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 Molly Russo, LMFT

It’s been six weeks of sheltering in place and I find myself hungry for ways to understand this experience while also wanting to shut out the world. It’s an incredible difficulty to know what to do with ourselves or what we might need moment to moment. My friends and I have all shared photos of our various baking adventures (scones, English muffins, breads, pizza, cakes) with the implication that perhaps we should all be able to show something for our time indoors, proof to ourselves and others that we’re still functioning, that we can muster the thinking strength needed to decipher a recipe, that we can still be good little capitalists and meet open time with productivity.  

There’s a meme circulating the internet that goes something like this: “If you don’t come out of the quarantine with a new skill or new knowledge it wasn’t the time that you lacked, it was the discipline.” Some days it feels that all we can do is survive the day, survive the looming uncertainty, the economic destruction and the medical catastrophe that this virus and the inadequacies of our country leave in their wakes. The hyper-focus on capitalist productivity feels so uniquely American. We are so trained in feeling like our worth is measured in output and that if we only had more time, we could clock more hours. Even during a pandemic there remains pressure to keep going and keep ourselves away from knowing about our experience. 

by Michael McAndrew, MA, LPCC

“Intentional aggressiveness gnaws away, undermines, and disintegrates; it castrates; it leads to death. “And I thought you were impotent!” growled a mother with a tiger’s cry, to her son, who, not without great difficulty, had confessed to her his homosexual tendencies.” (Lacan, p.84, 1943)

Spoilers for Tiger King (2019)

Tiger King is, ultimately, a story about family romances and aggression. On screen we see two kinds of families of our protagonists: families of choice and families of blood. The relationships between our protagonists, each other, and their families are defined by aggression and aggressivity. Though these may seem similar at first glance, Jacques Lacan draws the line between the two, in blood as it were. Aggression refers to violent acts, like, say, feeding your husband to a tiger. Aggressivity “has got absolutely nothing to do with [aggression]. At the limit, virtually, aggressivity turns into aggression.” (Lacan, p. 177, 1954). Aggressivity is the relation that underlies many of these aggressive acts in Tiger King, but also those of love as well.            

One would certainly have to believe aggressivity underlies any fundamental decision to cage, breed, live among, and kill wild animals. Just as equally, a psychoanalyst would have to agree that aggressivity exists in the fundamental decisions of the protagonist to cage, breed, live among, and kill other human beings. This is the fundamental rule of Tiger King: kill or be killed, the law of the jungle.           

by Molly Merson, MFT

Elemental Catastrophe: Ecopsychoanalysis and the Viral Uncanny of Covid-19. This lengthy article folds together Deleuze, Camus, Freud, and contemporary ecopsychoanalysis to explore Covid-19 in the realm of the unconscious and uncanny amidst ecological and libidinal uncertainty.

What Would Freud Make of the Toilet Paper Panic? Freud and feces? Poop and psychoanalysis? This “piece” offers few different psychoanalytic takes on why TP has become such a precious, and public, commodity during this pandemic.

Psychoanalysis in Time of Plague. Jamieson Webster shares some of her personal and professional experience of being an analyst in a pandemic.

Anxious Argentines, in Coronavirus Lockdown, Bring Therapy Couch Back Home. The New York Times offers a practical take on the helpfulness of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, now and in general.


Appointment Book: 

Analytic Work with Altered States of Consciousness
Sat, May 2 / 10:30 am - 12:30 pm / Zoom / San Francisco
PINC / (415) 288-4050 / K. Peoples, Ph.D.; M. Rundel, Ph.D. / $20 - $55