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Silen, P. (2019). Letter from the Editor. Fort Da, 25(1):1-3.
(2019). Fort Da, 25(1):1-3
Letter from the Editor
Peter Silen, Ph.D.
Long before I knew I wanted to become a psychologist I made a small wooden sculpture of an ear. It now sits in my office and I've come to think of it as a portent of where I was heading professionally, even if I wasn't aware of that at the time. It can be soothing to look at because it helps me make the long jump between history and the present moment. But now, when I look at it, I consider another evolution over time — one less distinct but more unsettling. It has to do with my views on listening, and the silence necessary to listen, and how they are shifting and changing as I learn more about the relationship between silence and authority and privilege. I've begun to wonder how long I've been listening with a wooden ear.
Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams was published 120 years ago. Kristallnacht took place 81 years ago. The March on Selma happened 54 years ago. And, 21 years ago, Matthew Shepard was murdered. This is information we know about the past. Experiencing the past is knowing that things are both out in the open and hidden, and the hidden aspects of the world — history, secrets, concealed realities — help determine the course of a person's life. Writer Teju Cole (2016) describes the hidden power of the system of racism in America:
American racism has many moving parts, and has had enough centuries in which to evolve an impressive camouflage. It can hoard its malice in great stillness for a long time, all the while pretending to look the other way. Like misogyny, it is atmospheric. You don't see it at first. But understanding comes. (p. 15)
Psychoanalysis in this country is facing the biggest of questions: How has the field been shaped by our American system of racism? How has the field perpetuated racism? And, what place will culture and identity have in the consulting room, and in our theory and technique?
The belief that patients can change if they speak to us about what they are experiencing internally is so embedded in the way we think about what we do that it almost disappears. Of course, there are resistances and inhibitions, but the revelation of material — conscious and unconscious — remains essential to the process of effecting change.
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