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Bruce Reis, PhD:  “Performative and Enactive Features of Psychoanalytic Witnessing"

Bruce Reis, PhD:  “Performative and Enactive Features of Psychoanalytic Witnessing"

With Response by Gretchen Schmutz, PhD

Friday, October 18, 2019

6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

401 S. State State St., 8th Floor, Chicago, IL 60609

Fee: $50 (3 CEUs)

Live Streaming Available. Complete Registration and then contact Elree Smith at for access.

In his paper, Dr. Reis will attempt to broaden the conception of witnessing in analytic work with traumatized patients by extending the idea to incorporate the patient’s developing and varied capacity for witnessing, as well as a witnessing that occurs within the analytic relationship itself. Actions occurring as part of traumatic repetition are understood to represent memory phenomena and are distinguished from dissociated self-state experience. These experiences are not therapeutically intended to be symbolized, but rather lived-through with the analyst, thus transforming the patient’s own relation to the experience. I suggest that the scene in which this living-through takes place is the transference–countertransference matrix, and that it is the analytic encounter that allows traumatic repetition to take on the quality of a communication, an address to another, rather than remain meaningless reproduction. A clinical vignette illustrates the turning of trauma’s imperative for  witnessing into an address in the analytic encounter.  

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Bruce Reis, PhD, FIPA, is a Fellow 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. He is North American book review editor for the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and serves on the editorial boards of The Psychoanalytic Quarterly and Psychoanalytic Dialogues. He is the co-editor (with Robert Grossmark) of Heterosexual Masculinities (Routledge, 2009).

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Gretchen Schmutz, PhD is a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Chicago. She is currently an instructor at the Institute for Clinical Social Work teaching courses in psychoanalytic theory and practice. For many years, she was adjunct faculty at Northwestern University Medical School teaching psychoanalytic technique. Dr. Schmutz was a consultant for Little Friends for more than 15 years providing workshops, seminars, and case consultations in order to bring a psychoanalytic understanding to work with children suffering from primitive mental states and severe developmental trauma.