Henry SeidenbergPhoto: The prize is named in honor of Henry Seidenberg, MD, a former Institute dean and staunch supporter of psychoanalytic scholarship. Background about the prize and announcement of winners is here.

Congratulations to our winners!
We're delighted to announce the two authors who are winners of the Seidenberg Paper Prize we announced in November:

Stephanie Gangemi, LCSW, Behavioral Health Programs Manager of the El Paso County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office will receive the first prize of $15,000 for her paper:

“Are They Mental Health or Behavioral?” Toward Object Relations Translation for Corrections Officers

Abstract: Correctional institutions, particularly correctional security staff (corrections officers, deputies and other custodial staff), are increasingly relied upon for the management of some of the most severely disturbed and impaired members of society. Lack of mental health training for correctional staff poses problems to include safety risk, lack of empathy, inmate abuse, staff burnout and trauma, as well as missed opportunities for rehabilitative efforts. 

This paper proposes that salient concepts from psychoanalysis, particularly object relations theory, can and should be integrated into training for correctional security staff. Using the acronym “PSYCHIATRIC”, relevant object relations concepts are translated into practical correctional language. P: Projective Identification; S: Splitting; Y: Youth Experience; C: Countertransference; H: Holding Environment; I: Identification with the Aggressor; A: Aggression; T: Turning Against the Self; R: Ruthlessness; I: Impingements; C: Containing.

The tool provides brief descriptions of each term as well as examples of each in the correctional environment, common reactions of correctional staff to these issues and offers recommendations for navigating the dynamics of each concept. 

About the author: Stephanie Gangemi is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 10 years of experience in forensic mental health. In May, she joined the El Paso County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office as Behavioral Health Programs Manager. She oversees their inaugural co-responder patrol unit, Coordinated Unit Response to Behavioral Health, CURB, as well as directing mental health-related training and programming for law enforcement personnel. 

Previously she served as Director of Mental Health and a mental-health clinician for the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center and as a social worker at Rikers Island in New York City. She also serves on the faculty at Newman University School of Social Work and Pike’s Peak Community College. 

Gangemi is a PhD candidate at Smith College School for Social Work and holds an MSW from Columbia University and BA from Wagner College.


Elizabeth (Beth) Kita, LCSW, PhD, a clinical social worker in public/private practice and lecturer at University of California-Berkeley, will receive the second prize of $5,000 for her paper:

“They Hate Me Now, But Where Was Everyone When I Needed Them?” Mass Incarceration, Mass Projective Identification, and Creating Containers That Hold

Abstract: Since mass incarceration has failed to control crime or increase public safety, scholars have looked to alternative explanations for our continued investment in it, and have focused on its racial, economic, and political dimensions. Viewed through a psychoanalytic lens, another facet is visible: the ways in which mass incarceration serves a psychological function for society, in the form of a collective projective identification defense against anxieties related to dependency, precariousness and perpetration. 

Thus inhabited by real dangers and imagined ones, prisons often operate to guard against both at the expense of resolving either. In this paper, psychoanalytic theory is used to examine the pernicious hold that mass incarceration has on the United States, the ways in which this is particularly ruinous for the people who depend on prisons to provide them with the mental health treatment that they need, and the opportunities that exist, despite these dynamics, to create the conditions in prisons that can transform trauma rather than just reenact it.

About the author: Elizabeth (Beth) Kita is a clinical social worker in public/private practice in San Francisco. Her practice in a clinic is primarily with people who have returned to the community after serving life sentences. In her private practice, she specializes in working with people who are suffering from complex PTSD, secondary traumatic stress, and vicarious traumatization. She also provides consultation and supervision, teaches in the MSW program at University of California-Berkeley, and chairs the Coalition for Clinical Social Work.

By way of working in women’s health research, community organizing, adolescent residential treatment, and child welfare – and growing up in a family that placed high value on thinking and caring about other people – she found her way into social work. As an MSW student at UC Berkeley, she accepted an internship in a prison-based psychiatric treatment program, where she was introduced to psychoanalytic theory.  It helped her to think, and to think with feeling, about both the prison and the people within it. After years working in prison, she shifted to working in parole and returned to school for her PhD in social work from Smith College. 

Her thinking and writing focuses on the relationships between oppression, violence, trauma and incarceration, and the ways in which the integration of psychoanalytic and sociological theories can inform clinical praxis to advance social justice.  Dr. Kita has worked with people who are incarcerated and formerly incarcerated for over 15 years. 


Thank you to our judging committee:
  • Prudence Gourguechon, MD, faculty member, Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute, chair
  • Neal Spira, MD, Dean, Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute
  • Marie Rudden, MD, Berkshire Psychoanalytic Institute
Read more and download:

Read more about the prize winners and the process in the news section of our website, download the original call for papers, or download copies of the prize-winning articles here (registration required).