Section IX is open to those interested in both social issues and psychoanalytic ideas. We sponsor events and activities in which a psychoanalytic perspective is brought to bear on contemporary social issues such as human rights, multicultural concerns, gender and sexualities, justice, ethics, economics, education, war and violence.
We work to promote the accessibility of psychoanalytically oriented clinical services to underserved groups of people, and to expand the cultural and socio-economic usefulness of psychoanalytic treatment.
This newsletter is dedicated to examining these themes and to create dialogue and conversation between members of Section IX, and all those interested in psychoanalysis and social responsibility. Past articles are below.
Reaction to SCOTUS’s ruling: Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt
By Jessica Chavez
On Monday, June 27, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided on the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, striking down restrictions that have significantly limited abortion access in Texas, especially for poor, rural, and otherwise medically underserved abortion seekers. Over the past 20 years, legislators in states across the US have introduced a range of abortion restrictions based on claims that these measures protect women from harm. In 1992, the Court’s ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey first permitted such restrictions as long as they would not pose an “undue burden” to access, and in 2007, the ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart allowed restrictions that specifically aim to protect women’s health. Legal scholar Reva Siegel refers to this iteration of anti-abortion politics, one that claims to protect not only fetuses, but also abortion seekers, as the “woman-protective antiabortion argument” (Siegel, 2008).Continue article.
The Supreme Court and Women’s Rights
By Jane Hassinger
We are by now perhaps saturated with horrifying stories of the systematic use of sexual based gender violence as a tool of war—in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides, and elsewhere—emphasis on the word elsewhere. Not here, not us.
But truthfully, in the United States, we are in the midst of our own war on women. After 30 years of neoliberal policies aimed at dismantling the public sector, we have become inured to the effects on the most vulnerable in our society. In “The Feminization of Austerity,” Mimi Abramowitz (2012) observed how neoliberal reformers have “weakened the power of social movements by reversing their gains…Free market ideology positioned the individual in an independent entrepreneurial relation to markets and opportunities without need for paternalistic intercession of the state. Continue article
Current President’s Column – 2016 Edition
By Lynne Layton
It is with great pleasure that I write my first column as President of Section IX. I’ve been part of this section ALMOST from the beginning. In fact, while I was studying up on the section bylaws, I found a 2001 email from Neil Altman and Rachael Peltz, who had only recently founded the section, inviting me to be a member of the education and training committee. I accepted that invitation and at some point became a member of the board and chair of that committee. As chair, I developed, along with wonderful colleagues including Rico Ainslie, Stephen Seligman, Christine Kieffer, and Frank Summers, a syllabus template for a clinical course on culture and psychoanalysis. By that time in history, there were enough excellent clinical papers to fill a syllabus, papers on race, gender, sexuality, class, and other aspects of culture that consciously and unconsciously enter the clinical encounter. Continue article.
Past President’s Column – Spring 2016
By Nancy Hollander
I was first trained as a Latin American historian, and I lived in Argentina from the late sixties until the eve of that country’s Dirty War in 1976. During that time I researched and wrote about the tumultuous political, social and economic conditions that were producing revolutionary movements throughout the continent and the military dictatorships that arose to smash them. My contact with the victims of torture and the families of the disappeared taught me about the profound psychological effects of political repression. As well, my personal and professional connections in the countries of the Southern Cone permitted me to see first hand how living in cultures of fear created populations that, if not the direct victims of repressive governments or the courageous activists that opposed them, either actively identified with or functioned as bystanders to the violent suppression of democratic alternatives. Continue article
America’s autoimmune syndrome: How failures in self-recognition contribute to the perception of threat.
By Matthew Steinfeld, Ph.D., Benjamin Kelmendi, M.D., & Philip Corlett, Ph.D.
This republican presidential primary is notable in recent history for the explicit use of xenophobic and sexist rhetoric by the leading candidates seeking their party’s nomination. Rather than alienating many registered Republicans, to the surprise and consternation of the American political establishment, this kind of hate speech has galvanized a sizable segment of the Republican electorate. These voters appear to endorse the misperception that fellow Muslim and Mexican citizens, undocumented immigrants, and pluralistic values are a threat to American citizenry at large. Continue article
What would make me want to rejoin the American Psychological Association?
