Workshop: When Psychoanalytic Theory Meets the Body
24. september 2021 – 25. september 2021
When Psychoanalytic Theory Meets the Body: Re-envisioning, Transference, Repression/Dissociation and Resistance
A 2-Day Workshop by Jon Sletvold and Doris Brothers
In this workshop we bring the body-based perspective we are developing in our forthcoming book, Talking Bodies, to some of the most enduring aspects of psychoanalytic theory. The result is not only that the theory changes, but also that practice, training and supervision are re-envisioned. A central theme that runs through our work is that mind, from birth on, involves the creation of narratives based on embodied memories.
We will intersperse verbal dialogues with embodied exercises throughout and provided opportunities for embodied supervision.
A Body-Based View of Transference
Ever since Freud’s earliest efforts to develop his theory of transference, memory has played a key role. Narratives, and the embodied non-verbal memories on which they are based, are central to a new understanding of transference. When viewed from the perspective of the ever-changing memories of both patient and therapist, transference is seen as a shifting flow of I, you, we and world. We propose that it is only in the context of trauma that transferences become rigidified.
A Body-Based View of Repression/Dissociation
Freud’s earliest attempt to deal with gaps in his patients’ verbal narratives gave rise to his concept of repression, which he regarded as the cornerstone of his entire theory. In the 1890s he believed that patients’ memories of actual traumas that were too painful or embarrassing to be kept in conscious awareness were dissociated and replaced by symptoms. In 1897 he renounced his trauma theory and proposed that memories were repressed because they were associated with conflictual forbidden sexual impulses. In recent years dissociation has largely replaced repression. However, from a body-based perspective, dissociation exists only to the extent that pertains to traumatic memories that cannot be given verbal expression. When embodied memories are viewed as always present what has been called the dissociation-enactment model is profoundly changed.
A Body-Based View of Resistance
What makes therapeutic change so difficult? We propose that the freedom to change can be terrifying. When trauma is viewed from a body-based perspective it becomes clear that what has been called resistance often involves fear of losing one’s connections to all that is needed for one’s psychological well-being. When efforts are made to deepen the we-connectedness of patient and therapist, the fear of change is reduced for both therapeutic partners as a feeling of safety to experience all emotions develops. Illustrative clinical examples will be presented.
Doris Brothers, Ph.D. is a co-founder and faculty member of the Training and Research in Intersubjective Self Psychology Foundation (TRISP). She was co-editor with Roger Frie of Psychoanalysis, Self and Context from 2015-2019 and chief editor of eForum, the online newsletter of the International Association of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology (IAPSP). She serves on the advisory board and council of IAPSP. Her books include: Toward a Psychology of Uncertainty: Trauma-Centered Psychoanalysis (2008), Falling Backwards: An Exploration of Trust and Self-Experience (1995), and with Richard Ulman, The Shattered Self: A Psychoanalytic Study of Trauma (1988). She works in private practice in New York and Oslo.
Jon Sletvold, Psy.D. , is a licensed specialist in clinical psychology and psychotherapy. He is founding board director and faculty member at the Norwegian Character Analytic Institute. He is co-editor with Marianne Børstad of two books: Den terapeutiske dansen [The therapeutic dance] and Karakteranalytiske dialoger [Character analytic dialogues] and the editor of Tage Philipson – Kjærlighet og identifisering [Tage Philipson – Love and Identification]. He is the author of The Embodied Analyst: From Freud and Reich to Relationality,2014, winner of the Gradiva Award 2015 for best psychoanalytic book. With Per Harbitz he co-authored Fra musklepanser til kropper i dialog – Da Reich kom til Norge og det som skjedde etterpå … [From Muscular Armor to Bodies in Dialogue – When Reich came to Norway and what happened afterwards …], 2019.
Norsk Karakteranalytisk Institutt