TABLE OF CONTENTS
- David Beisel and Irene Javors Book on Jazz and Film Noir
by Ken Fuchsman
- Psychohistory in Europe, a Subjective Experience
by Brigitte Demeure
- Michael Eigen in Seoul Again: A 2021 Book
by Ken Fuchsman
- Psychoanalysis: Past, Present and What Should Happen Next: A Panel at 2021 IPA Annual Conference
by Theresa Aiello
- Therapy with Black Sex Workers and Their Fathers
by Raashida Edwards
- Ken Fuchsman’s Movies, Rock & Roll, Freud Book: An Interview with the Author
by Jack Schwartz
- Bulletin Board
- IPA Contacts
1. DAVID BEISEL AND IRENE JAVORS BOOK ON JAZZ AND FILM NOIR
Genres of the Imagination is a collection of essays on film noir and jazz each written individually by David Beisel and Irene Javors. It has been published by Circumstantial Productions and is available on Amazon. For those who do not know, Dr. Beisel was twice President of the International Psychohistorical Association, edited the Journal of Psychohistory for a decade, is author of the psychohistorical classic The Suicidal Embrace, and is emeritus faculty at SUNY-Rockland. Irene Javors is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City, is recently retired as Adjunct Associate Prof, Mental Health Counseling Program, Ferkauf Grad School of Psychology, Yeshiva University, and is the author of Kelpie’s Bells, In The Twilight Hour and many articles on the intersection of psyche and culture, including exceptional work on the life and career of Susan Sontag.
This book has its origins during lunch at a long table at a Greenwich Village eatery during the 2014 psychohistory conference. Irene Javors mentioned how much she liked jazz. Word filtered down the table to devoted jazz lover Dave Beisel. Paul Elovitz suggested a panel on jazz be formed for the next conference. And it came to pass. At the 2015 psychohistory convention, Irene presented a paper on the song “Strange Fruit” about white southerners lynching African-Americans. This composition was made famous by a 1939 recording by jazz diva Billie Holiday, At the same panel Dr. Beisel gave reflections on jazz as a phenomenon. Then the two of them soon discovered another common interest: film noir. Another panel resulted, and at the 2016 International Psychohistorical Association Conference, Dave talked about the 1949 classic “The Third Man,” and Irene discussed 1951’s “Ace in the Hole” also known as “The Big Carnival.” These now much revised papers are the center of Genres of the Imagination, followed by another section entitled “Riffs” where Irene Javors writes about “Psyche and Culture” and Dave Beisel “On Connection and Surprise.”
The first essay is Dr. Beisel’s treatment of “The Third Man.” He says the film is about the “dark underside,” and then relates this to the themes in film noir. “Many writers have connected noir’s popularity to the consequences of the Second World War, linking noir’s themes of disillusionment and despair to the actual horrors of the war.” In a 2021 poll, the highly regarded Sight and Sound ranks The Third Man as the 73rd greatest film ever made. The movie takes place in post-World War II Vienna. Renowned British writer Graham Greene wrote the screenplay and another Brit, Carol Reed directed it. The lead actors are both Americans: Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton. The character Holly Martin, a writer of Western novels, is played by Cotton, and Welles is the shady Harry Lime, a close friend of Martin.
Martin who has journeyed to Vienna at Harry’s invite, arrives to find out Lime has been declared dead. He attends his friend’s funeral. But the news of Lime’s demise is premature; he remains alive. Another disturbing piece of information: Martin is informed that his close American buddy was immersed in the black market. Not only was he involved in criminal activities, Lime sold bad penicillin that ended up killing many ill children. A disconcerted and disheartened Martin tries to help capture his mysterious friend. A trap is set, but somehow Harry Lime escapes by navigating through Vienna’s sewer systems. Martin pursues Lime, then shoots and kills his corrupt former best friend. A second funeral for Harry Lime ends this classic dark film.
The visuals of film noir are important. Beisel writes, “Film noir’s blacks, whites, and grays, its empty streets, perfectly matched the real visual world of Europe’s … destroyed cities, towns, villages, and hamlets.” Vienna itself “had been bombed fifty seven times, forty thousand homes had been destroyed, the city was pock marked by three thousand craters.”
It is also the historical moods following the war that are important as well. Film noir captured the “feelings of fragmentation, disorientation and despair” that “made up America’s hidden emotional underside.” For after the war, “suicides were up, large numbers turned to self-medication, alcoholism was on the rise, divorce rates spiked.” Veterans had post-traumatic stress disorder. The Rockland history professor connects the world of film to its historical context as civilization tries to come to terms with a devastating war and a sense of mass degradation and a corrupt world.
Irene Javors’ film noir choice is 1951s “Ace in the Hole” starring Kirk Douglas and Jan Sterling, and directed by Billy Wilder. Julie Kirgo and Elizabeth Ward say this movie “is one of the most grimly cynical motion pictures ever to emerge from Hollywood.” Yet “the atmosphere in which that cynicism is presented is so painstakingly detailed, so richly realized tat its point of view defies repudiation.”
Kirk Douglas plays Chuck Tatum, an alcoholic newspaperman whose various moral lapses have gotten him fired from eleven newspapers. He ends up in an Albuquerque, New Mexico newspaper. His fortunes suddenly change. There has been an accident in a nearby cave. The proprietor of a local store is caught in the rubble. Tatum exploits this catastrophe for all the sensationalism he can get. He persuades local authorities to follow a rescue plan that will delay the likelihood of a rescue. He is then delighted when crowds appear, and he can further milk the suspense of the recovery. Other media outlets pick up on the drama, send journalists and photographers to the site, even a Ferris Wheel is constructed and a circus tent put up. But then the storekeeper dies, and the crowds quickly disappear. The story and sensation are over. A man’s life was sacrificed for the big sensation and the aspirations of a corrupt, alcoholic reporter.
This movie, Irene Javors concludes, “is an uncommon noir.” The rural area near the accident is “just as corrupt as the heart of the dirty Manhattan streets. The hero is no hero.” The media circus is the film’s anti-hero. Javors concludes, “In the current age of reality programs, celebrity worship, twenty four/seven, news coverage and infotainment, Ace in the Hole could not be timelier.”
In the jazz section, Irene Javors turns back the political clock to discuss Barney Josephson’s famous Manhattan jazz clubs of the 1930s and 1940s, Café Society. There was one in the Village and another later started uptown. Josephson opened the first of the clubs in 1938 when he was 36. Born in New Jersey to Latvian Jewish immigrant parents, Barney borrowed money from friends of his brother to open the Greenwich Village Café Society. He wanted a club where segregation of the races was not present anywhere in his establishment. To get excellent performers he turned to jazz critic, record producer and discoverer of talent, Vanderbilt family heir John Hammond. In the 1930s, he had brought Count Basie east from Kansas and discovered Billie Holiday. Later he signed Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Ray Vaughan, among others, to Columbia Records. The talent of the performers Hammond recommended to perform at Café Society were top notch, including Billie Holiday. Leftist poet and songwriter, Abe Merepol, brought his composition of “Strange Fruit” to Ms. Holiday. When she sang it at Café Society, except for a spotlight the lights were turned off. The song and her singing were a sensation.
