IN DARK TIMES:
Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Totalitarian States of Mind
We are currently witnessing the rise of fascist-like leaders globally, and, most alarmingly, in Europe as well as our own country. We observe how these leaders and their adherents collude to form basic assumption groups that could swiftly undermine our western democratic values and institutions.
In this seminar, we will explore various psychoanalytic contributions that can enhance our understanding of the totalitarian states of mind that spark these dangerous movements. We will consider how omnipotence and grandiosity can take over the personality, obviating guilt and trumping healthy uncertainty, which leads to the formation of psychotic-like totalitarian states of mind. We will consider racism and propaganda as they relate to these states — marked by narcissistic, perverse, and psychopathic features. We will consider these tyrannical states at the individual and the group level by discussing selected readings by Hannah Arendt, Herbert Rosenfeld, Christopher Bollas, Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, Roger Money-Kyrle, and by the instructor.
- After reading and discussing Herbert Rosenfeld’s 1971 paper on Destructive Narcissism, participants will be able to describe the the relationship between destructive narcissism and totalitarian states of mind.
- Participants will be able to explain what Chasseguet-Smirgel meant when she suggested that perversion involves an attempt to eradicate reality. They will be able to give two examples, clinical or political that exemplify how a perverse attack on truth and reality is related to totalitarian states of mind.
- After reading Nick Temple’s 2006 article, participants will be able to describe what Temple means when he wrote that maintaining a totalitarian state of mind is based on the perpetual need to project guilt into enemies and victims both in the internal world and in the political world.
- Participants will be able to describe how totalitarian solutions are used both internally and politically as defenses against experiencing helplessness and vulnerability while projecting into opponents and victims experiences of weakness and failure.
- Participants will be able to list at least three powerful drives, emotions or anxieties that can lead the internal world to lose its parliamentary quality and tip toward establishing a totalitarian state of mind.
- Participants will be able to describe what it means when we say that the basic weapon of a fascistic state of mind is the destruction of the concept of truth and the internal experience of trust in a protective maternal imago.
Bornstein, Robert F. (Ed); Masling, Joseph M. (Ed). (1998). Empirical perspectives on the psychoanalytic unconscious. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. xxviii 291.
Era A. Loewenstein, Ph.D., is an adult, adolescent, and child psychoanalyst and a training and supervising analyst at SFCP. Era is on the faculty of SFCP, NCSPP, and Access Institute. Her most recent article, “Dystopian Narratives: Encounters with the Perverse Sadomasochistic Universe,” was published in The Psychoanalytic Inquiry in 2017.
This course is offered to intermediate and advanced mental health professionals and academics interested in psychoanalytic perspective. It requires participants to have familiarity with the basic principles and terminology of psychoanalytic theory and technique. Some clinical experience is recommended.
Enrollees who cancel at least SEVEN DAYS prior to the event date will receive a refund minus a $35 administrative charge. No refunds will be allowed after this time. Transfer of registrations are not allowed.