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Zombie States: Reconsidering the Relationship Between Life and Death Instincts, with Bruce Reis, PhD

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Zombie States: Reconsidering the Relationship Between Life and Death Instincts, with Bruce Reis, PhD

Friday, October 21, 2022 9:00am to 12:00pm
Northwest Psychoanalytic Society and Institute
2701 First Avenue
Suite 120
Seattle, WA 98121
Sponsored by: 

This program, when participated in its entirety, is available for 3.0 continuing education credits.  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).

The Alliance is grateful for the generosity of the Northwest Psychoanalytic Society and Institute in providing a gathering space for this event and for their enduring contributions to the advancement of psychoanalytic thinking in the greater Northwest.

The Distinguished Speakers Series is pleased to announce that Dr. Reis will also be presenting a full-day workshop entitled, "'Being With: A Non-Interpretive Analytic Approach to Psychic Change" on Saturday, October 22, 2022, at TBD.  Participants who register for the Master Class will receive a 50% discount on the full day event.

In this Alliance Master Class, Dr. Bruce Reis will lead participants in a close reading of his seminal 2011 essay, “Zombie States: Reconsidering the Relationship Between Life and Death Instincts”.  Dr. Reis will elaborate upon his thinking since publication, facilitate discussion, and answer questions.  All participants will receive a copy of the article upon registration.  In order to provide an intimate, stimulating discussion, the group will be limited to 15 participants who can directly engage with the author.

Reis, B.  (2011).  Zombie states: Reconsidering the relationship between life and death instincts.  Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 80(2): 269-286.

Where the dialectical relation of life and death instincts has become dissociated, zombie states result—in which individuals inhabit deadness as if it were a full experience of aliveness.  Bypassing reservations about the speculative nature of these instincts, this paper reconsiders their relation in order to highlight certain types of clinical phenomenology that could otherwise be lost to current ways of conceptualizing aliveness and deadness.  A clinical vignette illustrates particular countertransference difficulties associated with dichotomizing issues of psychic aliveness and deadness, as well as the powerful contagion associated with what the author terms “zombie states”.





Bruce Reis, Ph.D., FIPA, is a Training and Supervising Analyst and Faculty Member at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, New York; an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor in the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis; and a member of the Boston Change Process Study Group.  Dr. Reis is Regional North American Editor for the International Journal of Psychoanalysis as well as its North American book review editor.  He has previously served on the editorial boards of The Psychoanalytic Quarterly and Psychoanalytic Dialogues.  He is the co-editor (with Robert Grossmark) of Heterosexual Masculinities (Routledge, 2009) and the author of Creative Repetition and Intersubjectivity (Routledge, 2020).

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to demonstrate the factors leading to psychic change in non-interpretive clinical interventions.
  • Participants will evidence knowledge of the distinction between aliveness, deadness, and “zombie states”.

Recent Publications:

Reis, B.  (2021).  The analyst’s listening: For, to, with.  The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 102(2), 219-235.

Reis, B.E.  (2020).  Creative repetition and intersubjectivity: Contemporary Freudian explorations of trauma, memory, and clinical process.  New York: Routledge.

Reis, B.  (2019).  Creative repetition.  The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 100(6): 1306-1320.

Reis, B.  (2018).  Being-with: From infancy through philosophy to psychoanalysis.  Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 38(2): 130-137.

Boston Change Process Study Group.  (2018).  Moving through and being moved by: Embodiment in development and in the therapeutic relationship.  Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 54(2): 299-321.  DOI: 10.1080/00107530.2018.1456841

Boston Change Process Study Group. (2018).  Engagement and the emergence of a charged other.  Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 54(3): 540-559.

Reis, B.  (2016).  Monsters, dreams and madness: Commentary on ”The Arms of the Chimeras”.  The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 97(2): 479-488.

Reis, B.  (2015).  How deep the sky: Discussion of special issue on evolution of witnessing.  Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 51(2): 333-347.

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.

Refund Policy: Refunds less a $35 handling fee will be given up until three weeks before the presentation.

Contact Person: 
John Allemand
Contact Email:
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