By Neil Altman
A recent article in the NY Times reports that the Department of Defense is asking the American Psychological Association (APA) to make its position against psychologist participation in national security interrogations a matter of policy, not of ethics. This leads to some reflections on the possible foundation on which such a policy would rest, if not on an ethical basis. Policies can change with the prevailing political winds or public opinion; ethical principles are more deeply rooted in values, in a sense of what matters in human life. I would be pleased if the APA were to make explicit that its policy about psychologist participation in national security interrogations were based on ethical principles, along with a statement about what those ethical principles are, and how they relate to what happened, and continues to happen, at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. But such a statement from the APA would not be enough for me to rejoin the organization, from which I resigned some years ago in protest against its collusion with human rights abuses. Continue article
The road to psychoanalysis runs through Jerusalem
By Lara Sheehi
The seedlings of this essay began to take root at last year’s Division 39 (2015) conference in San Francisco. Sitting in the audience of “Manifesto Fest,” I listened intently to a wonderfully vibrant panel of psychoanalytic manifestos, yet found myself aching to claim a voice that could be heard, a voice that might challenge, incite us to think beyond what I experience as poignant and specific, but still unspoken ideological barriers. I left the panel excited about the new panel medium I had witnessed. I also left in solemn self-reflection about what I felt were my political-ethical obligations and a deeper question as to why and how I betrayed them. Continue article
Urban Liberation & Psychoanalysis – Free Associations at the Grassroots
In late January 2016, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chakira Haddock. Chakira is currently a pre-doctoral intern at the Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology, housed at Boston University’s School of Medicine. While completing a rigorous doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at the New School of Social Research, Chakira has found time to establish, and develop two programs focusing on social justice. We discussed the specifics of these programs, the sense of helplessness inherent in social justice work, and explored the definition of social justice itself. I hope you enjoy reading our exchange as much as I enjoyed participating in it.Throughout the piece are pictures of the events Chakira mentions. Continue article
Psychoanalysis, APA and Torture
By Neil Altman
It may surprise some people to know that the Division of Psychoanalysis (Division 39) of the American Psychological Association was a leader, if not the leader, in the struggle during recent years against the collusion of the American Psychological Association (APA) with torture and cruel and inhuman treatment of people at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. Psychoanalysis, after all, has a reputation for focusing on the individual mind, not on social issues. Many see psychoanalysis as focusing on the personal problems of affluent individuals, the economically privileged, rather than the oppressed and forgotten. The fact is that there is a long history of social concern and social action on the part of psychoanalysts. Continue reading
The case of Mohammed Al-Qahtani and John Leso
By Neil Altman
n 2008, the Convenor of the Military Tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, Susan Crawford, declined to pursue charges against detainee Mohammed Al-Qahtani. In an interview in 2009 Crawford said that she did so because Al-Qahtani’s self-incriminating statements (later retracted) had been obtained by “torture” (“Mohammed Al-Qahtani”, 2012 ; Glaberson, 2009) As of this writing in 2015, Al-Qahtani remains in the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, never having been charged with or found guilty of any crime. In a cruel Catch-22, Al-Qahtani has been denied due process indefinitely precisely because he was mistreated. Guilty or innocent, the consequence of torture is further cruel and inhuman treatment. Continue article
Reflections on the Hoffman Report: the Impact of Terrorism on the Terrorized
By Neil Altman
I was a member of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) governing body, the Council of Representatives (Council), for six years, from 2000-2006. During that time, I proposed a resolution that APA declare a moratorium on the participation of psychologists at Guantanamo Bay and other detention centers where human rights were being violated according to U.S. and international law. Holding people indefinitely without due process was “cruel and inhuman” according to the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Conventions.By defining the settings to which the moratorium would apply in this way, I was referencing the APA’s ethics code according to which psychologists were not permitted to “participate” in behavior that was cruel and inhuman, while sidestepping the debate about which behaviors in interrogations amounted to torture, or were cruel and inhuman. Continue article
“If I cannot bend the higher powers, I mus stir up the lower depths:” Mass incarceration & psychoanalysis
By Beth Kita
In his germinal work on prisons, Discipline and Punish, Foucault observed that since
[t]he proclamation of the failure of the prison has always been accompanied by its maintenance…one should reverse the problem and ask oneself what is served by the failure of the prison; what is the use of these different phenomena that are continually being criticized; the maintenance of delinquency, the encouragement of recidivism, the transformation of the occasional offender into a habitual delinquent, the organization of a closed milieu of delinquency (Foucault, 1977, p. 272).
