In this very intelligently written piece in the New Yorker, Maria Konnikova discusses writer’s block and it’s psychological correlates. She notes that Graham Greene, while in psychotherapy, started a dream journal, something he would come back to to help him with his (infrequent) bouts of writer’s block. She describes research by Barrios and Singer on writer’s block that suggests that, while different people respond differently to having writer’s block, what they all share is reduction in their production of mental imagery, of daydreaming and even of dreaming. Although Konnikova doesn’t say this, the implication is that superego conflicts are primary in most creative blocks. Her conclusion: “the main message of research into writer’s block: It’s useful to escape from external and internal judgment—by writing, for instance, in a dream diary, which you know will never be read—even if it’s only for a brief period. Such escapes allow writers to find comfort in the face of uncertainty; they give writers’ minds the freedom to imagine, even if the things they imagine seem ludicrous, unimportant, and unrelated to any writing project."
"A sophisticated and systematic layering of music theory and psychoanalytic theory” – Shara Sand
Includes interviews with Edward Albee. Mark Morris. Kiki Smith. Joyce Carol Oates. Adam Gopnik. Jacques d’Amboise. Edmund White. Denis Wedlick. Gary Shteyngart. Oliver Sacks. Andrew Solomon.
Interviews with twenty prominent American composers have resulted in the conclusion that a variety of sensory styles, not necessarily auditory, are operating during the inspirational phase of their work. These include visual, kinesthetic, and tactile modes. In some composers, their particular style prevails in most of their work; in some, the form of inspiration varies from one work to another.
The findings of this research raise the question of how much of a role is the parent’s capacity for mentalization playing here? One needs to be able to fantasize a baby with her or his own inner life to be able to talk to the baby as if the baby understands. One presumes that a parent who talks to her or his baby in a way that is grossly discordant with the baby’s felt experience is not likely to help the infant to develop language.
CFS Member Karen Proner is quoted offering a Kleinian perspective on some aspects of parenting in Dowling’s article. The Enduring Predictive Significance of Early Maternal Competence: Social and Academic Competence Through Age 32 Years by Raby et al., 2014. Findings from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation, an ambitious study following 243 people from birth to age 32 conducted at the University of Maryland: “sensitive caregiving in infancy and early childhood predicted teachers’ rankings of children’s social competence with peers during childhood and adolescence, which in turn forecasted later interview ratings of romantic relationship competence during young adulthood, which in turn predicted supportive parenting in adulthood”
…Gender and Sexuality
Studies in Gender and Sexuality is one of the leading journals in the transdisciplinary field of gender and sexuality studies. Situated at the interface of psychoanalysis and social/cultural theory, it aims to further our understanding of how we live, theorize and transform genders and sexualities.
Merging psychoanalytic and queer theory perspectives, The Fragility of Manhood: Hawthorne, Freud, and the Politics of Gender reframes Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work as a critique of the normative construction of American male identity. Through a queer theory lens, Greven reopens the question of Freud’s relevance to gender theory and to Hawthorne’s work. Greven argues that Hawthorne offers a powerful critique of normative American masculinity.
“This book addresses the unstable notion of masculinity and the ways both hetero- and homosexual man seek to shape themselves in relation to the precarious nature of being a man.” Michael J. Diamond Interview with Donald Moss
Excellent resource for information about the most up-to-date knowledge on and for transgender people and transitioning processes.
“What We Know” Project
The “What We Know” Project is an online research portal based at Columbia Law School that marks a path-breaking convergence of scholarship, public policy and new media technology [regarding gender and sexuality]. Focusing on several pressing public policy debates, What We Know brings together in one place the preponderance of scholarly evidence that informs these debates so that policymakers, journalists, researchers and the public can make truly informed decisions about what policies and positions best serve the public interest.
…Race and Culture
Black Psychoanalysts Speak – a series of conferences presented in 2012 and 2013, sponsored by IPTAR, WAWI and the New School, featuring interviews with eleven black psychoanalysts.
“Among the myriad issues studied in this [edited set of papers] are the often-negative expectations of society, the influence of gangs, and the impact of racism and poverty. Of equal importance, the work explores culturally specific ways to engage families, youths, communities, and policymakers in the development of healthy, safe, educated boys who will become whole and successful adults.” – description from the publisher’s website
Changes in pre-frontal limbic function in major depression after 15 months of long-term psychotherapy
This study found neurological changes in patients undergoing long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy, changes that correlated with reduced depression.
