided to try one last, risky-but-promising treatment for breast cancer, Mary assumed care of Martha’s three year old daughter, Liamarie. But a three-week visit grew into months, while the treatment they hoped would extend Martha’s life took it instead. I Know It in My Heart: Walking through Grief with a Child is the story of one loving sister, a motherless child, and a terrified father facing unimaginable loss together.
Told by Plouffe—a grieving sister who is also a psychologist with thirty-five years experience in child/adult therapy—the story is more than a memoir; it is an exploration of childhood and adult grief that ultimately displays the healing power of love and family. Parents, therapists, and anyone else who wants to understand loss though the eyes of a child will find useful information here for guiding children through tragedy, and understanding how loss impacts them as they grow.
Barr-Harris Center Turns 40, Wins National Excellence Award
Just after we celebrated its 40th anniversary, Barr-Harris Children’s Grief Center got a wonderful birthday present from the Association for Child Psychoanalysis: the Association selected Barr-Harris to receive its annual Award for Excellence.
“This award is given to a center or program exemplifying the highest level of service, training, outreach or research associated with the profession of Child Psychoanalysis and the ACP,” Dr. Leon Hoffman, awards committee co-chair, noted in his letter to Judy Schiffman, LCSW, director of the Barr-Harris Children's Grief Center. “It is a real pleasure to see how use of psychoanalytic principles has been the foundation of the excellent educational experience that you provide at Barr-Harris.”
In receiving the honor, the Grief Center joins other eminent agencies across the country. Last year’s honoree, San Francisco-based A Home Within, is the only national organization dedicated solely to meeting the emotional needs of foster youth. Other previous award winners include the Center for Reflective Communities in Los Angeles, West End Day School in New York City, and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in London.
Barr-Harris Children’s Grief Center offers one-year field placements for advanced social work students interested in working with bereaved families. Staff at the Center treat children ages 2 to 17 who have lost a parent through death, divorce, or abandonment. In addition to providing services, Barr-Harris staff also make educational presentations and provide consultation to schools, community agencies, hospitals, and other organizations.
As we reported in our last newsletter, the Grief Center recently established an office at the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School in Woodlawn to help grow our presence on the South Side. Other Center sites include: Little Company of Mary Hospital and Riverdale Community Resource Center, both in the south suburbs; Highland Park Hospital in the northern suburbs; La Rabida Children's Hospital on the city’s South Side; Swedish Covenant Hospital on the North Side, and the Institute office in the Loop.
"Every year, we're just waiting for justice to occur"
Dean Neal Spira, MD and Associate Dean Leo Weinstein, MD were quoted in the ESPN article "Why do long-suffering Cubs fan keep coming back for more?" You can read the full article here, though we have also posted an excerpt below:
Psychiatrist and lifelong Cubs devotee Neal Spira would not go so far as to mix business and pleasure and say Cubs fans are a textbook example of any particular psychosis.
"No, no, not textbook," Spira said. "Maybe a paper, though. You could definitely write a paper about the psychology of the Cubs fan."
Dr. Leo Weinstein, Spira's colleague at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, goes back to a central theme of psychotherapy in probing Cubs fans, and the theory that unconscious childhood feelings get expressed in adulthood.
"It taps into this feeling a lot of us have that things should be fair, that people should take turns and it's our turn to win," he said. "It also taps into the idea a lot of us believe subconsciously that if you suffer enough, you'll be rewarded.
"Cubs fans have suffered for 108 years, so it only makes sense we'll be rewarded -- not because our team is good or that Theo Epstein and the front office have assembled a winning team, but because it's right. And when [that] turns out not to be true, we're upset. People have a hard time giving up that feeling ... but it's a problematic way to live your life."
, Neal Spira
, Leo Weinstein