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When Deadness Breaks In: On the Struggle to Remain Alive in Psychoanalytic Treatment

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May 20 @ 9:30 am - 11:30 pm


Contemporary psychoanalytic approaches extend the reach of psychoanalytic treatment to more disturbed patients. Working analytically with non-neurotic patients and traumatic states challenges traditional theory and practice. Ofra Eshel, drawing on the work of Winnicott and Bion, discusses new kinds of analytic presence and patient-analyst interconnectedness she calls “withnessing.” In this presentation, she presents a difficult analytic treatment, in which the patient experienced overwhelming depths of deadness and emptiness resulting from growing up in the presence of a psychically “dead” mother who was absorbed in an inner world of deadness, bereavement, and depression (Green, 1986). The analyst was drawn into the patient’s world of deadness, dying, and emptiness and struggled for analytical survival while living through annihilation and death along with the patient — a years-long struggle that could not be completed without reaching a moment of “at-one-ment” with the patient’s desperate and painful innermost experience.

Ofra Eshel, PsyD, is a training and supervising analyst and faculty member of the Israel Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. She is founder and head of the postgraduate track “Independent Psychoanalysis: Radical Breakthroughs” at the Program of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University. Her papers have been published in psychoanalytic journals and as book chapters, translated into six languages, and presented at national and international conferences. She is the co-editor of Was It or Was It Not? When Shadows of Sexual Abuse Emerge in Psychoanalytic Treatment (2017), and author of The Emergence of Analytic Oneness: Into the Heart of Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2019). She is in private practice in Tel Aviv.

Practitioners and General Public: $40  |  Students: Free


May 20
9:30 am - 11:30 pm