Education & Events

Conversion Disorder: The Body as Revolt with Jamieson Webster, PhD

Conversion Disorder: The Body as Revolt with Jamieson Webster, PhD Date: 2020-11-21 09:00 to 13:30
26 days remaining

Conversion Disorder: The Body as Revolt with Jamieson Webster, PhD

Saturday, November 21, 2020 9:00am to 1:30pm
via Zoom
Sponsored by: 

Division 39 is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  Division 39 maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This presentation also meets the requirements of WAC 246-809-620 (definition of recognized categories of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists and social workers).

In the twenty-first century, the body is the arena for political contestation and political claims: who receives care and who is exposed to risk, who is excluded and who has rights, who is granted the privilege of life and who is left to die, perhaps un-mourned. Returning to Freud’s early thoughts on “conversion” shows a landscape where the question of the body is always tied to a demand for radical structural change, indicating so much more than simply personal pathos. The body was at the cross-roads of individual and social history, seen as a “somatic preserve” with a potential for revolt that fascinated, mystified, and at times, frightened Freud. “Conversion” was part of the very creation of the unconscious and was also the source of working through in psychoanalysis. But how to work with something so elusive? What even is conversion? In this presentation, I will trace Freud’s early work with the concept and its relevance to the current landscape, from sick bodies to toxic masculinity, from melancholic depletion to the persistence of racism. I will tie these theoretical musings to the difficulty of working as a psychoanalyst in contemporary society, especially the problems of our outdated forms of training and community.

Case Presentation: I will present a case where a question of the body is central to the patient’s symptom, and enters into the transference and analytic process in fascinating and challenging ways. The Lacanian concept of jouissance as the obstacle to structural change, or conversion, will be highlighted.

JAMIESON WEBSTER is a psychoanalyst based in New York. She teaches at Princeton University and supervises graduate students at the City University of New York; Dr. Webster is a graduate of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and a founding member of Das Unbehagen, a collective that explores psychoanalysis outside of an institutional framework. She has written for Artforum, Apology, Cabinet, The Guardian, Playboy, Spike Art Quarterly, The New York Review of Books and The New York Times. She is the author of Conversion Disorder: Listening to the Body in Psychoanalysis (Columbia University Press, 2018); Stay, Illusion!: The Hamlet Doctrine, with Simon Critchley (Pantheon, 2013); and The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis (Karnac, 2011). With Marcus Coelen, she is currently working on The Cambridge Introduction to Jacques Lacan.  

YouTube Interview with Jordi Graupera, "Why We Don't Want People to Die Alone"

Conversion Disorder: Listening to the Body in Psychoanalysis:

"Psychoanalysis in Time of Plague," from The New York Review of Books

"End Notes: What Palliative Care Looks Like in a Pandemic," from The New York Review of Books

Podcast/interview for New Books in Psychoanalysis:

Review/interview of Conversion Disorder from The Los Angeles Review of Books:

“Riding in Cars with Jacques Lacan,” from The New York Review of Books:

Interview from Kinfolk: 

“Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propoganda,” from Public Seminar:  

“The Psychoanalysis of Panic,” from Affadavit  


Learning Objectives: 

  • Participants will understand the history of the concept of Conversion Disorder from Freud to the present. 
  • Participants will understand the concept of the body as “somatic preserve,” locus of personal and collective social history and site of political contestation.
  • Participants will be able to identify the changes in therapeutic technique that the idea of conversion presents, especially as it applies to the contemporary landscape of social conflict.
  • Participants will understand the Lacanian concept of jouissance and its importance to the dynamics of conversion.

Participants: This event is designed for graduate level students in mental health and all mental health professionals from introductory to advanced levels.  The presentation is geared for clinicians who wish to advance their knowledge and expand their skill base in psychodynamic clinical work.

Fees: Alliance Members - $125, Non-Members - $150, Alliance Student Members - $65, Non-member Students - $80

Refund Policy: Refunds less a $15 handling fee will be given up until one week before the conference. 

Financial Need: If you are experiencing financial need and would like to discuss reduced admission, please let us know within two weeks of the event. 

This program, when attended in its entirety, is available for 4 continuing education credits.  Division 39 is committed to accessibility and non-discrimination in its continuing education activities.  Division 39 is also committed to conducting all activities in conformity with the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles for Psychologists.  Participants are asked to be aware of the need for privacy and confidentiality throughout the program.  If program content becomes stressful, participants are encouraged to process these feelings during discussion periods. If participants have special needs, we will attempt to accommodate them. Please address questions, concerns and any complaints to John Allemand at 253-509-8302.  There is no commercial support for this program nor are there any relationships between the CE Sponsor, presenting organization, presenter, program content, research, grants or other funding that could reasonably be construed as conflicts of interest.  Participants will be informed of the utility/validity of the content/approach discussed (including the basis for the statements about validity/utility), as well as the limitations of the approach and most common (and severe) risks, if any, associated with the program's content.  

Contact Person: 
John Allemand
Contact Email:
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