Nevertheless, the leftist sentiments of Josephson, Meropol and others were brought to the attention of conservative FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, and were also attacked by columnists for William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers. During the second Red Scare after World War II, Josephson closed both clubs. In the 1970s, he opened up another jazz night club in Greenwich Village, The Cookery. Ms. Javors in that later decade lived directly across the street from this later establishment.
Josephson eventually co-authored a memoir, which Javors finds to be unreliable. She writes, “I decided to approach Barney’s narrative as I would a patient’s.” She finds that his “world was constructed as in ‘us’ and ‘them’ terms, or psychoanalyst Melanie Klein’s paranoid schizoid position.” This fantasy corresponded to that of the 1930s popular front that created the belief in a social consciousness that could be raised in the U.S., what Adorno calls an “idealism of rage.” With the popular front’s integrationist and radical sensibility, this movement and its accompanying musical and racial ideals to Javors “paved the way for Jackie Robinson’s integration of the Dodgers, jazz and the Beats, Rock ‘n Roll, Civil Rights and the Cultural Revolution of the nineteen sixties.” These culture wars are still “all around us.”
Dr. Beisel’s “Aspects of Jazz” essay contains much insight. Dave admits to having been an avid jazz fan since his adolescence. He is so enthusiastic about this art form that Paul Elovitz has affectionately called him a jazzaholic. Beisel admits that he was initially drawn to the music not only for its inspirational quality but as an “outsider” who identified with the “underdog.” Over the years, he has noticed interesting psychosocial phenomena in the jazz world. On one hand, there were the famous/infamous jazz cutting contests where jazz musicians would challenge each other to see who could improvise at a higher level. Beisel comments that, on one hand, these competitions reflected “sibling rivalries and efforts at outdoing father.” On the other hand, these were apprentice systems that not only would “allow masters to hone their craft,” but could also “encourage newcomers to be mentored and talented novices to be nurtured.” The jazz world, he recognizes, also has a very destructive side. Over the decades, many prominent outstanding jazz musicians “have gone to the tip of the abyss and managed to come back. Sadly, too many have become the stuff of tragedy, victims of alcohol or drugs or both.”
What also stands out is how jazz “compositions and rhythms” have the ability to resonate “with our deepest selves” in ways that lead to “transformative resolutions of the ambivalences and contradictions embedded in life and in their music.” For many of these “jazz pieces…achieves transcendence, an integration of mind and emotion.” Jazz music not only ‘soothes the savage beast,’” but it can “bestirs emotions, entertains…plays a powerful role in propaganda and social change.”
In the book, there is an additional section beyond the papers Irene and Dave presented at psychohistory conferences. They entitle it “Riffs,” and there are strong personal elements in what each writes. Irene Javors entitles her piece, “On Psyche and Culture.” She says that she grew up “in a union, socialist family.” There were losses, hardships, and threats in the family’s relationship with the outside world. Her father lost his business, her mother became the sole source of income. Irene writes that in “so many ways, my childhood experiences could be characterized as pages out of a noir playbook.” We still live in troubled times with deprivation, tribulation, and political controversy too present. Irene writes, “It is a time of deep societal division and polarization … when genres of the imagination such as jazz and film noir can help us accept and understand our grief, as our politics continue to be about grievance.”
Dave Beisel’s contribution is called “On Connection and Surprise.” He says that both “noir and jazz break the rules.” As jazz can be music “of erotic Dionysian ecstasy, it can be dangerous.” But jazz also “heals. It stimulates.” Dr. Beisel tells of a time in mid-life when he needed healing. He was forty. His first marriage had dissolved after fifteen years. Around the same time out of the blue he was subject to anonymous threatening letters spread on campus and the college’s administration was trying to end some full-time tenured faculty positions, including his. Dave began to have recurring dire thoughts. When he was feeling at wit’s end, one night he ended up at the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill in the Village. Renowned jazz pianist Junior Manc was playing. The music soon put a smile across his face. His dire thoughts receded, and he thought there “was still too much jazz to hear.” Dave describes it as “the night Junior Mance saved my life.”
It is over 40 years since that fateful night, and Dave still thrives on hearing live jazz. A short time ago, he emailed me about the joy he had just hearing vibraphonist Warren Wolf play live at a club near his home. Jazz still contains the healing potion for Dr. Beisel. I guess there may be worse sins than being a jazzaholic.
As I mentioned Beisel and Javors Genres of the Imagination can be purchased at Amazon. The current price is $5.95 for the kindle version, and there is an $11.95 price for the book, which can be delivered in some areas in two days.
2. PSYCHOHISTORY IN EUROPE, A SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE
By Brigitte Demeure
I discovered psychohistory while doing research for my history thesis on the impact of the maternal imago on French political life from the Revolution to WWI. This is how I came to know in 2005 the French Society of Psychohistory, Robert-Louis Liris and his very friendly group. They introduced me to the writings of Lloyd deMause, which opened up a whole new perspective on the individual and group psychic consequences of child rearing and abuse. This has been a great help to me. However, the evolutionary conception of history, as well as a number of the concepts that Lloyd deMause developed, seems to me to be unfounded.
When I think of the evolutionary philosophy of history, I visualize the image illustrating it in a school book from the end of the 19th century in France: a white man, preceding a yellow man, then a red man, then finally a black man. (The women of course are not represented). This shows how close evolutionism and racism were at the time. I also think of a more recent example: during the screening of a film by an African filmmaker at the Freie Universität in West Berlin during my ethnology studies in the 1980s, a student asked the filmmaker (a woman) if it is possible that a couple of Africans would really kiss and fall in love with each other. The filmmaker, who had understood the question, retorted with a masterful slap in the face of the student. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the rest of the debate, just that the German students were a bit ashamed of this manifestation of racism, in the most progressive German university of the time! Did the teaching of history at the end of the 20th century in Germany still propagate this evolutionary philosophy of history? Hence the very awkward attitude of this student?
It is indeed this evolutionary theory that provoked the rejection of psychohistory by historians in France, after attempts to introduce it into the French academic world in the 1980s and 1990s.
In spite of these reservations concerning this aspect of Lloyd de Mause’s theory, I also began to participate in conferences organized by the German Society for Psychohistory and Political Psychology. These years, from 2008 onwards, were extremely formative for me, thanks to the presidents of this association at the time, men of profound erudition, both in history and in psychoanalysis, I am thinking of Bernd Nielsen, a pastor, Josef Berghold, a psychosociologist and Juha Siltala, a Finnish historian. There were certainly discussions, sometimes very loud, sometimes quieter, about the relevance of Lloyd de Mause’s theories, but all of this remained for me within acceptable intellectual and ethical limits. Until the day I received a flyer announcing a conference organized by the Heidelberg psychohistory group in 2013, on “the psychology of the evolution of mentalities”, celebrating the “great projects” elaborated by Herbert Spencer, Auguste Comte…All in a clearly evolutionary perspective. Let us recall that Herbert Spencer is considered the founder of social Darwinism, and that Auguste Comte also elaborated an evolutionary philosophy, positivism, and that he became in France one of the most important references of the Action française of Charles Maurras, the father of the French extreme right. I was very shocked by the fact that a German association put these two names in the spotlight.
Among the speakers was Willy Obrist, who in his book “Die Mutation des europäischen Bewusstseins” (English : « The mutation of the European consciousness » Opus Magnum, Stuttgart, GDR 2006) describes the evolution of the European “consciousness” as the one to be followed by all other “premodern” societies (from archaic consciousness to positivist-materialist consciousness, and then to the opposition of belief and knowledge leading to their reconciliation in a higher state of consciousness).
