Morning Session: Psychoanalysis is a strange, minority discipline in relation to the world outside. Yet the psychoanalytic community at large routinely fails to employ its power to penetrate the surface, its customary stance of curiosity and its capacity for insight vis-a-vis its own disengagement regarding issues of racial, ethnic, sexual, and socioeconomic otherness. This presentation will examine both the resistances to, and the necessity for, psychoanalytic engagement—and prioritization—of issues of otherness, difference and diversity. Some of the root anxieties associated with genuine, curious, exploratory dialogue about diversity are identified. The presenter argues for cultivating a stance of curiosity in relation to difference and also for an emphasis on the noticing of and learning from those moments where diversity-related communication—in the psychoanalytic classroom, supervisory, and clinical setting—seems to break down. Attention to such breakdowns is portrayed as key to facilitating dialogue that can lead to a more diverse—and diversely applied—psychoanalysis.
Separateness and polarization are fueled by fear and anxiety about contact. Conventionally proposed remedies, such as becoming more literate or competent about others (or urging others to do so), are directive, objectifying, and insufficiently dialogic. A psychoanalytic stance, with its inclination to prescribe free, open, exploratory thought and speech in response to dread (and its dissociative defenses), represents an antidote to the deadening simplifications of prescribed, mastery-based forms of dialog. Proceeding from the premise that racial, ethnic, sexual, socioeconomic and other forms of prejudice and discrimination represent dissociative defenses involving profound, anxiety-based failures of curiosity, this workshop focuses on how issues of difference and “othering” emerge and can be fruitfully engaged in the psychoanalytic psychotherapeutic situation. Finally, we will explore the presenter’s concept of “radical openness” as a counterpart to the cultivation of curiosity in the psychoanalytic situation.
Afternoon Session: Video Screening and Discussion: Excerpts from (1976) Archival Footage of Ellis Toney and Ralph Greenson Discussing Their Cross-Racial Psychoanalysis
In 1976, Drs. Ralph Greenson and Ellis Toney, former analyst and analysand, respectively, came together to publicly discuss the psychoanalytic work they had completed more than 25 years before, when Dr. Toney was a candidate at the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute. Dr. Greenson was white and Dr. Toney was black, making theirs one of the earliest cross-racial training analyses, and the racial issues that this analytic dyad encountered were of their time, yet would persist into our present moment. These selections from unique, grainy-but-audible, archival footage of a panel presentation between the two offers an all-too-relevant glimpse into the challenges psychoanalysts may encounter as they try to address issues of race with their patients and with each other. The presenter will direct particular attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle moments of dialogic breakdown and will address them as dreaded yet expectable. Dr. Hart will develop a conceptualization of these breakdowns as psychoanalytic opportunities, both in the clinical, pedagogical and collegial contexts.
Anton H. Hart, PhD, FABP, is a Training and Supervising Analyst and on the Faculty of the William Alanson White Institute in New York City. He is a member of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) and the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA). A Fellow of the American Board of Psychoanalysis, he supervises at Teachers College, Columbia University and at the Derner Institute of Adelphi University. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of the journals Psychoanalytic Psychology and Contemporary Psychoanalysis. He teaches in the Department of Psychology at Mt. Sinai Hospital, at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy, at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, and at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies. He has published papers on issues of mutuality, disruption and safety, and also racism, diversity and otherness. He served as Associate Co-producer for the film, “Black Psychoanalysts Speak,” in which he was also featured. He is a Co-Founder of the White Institute’s Study Group on Race and Psychoanalysis. He is completing a book, to be published by Routledge, entitled, Beyond Oaths or Codes: Toward Relational Psychoanalytic Ethics. He is in full-time private practice in New York City.
- 9:15—Turning Towards the Strange Other, Part I: The Dangers of Curiosity
- 10:15—Coffee break
- 10:30—Turning Towards the Strange Other, Part II: Radical Openness
- 12:45—Video Screening and Discussion: Excerpts from (1976) Archival Footage of Ellis Toney and Ralph Greenson Discussing Their Cross-Racial Psychoanalysis
- 1:45—Case material and discussion (presented by a SPSI or NWAPS member or the presenter)
- 2:50—Closing remarks