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Sperber, E. Braun, W. Gentile, J. Layton, L. Mclain, T. Morgan, T.D. Shedler, J. Stolorow, R.D. (2015). Introduction to the Manifesto Fest, or a Manifesto on Manifestos. DIVISION/Rev., 13:25-31.

(2015). DIVISION/Review, 13:25-31

Introduction to the Manifesto Fest, or a Manifesto on Manifestos

Esther Sperber, William Braun, Jill Gentile, Ph.D., Lynne Layton, Tiffany Mclain, Tracy D. Morgan, Jonathan Shedler, Ph.D., Esther Sperber and Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D.


At the 2015 Division 39 Spring Meeting, a group of eight therapists presented manifestos in an attempt to remind themselves, and the audience, why they love psychoanalysis and to explore how this this excitement could be shared with a wider world. Psychoanalysis fosters a particular way of understanding the world: childhood, love, racism, obesity, art-topics that fill the printed papers and online newsfeeds.

While I am not nostalgic for that time, half a century ago, when psychoanalysis had a hegemonic voice, I am also frustrated with the new status quo in which analysts spend an inspiring and frustrating amount of time writing for one another, and keeping their words safely isolated behind the subscription walls of PEP Web.

Mónika Sziládi, Untitled (Bar), 2009

So I indulge in a manifesto about manifestos, unabashedly trying to seduce you, the readers, to try to use a different mode of writing in order to affect change in the world.

There is great value in carefully crafted clinical presentations, theoretical explorations, footnotes and citations, but it is urgent for the wellbeing of psychoanalysis to also develop other ways of speaking confidently to the public. We must learn to distill clearly what the field has to offer and why it matters.

I realize this is not easy. The training of a psychoanalyst promotes quite the opposite mindset, one of reflection, nuance, nonjudgment, a resistance to actions, an observing eye. Manifestos express a different state; they are assured, forceful, and convincing.

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