Impulse is a community newsletter produced by the Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology (NCSPP) and distributed electronically at no cost to subscribers. We envision Impulse as an integrative source for local news, events, and thinking of interest to the psychoanalytically inclined. Our goal is to be your guide as you explore the Bay Area's rich array of analytic resources.

We invite you to become a member of NCSPP, if you are not already. And, we welcome you as a subscriber to Impulse. Join us as we highlight the exceptional diversity of psychoanalytic thought and practice in Northern California.

by Danni Biondini, LMFT

Great, it’s August, the month that reminds us of what everything in psychoanalysis comes down to: you are forever going to navigate a jagged psychic landscape of separation and loss. Life is a series of alterations between getting-close-to-someone and being-let-down-by-them. All human relationships are, at the core, a painful reminder of death. 

My analyst is going on vacation for three weeks. 

The response you have to this might indicate what side of psychoanalysis you’re on: is the analyst’s requisite August vacation a trauma or an opportunity for growth? Hymer (1993) proposed that the analyst’s vacation need not be traumatizing but can be “enriching" and “expansive” (yes, she means for both!). The classic analytic cliche of traumatized patient rests on the ol’ deficit perspective in psychoanalysis, she explains. As analyst, are you the pre-oedipal mother, fostering regression and dependency while treating your patient as an adult-sized baby? If so, of course this vacation recapitulates an earlier loss. You were once abandoned Oedipally, and here we go again.

by Lorrie Golden, LCSW

Tara Westover’s acclaimed memoir, Educated, is about many things: growing up in an extreme fundamentalist family under the thrall of a paranoid father, in an environment both idyllic and abusive; her attempts to break free; and education in both the sense of formal learning and its more expansive meaning — the process of self-discovery.

I happened to listen to Educated after finishing a monthly case conference, led by Dr. Jane Rubin, about working with developmental trauma within an intersubjective perspective. The memoir is a compelling example of the complexities we explored: the traumas themselves, the additional and more severe consequences of misattuned responsiveness, and the terror of change that makes the dread not to repeat as powerful as the dread to repeat. 

A reviewer summarizes Westover’s dilemma: “Will she come home? Can she come home? Or will home be more damaging to her spirit than the broader dangerous world her father fears?”

by Molly Merson, MFT

Politics in the Consulting Room. Adam Phillips, in conversation with Devorah Baum, explores the concept of politics in psychoanalysis and how the space generated between two people listening attentively is a radical, subversive act. (The full article is behind a paywall.)

Do Walls Change How We Think? Physical barriers evoke psychic barriers, which sometimes puts our psychological system on overdrive which can last long after the wall comes down. Communities with fewer physical barriers may be less likely to experience particular mental illness, which may say something about what walls do to our minds.

Matters of Life and Sex: Trans-ing Psychoanalysis. Patricia Gherovici describes her new book, Transgender Psychoanalysis: A Lacanian Perspective on Sexual Difference in this article.

by Asya Grigorieva, Ph.D. 


Mutual Love as Trauma: Implications for Clinical Work
Diane E. Donnelly, Ph.D.
Thursdays, September 12 – October 17, 2019
7:15 – 9:00 pm
San Francisco

Foundations: Klein 
Margo Chapin, MFT
Mondays, September 30 – November 4, 2019
7:30 – 9:00 pm
East Bay 


by Jeremy Mintz, Psy.D. 

I liked calling myself the behind-the-scenes guy for the recently-past NCSPP Annual Lecture (Plugging the School-to-Prison Pipeline, May 18, 2019). As a white, cisgender male, that felt like a comfortable role for me to play at an event focused on black issues. I could stay out of the fray and just do my best to make sure things ran smoothly. Then the actual event happened and my feelings changed.


PSYCHOTHERAPY OFFICE SUBLET: Lovely upper Fillmore Street location at 2491 Washington Street in a suite with three other analysts. Office is available all day on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Wednesday mornings until noon. The office has a contemporary ambience with high ceilings, bay window, analytic couch, and closet with built in desk. Rent is $363/day. If interested please call Barbara A. Baer, Ph.D. at (415) 346-8868.

NEWLY RENOVATED OFFICE IN THE PRESIDIO: With a group of psychotherapists.1808 Wedemeyer St. $1600 a month. Peter Carnochan: (415) 793-6511.

Old couches, new books, hot jobs, cool internships, office rentals? List them in Impulse's Classifieds for a modest fee. Please see our submission guidelines for details.   

Appointment Book: 

South Bay Reading Group: August
Fri, Aug 23 / 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm / private residence / Palo Alto
PINC / (415) 288-4050 / J. Gerhardt, Ph.D.; D. Facchino, Ph.D., MFT / $15

NCSPP Friends and Family Picnic
Sun, Aug 18 / 11:30 am - 3:00 pm / Presidio Park / San Francisco
NCSPP / (415) 572-1903 / N/A / free