Final Program & Readings – UC/NCP ICP 2017

Boundaries, Borders and Crossings
Final Program


25th Annual Meeting of the UC Interdisciplinary Psychoanalytic Consortium
March 31-April 2, 2017 at the U.C.L.A. Lake Arrowhead Conference Center

This year’s theme is: BOUNDARIES, BORDERS, AND CROSSINGS.  We will explore the concept of the boundary—interpersonal, intrapsychic, institutional, and cultural. What is the process by which a boundary is created and maintained? How do boundaries function to include and exclude? Under what conditions, and to what ends, are they sites of migration,transformation, and permeation? Boundaries are places of opposition and contestation (Bion’s institution/misfit); breaching (trauma); pathology (BPD), and containment (Anzieu’s skin ego). Work happens within them — the consultation room — and at their interface – the psychoanalytic frame, psychoanalysis and social movements; interdisciplinary studies.

Note: Links to assigned readings will open in a new window.  To download, simply click the square with three dots (in the upper right corner of your screen) and select “download.”  These readings are intended only for use of conference attendees.  Please do not distribute the link to others.

All Participants – Download/View: UCNCP IPC Arrowhead PowerPoint Slides

FRIDAY, March 31 

5:00-6:00pm Opening Reception: Wine and Cheese in the Tavern

Location: the Tavern (off the main lodge dining room)

POP-UP ART EXHIBIT:  Bettina von Zwehl, London, from an exhibition at the Freud Museum, London and Freud Museum, Vienna, in Tavern Adjacent


Location: U.C. I.P.C. reserved area of the main lodge dining room

7:30-9:00pm—Plenary I: Bion’s “Caesura” (Tom Helscher, LAISPS; Susan Derwin, UCSB) – Location: Iris

Description:Bion’s concept of the ‘caesura’ offers a powerful model for thinking about and experiencing boundaries as points of multidirectional contact for the past, present, and future, for the known and the familiar, and the new and the strange. Like the caesura of birth itself, the transitions of the mind and states of being that Bion explores in his essay entail both an opening and an encounter with a limit.  Bion suggests that, confronted with the caesura, we can have a breakthrough, in which the new and embryonic is allowed to emerge and develop, or a breakdown, in which we collapse in the face of the threat of catastrophic change.  The new does not emerge through causal or deductive thinking; it dwells, immanently, in the present, and it exists in terms of the present. In his presentation as well as his concepts, Bion challenges us to remain open to the emergence of the new by resisting the premature closure and calcification of the already known and canonized and allowing experience and practice to take precedence over theory.  In this conversation, we hope to explore the embryonic intuitions that emerge from our collective and our personal encounter with this enigmatic text.  Join us as we “investigate the caesura; not the analyst; not the analysand; not the unconscious; not the conscious; not sanity; not insanity.  But caesura, the link, the synapse, the (counter-transference, the transitive-intransitive mood.”

1. Bion – Caesura

9:00-10:00pm—Plenary II: ‘Psychoanalysts in the Time of Trump, What is to be Done?’ (Naomi Janowitz, UCD; Maureen Katz, SFCP) – Location: Iris

Description: Coming Soon
Readings: 1. Brown 2016 – The End of the World As We Know It | 2. Whitebook 2017 – Trump’s Method, Our Madness


8:00-8:45amBuffet Breakfast

Location: U.C. I.P.C. reserved area of the main lodge dining room

8:45-10am – Workshops I, II, and III (Note: Workshops I-III are concurrent.  Choose which one you will attend) – Location of breakout sessions for workshops will be announced after the first Plenary.

• Workshop I: “Psychoanalysis and the Missed Encounter with Islam” (Nouri Gana, UCLA) – Location: TBA

DescriptionPsychoanalysis has almost always entertained a contentious relationship with religion, especially since Freud, the founder of the so-called godless science, was not only openly atheist but also unabashedly critical of religion. But while Freud and his followers studied programmatically the topic of religion and religious ritual in the West, they have hardly stepped outside the anthropological and intellectual boundaries of Europe. For decades, Freud’s quasi-dismissal of Islam in Moses and Monotheism acted as a silent license for later European practitioners of psychoanalysis to thrust it into complete oblivion. After propounding that Islam is an “abbreviated repetition” of Judaism, which achieved over a short period of time “great worldly successes,” Freud famously surmised that, “the internal development of the new religion soon came to a stop, perhaps because it lacked the depth which had been caused in the Jewish case by the murder of the founder of their religion.”  Regardless of whether Freud was right or wrong about Islam, it was not his view of Islam that travelled to the Muslim world but his early theories of sexuality and dream interpretation, not to mention the Oedipus complex. Given the Judeo-Christian and Western points of reference of these theories, however, they did not resonate well with Muslims, and only further affirmed the reigning interwar assumptions that psychoanalysis is an exotic science, at loggerheads with Islamic sensibilities. This view did not change much until the late 1970s, even while it was somewhat moderated by Malik Badri in his book, The Dilemma of Muslim Psychologist.  Freud’s view of Islam had never really been taken seriously in the Muslim world until the aftermath of the Iranian revolution and the rise of political Islam. It was at this time that Fethi Benslama started his project of “psychoanalyzing Islam” in the same manner that Freud psychoanalyzed Judaism. Several intellectual historians are currently revisiting the archives to discern the nature of the (missed) encounter between psychoanalysis and the non-European world.  I seek to shed some light on the (missed) encounter between psychoanalysis and Islam, map the main theoretical issues that could help us account for that missed encounter, examine the project of Benslama and the generation of Maghrebi psychoanalysts in France whose focus has been almost completely hijacked, and narrowed for that matter, by the rise of Islamism and radical Jihad.

