Gifts from Psychoanalysis: Freud’s Disavowal, Bowlby’s Turmoil, and Bion’s “Mystic in the Group”
Psychoanalysis brings theoretical and clinical gifts to trauma work. However, psychoanalysts are human and cannot utilise all the theories that are available. Some psychoanalysts write theories that enable other people to treat conditions which they fail to see themselves. This is unavoidable. Psychoanalysis considers that all are subject to moments of disavowal, denial, detachment or dissociation when faced with trauma. Bion’s concept of the Mystic and the Group,(1984), Bowlby’s theory about “On Knowing what you are not supposed to know”(1979) and Freud’s thinking on Denial and disavowal (1923) are three papers explored , not just for the continual benefit they provide, but also as a mirror to explore how much the theoreticians themselves could benefit from the available theory. Bowlby regretted in later life his avoidance of child abuse even though his work on attachment and loss continues to benefit workers in the field. Bion’s outlining of the impact of hierarchy and conformity aids trauma work and its connection to whistle-blowing although he did not discuss child abuse. Freud’s fear of dealing with socio-political embedded ideas on family and class meant he was unable to continue with his explorations of the impact of familial abuse. However, he provided significant theoretical tools that continue to resonate. The presenter also identifies examples from her own practise to illustrate where internalised theory aided the work and where the tools were there but she did not have capacity. The theoretical tools needed for trauma work are available. The key issue is the capacity of the professional to continue working individually and relationally on the impact of the work.
Potential to Distress: Yes
At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:
- Compare the difference between a psychoanalytic theory and its actual psychoanalytic practice in the work of John Bowlby and Sigmund Freud
- Utilize Bion’s theory of the Mystic and the Group to examine the chances of new ideas being accepted in psychoanalysis and trauma work
- Identify tensions in their own work between theory and practice
- Discuss the core themes in Bowlby's paper "On knowing what you are not supposed to know"
- Describe the clinical problems of denial in trauma work
Presenter: Valerie Sinason, PhD
Presenter Bio: Valerie Sinason PhD is President of the Institute for Psychotherapy and Disability and Founder, Patron/Past Director of the Clinic for Dissociative Studies in London, U.K.
She has four decades of experience in the trauma and disability field in the UK Posts have included consultant psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic (1979-99) and St George’s Hospital Medical School (1993-2006) and for two decades she was a visiting Hon Consultant Psychoanalyst at the Cape Town Child Guidance Clinic, 1990-2020. She has maintained an international profile with her lectures and writing and in 1998 was made Life Member of POMS, for services to Swedish Intellectual Disability Services. She has published , edited and co-edited 25 books and several hundred papers and chapters on trauma and disability . She is a London University post graduate with a literature degree and a double distinction in her teaching diploma (1969).
She is a member of the Association of Child Psychotherapists (retired), the UKCP ( United Kingdom Council on Psychotherapy), Institute of Psychoanalysis, Bowlby Centre and ESTD. She is a Fellow of the Institute for Psychotherapy and Disability, where she was awarded the first Valerie Sinason award , a Fellow of the ISSTD where she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award (2016) and a Frank W Putnam award (2022) . She was the recipient of a Festschrift( 2019), Intellectual Disability and Psychotherapy; The Theories, Practice and Influence of Valerie Sinason edited by Alan Corbett, Routledge, London and a member of the British Psychoanalytic Council where she was a recipient of the Excellence and Innovation award (2021).
She is trained in teaching,(1969) in child and adolescent psychotherapy (1983) and adult Psychoanalysis (1999) and maintains a strong interest in organized extreme abuse, disability and dissociation and writing poetry and novels.
- 1.50 APAThe International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
- 1.50 ASWB ACEThe International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), #1744, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. ISSTD maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 08/20/2021 – 08/20/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 1.50 continuing education credits.
- 1.50 ISSTD Certificate ProgramThis program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.