Neuropsychoanalysis Conference: The Conscious Id Meets the Talking Cure

Mark Solms speaking at Institute neuropsyhoanalysis conference

In a two-day conference in March sponsored by the Institute, Mark Solms, a renowned neuropsychologist, explained to a spellbound audience how neuroscience helps us rethink and update our understanding of psychoanalysis and how to apply these ideas to clinical practice. Institute President Erka Schmidt offered this recap. 

Sigmund Freud recognized the extent to which our minds are governed by thoughts, wishes and fantasies out of our awareness; that is, they are unconscious.  He named this portion of the mind the “Id,” which he at times described as a “cauldron.”

Mark Solms, professor of neuropsychology, psychoanalyst, a founder of the field of neuropsychoanalysis, translator from the German of Freud’s writings in the soon-to-be-published Revised Standard Edition, and vintner in his native South Africa, told an audience of 140 mental health professionals in a two-day conference sponsored by the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute that Freud was wrong about the Id being unconscious.  What we now know from the field of neuroscience and the mapping of brain functions is that the Id is conscious. 

Within the Id are our instincts, the basic emotional needs that all human beings share.  They are registered through the affective experience of our feelings, which are conscious and recognizable as, for example, seeking, lust, fear, and so on.  The tools of neuroscience allow Solms to explain in scientific terms what therapists and analysts do and why it works, with its focus on the way people suffer from their feelings.  The conscious Id is registered in the upper brain stem, whereas short-term therapies focus on the kind of thinking that occurs in the frontal cortex.    

In a masterfully clear elucidation of the implications of these findings for psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, Solms described Jaak Panksepp’s taxonomy of basic emotional needs.  Panksepp expands the universe of human motivational systems, or what we can think of as life’s problems, to seven: Seeking, Lust, Rage, Fear Anxiety, Panic Anxiety, Nurturant Care, and Play.  Again, this revises Freud’s original contribution.  Freud famously identified two basic motivations for human experience: sexuality (broadly defined) and aggression.

Solms demonstrated the usability of this approach by applying it to two clinical presentations of analytic work by Wendy Selene and Alexandra Hedberg.  They described two very different analyses, but each with the “beating heart,” as Solms said, of the richness of the analytic unfolding.  He pinpointed the emotional system in which each person’s difficulties originated and that gave rise to the problems in living that they could not solve.  This understanding provided an orientation to the analyst as a way to understand the inevitable repetitions of the problem within the analysis and a guide to interpretation.  In this way, the conscious Id meets the talking cure.




conferences, research, clinical

Benedek Lectures Now Available Online

Past curators of the Helen McLean Library and Franz Alexander Archives at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute have left behind an extensive, well-organized and well-preserved collection of archival materials. Library staff are working to digitize and share some of this material as time permits. 

One of the best examples of their work is the archival collection of Therese Benedek, M.D., one of the first faculty members of the Institute, who taught and practiced here from 1936 to 1969.

Benedek joined the Institute at the invitation of director Franz Alexander, M.D. She followed a similar path as Alexander: both were Hungarian Jews who emigrated to the U.S. to escape the growing Nazi threat. During her tenure here, Benedek authored or co-authored nearly a dozen books and nearly three dozen journal articles. She is known best for her studies of the psychosexual functions of women, although she also wrote about depression and veteran’s issues.

In 1959, Benedek published the article, “Parenthood as a Developmental Phase—A Contribution to the Libido Theory.” The article was groundbreaking in challenging the long-held notion that personality integration concludes in adolescence. “Personality development continues beyond adolescence,” Benedek wrote, “under the influence of reproductive physiology, and…parenthood utilizes the same primary processes which operate from infancy on in mental growth and development.”

Benedek left the Institute more than a dozen archival boxes and loose materials. Below are links to surviving transcriptions of lectures Benedek gave in 1954 and 1955 for her course, “Evolution of Psychoanalytic Concepts.” 


We are working to digitize and catalog more documents like these to benefit professionals and researchers interested in learning more about the roots of the psychoanalytic profession. If you are interested in specific archival materials, please contact librarian John Leonard at (312) 897-1419 or


faculty, research, archives

Kudos to our authors & honorees- 2017-18

The following list reflects publications and honors of Institute faculty, students and recent alumni from November 1, 2017 to October 31, 2018. Faculty, students and alumni are invited to send news of your accomplishments to Librarian John Leonard,


Child and Adolescent Clinical Services Director Denia Barrett served as section editor for “So you want to start a psychoanalytic school? Succumbing to an ‘almost irresistible temptation,’” Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Volume 71, 2018, pp.  130-136 and 201-204.

Denia co-authored with board and faculty member Tom Barrett “On Prepuberty and the Role of Testicles in Psychosexual Development,” Moscow, NLO Publ.,Vestnik MPO [Bulletin of the MPS], no.  5, 2018, p. 129-156 (in Russian). Tom also authored a chapter on "Clinical Interventions with Sexually Abused Children" that is forthcoming, The Rape of Childhood: Developmental, Clinical, and Sociocultural Aspects of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Salman Akhtar, ed., Lexington Books 2019.