Readings: 1. Benslama – Islam in Light of Psychoanalysis | 2. Benslama – The Veil of Islam

• Workshop II: “Klein’s ‘Love, Guilt and Reparations’ and the Question of Reparations for African Americans”

Location: TBA
Facilitator: Jeff Prager (UCLA/NCP)
Description: Coming Soon
Readings: 1. Prager – Do Black Lives Matter?  A Psychoanalytic Exploration of Racism and American Resistance to Reparations

• Workshop III: “Affect and Permeable Bodies” (P.J. Bonavitacola, UCLA) – Location: TBA

DescriptionIn Teresa Brennan’s The Transmission of Affect, she argues against the notion that people are self-contained subjects with firm boundaries delimiting one’s emotions from another’s. Using evidence such as the phenomenon of projective identification, she draws attention to the fact that we as subjects are permeable, capable of absorbing one another’s affects. By incorporating affect as a language of communication, Brennan indicates that the boundaries between subject/object, mind/body, form/matter, activity/passivity, will/lack of agency become fluid.  In the chapter I propose to discuss, “The Education of the Senses,” Brennan posits that through the process of self-knowledge, the fruit of psychoanalysis, one can come to discern one’s true feelings underneath a salient “passionate” affect. She defines this stance of discernment as one of living-attention, comparison, and detachment. She juxtaposes discernment with judgment of another, which she sees as a disavowal of one’s affect and projection into another. Discernment allows for one to identify and resist one’s affect, or that of another. This process is entwined in cultural values and virtues as to how one should manage one’s affect, and what are “good” and “bad” affects.  I will argue that an understanding of her statement, “Paradoxically, feelings are sensory states produced by thoughts, while interruptive thoughts are produced by affects,” can help understand why in the psychoanalytic setting, a patient may gain insight, but still retain the symptoms: affects. Beyond informing the clinical setting, I also will argue that her theory of transmission of affect and the “illusion of self-containment” can enrich our understanding of Bion’s group relational observations such as scapegoating. Questions to consider will be: could adopting and disseminating a stance of discernment be used to establish and sustain community? How does language permit, or hinder one’s own understanding of affect? Would the development of a richer, more nuanced language of feeling and affect expand our capacity for self-knowledge? If so, how might an endeavor like that be undertaken?

Readings: 1. Brennan – The Education of the Senses

10:30am-12:00pm – PLENARY III: “Breaching Boundaries: A Psycho-Social Approach to the Trauma of Migration” (Vincent Rafis, Paris) – Location: Iris

DescriptionI will treat this year’s theme on both physical and psychological levels, by exploring how today, in a so-called “globalized” world, the crossing of geographical borders can dramatically lead to the breach of mental boundaries. In order to do so, I will come back to the experience I had as a theater director on the play I created in Paris in 2011, Eldorado dit le policier. This play addressed the life conditions of undocumented immigrants in both France and Europe since the 80’s, the ways institutionalized cruelty carried out by the political power manifests itself against them, and the forms of solidarity that European citizens may or may not show towards them. While doing my research and preparing my play for three years, I was authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enter internment camps for undocumented immigrants in Malta. There, I met with men, women and children who had been “physically and psychologically disintegrated” (to quote the priest working for an NGO which tried to help them daily) by the turmoil of their journey between Africa and Europe. This was the first time that I witnessed trauma at such a large scale, both individually and col- lectively, and it greatly influenced me not only to become a psychoanalyst, but also to empha- size the importance of considering socio-historical events for the comprehension of trauma. Calling upon this experience will lead me to talk more theoretically about the treatment of trauma in relation to contemporary catastrophes, and to make use of the concept of “death areas” (as borrowed from Italian psychiatrist Gaetano Benedetti) in order to examine those violent moments of political and social life during which history has collapsed, and subjects have been pulverized.