The other speaker at the conference, Georg W. Oesterdiekhoff is the author of a book “Entwicklung der Menschheit von der Kindheitsphase zur Erwachsenenreife” (English : « Development of humanity from the childhood phase to adult maturity » Springer Verlag, 2013), an essay in genetic sociology. He posits the superiority of the psychostructural development of people in industrial societies over premodern societies, which in his view remained infantile, regardless of their “race.” He uses the word « race », knowing that in Europe race as a biological concept does not exist any more, and that this term is very connoted at the ideological and historical level, particularly in Germany. Such a statement would classify its author as a member of the French extreme right and would cause a scandal. Is this really a valid reference for a research worthy of psychohistory? It is true that this conference was not presented as a conference of the entire German psychohistorical society, only by the Heidelberg working group. But in 2015, the conference organized by the whole German society stated very clearly to be conceived as a continuation of the 2013 conference, despite all my objections. When this trend became dominant in the German association, as a historian and a Frenchwoman, I just had to leave.
This experience, which I hope will remain only a parenthesis in the German psychohistorical association, demonstrates once again the danger of amateurism and the necessity of solid scholarship and a broad knowledge of history and historiography (but also of psychoanalysis) when one wants to engage in psychohistorical research. I also wonder whether this development, which is real, is not connected with a current trend taking place with German society in general, which sociological research has uncovered (cf. Oliver Decker, Elmar Brähler (Ed.): « Flucht ins Autoritäre, Rechtsextreme Dynamiken in der Mitte der Gesellschaft“, English : « Flight into Authoritarianism, Right-Wing Dynamics in the Middle of Society »« Psychosocial-Verlag, 2018. ) The German government has thus (August 5, 2021) allocated an additional 35 million Euros to academic research on anti-Semitism, right-wing extremism and racism. Anja Maria-Antonia Karliczek, Minister of Education and Research (CDU), states that « we can only fight what we understand. » A serious psychohistory that does not bear the name is, however, very productive in Germany. It is carried by different institutions and circles of reflection, such as the Sigmund Freud Institute, the International Psychoanalytic University in Berlin, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gruppenanalyse und Gruppen-therapie, the Group analytic society international (GASI), the Arbeitskreis für intergenerationelle Folgen des Holocaust (Working Group for Intergenerational Consequences of the Holocaust, formerly PAKH e.V.), the Gesellschaft für psychoanalytische Sozialpsychologie, and many others and by prominent academics in the field.
3. MICHAEL EIGEN IN SEOUL AGAIN: A 2021 BOOK
by Ken Fuchsman
Psychoanalyst Michael Eigen published his first book, The Psychotic Core, at the age of fifty in 1986. He has been quite prolific since then, publishing a total twenty-nine books through 2021. His latest volume is Eigen in Seoul, Volume Three: Pain and Beauty, Terror and Wonder. The earlier Seoul seminars were given in 2007 and 2009 and first published in 2010 and 2011. Volume 3 was presented in 2011 and published by Routledge in 2021.
Over the years, Dr. Eigen’s popularity and reputation have been growing. What to me is striking is the extent to which prominent psychoanalysts give high praise to Eigen’s works. Here is just a small sample. Christopher Bollas writes of Eigen: “No one else thinks like this, writes like this, or puts psychoanalysis into a separate realm … this is literature for the ages.” Philosopher and analyst Jon Mills proclaims that “Michael Eigen is one of the greatest psychoanalysts of our time.” Adam Phillips says that Eigen has a “new kind of moral seriousness” and adds, “No-one in contemporary psychoanalysis writes with this cunning, wholehearted openness.”
In the present book, his seminar in Seoul lasted three days. Eigen talks and later responds to questions from those attending. He discusses at length the value he sees in Freud’s innovations. “Psychoanalysis is less a medicine than act of creation, a process involved with incessant reshaping, re-texturing, and fine-tuning of affective attitudes.” For this form of therapy allows space to confront “emotional reality.” Given this process, Eigen maintains that psychotherapy should not be considered “at the margins of Society,” but “at a center.” The “challenge” for each of us is “to be an artist of the invisible.” After all, humans “cannot ‘solve’ our nature but we can partner with it, work with it, learn with it.”
Psychoanalysis is created “to recreate ourselves.” It can encourage us to work with our “impulses in freer, indirect ways.” We can do so by free association, free-floating attention, and listening to ourselves “in new ways.” Eigen says that for all its emphasis on the destructive, to him psychoanalysis “seems utopian.” How so? He talks about the value of free associating in therapeutic sessions and forming psychic networks of “meaning and feeling.” These can assist in creating “a sense of fullness.” This develops by learning to open “a whole new field of experience.” With an analyst who “feels the signals” the person can learn to weather “storms” and to keep “dialogue potentially open.” The result may well be that people “can let the psyche grow.” To Eigen, there is a “largely unconscious” process of “psychic growth.” This can include making “coherent narratives out of networks of lines and holes, prematurely ordering elusive hints, ironing out signs of incoherence.” It is this creative sorting through traumas and conflicts that can lead to the promised land of continuing psychic development, of being open to fertile experiences. The individual can learn to reside in the fullness of being. This result can emerge out of the dialogues in therapy. Of course, it is crucial for the analyst him or herself to reside in the openness and fullness of being human, to be within the twists and turns of psychic growth.
Dr. Eigen opens this particular Seoul seminar by recounting his reflections on his experiences at California’s Yosemite National Park. He had discussed this experience in his 2007 book, Feeling Matters. Yosemite is known for the stunning beauty of its towering granite peaks, waterfalls, sequoias. Eigen writes, “Yosemite silenced me. Words dissolved … Tears, awe, like so many other people before me … God’s beauty … Doesn’t Yosemite ignite God all by itself? … holiness, sense of the sacred.” For Eigen, this “awe” is “part of a natural groundwork for a sense of ethics … an urge to find ways to do justice to a world and life which arouses such soul-feelings.” He is amazed that there are such natural wonders and finds in himself an “urge to do existence justice.” For Eigen, I presume, an ethics inspired by awe of the splendors of the universe and an opening to the fullness of psychic life are not separate but can be interconnected.
As he is silent before the splendors of Yosemite, he finds that psychoanalysis as well “has very deep beauty” and he seeks to “share how beautiful it is.” For humans “need to be uplifted and transformed, to help and be helped.” A good part of what many of us require is “to help birth emotional possibility in face of immense damage.” There is a hope that one “can build empathic capacity” to abide with “unbearable-unfelt states” and “unbearable agonies.” With patience for predicaments, one may be able to allow for “psychic regeneration.” There are many roads to open up to the sacred emanating from the natural wonders of Yosemite and our own inner core.
Eigen has often written on Kabbalah, an ancient Jewish mystical tradition. He opens the second day of the seminar by mentioning this movement. To him, the Hebrew religious outlook and psychoanalysis “share a taste for hidden meanings.” They both entail going towards the underground. To Eigen, “We can grow through contact with the depths.” Within the Jewish faith, to Eigen both the Torah and the Kabbalah have their “essence” in the following: “You will love the Lord our God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.” This is a tall order requiring much dedication and much openness to the Supreme Being.
