First 100 Days Project

white-houseWith the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, the United States enters into uncertain times. This reality is specifically true as it relates to the future of progressive movements.  Some of us reassure ourselves that President Trump said certain things to get elected, and that he does not really believe them. We grow more anxious as we look at the selections for his cabinet, a collection of lascivious businessmen, Christian social conservatives, and neo-fascist populists. In today’s America, there is so much to fear, not from without, but from within our body politic. At the Psychoanalytic Activist, we would like to explore these myriad fears, and plan on doing so with several contributors sharing their concerns about the future. These will be conducted in brief format, largely jargon free to be as accessible as possible. Continue to First 100 Days Articles.

Full Letter of Apology to the Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian People, from Psychoanalysis for Social Responsibility, Section 9 of Division 39, the Division of Psychoanalysis, American Psychological Association

The United States is a settler colonial nation that grew wealthy, in part, by the theft and despoiling of Native American land and culture. The Standing Rock protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline is a movement resisting the further theft, loss and despoliation, which makes the present moment an important one in which to speak out against the longstanding harm afflicted on native peoples, including much psychological harm. As members of Psychoanalysis for Social Responsibility (Section 9 of the division of psychoanalysis, Division 39, of the American Psychological Association), we respectfully offer a full apology to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, and we stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock resistance movement.

The discrimination and traumas Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have suffered include abusive assimilation efforts, such as forced relocation and boarding schools, and lack of voting rights and religious freedom well into the 20th century. Continue article.


Welcome to the fall edition of the Psychoanalytic Activist!

This edition we are honored to have an impressive range of pieces. The first is from Richard Brouillette lending his attention to politics as they exist in 2016, (particularly in the United States),  the role psychoanalysis could play in understanding politics, and why psychoanalysts struggles to engage in this part of life. Jan Haaken shares her experience as a documentarian film maker to explore the role of stories in movements of social changes. She shares experiences in working on her film Milk Men and examines how progressive stories are told . Our third piece by Lama Khouri movingly explores her experience in working with Adolescents of Arab descent, while also sharing her own cultural experience. It is a touching and powerful article, very much needed in our current times. Finally, for those interested in Section IX, we hear from involved members about what initially interested them in Section IX, and why they continue to love it deeply.

2016 as Turning Point: Psychoanalysts Can No Longer Be Silent on Political Issues and Remain Competent

By Richard Brouillette

The world is on fire and we need psychoanalysts, in particular, to help reestablish faith in humanity’s ability to cope and recover. Psychoanalysts can no longer pretend that the world does not enter the consulting room. It’s crashing in.

Over the last 30 years a particular form of irrationality has become dominant at the crossroads of daily life and the political/economic sphere. Simply put, there is a gap between what needs to be done about our problems, and what the current political system presents as “possible.” It has become clear that it is no longer rational to believe that the current global political/economic system is capable of addressing these crises. Climate change, the failure/dominance of austerity economics and resulting inequality, and global mainstreaming of hatred all pose immediate threats and palpable changes to experience in daily life. These are the most urgent problems of our time— likely of all time—and they are being met by either disavowal/disbelief from the political right, or transparently insufficient solutions from the left. Continue article.

Subversive Storytelling

By Jan Haaken

jan-alan-copyDuring a stint as visiting professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2014, I met weekly with a group of activist doctoral students who were working with narrative material in their field research. We came together out of our shared interest in thinking critically about the role of stories in movements for social change, and of generating methods to identify our own blindspots in social action research. Although most students in the group were not psychoanalytic, we found common ground in theoretical traditions that attend to aspects of mind and society that are cast to the margins, whether the social or political margins or the margins of consciousness. Enlisting a term I have used in my previous work, we decided to call our new website Subversive Storytelling. I describe that term here through the lens of my work as a as a psychoanalytically-informed filmmaker and field researcher. Continue article.

Can You See Me? The American Adolescent of Arab Descent

By Lama Z. Khouri


braidsI was invited by the president of Section IX of Division 39 of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Lynne Layton, to share with you, the readers of the Psychoanalyst Activist Newsletter, my thoughts about an organization I founded a few years ago, the Circle Of Arab Students In Schools (Circle OASIS). The purpose of the organization is to help middle- and high-school–age students who are first- or second-generation immigrants from the Arab world adjust to school and life in the United States.

When I began writing this essay, I thought I would start by placing the population I work with, American adolescents of Arab descent, in the sociopolitical context of present-day America: I thought I would tell you about the racism, discrimination, and alienation they experience. My first draft was peppered with statistics, results of studies about this population, and the sociopolitical dynamics that frame their experiences. I decided, however, to refer you to my previous writings on the topic (Khouri, 2012, 2013, 2016). Instead, I would like to share with you the personal journey that led me to founding Circle OASIS—a journey that dates back to 2004, when I began making my way into the mental health field. Continue article

A Conversation About Section IX: Present Work and the Future.

mls-photoLike many inquiries these days, it started with a Google search. It was the fall of 2013 and I had just begun my first semester in the George Washington (GW) University PsyD program. With a career that began in community organizing now taking a clinical and psychodynamic turn, I wanted to know who else was linking these worlds. Google seemed like a good enough place to start and I’m pretty sure the search terms that day were “psychoanalysis” and “activism”— if you’re reading this now, you already know where that search led me.

Emboldened by my awareness of Section IX, I took my search offline and met with Richard Ruth, PhD, a GW Associate Professor, profiled in the April 2013 issue of the Psychoanalytic Activist, who became a supervisor and mentor in my program, and, in 2015, with Lara Sheehi, PsyD, also a GW Associate Professor and Section IX Member at Large, whose close mentorship led me to seek out Section IX at the 2016 Spring meeting in Atlanta. It was Lara who connected me with Nancy Hollander (past president), Lynne Layton, (current president), and Matt LeRoy, (Editor of Psychoanalytic Activist).

Continue article


  1. From current Section IX’s President, Lynne Layton: I will soon be sending you some amendments to our by-laws for your approval (they need first to go to the voting board). But I want to hear from you on substantive things as well. What projects would you like to see Section IX undertake? Last year, we had readings go out once a month — there wasn’t much conversation but we heard from many people that they appreciated getting such fine articles. Do you want something like that to continue? Might you be interested in starting a community project on the model of Reflective Spaces/Material Places? Do you see other ethical or educational or political projects that we might take up? Are you interested in being on the board? If so, you might want to come to this year’s meeting.

    Please reply on this thread so we can begin a dialogue. There will be a lag between posting and it appearing as each comment needs to be approved to reduce spam.

    1. Hi Lynne, I might be interested in being on the board. I also was Beth Kita’s mentor so know about her reflective spaces and think it would be a wonderful idea

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