Jack Buffington, December 5, 1924 to October 9, 2018
We're sad to announce the death of Jack Buffington, MD. Dr. Buffington graduated from the analytic program in 1976 and was affiliated with the Institute as a Research Associate, a Clinic Associate and as a Continuing Education faculty member. He was an active member of our analytic community. Both his wife Bobbie and daughter Marilyn graduated from the Institute's Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Program.
One of Jack's interests was older adolescents and young adults. He contributed a chapter titled "Emerging Values in a University Community" to Dean Brockman's edited volume Late Adolescence: Psychoanalytic Studies. The chapter will be available in the McLean library for anyone who would like to read it.
A memorial service will be held at the 1st Presbyterian Church, 600 9th Street, Wilmette on Friday, October 26 at 2p.m. The family would like to include the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute as one of the places to make donations in honor of Jack, for which we are very appreciative. His obituary is available online.
Former faculty member Richard Telingator, 1927 - 2018
Longtime faculty member Richard Telingator passed away September 4. His obituary is reprinted here from Legacy.com:
Telingator, Dr. Richard "Dick" Howard was born in Chicago on December 13, 1927 to Fanny Balaban and Harry Telingator, emigrants from Russia. He was brother to Albert Telingator and May Brottman, both of whom pre-deceased him.
He received his A.B. at the University of Chicago in 1946 in Political Science, and attended Chicago Medical School, earning his M.D. in 1953, thanks to the financial support of The Jewish Federation. He worked for the U.S. Public Health Service stateside during the Korean War and went on to do his residency in Psychiatry at Michael Reese Hospital He began his private psychiatric practice in 1959.
He subsequently pursued training at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and graduated in 1967. His other professional experience includes serving as an attending psychiatrist at the Michael Reese Hospital Department of Psychiatry. He served on the Faculty of the Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis and was appointed a Training and Supervising Analyst in 1974. He served in that capacity and saw patients throughout his entire career, until he finally retired from the profession he loved in November 2016 just before turning 89 years old.
He and Judy lived a full life and enjoyed seeing the world and the diversity of cultures. They were passionate about the arts, opera, anything Wagner, and of course, theater, starting with their first date at the Goodman. In addition to Judith (Broder), his wife of 61 years, he leaves behind his four children, Kathe, Cindy (Maggie), Susan and Eric and four grandchildren, Devon, Quinn, Will and Ryan. There will be no funeral.
Donations may be sent to the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute at 312-922-7474, ext. 324 or 122 S. Michigan Ave., Ste. 1300, Chicago, IL 60603.
We extend our sympathies to his family.
Psychotherapy as impossible profession -- and why we choose it anyway
When Aleksandar Dimitrijevic spoke at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society in June on "Why Devote Your Life to Psychoanalysis, the 'Impossible Profession?'" former Institute President David Terman served as discussant.
Terman’s reflection on why individuals choose the "Impossible Profession" struck a personal note, as well as restating the ideals that motivate analysts to do their work: ”They are operating principles for all of us,” he says. We’re presenting his comments here as being of general interest to our community.
Discussion of Aleksander Dimitrijevic paper, “Why Devote Your Life to Psychotherapy”
Chicago Psychoanalytic Society, June 2018
David M. Terman, M.D.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss Aleksander Dimitrijevic’s paper with its provocative title that amounts to “why do this?” As someone who has done it for a lifetime, I am happy to share the perspective that I have developed over the years.
Dr, Dimitijevic has presented us with much interesting data. I can certainly affirm at least two of his points from personal experience. One is his documentation of the decrease of empathic capacity as medical students progress in their training. One of the teachers in my residency, Herman Serota, used to talk to us about the necessity to shed what he termed our “autopsic encombrances” that we had acquired in medical school. By that he meant that we were not to regard our patients as inert things to be acted upon, but as partners in a collaborative attempt to investigate and understand their sufferings and its sources. The attitude of the autopsic encombrance toward patients is, of course, antithetical to trying to take a position inside their subjective experiences –to attempt an empathic grasp of their inner world. Interest in subjectivity, and attention to feelings and fantasies, was – to the somewhat insecure scientists of the medical establishment – quite suspect and certainly “unscientific.” Rather, one needed to examine the patient and the data with extrospection – the use of our senses to attend to external phenomena that could be measured, ideally mathematically. And this approach rigorously excludes knowledge from introspection and empathy. In addition the medical students were frequently in a state of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the patients’ illness or suffering and the total inability to engage, and/or ameliorate psychological distress. The response of many students is, understandably, to shut off and shut down. No wonder that the empathic pathways in themselves do not enlarge. They shrivel. And finally, the new technologies offer an exponential increase in the physician’s capacity to diagnose and intervene in the course and treatment of organic disease, and this fosters the young physician’s further distance from and stunts the growth of his/her empathic capacities.