Turning to his psychoanalytic mentor, Eigen writes that Bion calls Faith the psychoanalytic attitude. Both the Torah and psychoanalysis wish there to be “a radical openness.” And this can lead to the “mystical dimension in human life,” to the “indescribable, ineffable, unimaginable.” For “Bion might say we approach mystery through faith,” and we may reach the “unknown intimacy.” It is by going down these paths with hidden meanings and revelations that many have reached pinnacles of psychic growth.
Not surprisingly, Eigen finds a “deep resonance between Bion’s work and Kabbalah.” For shatter “and brokenness is a common theme in Kabbalah and Bion.” For “the pain of life” can shatter “frames and containers that try to modulate it.” These experiences can also “support the growth of the psyche” as we have within us “multiple capacities.” Conflict can be part of our inner development, and at times “opposition is part of a larger partnership in growth processes.” A “distinction-union structure” is common. Yet when dust come to dust infinity is a fundamental reality, and there is a dialectic between togetherness and separateness. Similarly, to what John Lennon wrote in “I Am the Walrus,” Eigen says “I am not you, you are not I, while … I am you, you are me, we are all each other in an ineffably permeable mode of being.” There ought to be “a balance between asymmetry/ explicate and symmetry/ implicate … being, linked and separate.” For “we are not one thing or the other. We are always both and more.” There is not always an even keel. As Eigen says “I don’t have balance. I’m off balanced, imbalanced.” There may be such a phenomenon “as creative imbalance.” He adds, “if I have any advice maybe it’s respect your not knowing how to integrate these tendencies because no one knows.”
For Eigen to “be broken or empowered- it’s not a matter of one or the other.” Humans are creatures who “have families of tendencies inside, outside, between.” This inner diversity can include “a kind of manic-depressive rhythm in creative work, at least for many.” There is also fragmentation as “so many moments of being in bits and pieces, cut up, lost forever, then whole again….reality divides itself up and puts itself together. Reality supports many positions and perspectives.” We do not always know what will be the key for us. “Sometimes it takes facing death for doors to open.” The rhythms within our psychic growth are not easily predictable. Eigen has faith in the process. If we are on a journey and can stay with it, the opposites and contraries appear, and with effort can be lived with. For Eigen, what ties all this together is the adventure within psychoanalysis towards psychic continuing growth. For Eigen, the many dimensions of life enhancement can be found within the psychoanalytic dialectic between a receptive, open analyst and a client willing to open up and recognize their various paths to self-realization.
4. PSYCHOANALYSIS: PAST, PRESENT AND WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN NEXT
A PANEL AT 2021 IPA ANNUAL CONFERENCE
By Theresa Aiello
This panel at the 2021 International Psychohistorical Association conference discussed psychoanalytic practices and institute training that reflect past traditions, current practices and how these might evolve into new theoretical concepts. Panel presenters and participants attempted to interrogate the psycho-analytic canon, looked at historical shifts in treatment models, and how psychoanalysis might evolve to address populations previously neglected (or avoided) by past practices. The late Lewis Aron proposed a “psychoanalysis for the people.” This panel attempted to address the requirements for psychoanalysis to evolve. The panel’s moderator was Theresa Aiello, PhD, and the participants were: Valerie Bryant, PhD, Luc Charlap, PhD, Raashida Edwards, DSW.
What follows is my discussion of the panel described above. The history of psychoanalysis is wild: full of pursuits of directions Freud did not always approve of. Federn said that “We know that Freud was opposed all his life to two developments: the creation of an orthodoxy, a church, and the subordination of psychoanalysis to the medical profession.” But sadly, both became true of psychoanalysis in the United States. He posits that because of the medical dominance of psychoanalysis in America, psychoanalysis became drastically distorted whereas in England two major differing lay child analysts, Anna Freud and Melanie Klein would produce a rich and variegated atmosphere fruitful for the further development of psychoanalysis. One where three main psychoanalytic groups could flourish all at once. (The Hampstead group of Anna Freud, Tavistock under the leadership of Melanie Klein, and a Middle or Independent group.)
Russell Jacoby described this account and another lesser-known European development. The Berlin psychoanalytic group, further from Vienna could openly discuss issues of feminism, socialism, and other political phenomena because they were further from Freud’s intense oversight. As result this group which included Wilhelm Reich, Edith Jacobson, Berta Bornstein, Otto Fenichel (in some respects its leader) discussed the application of psychoanalysis to more radical subjects in a “Rundbriefe” or round of letters that circulated among its members. The Rundbriefe could provide a source of exchange of progressive thinking and link this to psychoanalysis. This rich history of progressive applications of the ever evolving theory making of psychoanalysis to contemporary events and issues seemed to have dried up in the 1950’s in America. In the sixties new theoretical models within psychoanalysis began to emerge and with them, disciplines like clinical social work became slowly legitimized and revitalized by work with the poor, with people of color, with immigrants and eventually with issues of sexuality, gendered identities and selves. The very profession of social work incorporated these populations into practitioners who would influence theory and practice, particularly the Relational school.
I am proud to have moderated this panel, Psychoanalysis, Past, Present, and What Must Happen next – because all three presenters – while describing their lives and work – have pushed the boundaries of psychoanalysis still further: accepting and creating by way of their own autobiographies, their skills and their populations a true “psychotherapy for the people” (Aron and Starr, 2013). All of the presenters were trained as psychoanalysts and received their PhD’s and DSW degrees from New York University’s Clinical Social Work programs.
Valerie Bryant, PhD, LCSW, described the conflicts and adversities of becoming a Black psychoanalyst. She spoke of the rigorous demands of psychoanalytic training, the lack of awareness of the financial cost of training including a training analysis, and also the subsequent lack of inclusion of people of color for a variety of reasons: racism, class prejudices and lack of acknowledgement of the stressors upon identity and survival of being a person of color. This was mightily acknowledged in the film “Black Analysts Speak.” In that film analysts spoke of the refusal of some training analysts to acknowledge racism and how racism had lifelong impact on development and on survival itself. Sadly many of the training analysts were emigres, who had been persecuted and witnessed attempts to exterminate whole populations because of the Second World War, making this lack of recognition of the effects of racism still more perplexing.
Luc Charlap, PhD, LCSW, described the stressors and emotional experiences of gender dysphoria and of the transition process itself. This seemed to have replicated the components of what Judith Butler called “Gender Melancholy.” Adam Phillips (1995) posits that Freud suggests that character is constituted by identification: i.e., the ego likening itself to what it once loved. If this is so, then Phillips suggests that character is close to caricature: an imitation of an imitation. In the case of transitioning, a melancholy of loss of body parts that may have signified gender itself in the transition process. A question remains: Were the body parts sacrificed signifiers of gender or of an imagined gender predicated on performativity?
Raashida Edwards, DSW, LMSW spoke of her work with sex workers. The workers often had great difficulty retiring or leaving the field of sex work because they had created new ‘families’ who were resistant to losing members of their family-like group to the outside world. Many of the workers wishing to leave sex work were willing to sacrifice body parts by way of needless hysterectomies and other surgeries to prove that they could no longer function. Dr Edwards also spoke about the laws that made performance of sex work more difficult for the workers, exposing them to greater dangers than when they could work online.
