To ensure safety and accessibility for all participants, N95 or better masks will be required, and HEPA filters will be on. The talk will also be available in video and hard copy formats. If you would like a video recording of the presentation emailed after the event, please register for the event.
We’re facing the last quarter of our third pandemic year, with no clear resolution; we don’t even agree about whether or not the crisis is winding down, or which practices may be safely resumed, and by whom. What began as a short-term emergency has become a numbing succession of confusing forecasts and shifting perplexities. How to manage clinical work when the rules keep changing?
For psychoanalytically-informed therapists, it may help to reflect on our work as a practice of learning together with our patients through the often confusing terrain of psychic and emotional experience. This preparation gives us resources which I believe may be very useful in navigating our community’s shared uncertainties, which impact us along with our patients in our common vulnerabilities.
In particular, Wilfred Bion’s idea of the knowing function—which may be either used productively, or blocked, or defended against—may offer useful clues for sifting out helpful learnings from unhelpful pseudo-realizations.
Vaccination and antivirals have made acute Covid less terrifying for many, though the virus continues to be a leading cause of death. But we are also confronted by the prospect of Long Covid, or prolonged post-viral illness. According to official CDC statistics dated June 2022, 1 in 13 Americans had Long Covid, defined as post-viral illness lasting at least three months, though it’s evident that for many, Long Covid is a chronic illness with uncertain prognosis.
In another sense, “Long Covid” might also serve as a metaphor for the bumpy ride we’re all on, a pandemic we never had a chance to prepare for, and which is challenging many people’s tolerance for uncertainty and discomfort.
In our role as health care providers, therapists need to learn about Long Covid so that we can serve our patients by helping them recognize when they have a need for medical care. Yet we lack adequate training, and must develop thoughtful approaches while we’re waiting for consensus best practices to be developed.
The factual information I’ll share in this presentation includes:
1. The most typical symptoms of Long Covid, and how to recognize when it might be helpful to refer a patient for medical evaluation. I will also share referrals for specialized care.
2. Key peer support resources for long haulers.
3. Certain frequent Long Covid symptoms—dysautonomia, and atypical fatigue—may
be easy to confuse with mental health conditions such as panic disorder and
depression. I will offer suggestions to aid differential diagnosis.
4. One of the chief mental health risks of Long Covid is suicidality, given the stressors
of chronic pain and gaps in both medical treatment and socioecomic safety nets. I
will offer information about resources for patients in such difficult situations.
5. I’ll outline some of the current best options for treatment, and key research currently
underway in the search for diagnostics and treatments for Long Covid.
For patients with Long Covid, one of the most helpful things a therapist can offer is simply a willingness to recognize the reality of the patient’s illness.
While the topic of Long Covid can feel hard to approach, in fact efforts are already underway to identify its causes, to develop treatments—and these efforts are largely independent ones, involving university labs at Yale and other leading institutions, but having a grassroots, mutual-aid culture of responsiveness, generosity, and adaptation to need. In this presentation I’ll describe some of these current efforts and share information and support resources we can offer patients, or use to educate ourselves.
10:00 to 10:05 Welcome, and distribute Readings and Resources list
10:05 to 10:15 Educational video intro by leading Long Covid researchers
10:15 to 11:00 Talk
11:00 to 11:30 Question and discussion time
Measurable Learning Objectives:
1) Participants will gain an understanding of Long Covid, defined as symptoms persisting after a Covid infection for at least three months, and including chronic and debilitating illness.
2) Participants will learn about common Long Covid symptoms which may superficially resemble psychological syndromes—for example, dysautonomia caused by viral impacts on the central nervous system may resemble a new-onset panic disorder. This learning will help clinicians provide appropriate care, including referrals for medical treatment.
3) Participants will be offered ideas on applying psychoanalytic practice to the emotional and psychological challenges of doing clinical work during a period of high uncertainty related to the Covid pandemic.
4) Participants will be provided with handouts including a detailed list of Readings, Resources and References.
$25 non-Alliance member
$20 suggested donation