In my own personal experience as a medical student who had gone to medical school so that I could become a psychoanalyst – the only route to psychoanalysis in those dark days - I had to contend with my feeling very much out of synch with many of my peers – and certainly the faculty – whose disregard and disdain for the subjective and especially for the affects that our encounters with the nitty- gritty of medical phenomena stimulate – the corpses in our freshman year, the seriously ill patients in our clinical years, the overwhelming amount of data of the basic medical sciences – left me feeling both enraged and isolated. I was fortunate to be able to go into a psychotherapy with one of the storied analysts in Chicago (who refused to undertake an analysis with me at the time in spite of my entreaties. I would have to wait for that, he told me, until I was old enough to benefit from such an enterprise.) So I was able to maintain my interest and investment in my own subjectivity and know also that my own inner turmoil could be respected and understood.
Of course, I was not the “typical” medical student, because I was already on the road to becoming a therapist and an analyst when I entered medical school, and so – point two from my personal experience – I conformed to the model that Dr. Dimitrijevic has constructed about those of us in our field. Like the 75% of therapists in the one study, I had to deal with psychological trauma in my family when I was a child. My mother became severely depressed after our family had moved back to Chicago after my father suffered an ill-fated business venture in California. I was 10 years old at that time, and though my mother recovered after several months of treatment, I became and remained a source of some comfort as I was mindful of trying to enliven and cheer her up. I knew that her pride in me was important for her own sense of well-being and that our sharing of some intellectual and cultural interests was also important. The need to be empathic to a distressed parent became deeply engrained in me. As with many of my colleagues, my training in empathy and therapy began very early – with all of its attendant strengths and problems. For those, I also had the good fortune to finally undertake the analysis I had sought in medical school. And I think that had allowed me to work through many of the issues that the premature parenting of my mother caused so that I could be reasonably open to my patients and be able to deal with myself when I got in the way.
But there was another developmental experience that I believe was the source of my empathic capacity. I think it was the nurture and comfort I had received from my mother earlier in the course of my childhood in a rather unique way. Dr. Dimitrijevich discussed this element of the development of empathy when he quoted Ferenczi’s observation that “children who had suffered morally or physically had the appearance and mien of age and sagacity.” However, what was left out – if perhaps implied – was how that suffering had been responded to.
I had had repeated and prolonged bouts of otitis media middle ear infections - from before I was a year old until about age 9. These were the days before antibiotics – especially penicillin. In fact I happened to be one of the first children to receive the medicine at around age 10 when I was hospitalized for a week to get injections of the new miracle drug every 4 hours – to avert a frequent complication of otitis media in those days – mastoiditis. Mastoidits meant that the infection had spread from the ear to the skull , and if that were to have occurred, it would then invade the brain. The only way to arrest the progress of the infection was to remove the mastoid bone, and of course that surgery also had great risks - there being no antibiotics to prevent the infection that the surgical procedure might well produce. So penicillin, barely available to the civilian population in 1944, saved my life and heralded the end of the excruciating periods of pain I had undergone.
