by Hattie Myers
It feels impossible to begin this introduction to Room 9.17 without mentioning the attack in Charlottesville even though, by the time you read this, that horrific August weekend will likely be occluded by whatever will have happened next. ROOM is not a blog. It is not a tweet. It is not a newsletter at one with the news. ROOM is a re-occurring place of reflection that, like the psychoanalytic space upon which it is modeled, seems to be developing a life and process singularly its own.
Room 2.17 a ‘Sketchbook for Analytic Action’ was published during the first month of Trump’s presidency in response to the recent US election. ROOM’s first contributors expressed the kind of anger, grief, confusion and uncertainty that recalled for many of us the shock of 9/11. IPTAR’s newsletter was conceived as a way to help ourselves and our analytic community find our shaken bearings. Proof that the local can have unforeseen reach, it resonated across state lines and four continents.
The essays, poetry, music and art in Room 5.17 broadened our ROOM’s scope geographically and added a new level of complexity. Two authors had become engaged in a highly articulated point/ counterpoint conversation. Almost all the contributions were now grappling with the idea that, in Montaigne’s words, “There is as much difference between ourselves and others as there is between ourselves and us.” If the first issue of ROOM was a cry of anguish and a call for help, the second issue broached the possibility of entering expressively into areas which were previously un-seeable or un-sayable.
In response to the second issue, a ROOM Roundtable was organized to be an “in the room” opportunity for authors and readers to discuss the complex and provocative ideas being raised in real time. The facilitators, IPTAR’s Rick Grose and Janet Fisher, are committed to continuing this venue following each ROOM. A summary of the first Roundtable can be found in the Dispatch section.
ROOM 9.17 raises the bar by being our most political and personal issue to date.
Coline Covington’s clinical reverie ties her patient’s (and our communal) experience of loss and uncertainty to the power of fake news and populist movements; Jeri Issacson’s savvy feminist essay argues that we will all be safer for peering beneath Ivanka Trump’s “brand” to see what’s in the center of her politics; Brian Kloppenberg recovers a queer and vital radicalism in Freud’s psychoanalytic method that pushes against the gravitational pull of conformity and conventionality; Ellen Marakowitz traces the heartbreaking, autobiographical threads of a gendered life; Diane Seuss’s poem, inspired by past ROOMs, connects social markers that led to Trump and developmental moments that lead to an inner emotional tyranny; and Eugene Mahon’s fowl limerick says it all in five lines.
Following the incisive and inconclusive Roundtable discussion about where the boundaries of tolerance and understanding must lie, the editors of ROOM invited Jared Russell to say more on the subject since the events in Charlottesville put many issues that he raised in his essay ‘Understanding, Democracy’ (Room 5.17) front and center. In ‘Understanding, Charlottesville,’ Jared analyzes the alt-right rhetoric and Trump’s response to the demonstrators to illustrate how democracy and psychoanalysis have found themselves on the endangered list of enlightened human activities. Jared raises many provocative ideas in this essay which we hope will stimulate further conversation.
“Anna O,” sometimes heralded as psychoanalysis’ first patient, attributed the relief of her physical symptoms to what she called her “talking cure.” There has been much water under the psychoanalytic bridge since that clever turn of phrase in the 1880s. Psychoanalysis, as it turns out, is not so much a “talking cure” as it is a listening cure.
Our field has grown as we have listened. We now hear more than Freud could imagine about the particular ways each individual can suffer and the general ways we suffer our human condition.
ROOM, like psychoanalysis, is an artifact of close listening; listening to each other and listening to ourselves. We don’t know where Room 9.17 will take us next any more than we can know where a single psychoanalytic hour might lead, but the editors who have begun this project with me take heart in our sense that the material is deepening as we go. Together it may be possible to find new ways, in these dark times, to come to new ground.
In the words of our beloved and late IPTAR president Allan Frosch, “Psychoanalysis is for everyone.” If ROOM resonates for you as a reader, please consider adding your voice to ours. Send essays, poetry, photography, art, cartoons, or inquiries to ROOMinIPTAR@gmail.com.
Deadline for submissions for Room 2.18 will be January 20, 2018.
- Hattie Myers is a Training and Supervising psychoanalyst at IPTAR.
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