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MacGaffin, K.C. Goodman, N.R. (2005). Psychoanalysis on the frontiers of terror: Experiences in the USA, Israel and Peru. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(1):147-149.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(1):147-149

Psychoanalysis on the frontiers of terror: Experiences in the USA, Israel and Peru

Reported by:
Kristina C. MacGaffin

Moderator Nancy R. Goodman

This panel brought together analysts from three countries, each of whom had faced times of violent political and social challenge, while at the same time continuing to work in his or her analytic practice. The focus of the panel was to discover and discuss the subjective, emotional and mental experience of the analyst and patient while working with the threat of immediate exposure to acts of terrorism.

The first group of presenters, from the Washington, DC area, presented the results of a research project, initiated immediately after the terrorist acts in New York City and Washington, DC, on September 11, 2001. The analysts in this group wanted to try to identify and understand the impingements of terrorism on the analytic process: the emotional and mental ‘space’ of patient and analyst, as well as on efforts to form a place of containment for their subjective experiences under these conditions.

Using clinical vignettes and discussion material from the research project, this group of analysts not only identified initial impingements on the analytic space for both analyst and patient, but also, more importantly, revealed ways that the intrusion of terror in real time into the shared social milieu and into their offices, in fact, enhanced the capacity of both analyst and patient to delve more deeply into heretofore less accessible psychic experience of patients. These researchers found that psychoanalytic thinking can be used to contain and protect, and even deepen, the analytic process in times of actual terror.

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