But the point of this tale of childhood illness is to relate what my experience in those 9 years was. Since there were no antibiotics to treat ear infections during my childhood, one simply had to wait until the infection reached a point when it would perforate the eardrum. The swelling of the drum prior to its rupture took several days, and the pain of the swollen drum was often excruciating. It was during such times that my mother would try to comfort me. She held me, and I recall her often pacing the floor – often at night – holding me as I whimpered on her shoulder. Her ministrations were somewhat effective. The pain seemed to ameliorate somewhat, and I recall that I was often able to sleep after such a siege. She did all of this with great patience and without complaint. She was truly empathic to my pain and anxiety without becoming anxious or resentful herself. In later years we never discussed those quite selfless acts. She took it as a matter of course . And I, too , never quite realized the significance of those experiences of being empathically connected in my suffering with my own inclination to be sensitive to pain – especially psychological pain – combined with my own desire to try to alleviate such suffering. Interestingly, it was only after I had retired from practice that I became aware of this important origin of my own sensitivity to my patients’ psychological pain and of my own patience I had felt in listening over the many months and sometimes years – trying to understand, of course, but also with some hope and expectation that my efforts would eventually be rewarded with the patient’s relief from the suffering and the bonus of psychological growth. Maxwell Gitelson called these attitudes and expectations of the analyst “the diatrophic attitude.” He defined it as the predisposition of the analyst to want to nurture and heal. He felt that this was essential for any analysis to succeed.
One further observation about the curious fact that I did not make the connection between my illness and my mother’s deeply empathic response to it with my own empathy until some time after I had retired from clinical practice. Perhaps I needed the distance from my everyday immersion to observe that something that was so deeply a part of my early experience and later character that I had not marked it out as a discreet part of myself.
I apologize for this lengthy autobiographical excursion, but I have taken us on this trip to make several larger points that I think are related to Dr. Dimitrijevic’s thesis. Though he has referred to Ferenczi’s observation that I have just discussed, and he has also cited the importance of resilience in dealing with these childhood traumas, his main concern has been in calling our attention to the conflictual elements in many of our backgrounds. And, as you have heard, my own history is consistent with his findings. But my own history also suggests that there may be less conflictual determinants of our later empathic capacities. There may also be some leading edge components of our abilities. Might there also be deeply positive experiences of empathic connection in many of our histories that have been overlooked by our understandable investigations of the trailing edge determinants? It is a question that I think would be interesting to investigate.
This is not to diminish the significance of our conflictual sources. It is surely important to be aware of them and the problems they give rise to. And I think this effort – our mindfulness about our roles in helping or hurting our patients is a facet of another value that we and our profession embody. That is the commitment to prolonged empathic immersion in the service of the healing and growth of our patients. That is the hallmark of psychoanalysis. If we step back to view our work in the broader context of society, we may become aware that what we do is quite unique, and I hold, greatly beneficial to our community and perhaps to civilization itself.
I think I need to explain and perhaps justify this rather grandiose claim. The benefits that accrue to individuals are self-evident to all of us. The enrichment of lives, the release from the sufferings of chronic depression or emptiness, the discovery of meaningful work in the world, the ability to engage in intimate relationships, even the saving of lives are among the many benefits that all of us have experienced. But very often such positive outcomes are hard won. They require the many years of the work of empathic engagement that do not invite triumphalist bragging. We know how hard and uncertain the process is. And we are very mindful of the ongoing demands of our current work. There is little time, space or even permission for this kind of self-validation. It was likely no accident that my own awareness of the positive roots of my empathy came only after I had retired from practice. But I think it is necessary to remind us of the virtues, as it were, of our work. Like the positive elements of structure formation in development, we also need to pay attention to positive value that is inherent in the work that being empathic.
But it is not only the benefits to individuals that benefit society. The knowledge that we have gained from studying and understanding human psychology that has been generalized into theories about subjectivity and relatedness has and can further illuminate who we are and what we do to and with each other. In an increasingly interdependent world, such knowledge is crucial. For with this knowledge we may be able to help construct institutional and political structures that foster both individual growth and group cohesion. We may even be able to help illuminate processes that permit sustained productive and peaceful relationships among and between groups. (Though I must admit that in this area we have been notable failures in our own professional relations. The splits and mutual demonizations of our theoretical schools are both legendary and shameful.)