An interesting discussion emerged from the audience on the strangely puritanical nature of our society. I cited the work of Thomas Belmonte, an anthropologist and author of The Broken Fountain, a study of a small district in Naples of poor and violence ridden people routinely involved with the Camorra. Dr. Belmonte described a sex worker of that district (“Lea”) who would call down every morning to the “scugnizzi” (street urchins), to buy her a caffe latte for some small change. The children were never told not to speak to Lea nor to stay away from her. Their fathers however would speak with contempt of “the university whores” highlighting the strange ways that denial and hypocrisy can function about gender in any society.
This panel was extraordinary from my perception because all three of the analysts represented and /or worked with populations that never would have received psychotherapy in the past. Armed with contemporary analytic theories of self this panel pushed the boundaries of who is acceptable for analytic training and further, which populations might now receive much needed help and attention and receive recognition of their very existence. It is a commentary on the emergent discipline of clinical social work itself as being instrumental in reaching those populations. (It is of note that at the very beginning of the AIDS pandemic, social workers were among the very first to work with persons with AIDS.)
Over time from the 50’s, in areas like New York City and Chicago, social workers would eventually receive analytic training. With the advent of the Gaskill Amendment in 1986, the Supreme Court insured that non medical clinicians would never again be barred from attending psychoanalytic institutes on the basis of not having medical degrees.
Theresa Aiello, PhD, LCSW
Director and Associate Professor
The Advanced Clinical Practice Program
New York University, Silver School of Social Work
5. THERAPY WITH BLACK SEX WORKERS AND THEIR FATHERS
By Raashida Edwards
Black sex workers are one of the least likely groups to enter traditional weekly psychotherapy. What is far rarer are Black sex workers in treatment with their parents. Conceivably, there are exceptions to this rule. However, the sex worker community is well known for departing from their families of origin and cultivating chosen communities, considerably depending on its members for emotional support.
COVID unexpectedly shifted this. The combination of social distancing and sudden deaths in the sex worker community have negatively impacted access to their customary staples of support. In response there has been a significant increase in telehealth usage overall among sex workers, therefore it can be presumed that Black cis-femme sex workers (BCFSW) are also seeking individual treatment during the pandemic, which present the potential to work with their families. This article highlights brief clinical interactions with BCFSW and their biological fathers who meet DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Patients provided written permission to contribute to this work. They requested that their countries of origin remain confidential.
Cynthia, Carrie, and Sasha, (patients names were changed) each in their late thirties, sought treatment after several friends’ COVID-related deaths in May 2020. Initially, Cynthia, Carrie, and Sasha reported diminished energy increased stress levels and a significant decline in their previous levels of functioning caused by bereavement, death anxiety, and financial fears. Financial concerns were at the fore. They were anxiously preoccupied with retaining their existing clients, procuring new ones and fearful of a sudden transition to all virtual sex work, which they had not been exactly prepared for. As treatment progressed, sessions evolved into explorations of their relationships with their parents, specifically their fathers. An interesting clinical observation developed in these discussions.
Cynthia, Carrie, and Sasha described their fathers’ incessant requests for ongoing financial assistance during the pandemic. When the father’s demands were challenged or denied, the women were subjected to vitriolic outbursts primarily shaming them for being sex workers. Carrie shared in session “We hardly spoke before Covid. Over the years our relationship has been strained. I would send a text here and there just to check in, see him occasionally for a brief dinner, send presents for fathers’ day and his birthday. Now, he’s calling me every week or so asking me for money, and I am bitter. I’m thinking where you were when I needed money as a young kid. Part of the reason I got into sex work was because I always felt like I didn’t have enough. My mother tried her best, but I always felt like I didn’t have enough, and I could never call him, I could never depend on him for anything, now he’s calling me every week demanding things from me as if that never happened, almost as if I owe him something and if I refuse, he yells a whole bunch of nasty insults slams the phone in my ear.” Sasha experienced a similar type of response. She shared, “Oh yes, he becomes belligerent, especially if he is drunk when we speak, he really doesn’t remember the hurtful names he spewed out at me in one of his drunken tirades. He flew into a rage the last time we spoke because I set a boundary. I told him I was not going to send him money unless I had proof of where the money was going. My father is an alcoholic and I refuse to enable him by being in denial. He retorted that it was “my duty” to financially support him in his old age because I am the eldest unmarried daughter with no children and made a direct reference to my job as being the reason, I didn’t have a normal life.” Cynthia said that when she denied her father’s requests for money, he retaliated by stealing father her identity and acquiring multiple lines of credit in her name. She recounted, “I discovered he had taken out six credit limit cards in my name. He used my social security number to submit the applications. I’m not sure of the exact total, but I do know it’s thousands of dollars. Can you believe that after all of that he still insists that I should help him out because he needed the money. He really thinks I am supposed to just forget about it and get over it because of all the things he’s done for me and I’m thinking to myself, all what things? You were hardly around.”
A combination of contemporary psychoanalysis in conjunction with the empty chair technique was successful in assisting them to link past events, current behaviors, and internalized beliefs, clarify and articulate existing frustrations and disappointments towards their fathers. Each reported significant improvement in mood and daily functioning. However, treatment soon reached an impasse. The women expressed that when they left sessions and interacted with their fathers they felt as if they were undoing the progress they made. The suggestion of inviting their fathers into our sessions-briefly organically evolved as we discussed how to address the new clinical challenges.
Initially, we all laughed hysterically at the idea. Caribbean men in their 70’s coming to see a therapist sounded almost ludicrous and definitely impossible. Research suggests that because NPD is ego syntonic, individuals who meet diagnostic criteria most likely will not seek treatment, but we decided to try. Surprisingly, the men agreed. They basically had the same rationale, though the men did not know each other consensus was that they each (the fathers) wanted the opportunity to “check out what I was doing” and defend themselves from slander and misrepresentation by their daughters.
Our agreement was that the fathers would accompany their daughters to two sessions initially if it was determined by either the daughters or myself that more time was necessary we would discuss and reconfigure the treatment frame. Out of a total of six sessions I noticed a few things: the fathers hardly let their daughters speak in session, when they did remain silent (usually for only for a few minutes) they were in complete denial about the psychological and emotional pain that they had caused, they felt were entitled to their daughters continued financial support.
We were back where we started. Now, how do we proceed? We desperately need more knowledge. This subject is quite unique and there are few quantitative studies that describe good clinical practice standards in this area. To get more information, I have been studying the work of Dr. Ramani Durvasula, renowned expert in narcissistic personality disorder. Her research focuses on various aspects and subcategories of narcissism, including the influence culture has on narcissistic behaviors/traits. Cynthia, Carrie, and Sasha remain in treatment with a lot more self-compassion for themselves and their fathers as we begin to better appreciate the extensive trauma histories which are at the roots of their father’s behavior.
6. KEN FUCHSMAN’S MOVIES, ROCK & ROLL, FREUD BOOK: AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
By Jack Schwartz
This is an interview by Jack Schwartz, Psy.D, with author Ken Fuchsman on his new book that places late 20th century popular culture on the couch, Movies, Rock and Roll and Freud: Essays on Film and Music (ORI Academic Press, 2021). The book offers a serious investigation of popular culture often through a psychoanalytic frame.
Schwartz: It’s so creative that you are able to reference Chuck Berry, Roman Polanski and Sigmund Freud in one volume. How did you come to the use of psychoanalysis as the primary lens for your investigations of music and film? How long did it take you to put this together?
