While the U.S. is presently experiencing a surge in media focus on both state and individual violence perpetrated upon Black and Brown bodies, this condition is anything but new. Despite what may have been the intentions of its early theorists, psychoanalysis has historically relegated racialized subjective experience to that of otherness, compounding this injury with a theoretical bias which persists in its over-pathologizing of aggression and resistance.
In its utility in helping people gain access to unconscious bias, the psychoanalytic perspective contains a potential for transformation that is revolutionary. However, without a critical examination of power dynamics existing within both the therapeutic dyad as well as our theoretical foundations, we are destined to enact those same dynamics that exist within the world at large, leaving this potential as yet to be fully realized. In challenging the analytic ideal of therapist-as-blank-slate, the Relational turn has brought us part-way in inviting a critical discourse.
Great Conversations in Psychoanalysis: Deconstructing Confusion in Clinical Practice
Psychoanalysis can be thought of as a long conversation. Since its beginnings, practitioners and theoreticians have responded to each other based on clinical practice, new findings, expansions of theory, and even external events. We continue this tradition today.
One of the great conversations in psychoanalysis was between Freud and his protégé Sandor Ferenczi. A complex relationship, as Ferenczi was Freud’s patient, friend and colleague, Ferenczi’s ideas were controversial even as many considered him one of the most gifted of pioneering analysts. Yet, for a long time, Ferenczi was written out of the history of psychoanalysis. Now his work is being rediscovered as foundational for theory and clinical practice.