Finally, in this very perilous time, when truth, empathy, decency, the wish to help or heal others are absent, and the converse of those values and actions, - the lies, the selfish use of others for one’s personal gain, the lack of constraints, and the wish to hurt and humiliate - are frighteningly present, our work of prolonged empathic emersion is both a model and bastion. Though obviously, this does not and cannot mean that the relationship that is present in a therapeutic situation can or should exist or be expected in everyday adult life. Other than a parent, adults in any kind of relationship with peers cannot put themselves in the position of requiring them to enter in to such a lopsided position. But the values and importance of mutual respect and the need to understand the other that are the guiding principles of our work can help maintain the importance of such attitudes in the everyday world.
So I think the answers to the question that Dr. Dimitrijevic poses to us, “why devote your life to psychotherapy?” are quite deep, manifold, and compelling. In addition to the opportunity to gain further mastery of childhood precocities, one has the deep satisfaction of developing one’s own empathic capacities, and the even deeper satisfaction of seeing the effect of our prolonged empathic immersion in relieving suffering and witnessing growth in our patients. Yes, this not an easy process, and we often fail in our efforts to understand. But persisting and suffering through and ultimately restoring the empathic connection bring often surprising transformations. And while doing this work, we may have the satisfaction of knowing that we benefit not only our patients and ourselves but our society.
Separating Children from Families is Poor Policy
Insights from World War II led to changes in policy to reduce the separation of children from their families
The evacuation of children from London for their protection during the Blitz created an unfortunate “experiment in nature” from which psychoanalysts such as Anna Freud, John Bowlby, and Donald Winnicott and others learned a great deal. Their observations of the effects on children deepened our understanding of the importance of primary relationships and continuity of care. This image poignantly captures the distress, bewilderment, and anxiety of children separated from those they love.
The insights gained during WWII led to enlightened approaches to caring for children in situations when they are apart from their families. Nearly 80 years later, the enforcement of the official policy of separating children from their parents when they are caught trying to enter the United States illegally was greeted with outrage and widespread protests until the President ordered it ended this week. The Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute supported the formal statement of protest issued by The American Psychoanalytic Association and recently joined other mental health practitioners and organizations in a petition to policy makers urging a more humane immigration policy.
Many Chicagoans will be marching Saturday at the Families Belong Together rally, hosted by Indivisible Chicago, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Women’s March, and other organizations, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Daley Center (check local news for details).
Congratulations to our 2018 graduates
Graduate Dacia Harrold was among those who spoke, and Teachers of the Year Barbara Rocah and Cliff Wilkerson were recognized. Photos by Toya Werner Martin.
Gratitude and appreciation for those who helped and supported them were some of the emotions graduates expressed as the Institute recognized its 2018 class and teachers of the year on June 22.
Graduates from the intensive Psychoanalytic Education Program spoke briefly in recognition of their achievement.
“It was at times fascinating, also at times trying or overwhelming,” Dacia J. Harrold told the group. “[M]oments of joy and also moments of disappointment. It was all the things that comprise a full life experience, one that pushes you to grow.”
Dean Neal Spira recognized finishing students. He noted the Psychoanalytic Education Program, our core offering, has four major components:
- a personal analysis
- supervision of clinical cases, which provides an apprenticeship approach in how to care for patients
- a course component, which begins with the Fundamentals year taken by students across all Education Programs
- a strong focus on development and looking at psychoanalysis across the lifespan
Also honored at the event were two Teachers of the Year. Kathleen O’Connor, president of the candidates’ association at the Institute, presented faculty members Barbara Rocah and Cliff Wilkerson with the recognition. Rocah taught for 48 years, and Wilkerson for 42.
“Thank you to all the candidates,” Rocah said. “[Teaching them] sometime confirmed what we learned in theory, and sometimes led us into uncharted knowledge… I think this is the best job in the world.”
Congratulations to this year’s graduates:
Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Thought
Alan Davis, PhD
Mollye Levy, PsyD
Natalia Maltsev, MD, PhD
Russell Newstadt, PhD
Jessica Ngiam, BA
Tod A. Olson, MS
Michael Topel, PsyD
William J. Winger, LPC
Adult Psychotherapy Program
Brian Sheehan Brown, PsyD
Benjamin Fogel, LCSW
Matthew Frantz, LCPC
Stella Kiser, JD. LCSW
Benjamin Schwartz, PsyD
Hannah Weiss, LPC
Offer Zur, MA
Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy Program
Charlene M. Slezak, PsyD
Psychoanalytic Education Program
Stephanie Fariss, JD, LCSW
Dacia J. Harrold, MD, MA
Brooke K. Magers, PsyD
Noemi Molina, PhD
Mission moment features distance learning student Moshtagh
Institute board members enjoyed hearing about distance learning at the Institute from student Nahaleh Moshtagh, PhD, a psychotherapist in Tehran on June 11.