Fuchsman: Yes, my collection of articles roams from the great movie Chinatown to Sigmund Freud and Chuck Berry, among others. The book brings together three articles related to John Huston’s 1962 film, Freud, two essays on director Steven Spielberg, the aforementioned Roman Polanksi film, plus articles on the cycle of the counter culture in 1960s rock, sex and romance in 1950s male rock & roll songs, an essay on Paul Simon’s long recording career, another on Pete Seeger, and an exposition of jazz, race and politics between 1955 and 1975.
I came to the psychoanalytic side of my outlook through the back door. It was through classicist Norman O. Brown’s essay “Liberty” in his 1966 Love’s Body. Brown shows how John Locke’s seminal ideas on government were an example of a political Oedipus complex, sons vs. fathers, and a divided sensibility. This eventually led me in my doctoral dissertation to apply this psychoanalytically derived approach to the American liberal and radical movements of the twentieth century. My perspective is not only psychoanalytic but hermeneutical and historical. I often find divided loyalties, intellectual disparities and contradictions in the movements and thinkers I examine. There is a statement of Montaigne’s I find most illuminating: “we are, I know not how, double within ourselves, with the result that we do not believe what we believe, and we cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn.”
This book primarily contains papers I have written from the 1980s to the present. Once I decided on the subject matter of essays on film and music, it did not take long for me to put the table of contents together. I did write three new essays all connected to the 1962 John Huston movie, Freud.
Schwartz: The book is divided into two sections about film and music respectively. Were you originally thinking about two books?
Fuchsman: I was always thinking of just one book. The idea for the volume came to me when I re-read my 2005 lecture on 1960s counterculture rock I gave at Ramapo College. I liked this old essay and then put together the other papers in this volume.
Schwartz: The book has such an unusually penetrating scope on cultural landmarks. What is most striking is your ability to offer such far ranging perspectives that offer insight into things most people take for granted like pop music or popular films. How did you acquire this perspective?
Fuchsman: First, since I was a boy, I have been intensely enamored with popular music and movies. Then for six years, I had two weekly radio shows, one on the history of rock and another on jazz. I have also had the unfulfilled fantasy of becoming a full-time movie critic. These interests and aspirations are one side of what has led to this book. The other side has to do with my self-examination and academic projects. In the mid-1970s I began work on my doctoral dissertation. In the process I went through a period of powerful intellectual/emotional discovery. I was living in the East Bay area of San Francisco, and was deeply immersed in the music, movies, and politics in this counter culture mecca. I eventually came to a psychohistorical understanding that applied to many different cultural, historical, and political phenomena.
Schwartz: Since many people are not familiar with Huston’s Freud movie and Sartre’s even more obscure unproduced screenplay, is there a wish to revitalize an interest in a screen adaptation of Freud’s life that is more accurate and truer to the subject, like what was done in Spielberg’s Lincoln and in the chapter on A Dangerous Method?
Fuchsman: I was thinking less about a better Freud movie than in trying to make sense of how Freud’s inner struggles led to his great discoveries of the late 1890s. While John Huston’s movie smooths over some of Freud’s contradictions, Jean-Paul Sartre’s discarded screenplay for the movie illuminates the interpersonal dramas between Freud, Wilhelm Fliess, Martha Freud, and Josef Breuer in ways I had not seen before. Breuer was a physician/scientist, who was Freud’s mentor, Martha was Freud’s wife, and Fliess a charismatic Berlin physician with peculiar ideas with whom Freud shared his deepest thoughts in letters and face to face meetings.
I have been struggling with understanding the various changes of perspectives Freud had between 1896 and 1897. I write about this subject again here in response to the incomplete accounts in Huston’s Freud film. Sigmund’s actual views on hysteria and sexual abuse went through a series of vacillations before settling into innovative psychoanalytic doctrines. In 1896, Freud found in his case studies that more than half of the sexual encounters of hysterics were between children, often brothers and sisters. In early 1897, he switched to fathers, and then identified his own father as responsible for the hysteria of some of his siblings. Later that year, he identified himself as having a small hysteria, and dreamed of having over affectionate feelings towards his daughter, Mathilde. That fall, he discarded his paternal aetiology thesis. Instead, he found that it was fantasy that characteristically led to accusations of abuse. Soon after this finding, Sigmund found a way to claim that his father had not abused him. Then in formulating the Oedipus complex, Freud discounted the part of the myth that showed the murderous intent and sexual sins of Oedipus’s father, Laius.
The father of psychoanalysis in his Oedipal doctrines centered on the child’s desires and kept those of fathers in the background. Freud was better at showing the internal than how the internal mixed with the external. This discounting of paternal actions accompanied Freud’s desire to absolve his father and then other paternal figures of misbehavior. My paper in the book details how his theories were among the most revolutionary in history and yet paradoxically one-sided and incomplete.
Schwartz: The chapter on Chinatown is such a standout, can you described how you first encountered that film and what made you choose this as your focus?
Fuchsman: I saw the movie when it was released in 1974 in the midst of Watergate, and viewed it a few times subsequently. What draws me to the film is the plot, the superb screenplay by Robert Towne, Polanski’s direction, and the acting of Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston. The two most sensational scenes are when Nicholson asks Dunaway who that girl is. and after Faye utters a few contradictory answers and Jack slaps Faye, it becomes clear that the girl is the product of Faye’s father’s incestuous sexual assault, and the youngster is both her sister and daughter. The other scene involves John Huston, the father of both females, when he proclaims that “most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and right place, they’re capable of anything.” Following Vietnam atrocities, and during Watergate, America was becoming educated in the extremes humans go to in war, politics, and sexual life. I chose Chinatown as my part on a panel on film noir at a psychohistory association conference. In re-seeing the film in preparation for delivering my paper, it became clear a central motif was that Nicholson’s supposedly worldly-wise detective, who specialized in photographing adulterers in heat, was an innocent in a world of corruption beyond his comprehension. The world of deceit and degradation was victorious over the illusions of the private eye.
Schwartz: In the movie section you slip in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, a theater work, and you mention his autobiography Timebends can you speak of that? I noticed the underlying theme of the nature of male morality, systemic and personal corruption and the search for the heroic as you move from Freud, to Spielberg, to Polanski to Miller etc. Is that why you choose the play The Crucible to close that section? And, was there a movie version of that play? You mentioned your service in the armed forces during the Vietnam era, did that experience add to your emphasis on morality, systemic corruption, and the notion of heroism?
Fuchsman: The themes of male morality and heroism are important in many of Spielberg’s films and early Arthur Miller dramas. My military experience during the Vietnam war taught me that there can be a high price for heroism. In World War II, the most famous combat hero was Audie Murphy, who suffered from severe post-traumatic stress and other psychological disturbances for the rest of his relatively short life. For me, residing in a combat zone and retaining faith in much of what passes for morality was a challenge. As Vietnam veteran Tim O’Brien puts it, “A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue … you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.”
