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Goren, E. (2005). Who's Who and What to do When Catastrophe Strikes: Considerations for Psychoanalysis in Post-9/11 America. Psychoanal. Perspect., 2(2):29-50.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 2(2):29-50

Discussions of “When the Trauma is Terrorism and the Therapist is Traumatized Too: Working as an Analyst Since 9/11,” by Mary Gail Grawley-O'Dea, Ph.D.

Who's Who and What to do When Catastrophe Strikes: Considerations for Psychoanalysis in Post-9/11 America

Elizabeth Goren, Ph.D.

I am honored to have the opportunity to discuss Dr. Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea's paper “When the Trauma Is Terrorism and the Therapist Is Traumatized Too: Working as an Analyst Since 9/11,” a portrayal of her professional odyssey from the morning of 9/11 over the following months, in which she raises a number of evocative questions about the problems of mutual influence in the context of national crisis and catastrophe. Dr. Frawley-O'Dea returns the reader to the emotional immediacy of the morning of September 11th, when “the attacks brutally broke into and entered our real time and psychological experiences with maximum force,” leaving therapist and patient “confronted with the same crisis at the same time” and “no one sufficiently distant from the trauma to turn to for holding or advice.” She points out that the most challenging part of functioning as a psychotherapist during that period was confronting our equal vulnerability and professional limitations in being able to “cocreate with our patients good enough therapeutic environments for them while, like them, we were immersed in and overwhelmed by death, fear, grief and brokenness [and] to muster self-acceptance when we failed to be good enough.” Dr. Frawley-O'Dea proceeds to detail in the various sections of her article the many different ways that transference and countertransference can play out under these circumstances, pointing out the necessity for therapists' “self-care” within the treatment setting and in their own life in order to minimize undue negative influence on the patient. Dr.

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