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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

Rereading: A Panel Discussion

George Rosenwald, Ph.D
Howard Shevrin, Ph.D
Bill Shuter, Ph.D

When reading a novel, we begin with the earlier chapters and end with the later ones. But if we read the novel again, we read the earlier chapters after having previously read the later ones and revise our initial reading. A comparable activity can be observed in history, in the precedents of common law, in theology, and in the “invention” of traditions. In psychoanalysis, we never get a "first reading" of a life; we begin with the present life and grope our way back to its sources. The patient's past life is always apprehended from the vantage point of its present state. (In second analyses, not only the past, but also our earlier apprehension of the past, are approached from the perspective of a newer present.)

Our panel will first consider the psychology of re-reading, revisiting, and revising texts and other significant experiences. Why, how, and to what ends do we deliberately return to past experiences? We will then examine how such returns are similar to or different from experiencing a second psychoanalysis. What happens uniquely in these revisitations that differs from our first experiences? Can we ever say that the past stays put, waiting for us to find it, or is the past always the problematic construction created by the perspective of a new present vantage point? Textual illustrations, everyday observations, clinical examples, and research findings will be brought to bear on these questions.

Saturday, March 6, 12:30-3:00
4448 East Hall
Ann Arbor, Michigan (NW corner of Church and South University)

Presented by the Academic Council of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society and the Association for Psychoanalytic Thought