Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thriving in Turbulent Times: How Relevant is Psychoanalysis Today?

Thriving in Turbulent Times:

How Relevant is Psychoanalysis Today?

National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis Conference October 24, 2009

Excerpt from the Gradiva Awards Banquet, by Erel Shalit, delivered by Dr. Jeffrey Werden

Times are, indeed, turbulent; there is crisis and uncertainty, as well as global processes of social, psychological and ecological change. We do not know where they will lead, but an analytical approach to the psyche may shed light on those dark corners in which shadowy, otherwise unaccounted for aspects of progress that elude our conscious vision, thrive in hiding. In our post-modern condition, the real is being replaced by the virtual, and the virtual is taking on its own autonomous reality. In this present condition of increasing non-locality and transiency, an erosion of the real, as the French philosopher Baudrillard has said, is taking place. By association we centrifugally 'flee the center' – thus, Freud suggested free association as a technique to flee the bonds of ego consciousness. The freer our associations, the more able we are to break away from the rigidities and the imperatives of collective consciousness. Yet, as we associatively follow the clues into the endlessness of cyberspace, deconstructing the structures of convention, we may get lost, like the Flying Dutchman, as we crisscross the World Wide Waters, at a speed that often leaves no time for digestion – which is so essential, if we are to turn the food of living experience into soul-matter. Our condition is becoming increasingly transient, as we can discern in the traits of the Transient Personality - the non-locality and temporality of airports, as Temples of Transiency, assuage his restlessness and suit him better than being-in-therapy and holding on to the analytical relationship. In his imperative book Technopoly, Neal Postman sadly concludes that “the average psychotherapist … barely has even superficial knowledge of literature, philosophy, social history, art, religion, and biology, and is not expected to have such knowledge.” In a world in which practically everything can be copied and indiscreetly forwarded, it may seem as if psychoanalysis is obsolete, but, in fact, this may precisely be the time where it, psychoanalysis, can possibly serve as a liaison between the world of poets – who, as Freud said, are apt to know a whole host of things between heaven and earth of which our philosophy has not yet let us dream – between the world of poets and the poetry of one's individual soul, a meeting taking place, discretely and authentically, in the analytical relationship. I thank you for having honored me by nominating my book for the Gradiva Award.

Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path and his previously published book The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at +1-831-238-7799

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