Moshtagh recently completed her Fundamentals year at the Institute. She spoke to the board via Zoom, the video-conferencing platform the Institute uses for its distance learning program. She works in private practice as well as serving as executive director and a member of the faculty of HamAva Institute for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in Iran. HamAva is a multidisciplinary group of clinicians and educators who share a passion for the practice, research and teaching of psychoanalysis.
Moshtagh shared that psychoanalysis is popular in Iran. She emphasized the cross-cultural learning that takes place with our distance students and said she hopes to contribute to psychoanalytic scholarship on the meaning of culture. She also shared that she first learned of the program from another distance learning partner, Elise Snyder of the China American Psychoanalytic Alliance.
In early July Institute President Erika Schmidt presented a paper, “The Wolf Man and Muriel Gardiner: Preserving Freud’s Legacy,” to Moshtagh and colleagues in Iran via Zoom.
, distance learning
Scholarly spirit strong at Chicago Institute
At Saturday's 'Schools is Out' and other sessions, as well as the upcoming APsaA meeting and regular classes, Institute faculty and students are making their scholarly mark, writes President Erika Schmidt, far right. Photo, Toya Werner Martin
On Saturday I attended the stellar "Schools Is Out" presentation by Virginia Barry, Charles Jade, Josh Kellman, and Mark Levey.
Their title, which takes some thinking, refers to the different schools of thought within psychoanalysis and suggests that we might approach psychoanalysis in a way that transcends any particular school. With verve and coherence, they discussed their own developing ideas about psychoanalytic theory and practice, influenced by neuroscience, their depth of clinical experience, their observations about what works and why change happens in psychotherapy and analysis.
The 35 people in the room were fully engaged for 5 hours and everyone came away with the excitement of thinking together about a paradigm for understanding analytic ideas and clinical practice.
It made me think about the contributions of scholars and practitioners from the Chicago Institute over the years and the ways many faculty and candidates continue to contribute to the development of psychoanalysis. It is a present moment and a history we can all be proud of.
In the spirit of recognizing this kind of scholarly activity, I'd like to let you know about the impressive roster of faculty and candidates from Chicago who will be presenting at the upcoming APsaA 2018 meeting in New York City:
Denia Barrett, Presenter: The Analysis of Masturbatory Fantasies: Theory and Technique
Peter Shabad, Chair and Discussant: Embracing or Foreclosing Change: Deepening our Understanding
Peter Rudnytsky, Chair: History of Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalytic Case Histories
Katherine Williams, Presenter: Two-Day Clinical Workshop: Psychotherapy Process
Jonathan Lear, Co-Chair: The Critics of Psychoanalysis: Hans Loewald as a Bridge from Heidegger to Freud
Eva Lichtenberg and Arnold Tobin: Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge": Paternal Fatal Attraction
Christine Kieffer, Discussant: Educators and Analysts Working Together: Cutting the Silence
Robert Galatzer-Levy and Paul Holinger, Co-Chairs: Outcome in Child Analysis
Lucy Freund, Coordinator: Psychoanalysis with Twins
Jonathan Lear, Presenter: Presidential Forum-Psychoanalyst in the Public Domain: What is Ethical? What is Effective?
Robert Galatzer-Levy, Presenter: The Philosophy, Science and Practice of Negative Capability
Christine Kieffer, Discussant: Psychoanalytic Explorations of Children's Literature
Arthur Nielsen, Presenter: Meet the Author
Last but not least, I will be a presenter on Oral History Workshop: The Wolf-Man: Past and Present Encounters at the APsaA New York meeting.