Readings: 1. Gaudielliere – Men Learn from History that Men Learn Nothing From History

12:00-1:00pm—Buffet Lunch

Location: U.C. I.P.C. reserved area of the main lodge dining room

1:30-2:45pm – Workshops IV, V, VI (Note: Workshops IV-VI are concurrent.  Choose which one you will attend).  Location of breakout sessions for workshops will be announced after the first Plenary.

• Workshop IV: “Embodied Resistances” (Shir Alon, UCLA; Melissa Melpignano, UCLA) – Location: TBA

DescriptionWhere there are boundaries, there is resistance – an attempt to expand the borders enforced by power, or to render them inoperative. The looming post-election political reality, in which so many of us and of our communities are threatened, forces us to reinvigorate the notion of civil resistance. After a number of years in which the progressive protest movement has been largely inoperative, what resistant resources can we turn to? And furthermore, what can psychoanalysis teach us about the limits and possibilities of resistance today?  We will suggest a constellation of visual/literary texts to explore how psychoanalysis offers us ways to comprehend and make sense of forms of resistance that often pass under the radar. We are interested in using a psychoanalytic framework to discuss two contemporary works from Israel/Palestine, which can be characterized as forms of non-emphatic, embodied resistance. The first is Touch (2003), a novel by Palestinian author Adania Shibli, narrated from the point of view of a young girl and providing a sensory, phenomenological, and non-affective archive of her experiences (short excerpt will be provided for group discussion). The second is About Falling, a performance project by Israeli choreographer Ehud Darash, which investigates the dynamics of falling bodies and their resilience in the midst of public spaces of demonstration or protest.  Through a discussion of the uneasy examples of Darash and Shibli’s works, we want to collectively explore how the Freudian notion of resistance can travel from the personal therapeutic place to social and cultural embodied practices.

Readings: 1. Freud – Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (selections) | 2. Shibli – Touch | 3. Plischke and Deufert – (Not) Being Able to Speak Oneself |  4. Martin – Performance as Political Act (Excerpt) | 5. Derrida – Resistances (Supplementary) | 6. Deleuze and Uhlmann – The Exhausted (Supplementary)

• Workshop V: “No Place Like Home: The Problem and Promise of the Home Psychotherapy Office” (Mario Prietto, Los Angeles) – Location: TBA

DescriptionThis workshop invites discussion about the uniqueness of psychotherapy in home offices. Dr. Prietto, a home office practitioner and researcher of the phenomenon, brings a spirit of inquiry informed by the socio-culutural historical context of home offices, an extensive literature review including archetypal psychology (the ancient Greek goddess Hestia), and in-depth explorations of seven distinct therapists’ home offices. At this meeting, there are psychoanalysts and therapists who practice in offices based in their personal homes. If they do not now, many have at one point been in treatment in someone’s home office, or at least known peers and mentors who have worked in a home office. How many people of our healing professions engage with each other about this home office experience, though? Within the context of this year’s meeting theme, it can be invigorating to the practice of our art to examine the home office setting from multiple perspectives. After completing doctoral research on the topic, I continue to be curious about how my own chosen path of workplace is unique, quotidian, or even deviant, in the eyes of other therapists and patients, and new questions continue to arise, such as:  Do we, the home office practitioners, look at the home office practice critically enough to benefit the field of psychotherapy — Or are we operating selfishly out of our own convenience? What is there at home which enters into the work – when is this a threat and how can it be an opportunity? What in the work is supported or catalyzed by being close to the home? When are possible boundary crossings dangerous violations and when are they moments of true unconscious connection, inspiration, deepening of work? Are home office practitioners of psychotherapy the only people who can legitimately explore these questions, or can any analyst who explores how “home” plays in their work enrich the possibilities of home-office work?  How can an archetypal psychological perspective, aided by the ancient Greek goddess Hestia help us frame this phenomenon of hospitality, analytic frame, boundaries, and focus?

Readings: 1. Prietto – No Place Like Home: The Problem and Promise of the Home Psychotherapy Office (Excerpt)

• Workshop VI: “The Psychoanalytic Frame as Repository for the ‘Ghost World’ of Psychoanalysis” (Tom Helscher, LAISPS) – Location: TBA

 DescriptionIn his pioneering work “The psycho-analysis of the psycho-analytic frame” (1967),  Jose Bleger describes the way in which the frame serves as the necessary repository for an early experience of undifferentiation.  Drawing on Winnicott and Bion, Bleger describes how the non-process elements of the frame serve as a kind of scaffolding for what he describes as an early form of the ego – what he describes as the ‘meta-ego’ – which forms the matrix out of which the ego proper emerges.  Thomas Ogden’s ‘autistic contiguous position’ offers a phenomenological description of the ongoing functioning of this aspect of the personality, and difficulties with the frame represent disturbances in the earliest stages of mind/body self/other development that require careful and sensitive handling. In this session, we will explore Giuseppe Civitarese’s post-modern and intersubjective  revision of Bleger’s theories and examine how specific aspects of the psychoanalytic frame function as the site where early infantile trauma gets expressed and can be worked through in the psychoanalytic field with the analyst.

