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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

Remembering the Female Body When Our Patients Talk to Us

Rosemary Balsam, M.D. (Connecticut)
Training and Supervising Analyst, Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis

Discussant: Sally Rosenberg, D.O.
Training and Supervising Analyst, Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute

Saturday, March 24, 2012
2:00 - 4:00 PM
2 CME and CE Credit Hours
Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute, 32841 Middlebelt Rd., Farmington Hills


Practice Gap/Need: It would seem that psychoanalysts would never overlook patients' bodies, given the major role that sexuality played in Freud's theories. Yet, it is surprising how little attention is paid to the actual body and its import in our field.

This presentation will focus on the female body in order to describe how this lack of inclusion has incurred, the historical and contemporary significance of this, and its ultimate importance for our analytic work. Evidence of and reasons for the downplayed female body in the analyst's presence will be reviewed and explored. This will involve a brief tour of analytic and cultural thinking about the body through the eyes of Freud, Klein, and Kohut, and the influence of the postmodern turn in relational theory. Two short case vignettes will be offered to demonstrate oblique and direct references to the body within sessions early in treatment, with a consideration of the subsequent trajectory of their meanings.

After attending this presentation, participants should be able to:
1) Recognize how easy it is to overlook the bodies of patients, and their experiences of them.
2) To use the female body as an example of this absence and to learn the history of this phenomenon.
3) To see the impact of various schools of analytic thinking on our contemporary attitudes to our patients' bodies, and to encourage awareness of the body's relevance to the psyche.

About the presenter:
Dr. Balsam is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale Medical School, staff psychiatrist at the Dept. of Student Mental Health and Counseling at Yale University, and a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis. She has particular interest in issues of late adolescence and gender, and has published widely on these topics, gaining prizes for her papers. She is co-editor of the Book Review Section of JAPA. Her current book in press is: Women's Bodies in Psychoanalysis.