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Farmington Hills: 248 851-3380 |  Ann Arbor: 734 213-3399

Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

Human Goodness: Its Relationship to Psychoanalytic Theory and Technique

Presenter: Salman Ahktar, M.D. (Philadelphia)
Discussant: TBA

Saturday, March 23, 2013
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Farmington Hills

Practice Gap/Need: We often hear different phrases referring to someone’s goodness, a good person, a good supervisor but what do we mean when we refer to someone’s goodness? How do we recognize and differentiate goodness? There are at least 13 different concepts within the word good, including unconscious ideas of what a good person is that will be elucidated and discussed. Dr. Akhtar’s presentation will give attention to everyday and clinical aspects of human kindness. Defining the historical and contemporary understandings of human kindness is important to our recognition of human kindness in both the patient and the analyst. How do we distinguish between the human kindness that is inherent in analytic technique and the forms of human kindness afforded by caretakers and others? What occurs when this distinction becomes blurred in the analytic setting? Are there times when we need to consider all the forms of human kindness, and how human kindness can both help a person develop and hinder their development? Colloquial and clinical examples will be used to elucidate the differing ways we have come to understand and differentiate human kindness from masochism and other pathological solutions.

After attending this presentation, participants should be able to:
1) Recognize and identify different forms of human goodness in their clinical work.
2) Differentiate human goodness from masochistic submission and other pathological solutions.
3) See the impact of various schools of analytic thinking on our contemporary attitudes toward human kindness within the analytic setting.
4) Distinguish between human kindness and good caretakers from the human kindness that is demonstrated by maintaining a therapeutic attitude.

About the presenter: Salman Akhtar, M.D. is Professor of Psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College and Training and Supervising Analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia and a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Psychoanalysts. Dr. Akhtar is an engaging speaker and celebrated writer with over 300 scientific publications.

Suggested Readings for Visiting Professor Program:

Akhtar, S. (2002). Forgiveness. Psychoanal. Q., 71:175-212.
Hagman, G. (2000). The analysts relation to the good. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 28: 63-82.
Klein, M. (1957). Envy and gratitude. In: Envy and Gratitude and Other Works— 1946-1963 (pp. 176-235). New York: Free Press, 1975.
Schafer, R. (2002). Defences against goodness. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 71: 5-20.

Optional Background Readings:

Akhtar, S. (2000). The Shy Narcissist. Changing Ideas In A Changing World: The Revolution in Psychoanalysis. Essays in Honour of Arnold Cooper, 111-119.
Akhtar, S. (1996). “Someday . . ” and “If Only . . ” Fantasies: Pathological Optimism And Inordinate Nostalgia As Related Forms Of Idealization. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:723-753.
Freud, S. (1916-1917). Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. S.E., 15-16. London: Hogarth.
Freud, S. (1920g). Beyond the Pleasure Principle. S.E., 18: 7-64. London: Hogarth.
Klein, M. (1937). Love, guilt, and reparation. In: Love, Guilt and Reparation and Other Works— 1921-1945 (pp. 306-343). New York: Free Press, 1975.
Winnicott, D. W. (1960). Ego distortion in terms of true and false self. In: Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment (pp. 140-152). New York: International Universities Press, 1965.