A new study suggests that – in contrast to the commonly held theory in neuroscience that the brain is far more active during conscious processing than unconscious processing – some unconscious perceptions arouse multiple areas of the brain. This corroborates the finding observed in psychoanalytic process that an enormous amount of psychic activity takes place unconsciously, that the mind is far busier and more active than most of us know at any given moment in time, a factor implicated in such phenomena as parallel process, projective identification, countertransference, clinically utilized reverie, etc. Subjects were shown the word LEFT multiple times interspersed with the word LEFT masked in a manner so that it was not easily discernible. When the masked word was shown (and, the researchers determined, perceived but only subliminally), an EEG signal was evident “widely across the brain.” According to Brian Silverstein, one of U Michigan-Ann Arbor researchers, “Even though [the subjects] don’t know [what] the stimuli are, the brain is still able to recognise that there is something unexpected that occurs.” The study suggests “evidence for complex, sustained, unconscious brain activity,” a finding that corroborates psychoanalytic data starting with that obtained by Freud himself.
Meta-analysis of multiple neuroimagery studies show that there are distinct differences in the brain involvement in disorders identified as neurological versus those identified as psychological. “Basal ganglia, insula, sensorimotor and temporal cortex showed greater impairment in neurological disorders; whereas cingulate, medial frontal, superior frontal and occipital cortex showed greater impairment in psychiatric disorders. The two classes of disorders affected distinct functional networks. Similarity within classes was higher than between classes; furthermore, similarity within class was higher for neurological than psychiatric disorders. . .From a neuroimaging perspective, neurological and psychiatric disorders represent two distinct classes of disorders.”
A recent study conducted by John M. Kane at Hofstra Northshore-LIJ School of Medicine showed that “treatment programs that emphasized low doses of psychotropic drugs, along with individual psychotherapy, family education and a focus on social adaptation, resulted in decreased symptoms and increased wellness.” Makari writes “Unfortunately, Dr. Kane’s study arrives alongside a troubling new reality. His project was made possible by funding from the National Institute of Mental Health before it implemented a controversial requirement: Since 2014, in order to receive the institute’s support, clinical researchers must explicitly focus on a target such as a biomarker or neural circuit. It is hard to imagine how Dr. Kane’s study (or one like it) would get funding today, since it does not do this. In fact, psychiatry at present has yet to adequately identify any specific biomarkers or circuits for its major illnesses.”
Tracking Functional Brain Changes in Patients with Depression under Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Using Individualized Stimuli
This unusually ambitious study looked at the impact of psychodynamic psychotherapy on specific brain functions that correlate with depression. After an eight-month course of psychodynamic therapy focused on ‘intrapsychic conflict and ‘dysfunctional interpersonal relations,’ 18 adults with long-term depression had marked changes in brain functions associated with emotional regulation and reactivity – specifically the amygdala and the basal ganglia.
How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations: audio interview with neuropsychiatrist Dr. Rachel Yehuda on On Being with Krista Tippett
“There is a wisdom in our bodies.” About Dr. Yehuda’s study of epigenetics and the transmission of trauma from one generation to the next. Her studies on the children of Holocaust survivors as well as on the infants born to women who were pregnant during the attacks of September 11 revealed that the children of parents who’d been traumatized are, themselves, three times more likely than controls to experience PTSD if exposed to a traumatic event and exhibit hormonal irregularities (specifically, low cortisol levels) normally seen in those with PTSD (e.g., Transgenerational transmission of cortisol and PTSD risk, Yehuda & Beirer, 2007 - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079612307670095). She says that a recent study of hers has also shown “epigenetic changes in response to psychotherapy.”
This book skillfully combines autobiographical stories with clear psychoanalytical theories. During her childhood, the author experienced the Holocaust and was left understandly traumatised by it. It was her desire to confront this trauma that led her to psychoanalysis. For decades, the coherence of psychoanalysis seemed to be threatened by the conflicting thinking of many psychoanalytical colleagues about trauma and trauma affect, and also about the influence of external reality on the psychic reality discovered by Freud. However, Marion Oliner counters this potential conflict with her innovative theoretical integration, combined with remarkable conceptual outcomes and treatment techniques. (Karnacbooks.com)