Saturday, November 30, 2013

40,000 Views on The Psychoanalytic Muse

The Psychoanalytic Muse celebrates 40,000 views since its inception on March 10, 2011.  The blog has been viewed from 108 countries around the world. Such a strong world-wide interest in the topics of psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and analytical psychology underscores the vitality of the field. Thank you for continuing to read.


Mark Winborn, PhD, NCPsyA
Editor - The Psychoanalytic Muse

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Singer and Kimbles - The Cultural Complex

“This book sets out to explore a single notion – what we have called “the cultural complex.” The very name of the notion is a synthesis of two very potent words – “cultural” and “complex” – each carrying a long and important history of research, speculation, and multileveled meaning. The notion of a “cultural complex” is a synthetic idea, i.e., it springs from a particular tradition – analytical psychology – and draws on different strands of that tradition to build a new idea for the purpose of understanding the psychology of group conflict. Over and over again in this book, we will underline the premise that the psychology of cultural complexes operates both in the collective psychology of the group and in the individual members of the group…

As personal complexes emerge out of the level of the personal unconscious in their interaction with deeper levels of the psyche and early parental/familial relationships, cultural complexes can be thought of arising out the cultural unconscious as it interacts with both the archetypal and personal realms of the psyche and the broader outer world arena of schools, communities, media, and all the other forms of cultural and group life. As such, cultural complexes can be thought of as forming the essential components of an inner sociology. But this inner sociology does not claim to be objective or scientific in its description of different groups and classes of people. Rather, it is a description of groups and classes of people as filtered through the psyches of generations of ancestors. It has all sorts of information and misinformation about the structures of societies – a truly, inner sociology – and its essential building blocks are cultural complexes. Cultural complexes are not the same as cultural identity or what has sometimes been called “national character,” although there are times when cultural complexes, cultural identity and national character can seem impossibly intertwined...

Intense collective emotion is the hallmark of an activated cultural complex at the core of which is an archetypal pattern. Cultural complexes structure emotional experience and operate in the personal and collective psyche in much the same way as individual complexes, although their content might be quite different... Individuals and groups in the grips of a particular cultural complex automatically take on a shared body language and postures or express their distress in similar somatic complaints. Finally, like personal complexes, cultural complexes can provide those caught in their potent web of stories and emotions a simplistic certainty about the group’s place in the world in the face of otherwise conflicting and ambiguous uncertainties.

To summarize, cultural complexes are based on repetitive, historical group experiences which have taken root in the cultural unconscious of the group. At any ripe time, these slumbering cultural complexes can be activated in the cultural unconscious and take hold of the collective psyche of the group and the individual collective psyche of individual members of the group. The inner sociology of the cultural complexes can seize the imagination, the behavior and the emotions of the collective psyche and unleash tremendously irrational forces in the name of their “logic.”

Everywhere one turns today, there is a group that seems to be feeling the effects of a cultural complex in its behavior and relationships to other groups, in its feelings about itself and its sense of place in the world. Group complexes are everywhere and one can easily feel swamped by their affects and claims. To suggest that a group is in the grip of a complex in its behavior or affect – particularly if there is merit to the claim and the group has been discriminated against by a colonial power or a white power or a male power or a black power or a female power etc., etc. – is to risk being attacked with the full fury of that group’s psychic defenses. Mostly these group complexes have to do with trauma, discrimination, feelings of oppression and inferiority at the hands of another offending group – although the “offending groups” are just as frequently feeling discriminated against and treated unfairly. Group complexes litter the psychic landscape and are as easily detonated as the literal land mines that scatter the globe and threaten life – especially young life – everywhere.” (pp. 1-7)

Singer, T. and Kimbles, S.L. (2004). The Cultural Complex : contemporary Jungian perspectives on psyche and society, East Sussex, UK: Brunner- Routledge.

Peter Fonagy - Psychoanalysis Today

Conclusion to the 2003 article by Peter Fonagy:

"Our aim should be to assist the movement of psychoanalysis toward science. In order to ensure a future for psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapies within psychiatry, psychoanalytic practitioners must change their attitude in the direction of a more systematic outlook. This attitude shift would be characterized by several components: a) The evidence base of psychoanalysis should be strengthened by adopting additional data-gathering methods that are now widely available in biological and social science. New evidence may assist psychoanalysts in resolving theoretical differences, a feat which the current database of predominantly anecdotal clinical accounts have not been capable of achieving. b) The logic of psychoanalytic discourse would need to change from its overdependence on rhetoric and global constructs to using specific constructs that allow for cumulative data-gathering. c) Flaws in psychoanalytic scientific reasoning, such as failures to consider alternative accounts for observations (beyond that favored by the author), should be overcome and in particular, the issue of genetic and social influence should be approached with increased sophistication. d) The isolation of psychoanalysis should be replaced by active collaboration with other mental health disciplines. Instead of fearing that fields adjacent to psychoanalysis might destroy the unique insights offered by clinical work, we need to embrace the rapidly evolving 'knowledge chain' focused at different levels of the study of brain-behavior relationship, which, as Kandel (,) points out, may be the only route to the preservation of the hard won insights of psychoanalysis."

Peter Fonagy (2003) Psychoanalysis Today, World Psychiatry, Vol. 2(2), pp. 73–80.
available at

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Upcoming International Psychoanalytic Conferences

Journal of Analytical Psychology 12th International Conference: The Varieties of Jungian Clinical Experience: Complex, Identity, Intersubjectivity 
29 May to June 2014, Berlin, Germany

The 7th International Conference on the Work of Frances Tustin: Spilling, Falling, Dissolving: Engaging Primitive Anxieties of the Emerging Self
July 24-27, 2014, Boston, MA
Boston, MA
Organized by the Frances Tustin Memorial Trust

International Psychoanalytic Association International Congress: Changing the World: The Shape and Use of Psychoanalytic Tools Today 
July 22 thru July 25, 2015, Boston, MA - -

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Psychoanalysis Under Attack in Belguim - Act Now!