Around the same time that Foucault was putting forth that question – in response to his research on prisons in the 19th and early 20th centuries – a new carceral age was dawning: one that we’ve come to refer to as “mass incarceration.”
One model for community psychoanalysis: Reflective spaces material places
by Beth Kita, Francisco Gonzalez, Mia Maturen, Rachael Peltz, Ryan Parker
At the April 2015 meetings of Division 39, Section 9 featured an en vivo presentation of Reflective Spaces Material Places (RSMP). RSMP is a thriving community of Bay Area clinicians interested in psychoanalysis and community mental health. It’s name very much describes what the founders sensed was needed — to carve out space, both within our minds as clinicians and within our places of practice, to reflect on our work and connect with one another.
Psychoanalyzing The Affordable Care Act and Its Actors
By Allan Scholom
My intention in writing this piece is to contribute to an emerging view that psychoanalysis offers a methodology and a morality that can and should be directed toward the understanding of how individual dynamics and social forces interact. The history of psychoanalysis has been saturated with a splitting off of the personal from the societal. This began with Freud who in his early years believed it was necessary for the survival of the psychoanalytic movement. But whereas Freud changed his perspective later in his life we have only in recent years begun to try to connect the individual to the social. Among the consequences of this splitting have been a marginalization of psychoanalysis both professionally in our practice and theory as well as in our relevance to the world our patients live in (Tolleson, 2009). Continue article
Embodying Justice – Exploration of a Seminar
By Matthew LeRoy and Batsirai Bvunzawabaya
I was five or six years old. My father’s coworkers from the Middle East were staying at our home. When they arrived, they gave me a music box. My parents encouraged my questions about the gift, and their home country. I was filled with curiosity. At this time, my mother finished preparing dinner. It was a meal these men could not eat due to religious reasons. I, not understanding this reasoning, questioned them. My assumption was they felt the food was bad. My mother told me to stop harassing them. I could tell she was angry, that I had embarrassed her. The joy of receiving the gift was gone, and as I looked at the men’s faces, I saw sadness. Continue article
“Psychoanalysis and Diversity”–A Course that Matters
By Scott Pytluk
One way psychoanalysis matters entails its ever-evolving theorizing on issues of diversity, power, authority, and the sociocultural. Not only does this scholarship represent an important contribution to social-level intervention, it reflects the voices of scholar-clinicians who bring a psychoanalytic sensibility to work with individuals not traditionally deemed “appropriate” candidates for psychoanalytic treatment. Contemporary psychoanalytic literature describes richly textured and effective clinical process with racial/ethnic minorities, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, those with lower socioeconomic statuses, people with disabilities, and others. Continue reading
Beyond Trayvon Martin: A Socio-Cultural Relevant Psychoanalytic Perspective
By O’Shan Gadsden
Much has been written, debated, and analyzed about the Trayvon Martin criminal case. We have all wrestled with its legality from the lens of our own culture-laden lived experiences, experiences that have influenced our opinions regarding whether or not the death of an unarmed African-American adolescent male was justified self-defense or a brutal killing. Considering the vast psychological and inter-cultural implications of this case, it seems only appropriate that the analytic community add its nuanced perspective, particularly regarding the relationship between this society’s deep-seated racial collective unconsciousness, the criminalization of African-American masculinity, and the racialization of both the death of Trayvon Martin and the handling of the criminal case. Continue here
Introduction to Occupy pieces
By Rachael Peltz and Steve Botticelli
The impetus for this article emerged from an online discussion among Section IX board members in the spring of 2013 about new projects we might undertake. As many of us sprang forth with ideas for new initiatives, others gave voice to a feeling of demoralization and withdrawal from activism. A thoughtful exchange ensued about the possible sources of this disengagement. For some the reason was local, and specific. One of us who had worked doggedly and so far unsuccessfully over five years to get the APA to implement the requirement of the referendum that directed the removal of psychologists from military interrogation sites was understandably burnt out from this effort. On reflection Steve linked his own demoralization to the apparent demise of the Occupy movement. Never in his lifetime had he participated in something that had felt so potentially world-changing, and it had largely sputtered out. It struck him that all who had involved themselves in or simply observed Occupy with a sense of hope must be affected in some way by the passing of a galvanizing political moment.
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