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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

Mum's the Word: Are We Becoming Silent on Masturbation?

Presenter:  Denia Barrett, M.S.W. (Cleveland, OH)
Psychoanalyst, President of the Association for Child Psychoanalysis

Discussant:  Don Spivak, M.D.
Lecturer, Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute

Saturday, February 12, 2011
2:00 – 4:00 pm
2 CME and CE Credit Hours

NOTE LOCATION: Depression Center, Rachel Upjohn Building, 4250 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor (south-east corner of Plymouth and Earhart Road on the U-M Health System’s East Medical Campus, just east of US-23. Enter via back or south door)

This paper explores the trend in contemporary child analytic technique away from addressing material related to masturbation. The author invites reconsideration of the value of timely, tactful exploration of a child’s impulses, fantasies, and related conflicts. The analyst’s resistances to open discussion of these are addressed, along with the limiting effect this may have on the patient feeling fully understood. Clinical examples are provided of analytic work with children from prelatency through preadolescence, whose symptoms range from neurotic conflict to more severe and early disturbances.

This presentation will help participants:
1. Identify some typical ways in which child patients signal conflict over masturbatory urges and practices and a readiness to discuss these in therapy.
2. Apply technical interventions illustrated by the clinical material to their own practice.
3. Recognize resistances that can interfere with empathic open discussion and mastery of bodily pleasures.

About the presenter: Denia Barrett is the current President of the Association for Child Psychoanalysis and a founding member of the Alliance for Psychoanalytic Schools. She served as editor-in-chief of the journal Child Analysis: Clinical, Theoretical, and Applied from 1996 to 2010 and is a current member of the editorial board of The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. The importance of writing about clinical work in order to preserve psychoanalysis and inspire new practitioners is one of her longstanding interests.