Dear Colleague,

The Belgian legislature is putting forward a proposal on the practice of psychotherapy in general and of psychoanalysis in particular. All the analytic associations organized under the umbrella of the FABEP (Belgian Psychoanalytic Federation) agreed on Sunday, October 20, on an "Appeal to the Belgian Parliament," and to circulate this document in the form of a petition for which... the signatures of analysts and friends of analysis would be solicited.

The major points of the proposed legislation are that:

 * Psychoanalysis be assimilated into psychotherapy;
* Psychoanalysis only be performed by physicians and psychologists
   following a 5400-hour training that will only be provided by universities;
* A High Council of Psychotherapy be created;
* The psychoanalyst and/or therapist who is not a physician establish a
   dossier for each patient and inform the treating physician of
   the "development of his/her health."

Psychoanalysis is in danger. If this legislation goes forward, psychoanalysis as such will become extinct. Every threat to psychoanalysis in another country or state is a threat to the independence and integrity of psychoanalysis everywhere.

This is why we are asking each of you to sign, and to get as many colleagues as possible to sign, this "Appeal to Parliament." It is for the future of psychoanalysis not only in Belgium but everywhere. We must get as many signatures as possible, as rapidly as possible.

Douglas F. Maxwell
NAAP President
80 Eighth Ave #1501
New York, NY 10011

Click below or paste the link below into your browser to sign the petition today! Make sure you check your inbox for a confirmation email afterward (which will be in Dutch). You must click on the confirmation link in the email otherwise your signature will not count.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Emerging Evidence for Long-Term Psychodynamic Therapy

The Emerging Evidence for Long-Term Psychodynamic Therapy.
Leichsenring F, Abbass A, Luyten P, Hilsenroth M, Rabung S.
Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 2013 Fall;41(3):361-84.

ABSTRACT:There is growing evidence from RCTs supporting the efficacy of both short-term (STPP) and long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (LTPP) for specific mental disorders. In a first series of meta-analyses, LTPP was shown to be superior to shorter forms of psychotherapy, especially in complex mental disorders. However, the evidence for LTPP has not gone unchallenged. After several responses have addressed the raised concerns, a recent meta-analysis by Smit and colleagues (2012) again challenges the efficacy of LTPP.
METHOD: From a methodological perspective, a critical analysis of the Smit et al. meta-analysis was performed. Furthermore, we conducted two new meta-analyses adding studies not included in previous meta-analyses. The purpose was to examine whether the results of the previous meta-analyses are stable.

RESULTS: Due to differing inclusion criteria, the meta-analysis by Smit et al. actually compared LTPP to other forms of long-term psychotherapy. Thus, they essentially showed that LTPP was as efficacious as other forms of long-term therapy. For this reason the meta-analysis by Smit et al. does not question the results of previous meta-analyses showing that LTPP is superior to shorter forms of psychotherapy. In addition, the Smit et al. meta-analysis was shown to suffer from several methodological shortcomings. The new meta-analyses we performed did not find significant deviations from previous results. In complex mental disorders LTPP proved to be significantly superior to shorter forms of therapy corroborating results of previous meta-analyses.

CONCLUSIONS: Data on dose-effect relations suggest that for many patients with complex mental disorders, including chronic mental disorders and personality disorders, short-term psychotherapy is not sufficient. For these patients, long-term treatments may be indicated. The meta-analyses presented here provide further support for LTPP in these populations. Nevertheless, there is a need for more research in LTPP and other long-term psychotherapies.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Jon Sletvold - The Neuroscience of Freud's Body Ego

Abstract: Freud’s statement in The Ego and the Id (1923) that the ego is first and foremost a bodily ego is well known. This paper tempts to clarify the premises underlying Freud’s thesis. Particular attention is paid to Freud’s investigation of internal perceptions. Freud argued that internal perceptions are more primordial than perceptions arising externally. In Freud’s opinion the roots of the ego, the id, are to be found in body sensations and feelings, but he had to admit that very little was known about these sensations and feelings. Only much later was neuroscience in a position to offer evidence that feelings can be the direct perception of the internal state of the body. Antonio Damasio (2010) has recently suggested that the core of the self might be found in what he, like Freud, terms primordial feelings. Not only was Freud able to conceive of the ego as the perception and feeling of our own body but also to conceive of knowing the mental life of another by means of recreating the bodily state of another through imitation.

Jon Sletvold (2013) The ego and the id revisited: Freud and Damasio on the body ego/self. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 94, pp. 1019-1032 


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Jean Knox - The Analyst's Capacity for Empathy

"So for the psychotherapist, empathy in its widest sense requires us to develop four different skills at the same time:
  • to allow emotional contagion, to share, through the countertransference, the shame and humiliation of the patient as a victim;
  • to be able to distance ourselves from that contagion, to take our own perspective and ‘feel for’ the patient, drawing on a range of affect-regulating approaches—an appropriate rescuer stance;
  • to bear and so contain the experience of being seen as and sometimes becoming an abuser without a defensive escape into a defensive and unhelpful rescuer position, and
  • finally to co-create a new relational experience in which both therapist and patient collaborate to ‘toggle’ between self and other perspectives, and in doing so, co-construct the intersubjective third.

All of these contribute to processes of rupture and repair that constitute the therapeutic conversation when working with early relational trauma." (p. 504-505)
Jean Knox (2013) ‘Feeling for’ and ‘feeling with’: developmental and neuroscientific perspectives on intersubjectivity and empathy.  Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2013, Vol. 58, pp. 491-509.