I chose to write about Spielberg after watching Saving Private Ryan. The main plot involves a command directive during the second world war to try to save a soldier named Ryan as all his many brothers had died as a result of combat. Most all of those in the unit trying to preserve young Ryan’s life are killed. As the dying Tom Hank’s character says to the surviving Ryan, “earn it.” Of course, it is impossible for anyone to make up for so many dying. Decades later at a military cemetery, a much older Ryan asks his family was he a good man? The lethal sacrifices made in war can haunt survivors. Spielberg’s later film Munich brings home the severe moral compromises often endemic to a virtuous enterprise. In this case, the attempt of Israel to take an eye for an eye and kill all those responsible for the wanton murder of Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics. As entertaining as Spielberg’s Indiana Jones movies are, Saving Private Ryan and Munich are landmarks of cinematic art.
Turning back to Arthur Miller, my writing on the 1953 The Crucible, which appeared as a film in 1996, was a response to an essay on Miller by psychoanalyst Jim Anderson. I read a lot of Miller, and as he resided in the county where I also live, I did get to meet him twice and speak with him two times on the phone. His first two hit plays, 1947’s All My Sons and 1949’s Death of A Salesman are Oedipal dramas about the moral failures of fathers from a younger man’s perspective. When he comes to write The Crucible, it is less son centered. Now there is more sympathy for the sinning father than before. The film’s main character has committed adultery and is being accused by his seducer during the 1692 Salem Witch trials. The lead actor tries to deflect his own sins by blaming his female partner in adultery and making her out to be sinister. This projection then enables him to find a moral stance for himself and lessen the significance of his own wayward actions. Arthur Miller later gets beyond these melodramatic formulations. He revisits concerns with fathers, sons, blame and innocence in his The Price from 1967. Here he has a more balanced dialectic on these issues than in the play it echoes, Death of A Salesman. Miller’s autobiography is one of the best things he ever wrote. It is filled with insightful self-reflection. Among other things, it paints a vivid portrait of the tortured Marilyn Monroe and Miller’s own bravery in the McCarthy era when testifying before Congress on communism.
Schwartz: For me the second half of the book offers a breathtaking psycho/cultural dynamic read of music through the last half of the twentieth century as an impressionistic reflective discourse starting with pop counter culture with themes of alienation and self-expression, to rock and roll with themes of breaking down sexual repression and then to jazz songs about race and politics, to folk music as a form of social activism. It is a remarkable collection of investigative writing. When did you start to conceive of using a psychoanalytic lens to understand the underlying themes in music/lyrics?
Fuchsman: It is mostly in my paper on counterculture rock that derives from a psychoanalytic lens. In my 1981 dissertation I had done some application of what I found in the liberalism and radicalism of the Progressive era to the 1960s political and cultural radicalism. The rough ideas came back into focus in the process of composing the paper on the music of the 1960s and 1970s for the lecture I gave at Ramapo College in 2005.
Schwartz: Is there a concern that if you start having an idea in mind when you listen to music and read the lyrics that conforms with your interpretation, how did you remain objective?
Fuchsman: What happened for me is that I had some general ideas from my previous work but then they went through much elaboration and revision in the process of research and writing. New categories within the cycle of the counterculture movement were developed, contradictions and reversals in the records of performers were discovered and included. My concern was to gather the evidence and then evaluate it, and see what fit into my structure and what I needed to alter. This constant revision is my usual writing process. A concern is always what I may have omitted. My answer is I did a lot of research and uninten-tionally left some important things out.
Schwartz: When did you discover that music really spoke to the current political and sociological trends in popular culture?
Fuchsman: Popular 60s music appeared in my teenage and early adult years. It was evident from Dylan’s early work and then the 1965 smash hit The Eve of Destruction, among others, that social and political consciousness was becoming front and center in rock and folk-rock recordings.
Schwartz: The scope and breadth of the music you represented in the various pieces are remarkable; are you a music collector? Now that you look back do you feel there were other songs or artists you wanted to include? There a point that stands out in the first section of the book, which is also a product of the culture, that there are few women mentioned in this section. Also, in the later music sections there is a sense of focus on male contributions, especially Paul Simon, Pete Seeger, Elvis etc., although you make a strong point to include influential women such as Joni Mitchell, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Carole King. Were you conscious in your research of how women have been profoundly underrepresented in the cultural tapestry throughout the 20th century? Has it changed today? In retrospect would you have added anyone in the construction of the book?
Fuchsman: There are a number of questions here. I am not only an avid music collector, but think and write better when music is playing. Of course, there are multiple songs and artists in retrospect I would have included. More details on this in a bit.
You say that in the movie section of my book that few women are mentioned. I am not sure why you reached that conclusion. On one hand, in much of Spielberg’s work and in Miller’s The Crucible female characters are often not finely drawn. But in the other movies covered, women are central and regularly discussed by me. In the two articles on the Freud movie, the character called in one Cecily and the other Cacilie are integral to the drama and frequently mentioned. In Sartre’s work, he has Freud saying that it is Cacilie’s revelations that help him come to terms with himself. I also discuss how central Martha Freud was to Freud’s development, and that contrary to his own declarations that men came first to him, in saying this he is inaccurate in his lessening of Martha’s centrality, which I detail. In A Dangerous Method, the Sabina Spielrein character is the co-lead with Jung, and develops into a brilliant psychoanalyst who first pointed out what Freud later called the death instinct. Could Chinatown be adequately discussed without paying attention to Faye Dunaway performance as Evelyn Mulwray? It is after all Mrs. Mulwray who lets Jack Nicholson’ character know that he is in over his head, which is a central motif in the film. Her own dignity and fortitude are featured in how she has to confront her father’s vicious abuse and her determination to protect her daughter/sister from their father.
When we turn to women in the jazz world, the 1920s female blues singers were among the biggest stars including Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Mamie Smith, Ida Cox, and more. Over 100 women blues singers made recordings in that decade. The most famous male jazz artists eagerly played as sidemen on their popular records. But female instrumentalists were not as prominent, Lil Hardin, was a successful piano player on legendary 1920s jazz records, and later married Louis Armstrong. The same pattern of a paucity of female jazz instrumental recording artists and prominent black women singers was still true in the period covered in my “Jazz, Race, and Politics 1955-1975.” This piece is filled with references to the vital creations of female singers and songwriters, including a rare civil rights single never released on an album composed and performed by Ella Fitzgerald after Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder. The agony Nina Simone felt the week after King’s death comes through in her singing “Why? (The King of Love is Dead).” The most harrowing, politically relevant vocal I have ever heard is in how Nina Simone transforms “Pirate Jenny” in the Threepenny Opera from a song of class resentment to one of racial vengeance. The 1956 re-recording of Billie Holiday’s haunting “Strange Fruit” about lynching is discussed. I also feature the work of the great and under-recognized jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams.
You say I make a strong point of my including influential women. I cannot say that I intentionally included or excluded anyone due to their gender. I was looking for the songs and performances that illustrated my subject matter whether it was race and politics in jazz or counterculture themes in rock and folk-rock.
Am I aware, you ask, that women are underrepresented culturally in the twentieth century? I am. Still, it should be noted that over the last 120 years there have been dramatic shifts. In 1900, 18% of the workforce was female. By January 2020 women held 50.04% of all U.S. jobs. While the median salary of women to men remains unfairly low at a little over 80%, the percentage of women lawyers and doctors has increased by over threefold in the last half century. Nevertheless, it remains the case that many fields of employment are heavily loaded towards either men or women. Women have been major influences say in both psychoanalysis and social work. Central parts of the music business though have not seen dramatic advances for women. Of the 600 most popular songs making the charts between 2012 and 2017, only 22.4% were by females. There is a mixed legacy. In early Roman law if a wife besmirched her husband’s reputation and he murdered her, legally it was considered a private matter. On the other hand, in 1994 the U. S. Violence Against Women Act was passed. Soon afterwards there was a 53% decline in intimate partner violence over a 15-year period and a 35% reduction of men being killed by women from 1993 to 2007. It is not unfair to say that in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries females have been both culturally underrepresented and women saw more advances in those 120 years than in almost any prior period in Western history.
