Our annual conference at the UCLA Lake Arrowhead Conference Center will be held on March 6-8, 2020. As always, we’ll be convening at the lovely UCLA Lake Arrowhead Conference Center and Resort in the mountains of southern California. The retreat atmosphere, the beautiful surroundings, the comfortable cabins, and the delicious meals always make for a wonderful conference.
The theme of this year’s conference is:
The Imperiled Self: Explorations in the Psychic Life of Violence
It is clearly not easy for men to give up the satisfaction of this inclination to aggression. They do not feel comfortable without it. (Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents)
The theme of this year’s conference is The Imperiled Self: Explorations in the Psychic Life of Violence.
We take as our starting point Freud’s seminal observations regarding our complex relationship to both our own aggressivity and that which we encounter in the social world. The self is “imperiled” by aggression and violence in two ways: first by the self’s own aggressivity, renounced and “turned inward,” then surveilled and punished by a phantasy-inflected internalized aggressor; and second, by the distorted “return” of projected fear, aggression, and hate, which—once externalized—yield a reality experienced as threatening, persecutory, and dangerous.
As Freud discussed in the Schreber Case (1911), disavowed aggression is often projected into the external world, yielding an interpersonal realm then experienced as threatening and persecutory—“the proposition ‘I hate him’ becomes transformed by projection into another one: ‘He hates (persecutes) me, which will justify me in hating him.’ Somewhat paradoxically, he notes, through such fantasies of persecution “the human subject has recaptured a relation, and often a very intense one, to the people and things in his world, even though the relation is a hostile one now…” (Freud 1911:71). Conversely, as developed in his theory of Oedipal development, the inhibition of one’s own aggression, combined with the internalization of the moral norms of the social order gives rise to the punishing super-ego, whose “sadistic” moral injunctions transform the ego into a subservient masochistic partner (Freud 1924).
We conceive of both “violence” and “psychic life” in a broad manner. Violence is here understood to be a phenomenon manifesting at various levels, and in various forms: intrapsychic violence (aggressive drives, hate, envy, etc.); direct interpersonal violence (warfare, violence, abuse, racism); as well the more diffuse forms of institutionalized “structural violence” (systemic forms of oppression, marginalization, and disenfranchisement) that characterize much of our contemporary condition. Our conception of “psychic life” similarly encompasses both the intrapsychic and interpersonal origins of “violence” (for instance, the projective processes and group identifications underlying racism and xenophobia) and individual and collective psychic responses to it (internalization, identification, splitting, trauma, etc.).
The goal of the weekend is to stimulate a rethinking of these foundational psychoanalytic understandings of aggression, violence, and danger in light of more contemporary clinical and social theory. As always, the weekend will be structured around several broad plenary sessions, accompanied by dozen or so more focused discussion sessions on selected readings. Through a program of clinical and theoretical sessions, we will explore the complex two-way traffic between the psychic and the social that constitutes both the psychic life of violence and the experience of the “imperiled self.”
Possible workshop sessions, both clinical and applied, might include:
• Warfare, PTSD, and moral injury
• Hate in the countertransference
• Post-colonialism and its psychic effects
• Violence, aggression, and sadism in phantasy life
• Psychic effects of poverty, marginalization, and social exclusion
• Traumatic reenactment in the therapeutic dyad
• Psychoanalytic approaches to racism, xenophobia, and “othering”
• The psychic afterlife of violence (hauntology, trauma, the return of the repressed)
• Social and psychic reparative processes (recognition, reconciliation, forgiveness)
• The psychodynamics of group identifications
• The aggression of the analyst
• The death instinct in psychic social life
• Intrapsychic violence and the primitive defenses
• Traumatic reenactments in analsysis
• And others…
If you have ideas for a reading or two that would contribute to the weekend’s theme, please consider proposing a discussion session! The call for session proposals will be out soon.
Jeff Prager and Kevin Groark (Co-Directors)
University of California/New Center for Psychoanlysis Interdisiciplinary Psychoanalytic Consortium (UC-NCP IPC)
NOTE: Please consider registering early so we have a better idea of attendance, how many rooms to hold, and how many graduate students we will be able to accommodate. I also want to encourage you to spread the word about UCNCPIPC, and encourage others who have not attended in the past to consider doing so.