I know there is much additional work people are doing that is not acknowledged in this listing. To mention a few: Neal and Ruth Grant led a fascinating discussion of Ibsen's Enemy of the People as a way to think about people’s responses to wrongdoing, and the motivation for righteousness, complacency, collusion, or even courage.
More continuing education
In March, therapists from the Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy will have a panel discussing on-site clinical work in schools using a psychoanalytic frame. Another panel organized by the Child Analysis Committee will describe analytic work with children. And Kourosh Dini will be presenting his application of the concept of play to the problems people have with productivity and procrastination in a workshop in April.
I do hope we can continue to support our colleagues with our interest in their work and think about ways the Institute can continue to be a facilitating environment for these endeavors.
-- Erika Schmidt, President
Fall Faculty Honors and Publications
Jorge Schneider led a research team – including Institute faculty Doug Wilkerson, Denise Duval, Brenda Solomon, Caryle Perlman, Dennis Shelby and Molly Witten – whose article “Psychoanalytic Training Experience and Postgraduate Professional Development-Part II” appeared in The International Journal of Psychoanalysis Volume 98, Issue 5 (October 2017). The study looked at the training and postgraduate experience of the 2008-2014 graduates of the Institute, following a former study of all living graduates through the year 2007.
Benjamin Garber presented a paper "On the Changing Perceptions of Holocaust Survivors" athe Creativity and Madness conference in Vancouver, Canada in June.
Denia Barrett’s review of Psychoanalysis in an Age of Accelerating Cultural Change: Spiritual Globalization, by Neal Altman appeared in International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Volume 98, Issue 3 (2017).
Jonathan Lear was inducted as as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences October 7.
Peter Shabad had a paper on “The Vulnerability of Giving: Ethics and the Generosity of Receiving” in Psychoanalytic Inquiry Volume 37, Issue 6 (2017). His chapter “Is Loyalty really a Virtue? Shame and the Monstrous Other” will be included in the book Memories and Monsters: Psychology, Trauma and Narrative, edited by Eric Severson and David Goodman for Routledge, forthcoming.
Brenda Solomon edited Psychoanalytic Inquiry Volume 37, Issue 8 (2017) on “Artificial Reproduction Techniques and Psychotherapy.” The issue includes "Where Did I Come From: the Impact of ART on Families and Psychotherapists," by Renee Siegel, “A Cell Is Not Just a Cell,” by Dennis Shelby and “A Child Mourns the Family He Cannot Come From,” by Molly Witten.
Dale Gody presented her paper “Swimming with the Riptide: A Developmental Approach to Using Countertransference,” at the International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology conference in Chicago in October. Jeffrey Stern delivered a keynote at the conference on “The Pilgrims’ Progress: A Therapist and Patient Journey to London.” Psychoanalytic Education Program student Greg Rizzolo wrote the lead article for the Spring 2017 issue of the IAPSP journal Psychoanalysis, Self and Context, “Alterity, Masochism and Ethical Desire.”
Art Nielsen led a lecture/workshop on “A Roadmap for Couple Therapy: My Personal Journey to a More Effective Model,” at Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in June and again at the Eighth World Congress of Psychotherapy, organized by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in Paris in July. His article “From Couple Therapy 1.0 to a comprehensive model: A roadmap for sequencing and integrating systemic, psychodynamic, and behavioral approaches” appeared in Family Process, Volume 56, Issue 3. Nielsen also wrote dictionary entries on “Psychodynamic Couple Therapy” and “Projective identi cation in Couple Therapy” for The Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy, Springer International Publishing.
Robert M. Galatzer-Levy’s book Nonlinear Psychoanalysis: Notes from 40 Years of Chaos and Complexity Theory was published by Routledge in 2017. Galatzer-Levy is also contributing author on the new Psychoanalyst Assistance Casebook, a product of the American Psychoanalytic Association’s Committee on Colleague Assistance.
Gabriel Ruiz’s article, “University Forum: Revitalizing the South Side of Chicago,” appeared in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association Volume 65, Issue 4 (August 2017).
Harry Trosman’s article on “William Hazlitt, Obsessive Love, and Liber Amoris,” appears in Psychoanalytic Quarterly Volume 86, Issue 3 (July 2017).
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.