Readings: 1. Bleger – Psycho-Analysis of the Psycho-Analytic Frame | 2. Civitarese – The Symbiotic Bond and the Setting

3:00-4:00pm—Business Meeting

Location: TBA
Facilitators:  Jeff Prager Ph.D
Description: UCNCPIPC Business Meeting and planning for next year’s theme. All welcome to attend!


5:30-6:00pm—Reception – wine and cheese

Location: the Tavern (off the main lodge dining room)


Location: U.C. I.P.C. reserved area of the main lodge dining room

7:45-10:00pm – PLENARY III, FILM SCREENING:  Beasts of the Southern Wild, 93 mins. (Apurvah Shah, NCP) – Location: Alumni Room

Description: Viewing and discussion of psychoanalytic themes in Beasts of the Southern Wild (general information on the film is available here).

10:00-12:00pm—Open Mic and Social Hour

Location: Alumni Room
Facilitator: Jamey Hecht
Description: Impromptu performances and readings

SUNDAY, April 2


Location:  U.C. I.P.C. reserved area of the main lodge dining room

8:45-10:00am – PLENARY IV: “Aphrodite’s Shadow: Dreaming A Common Skin” (Karen Beard, LAISPS) – Location: Iris

DescriptionPsychoanalysis has turned its attention lately to the way the mind attempts to shape the feelings of the body into a coherent sense of self.  Our latest thinking about the link between the body and the development of a ‘feeling mind’ describes it as an intersubjective experience created in the earliest skin to skin relating between mother and baby and how the deficiencies of the skin ego (Bick, 1968) are reflected in psychosomatic symptoms, as well the capacity to inhabit, enjoy, and think about one’s body.  Psychoanalytic work in these pre-verbal areas of the unrepressed unconscious often takes place in the analyst’s somatic countertransference and reverie.  The analyst’s body is the site for the working through of early developmental failures as a sensorial acceptance of the exiled bodily experience of the patient (Lombardi, 2011, Civitarese, 2013).  A detailed case analysis is presented in which the analyst creates a ‘common skin’ (Anzieu, 1989) with a woman patient through tolerating projections onto and into the analyst’s body.  Holding and thinking through the somatic countertransference provides the screen against which the patient can dream and begin to know about the perceived rejection of her femininity by her mother.

Readings:  1. Lemma – The Body of the Analyst and the Analytic Setting

10:15-11:30am – PLENARY V: “Out of Bounds: Psychoanalysis in Image and Sound (Matthew Nesvet, UCD) – Location: Iris

DescriptionThroughout its history, psychoanalysis has both entangled itself in the domestic life of the analyst’s home and sought to inhabit new spaces outside the domestic setting. From the free psychoanalytic clinics that analysts created in the wake of the Russian revolution and the destruction of the First World War across Europe (Danto 2005), to the establishment of Harlem’s Lafargue Clinic (Stweart 2013; Mendes 2015), psychoanalysis has continuously sought to reinvent itself beyond the boundaries of middle class domesticity. When Mark Solms initiated a psychoanalytic unearthing of the material history of black labor on his family farm in post-apartheid South Africa, and judges collectors and priests adapted psychoanalysis to the practices of their early twentieth century Mexican courtrooms, monasteries and visual archives, these figures both sought to reinvent psychoanalysis and participated in one of its most enduring traditions: shifting its field of practice from the couch and clinic to spaces otherwise imagined as exterior to the clinical field.  I will engage retreat attendees on the possibilities of drawing on psychoanalysis to produce visual images and sound recordings. To what extent can these constitute a part of psychoanalytic practice? How might making and exhibiting visual works and podcasts help forge new spaces and publics for psychoanalytic processes to attend to? And how can visual works and podcasts make a contemporary contribution to a longer tradition of visualizing and recording psychoanalytic practices? Bettina von Zwehl, a London-based German visual artist and portraitist whose most recent work, Invitation to Frequent the Shadows (2016) appeared this year at the Freud Museum in London, will speak of her recent contribution to the permanent collection of the museum and her installation in the Anna Freud room.

Readings:  1. No Assigned Readings

11:30-12:00pm – Closing Thoughts 

12:00-1:00pm – Buffet and Cookout Lunch / Checkout

Location: deck of the main lodge dining room (in bad weather, the reserved area inside)

 NB: Check-in Fri. begins about 1:30 p.m. The main lodge is locked at about 2:30 p.m. on Sun.