International Psychoanalysis 2019-03-14 14:03:11

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NYPSI’s 1036th Scientific Program Meeting:  Thinking Psychoanalytically (and Historically) about the State of the Nation: 1939, 2019 with presenter Elizabeth Lunbeck, Ph.D. and discussant Ben Kafka, Ph.D.
Thinking Psychoanalytically (and Historically) about the State of the Nation: 1939, 2019
Presenter: Elizabeth Lunbeck, Ph.D. Discussant: Ben Kafka, Ph.D.
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 | 8:00 – 10:00 pm New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute 247 East 82nd Street, NYC (btwn 2nd and 3rd Aves) $25 – General Admission $15 – Student Admission (non-NYPSI) No charge for NYPSI members and students

Register HERE, visit or call 212.879.6900
Many have observed that emotion has increasingly come to dominate in the realm of politics, eclipsing rationality, nurturing violence, and threatening democratic forms of governance around the globe.  Historians in particular have sounded the alarm, invoking the catastrophic consequences of democracy’s dismantling in the 1930s to caution against complacency.  In this presentation, I look at the writings of the 1930s and 1940s psychoanalysts who witnessed  Europe’s embrace of fascism.  I show that concepts rooted in the idiom of narcissism (among them omnipotence, grandiosity, and magical thinking; humiliation, helplessness, and insecurity) and drawn from psychoanalysis’s disavowed originary practices (such as hypnosis and suggestion) figured centrally in their understandings of their own historical moment.  I suggest that their focus on feelings and emotions rather than on instinctual drives was lost to American psychoanalysis in the postwar period, rendering it phenomenologically impoverished, and conclude by arguing that their conceptualization of narcissism as a coherent structure of feeling offers us a powerful tool with which to understand the shocks and dislocations of the present.  If, as has been suggested, the “right to feel” is now consensually recognized in the political sphere, then current analytic understandings of narcissism are critical to grasping its complexities and power.

2 CME/CE credits offered.

Reading of Interest:
1. Langhamer, C. (2016).  An archive of feeling?  Mass observation and the mid-century moment. Insights, 9.
2. Pick, D. (2009).  ‘In pursuit of the Nazi mind?’  The deployment of psychoanalysis in the Allied struggle against Germany.  Psychoanalysis and History, 11: 137-157.3. Post, J. M. (2014).  Dreams of glory:  Narcissism and politics.  Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 34: 475-485.

Elizabeth Lunbeck, Ph.D., is a professor in the department of the history of science at Harvard University and the author of several prize-winning books, most recently The Americanization of Narcissism (Harvard, 2014).  She is Academic Associate Member of APsaA and BPSI, and holds an MA in counseling psychology.

Ben Kafka, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU. He is also an advanced candidate at IPTAR, and sees patients in private practice downtown. He has been a member of the School of Social Science of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton; Fellow and Chair of the Executive Committee of the New York Institute for the Humanities; and a Rita Frankiel Memorial Fellow of the Melanie Klein Trust. He is the author of The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork (2012) as well as a number of articles, essays, and reviews. He is currently working on a book about gaslighting, double binds, folies-à-deux, and other forms of induced insanity.

Lois Oppenheim, PhD,
Chair of Scientific Program Committee

Educational Objectives
Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:
1. Discuss the contributions of 1930s and 1940s analysts to understandings of mass followership in non-democratic societies;
2. Explain the differences between feelings and emotions on the one hand and apparatuses and energic cathexes on the other as frameworks for understanding individuals’ psychologies;
3. Explain the ways in which leaders can mobilize narcissism to connect to their followers.


This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint providership of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of (2) AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Important disclosure information for all learners

None of the planners and presenters of this CME program have any relevant financial relationships to disclose.


New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education programs for psychologists. New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute maintains responsibility for this program and its content.


None of the planners or presenters of this CE program has any relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Social Workers

New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0317.

Persons with disabilities

The building is wheelchair accessible and has an elevator. Please notify the registrar in advance if you require accommodations.


247 East 82nd Street, NY, NY 10028 | 212.879.6900 |

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