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 Sydney Tan, PsyD

“facilis descensus Averno”

He prayed, such words having been spoken, he grasped the altar
just as the prophetess began to speak: “Born of the blood of the gods,
Trojan son of Anchises, the descent down is easy;
night and day the door to the dark underworld lies open,
but to retrace your step, escape and ascend toward the air,
this is the task, this is the labor. Few, whom impartial
Jupiter loved or those of fiery valor, begotten of the gods,
have been able to carry forth toward the upper air. Held in the
middle of the forests, the Cocytus flowing surrounds the black gulf.
But if so great your passion, if so great your desire,
twice to swim the river Styx, twice to see the black
Tartarus, if it is pleasing to indulge in this mad labor,
hear what must first be done.
                                     -- Virgil, The Aeneid, translated from the Latin by Sydney Tan

by Alexandra Guhde, PsyD


This past January, I turned 40. The occasion came laden with all the attendant reckoning that milestone birthdays so often bring. As a result, I doubled down on my vow to live a more embodied life, rather than whiling away my hours in the catbird seat of my prefrontal cortex. (If you read my previous post, you know I’m riffing on a theme, here.) And in this spirit — the literal inclusion of the physical — I decided to enlist a certified weightlifting coach to teach me proper Olympic weightlifting technique.

I’ve never had an abiding interest in weightlifting as a sport, or even as a pastime. Barbells scare me, especially when hovering overhead. Maybe it was the fear that attracted me. Or the twinge of envy I felt watching an athlete at ease standing beneath so many kilos of iron. Could I do that? Nah.

It turns out I can. Sort of. Well, I’m learning. And the learning has proved revelatory. The hours I spend assembling the surprisingly complex and subtle movements involved in shifting a barbell from the floor toward the heavens provide me with new awareness of my body in space and time. Also, when I do it properly (or, in my case, as close to properly as possible) it feels so cool.

by Molly Merson, MFT

This Viral ‘Get Out’ Theory Makes Wild Connections to Sigmund Freud and the Cohen Brothers. A Twitter user just blew our psychoanalytic minds. Check out this connection between Get Out and Freud’s concept of “unheimlich” (the uncanny) uncovered by film critic and lawyer @kyalbr.

Will a Cyborg Steal My Jouissance? Unconscious Labor and the Enjoying Body of the Virtual. A podcast interview with psychoanalyst Hilda Fernandez, who explores humanity, jouissance, and existence through a Lacanian lens on the television shows Westworld and Black Mirror, among others.

Freudian Noir. This book review captures how the media of radio, film, and the printed word are intertwined and interrelated landscapes for human fantasy and experience.

by Brenda Bloomfield, PhD


How we understand and engage with the negative may determine whether it sabotages the process of psychoanalytic psychotherapy or serves as an engine of therapeutic action. Immersion in the negative expands the therapist’s awareness of the patient’s internal world. 

The 2018-2019 Intensive Study Group will investigate theoretical approaches to the negative, and practical engagements with it in the clinical setting, considering such topics as trauma, the fusion of eros and the death drive, negative therapeutic reaction, psychic retreats, perverse modes of relating, destructive narcissism, and excessive splitting.


by Stefania Pifer, PsyD


We welcome CMH clinicians to join us for a night of community building! Due to the frenetic pace of agency work in community mental health, finding time for self-care and building professional connections, among other things, can feel draining and difficult.

We are beginning a series of community events at various museums in the Bay Area for CMH clinicians in order to help increase our sense of play and build relationships and camaraderie across clinics.



PSYCHOTHERAPY OFFICE SUBLET. Lovely upper Fillmore Street location at 2491 Washington Street in a suite with three other analysts. Office is available Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, as well as Wednesday morning until noon. Partial sublet available, although full use of times available preferred. The office has a contemporary ambience with high ceilings, bay window, analytic couch, and closet with built-in desk. If interested please call Barbara Baer, PhD, at (415) 346-8868.

UPPER MARKET/CASTRO OFFICE SHARE available in elegant, quiet space with high ceilings, wood floors, and natural light in recently built-out office suite with psychodynamic clinicians. $295/day w/minimum 3 days, 2-day rental negotiable. 120 sq ft. Excellent location on Market Street near 16th Street. Contact Kirsten Beuthin (415) 401-7180.

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: 

The Trauma of the Refugee Crisis
Wed, Jun 6 / 7:15 pm - 8:45 pm / 530 Bush St / San Francisco
PINC / (415) 288-4050 / N. Rizkalla, PhD, et al. / $10 - $20

Community Mental Health Gathering: Museum and Food Trucks
Fri, Jun 8 / 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm / 1000 Oak St / Oakland
NCSPP / (510) 593-8432 / $15

Presence and Improvisation: Communication in Jazz and Psychoanalysis
Mon, Jun 11 / 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm / 444 Natoma St / San Francisco
SFCP / (415) 563-5815 / H. Markman, MD, et al. / free