One afternoon, several years into my tenure at Wayne State University, I got a phone call during my office hours from a journalism student who wanted to meet with me. When I asked her what it was about, she explained that one of my colleagues from the English department had given her my name because she thought it could be interesting to interview me, as “a woman of color,” about my experience at Wayne. When I heard that, I thought, A woman of color? Is she talking about me, or has she confused me with someone else?
All of us are regularly asked to engage with the past in some way. The world is saturated by history. But, then, a simple question: What is history? Ask fifty people and you’ll get, typically, fifty shades of the same answer: History is something about a past. Whether as myth or memory, narrative or science, or found in gradients in between each, the most common denominator is a starting place in an ambiguous past, a “before now,” which is given meaning only insofar as it is connected to other things either similarly before now or, sometimes even more strangely, to things happening “now” or “later.”
Distance is nothing new for psychoanalysts. Except for all the unimaginable newness, of course. The profound losses to be reckoned with for the training—and frankly, the life—I had imagined having before the pandemic. But I have been distant before this. […] To be at a distance is to still be at, to still be located, not completely untethered. This has always been the analyst’s task.
Looking out the window from my airplane seat, I anticipated seeing the familiar landmarks of the valley city below—Phoenix, Arizona—as they came into view during the flight’s descent.[…]But then there was a sudden change into the unfamiliar. The body—my body—has a way of communicating when it’s thrown from the familiar, dislodged from regular rhythms. I quickly felt disoriented. A second later, as my mind caught up to what my body already knew, I started to worry. The plane rolled.[…]In the (re)ascent, each individual’s seemingly solitary world gave way to a collective sharing. Suddenly we were all very aware of one another.
I live directly across the street from our neighborhood elementary school, and on 9/11 I sat on this school’s playground with my young children as they circled in a mix of playfulness and aimlessness. They knew something terrible was around[…]In this essay I will explore several poems as they mark a moment of estrangement, terrible disjuncture.[…]As psychoanalysts, poets in a sense, we must manage this same tension between the veridical, the real times we live in and what we and our patients confront…
Our Afghan friends are singing to us from far away, with a fearful trill. America promised our support and, at the end, abandoned them. It was sheer treachery. Yet I hope we might find ways to be true friends, that in this time, not of joy but of sorrow, ten thousand and more might gather round.
It’s been more than a year in semi-lockdown, and I have to push myself to leave the hole I’ve been working and sleeping out of—the hole that is my bedroom, a kind of symbol of my libido, somehow both empty and bottomless. I know there is sun outside; I know it to be lovely, just as I know the woodcocks and catbirds are chirping; and if I close my eyes and open the windows, I can almost pretend I’m on a deck by the ocean, still alone.
Six faces stared through cyberspace as our writing workshop began. In all the groups I’ve led lately, as part of an initiative aimed at helping health care workers and first responders find their way through grief, some stories linger in my mind. This time, an ER doctor spoke first.
[Nature] has her [sic] own particularly effective method of restricting us. She destroys us—coldly, cruelly, relentlessly, as it seems to us, and possibly through the very things that occasioned our satisfaction…
In Susan Kassouf’s essay “A New Thing Under the Sun” (ROOM 6.21), she writes of her dismay in finding that there would be no mention of the more-than-human environment during her psychoanalytic training. I want to expand Kassouf’s premise about the importance…