President’s Message

by Michael Donner, PhD

The end of the old and the approach of the new year is for me a time for pause and reflection. Magazines and websites post their top 10 and “best of” lists and many people are thinking about their New Years resolutions. As I reflect on the year, I find myself thinking a great deal about what we have gained and especially who we have lost.

Just this month, SFCP lost three members, Graeme Hanson, Samuel Marty and Robert Wallerstein. Each had been involved in SFCP in vary-ing ways, serving us and psychoanalysis through leadership, teaching, their intellect, leadership, teaching, and inspiration. Robert Wallerstein was an internationally renowned figure who inspired so many of us to seek the “Common Ground” of psychoanalysis, encouraging us to move away from theoretical isolation and consider what we share. Known and beloved for his wisdom, judgment and scholarship, his passing is a loss to so many in our field.


Greetings and Happy New Year from Beth and the Staff

By Beth Schecter, Interim Executive Director

I always love the New Year since it feels like we get a chance for a fresh start. Of course I continue to look at how SFCP is doing organizationally and reporting my findings to the board. I feel we are making progress on many things, including getting more organized with our processes and finances. Here are some of the things we are working on that I wanted you to know.

Safety and Security: We continue to look carefully at the building for safety and security. The neighborhood is going through major changes with construction everywhere. The Department of Public Works has reported to us that the improvements on the street are considered to be an ”all inclusive” project including sewer line and infrastructure replacement, curb lamp replacement, tree landscaping, pavement renovation, re-surfacing the road and general beautification of the street. This creates some inconvenience and mess but luckily it is all to be completed by the end of February! If you have any questions or concerns, please let Lynda know as she is in touch with the city.


Visiting Professor Week in Review:
Presentation and discussion of an Infant Observation with Visiting Professor Virginia Ungar

by Jan Baeuerlen, MD and Tina Lapides, LCSW

Dr. Ungar described the Tavistock Infant Observation method developed by Esther Bick in the 1940s. This method of observation includes weekly observation and weekly group meetings in which 5 or 6 members each present the observations they have done in the past week.

After that, detailed notes from the observation of a 7 month old infant were presented by Greg Villalba, who had been observing her weekly in her family since she was born. He read through his detailed written process notes from the observation just as he would have in a regular Infant Observation group. The participants, along with Dr. Ungar, discussed what he had noticed of the baby, the mother, and his own reactions, in order to try to understand what was happening in the mind of the infant at that time.

 


Visiting Professor Week in Review:
Non-verbal material and representability in the analytic session

By Eric Glassgold, MD, Co-Chair Visiting Professor committee

On Monday evening of Visiting Professor week (November 10, 2014), Virginia Ungar gave a paper titled “Non-verbal material and representability in the analytic session.” She began the paper by referring to the work of figurability by Cesar and Sara Botella, two Parisian analysts working with traumatized children who manifest delays or arrests in the development of the capacity for symbolization.

In their book, The Work of Psychic Figurability: Mental States without Representation, the Botellas follow markers of figurability to trace the forward movement of the clinical process. Figurability, Dr Ungar explained, is a term Freud originally used to characterize a function of the dream-work and specifically the capacity to represent thoughts through visual images.

Dr. Ungar noted further that the Botellas “place the emphasis on the psychic work of the analyst—work which is one of formal regression and of figurability—in order to access the lackings of the patient” that cannot otherwise be represented.

 


Introductory remarks for “A Day with Virginia Ungar”

By Beth Steinberg, Ph.D., Chair, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Education Division

Good morning. I’m Beth Steinberg, Chair of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Education Division here at the SFCP, and I want to welcome you all to today’s very special event, featuring Dr. Virginia Ungar, our 2014 Visiting Professor.

Before turning the podium over to Catherine Mallouh, who will introduce our featured guest, I’d like to tell you about some major developments here at the Center. First I need to provide a bit of background, so I’ll ask you to bear with me.

In his 1967 article ‘Psychoanalysis as a Human Activity’, Dr. Ungar’s former supervisor Donald Meltzer asked if it’s possible for psychoanalytic clinicians to endure the strain of our work without suffering serious psychic damage. (I know we all wonder this from time to time.) He wrote that to prevent such damage, let alone to survive and grow, we must aspire to a level of training and psychic fitness comparable to a competitive athlete, a professional musician, or a racehorse. He added that the demands of our work exceed the protective capacities of our own treatments and self-analysis, and this means that our fitness requires something more -- something that can only come from our professional community and institutions in the form of supervision, scientific exchange and a supportive community of peers.

 

 


A Tribute to Robert Wallerstein

by Herbert J. Weiner, PhD, MSW

I have been a student of psychoanalysis for nearly 50 years, and was always impressed by the balanced, systematic presentations that Bob made. He was fair to all schools and weighed them rigorously without any axe to grind. His thinking and logical voice outlasted the physical frailties of age.

Personally, he was always cordial and friendly, even though I am unlicensed. He was never a snob and treated me as a colleague.

In essence, he was a model psychoanalyst and credit to the profession.

While we are greatly saddened at his passing, he has left a path that we must follow in honor of his memory.

 


A Day With Virginia Ungar

by Catherine Mallouh, MD, Chair, Day With committee

A Day With Virginia Ungar was held at SFCP on November 15, 2014 as part of the Visiting Professor week. The introduction to her work given on the Day by the moderator, Catherine Mallouh, M.D., follows here, and a description of the proceedings of
the day.

The richness of Virginia Ungar’s work lies in the depth of her study of both human development and analytic theory and how she makes use of both in her clinical work. Ranging from infant observation to the turmoil of adolescence to analytic work with adults, Dr. Ungar conveys an understanding of the complexity of the inner world, as she recognizes the different developmental levels of the self who comes for treatment. In her paper, “The analyst at work, a contemporary child-case discussion,” 5-year-old Georgie, in the first meeting, asks his analyst if babies with worries came to see her. Dr. Ungar, in her discussion of the case, describes his deeper question as, “Are you going to be able to connect with my baby self?” This profound understanding informs how the patient and the material will be thought about, understood, and reacted to by the analyst. She hears this same deeper question in her work with patients of all developmental levels, including adults. It is evident that she is a clinician through and through, making her work with patients central to her psychoanalytic ideas and teaching.

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