Back to your question about what I might have discussed in my counterculture paper. In the reference section of that article is the list of over 180 songs cited. Here is a partial list of relevant songs by artists not included that I wish I had added: The Association: “Along Comes Mary,” Joan Baez: “Love Is A Four-Letter Word,” “Love Song to a Stranger,” “Diamonds and Rust,” Jackson Browne: “For A Dancer.” “Fountain of Sorrow,” Late for the Sky,” “These Days,” Credence Clearwater Revival: “Down on the Corner,” “Fortunate Son,” Dion: “Abraham, Martin, and John,” Eagles: “Take It to the Limit,” Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On,” Janis Ian: “At Seventeen,” “Society’s Child,” “Stars,” “Watercolors,” Carole King: “I Feel the Earth Move,” “It’s Too Late Baby,” “ You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman,” Ralph McTell: “Streets of London,” Van Morrison: “Moondance,” Randy Newman: “God’s Song,” Pearls Before Swine” “These Things Too,” Carly Simon: “Anticipation,” “ No Secrets” “That’s the Way I Heard It Should Be.”
Schwartz: In closing, picking up on the psychoanalytic perspective, I am drawn to the notion of your writing on film and music that borrows an approach first established by Freud in his analysis of dreams, and his biographical studies of famous people (Da Vinci, Woodrow Wilson etc. ) looking at each element (song lyric) and how it ties to a deeper context, in other words the application of psychoanalytic frame onto artistic expression- can you speak of the genesis of the application of psychoanalysis in this way? Does it cause a problem to ascribe dynamic understanding in order to discern the artist’s intention, so that the art is merely reduced to a form of neurotic expression (as Freud alluded to) like a dream symbol or a psychiatric symptom?
Fuchsman: Freud’s writings reflect his deep immersion in art and literature. He names one of his most famous doctrines from the Oedipus plays of Sophocles. In addition to writing on DaVinci, he has an essay on Michelangelo’s Moses. References to Shakespeare are sprinkled in his works, Goethe was mentioned over 100 times in Freud’s writings. Sigmund published a long analysis on the Jensen’s novel Gradiva, and has an essay on Dostoevsky. My work owes a great deal to Freud but I do not focus on the neurotic character of the subject and I seek to avoid reductionism. The approach I take is to look within the thoughts and works of writers and artists and focus on the internal dynamics and tensions within their worldview, how their creations fit into patterns in the larger social and historical world, and how their outlooks evolve over time. For instance, Bob Dylan was one kind of artist when he wrote the political anthem “Blowin’ In The Wind” in his early twenties, another in his thirties writing about marital dissolution in Blood on the Tracks, and still another in his late fifties when he composed “Things Have Changed,” where he repeats that people are crazy and “I’ve been trying to get as far away from myself as I can.” It makes sense to look at any person over the course of time, to ascertain the trail of their thought and how this reflects divided perspectives in themselves and in the groups and values with which they identify. The same interest in the dynamics of life over time is applicable to movements such as the 1960s-1970s counterculture rock. It too has a life span, a development over time, aspirations, internal divisions, and divided loyalties. Over time as a movement, it begins to fade and then alters between disillusion, resilience, fragmentation, and sometimes in later life identifying with the values once vehemently rejected. What is also striking and part of my approach is that the cycle of 1960s cultural radicals repeats in many ways what transpired among such radicals in the progressive era and in the 1930s depression generation. As must be evident, my writings have inspiration from psychoanalysis and then moves into other domains and perspectives.
Schwartz: Your book is a masterful contribution to the applied psychoanalytic literature that demonstrates the viability and utility of psychoanalysis beyond the consulting room: for that I must congratulate you on a job well done.
Fuchsman: Jack, thanks for all the kind words you have said about my writings, and that you have agreed to interview me is something I will always appreciate.
7. BULLETIN BOARD
Forthcoming Activities of the Psychohistory Forum and Clio’s Psyche
- In the early Spring of 2022 when the virus subsides and in-person meetings are safe, James W. Anderson will present “Heinz Kohut’s Vulnerable Self, His Reaction to the Holocaust, and Break with the Psychoanalytic Establishment.” At the moments we are discussing a seminar with Sven Fuchs on the childhood of Nazi leadership and other authoritarians. We wish to thank Ken Fuchsman for the May 1st seminar on “The Paranoid Tradition in American History and Politics.” We welcome additional Work-in-Progress proposals, which include papers from 15 to 50 pages.
- The Psychohistory Forum sponsored The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory is on the verge of completion and publication. There are 32 autobiographical and four biographical essays in this long-awaited companion volume to The Making of Psychohistory: Origins, Controversies, and Pioneering Contributors. The Forum is also creating a virtual research group on psychobiography, which will have an international component. The IPA has agreed to accept affiliation with this important aspect of psychohistory.
- The David Beisel Festschrift that appeared in the fall 2021 issue of Clio’s Psyche is the first of a series which the Psychohistory Forum is initiating. Our next honoree will be Howard Stein. We welcome Festschrift articles up to 3,000 words elaborating, extending, or critiquing his work.
- The Fall 2021 issue of Clio’s Psyche includes “Coping in our Anxious World” articles, an interview of Danielle Knafo on creativity and perversion, Part II of “The Psychology of Teaching”( focused more on theory than Part I did), and other materials. There are calls for commentaries and papers on the following symposium: Peter Petschauer’s “COVID-19 and the Changing Spaces We Inhabit.” The deadlines for full-length articles are October 1, 2021, and for commentaries are September 15, 2021.
- We are interested in a wide variety of papers and symposium articles on “Our Emotional Connections to Art, Books, Media, Music, Objects, Podcasts, TV.” These could be for different issues in 2022. As usual, we accept articles unrelated to specific issues, features, festschrifts, and symposia. Back issues of Clio’s Psyche can be accessed at CliosPsyche.org/archives.
Go to cliospsyche.org and contact Paul H. Elovitz at for details of these activities.
Upcoming Virtual Meetings
- Sunday, October 31, 1:00 PM EDT: Monthly meeting of the IPA Racial Reckoning Working Group
- Sunday, November 7, 1:00 PM EDT: Monthly IPA salon, a virtual wine and cheese type event
For more information about either of these meetings, contact Brian D’Agostino at or 917-628-8253 (cell)
8. IPA CONTACTS
- Brian D’Agostino, President
- Michael Britton, Vice President
- Marc-André Cotton, International Vice President
- Brigitte Demeure, Secretary
- Denis J. O’Keefe, Treasurer
- Inna Rozentsvit, Communications Director
- Gilda Graff, Editor, Psychohistory News,
- David Lotto, Editor, The Journal of Psychohistory
- Susan Hein, Publisher, The Journal of Psychohistory
- Paul Elovitz, Editor, Clio’s Psyche and listserv
- Howard Stein, Member, IPA Leadership Council