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Rodman, F.R. (2002). The Holding Environment After September 11 Psychoanalysis in the Twenty-First Century: A Moment of Reflection. Free Associations, 9(4):487-499.

(2002). Free Associations, 9(4):487-499


The Holding Environment After September 11 Psychoanalysis in the Twenty-First Century: A Moment of Reflection

F. Robert Rodman

“… terror is stronger than the total sum of anyone's happiness.” (Laxness, 1946)

The Events of September 11 constitute a difficult and even dangerous subject. On the one hand they arrived like an object striking our planet from outer space, an unexpected life-killing blow to our continuity as a species. And, on the other, we may see it as one of a series of catastrophes that began in prehistory and which will undoubtedly never cease.

But as we proceed into an unknown future in the light of those September events, ignorant as we are and limited in our ability to know what to do to regain our composure, they seem to us to have been unique, at least for our time. We, in the United States, were all afraid that we were subject to death at any moment: we as individuals, and we as members of an established civilization that holds certain values to be indispensable and dear, in the words of Thomas Jefferson Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We were reminded that nothing is permanent, that we could be destroyed. Even as I speak these words I have to ask myself how much of the feeling generated on that day last year survives, how much do we feel right at this time, because so much has been put back in a far place inside ourselves and daily life has supervened. Can we even consider the stakes that our civilization faces. If we open our eyes, we can be reminded, but most of us choose to close our eyes.

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