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LEAVING THE HOLE by Susanna Stephens

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.

Photo by AR

I NEED A GUIDE by Sandy Silverman

Early in the pandemic, I realized that what I needed was an instruction book that would tell me how to survive. I pictured it, a guide tailored to my personal needs, the first section titled How to be a Psychotherapist During a Pandemic and the second, How to Have a Homeless Brother During a Pandemic, and the last one, How to Not Give Up.


BLACK AND BLUE by Lee Jenkins

We talk about the blues as sadness and transcendence of sadness. As an American Black, my experience tells me that it certainly seems to be both of these things simultaneously—contradictory things existing together, something we psychoanalysts know about. To me it’s about acceptance of the inexorable challenge…

Illustration by Mafe Izaguirre

WORD, VOICE, BODY by William F. Cornell

As an article or essay that I am writing is nearing completion, I take the essential step of reading it aloud to myself. I have found that this practice helps me identify phrases, sentences, or paragraphs that feel awkward in the mouth, which I then imagine to be awkward in the ear of the readers. In the ear of the readers? Readers read with their eyes. But I have come to know, to feel, that when writing truly works, comes alive on the page, a reader is listening as well as seeing, hearing my voice. It is so very easy when writing to get lost in/entranced with one’s ideas. Writing, especially professional writing as most of us have been trained to do it, can so easily fall into expressions of disembodied intellect—words on a page, thoughts with no voice, ideas with no body.

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An urgent sense of the possible contributed to my pursuit of psychoanalytic training over a decade ago, back when CO2 levels were still below 400 ppm. At the time, my analyst and my own analysis were introducing me to an unanticipated world of depth, beauty, and tolerable terror from which I rarely wanted to surface. At the same time, and still today, I was struggling to take in my lived experiences of marked changes in the weather along with a larger body of scientific research, which described climatic apocalypse in my lifetime. In my professional life—which spanned many years in the nonprofit sector as well as higher education—people were teaching, learning, and talking about smart, sustainable policies to reduce our carbon footprint, to mitigate and adapt. And yet, I wondered, what was everybody feeling? How were they sleeping at night? How did others handle what environmentalist Aldo Leopold described as “a new thing under the sun,” namely one species mourning the death of another or, in this case, the human species now mourning its own present and future?