Psychoanalysis, Trauma, and Community: History and Contemporary Reappraisals, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Psychoanalysis, Trauma, and Community

History and Contemporary Reappraisals, 1st Edition

Edited by Judith L. Alpert, Elizabeth R. Goren


262 pages

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Trauma is one of the hottest contemporary topics within psychoanalysis, whilst many psychoanalysts are increasingly interested in applying their skills outside the traditional setting of the consulting room, especially in response to disasters, wars and serious social issues. Psychoanalysis, Trauma, and Community seeks to correct the misconceptions of what analysts do and how they do it and debunk the stereotype of psychoanalysts stuck in their offices plying their wares on the worried well.

Bringing together a group of eminent contributors, this volume considers how psychoanalysis may best be expanded to help in social and community settings, to understand these wider issues from a psychoanalytic perspective, and provide clear clinical guidance and clinical examples of how best to work in a wide variety of non-traditional ways. The innovative work featured includes taking testimony, in-situ interviewing, documentary film-making, social activism, ethnic and political conflict mediation, on-site workshops as well as direct clinical interventions. The reader is taken from the Holocaust, Hiroshima and the Vietnam War to the Balkan Wars and Palestinian-Israeli conflict, from the political violence of the disappeared in Argentina to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, and from chronic conditions of poverty in India to racism in the post-Jim Crow South.

Psychoanalysis, Trauma, and Community will appeal to psychoanalysts, psychoanalytic psychotherapists and anyone studying on the increasing number of trauma courses being given today in universities. Lay readers with an interest in the traumatic fallout as a result of chronic conditions or the myriad disasters that occur globally will find this book illuminating. For the non-specialist mental health professional, including non-analytic psychotherapists, social workers and others who work in the community, this book offers concrete advice on dealing with intervention issues such as entry and integration, as well as on management of multiple and complex trauma in a non-clinical setting.


"The essays here expand the boundaries of psychoanalysis, applying its principles to social problems and intelligent activism while aptly demonstrating the profound applicability of our field to the socio-cultural milieu. A broad spectrum of mass trauma–including but not limited to the Holocaust, Hurricane Katrina, and September 11th–is attended to by courageous analysts who understand that their vocation must move them beyond the office walls. In the alternative tradition of Harry Stack Sullivan and Robert J. Lifton, this powerful and highly recommended volume importantly reminds us that psychoanalytic principles and practice can and should reach far outside the usual clinical frame."-Danielle Knafo, Author, Living with Terror, Working with Trauma: A Clinician’s Handbook.

"Psychoanalysis, Trauma and Community is essential reading for all citizen-psychoanalysts, as we meet a critical juncture in history. Confronting the effects of global violence, hatred, poverty, and oppression, we are being called by social justice. How do we apply analytic premises outside the office? The authors in this volume re-frame analytic theory, offering us a compelling guide and source of inspiration and hope."-Sue Grand, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis; faculty, National Institute for the Psychotherapies; faculty, the Mitchell Center for Relational Psychoanalysis and visiting scholar, the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California.

Table of Contents

Foreword Nina K. Thomas

Introduction: Expanding our Analytic Identity: The Inclusion of a Larger Social Perspective Judith L. Alpert, Elizabeth R. Goren, & Andrea Rihm

Part I. Receiving Testimony

  1. Reestablishing the internal "Thou" in testimony of trauma Dori Laub
  2. Dwelling at the Thresholds: Witnesses to Historical Trauma Across Concentric Fields Judy Roth
  3. Part II. Therapeutic Encounters Outside the Frame

  4. The multiple traumas of Hurricane Katrina as witnessed by a psychoanalytic first responder Laurel Bass Wagner
  5. Some Dark Reality: A community develops skills to cope with shared trauma Ghislaine Boulanger
  6. Psychoanalysis in and out of the office Neil Altman
  7. Part III. Facilitating Collective Mourning

  8. Intervention strategies for addressing collective trauma: Healing communities ravaged by racial strife Ricardo C. Ainslie
  9. Beyond "Thank You for Your Service": The Creation of Post-War Veteran/Non-Veteran Collaborative Mourning Spaces Donna Bassin
  10. Large-Group Identity and Massive Trauma Vamik D. Volkan
  11. Part IV. Psychoanalytic Scholarship and Activism

  12. The analyst as witness, historian and activist: A conversation with Robert Jay Lifton Elizabeth R. Goren & Judith L. Alpert
  13. My Fulbright Journey Mary-Joan Gerson
  14. Social trauma, politics and psychoanalysis: A personal narrative Nancy Caro Hollander
  15. Institutional Betrayal and the Case of the American Psychological Association: The Role of Psychoanalysts and Psychoanalysis in Challenging It Elizabeth Hegeman
  16. Robert Jay Lifton: A Witness and Prophet Who Feels Deeply and Assaults our Minds Lewis Aron

Conclusion: Psychoanalysis, Trauma & Community: Lessons Learned Alison Lake, Elizabeth R. Goren, & Judith L. Alpert

About the Editors

Judith L. Alpert, Ph.D., is Professor and Clinical Consultant at New York University’s Postdoctoral Program in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. She is also Professor of Applied Psychology and former Co-Director of the Trauma and Violence Transdisciplinary Studies Program at NYU, as well as maintaining private practice in New York.

Elizabeth Goren Ph.D., is Adjunct Clinical Professor at New York University and Clinical Consultant in NYU’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis and Pace University. She is also in private practice in New York.

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health