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Geffner, A.H. (2004). Political Identity: A Personal Postscript. Psychoanal. Perspect., 2(1):65-73.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 2(1):65-73

Political Identity: A Personal Postscript

Amanda Hirsch Geffner, M.A., C.S.W.

A word about recurrent themes, unfinished thoughts, and questions opened up in the above discussion, along with my associations to certain points of personal preoccupation. (The personal is, after all, political, and vice versa, as has been mentioned by the preceding discussants). In writing what follows, I have necessarily removed my moderator/editor's hat, as I endeavor to convey aspects of the bidirectional impact of preparing for and participating in this roundtable discussion and the process of sorting out my own personal politics. In making explicit this process, I hope to provide an illustration of the complex intertwining of the personal, the clinical, and the political to be found, I believe, in many of our lives.

Along with the panelists, I have grappled (as analysand, and then also, inevitably, as analyst) with the issue, raised by Neil Altman, “of the socio-cultural unconscious.” It is a two way street: society molds the psyche, gives birth to “the family,” while the family romance (in its many forms) engenders the civic persona. Endless negotiations with my particularly polarized familial introjects inform both who I am as citizen and who I am as psychoanalyst. The effort to find a livable balance between such personally shaded, yet socially constructed dualisms as empathy/self-interest, tenderness/firmness, and openness/having boundaries largely determines who I am politically. And it is also a co-construction of the time and place (the political milieu) in which the story of my life has happened to unfold.

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