Faculty member Harold Bendicsen’s book Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience and Adolescent Development will be published in February by Routledge.  It explores how new research in the fields of neuroscience and developmental processes can inform psychoanalytic treatment.

Open Classes Student Denise Davis published Bounded Openness: A Secure Base For Expansion and Creativity” in Psychoanalysis, Self and Context, Volume 13, Number 3, 2018, pages 288-298.

Faculty member Ed Kaufman had two poems  and a photograph published in East on Central: A Journal of Arts and Letters from Highland Park, Illinois, 2018-19.  

Faculty member Jonathan Lear’s article "Gettysburg Mourning," appears in Critical Inquiry 45, no. 1 (Autumn 2018): 97-121.

Faculty member and graduate Gavin Mullen’s collection of Arnold Goldberg’s Selected Papers, organizing the thought and writings of our retired faculty member and former director, was nominated for the American Board and Academy of Psychoanalysis Book Prize for 2017.  Mullen wanted to collect Goldberg’s contributions when he retired as a useful reference for psychotherapists and to distinguish his contributions from those of his mentor, Institute luminary and father of self psychology Heinz Kohut.   

“It’s easy to think of Goldberg’s work as an extension of Heinz Kohut, until you read each article and see, over the span of 50 years, the development of Goldberg’s thoughts,” Mullen says.  “Goldberg makes use of the foundation of self psychology but he really built the structure.… In many ways he is completely his own person.” Goldberg commented that he gave Mullen complete freedom to choose from among the 80 books and 150 articles he has authored to date.   


Board member Martha Nussbaum received the 2018 Berggruen Prize for her work that “shows how philosophy, far from being merely an armchair discipline, offers a greater understanding of who we are, our place in the world, and a way to live a well-lived life.”


Clinician Aileen Schloerb contributed a chapter on her work with at-risk youth in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, “The City Project,”  to Violent States and Creative States, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018.

Institute President Erika Schmidt’s article “Educating Psychoanalysts for the Future of Psychoanalysis” appeared in Progress in Psychoanalysis: Envisioning the Future of the Profession, edited by Steven D.  Axelrod, Ronald C. Naso, Larry M.  Rosenberg. Routledge, 2018.

Recent graduate Christopher Skeaff’s book, Becoming Political: Spinoza’s Vital Republicanism and the Democratic Power of Judgment was published by University of Chicago Press (2018).

Candidate Maranda Sze edited and contributed articles to Infant and Young Child Observation in China (Mind in Mind Education and Counseling, 2018).  The book includes 14 articles by graduates and faculty of Mind in Mind’s Observational Studies Program as well as U.S-based  faculty members from the Washington School of Psychiatry, with which Mind in Mind is affiliated. Sze writes that this is the first book to collect original theses, written in Chinese, based on observational materials of local families in China.

The new book includes sections on methodology, vignettes from infant and nursery observation, and the connection between observational skills and clinical work with parents and infants, children and adults.  “Besides universal interests like the affective world of infants, the relationship between the mind and the body, sibling rivalry, aggression, separation, playing, and entering into nursery,” Sze says, “the book also illustrates perhaps more unique experiences in China, for example, multi-caretakers and yue saos - nannies that take care of the mother and the baby in the first months.”  

Board and faculty member Jesse Viner authored several essays and presentations: “How Neuroscience Informs Treatment of Trauma,” International Society for Study of Trauma and Dissociation, Chicago, April 2018; “How Neuroscience Informs Treatment,” National Association of Therapeutic Schools & Programs Midwest Conference, Lake Geneva Wisconsin, September 2018; “Deep TMS for MDD and Co-Occurring Substance Abuse Disorder,” presented at International Clinical TMS Society Meeting, NYC, May 2018, and “Deep TMS for Obsessional Thinking: ACC Deregulation & Genomics as Outcome Markers,” presented at International Clinical TMS Society Meeting, NYC, May 2018; the latter two will be published in Brain Stimulation.

faculty, research, kudos

Psychotherapy as impossible profession -- and why we choose it anyway


When Aleksandar Dimitrijevic spoke at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society in June on "Why Devote Your Life to Psychoanalysis, the 'Impossible Profession?'" former Institute President David Terman served as discussant.


Terman’s reflection on why individuals choose the "Impossible Profession" struck a personal note, as well as restating the ideals that motivate analysts to do their work: ”They are operating principles for all of us,” he says. We’re presenting his comments here as being of general interest to our community.


Discussion of Aleksander Dimitrijevic paper, “Why Devote Your Life to Psychotherapy”

Dr. David Terman

Chicago Psychoanalytic Society, June 2018

David M. Terman, M.D.


I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss Aleksander Dimitrijevic’s paper with its provocative title that amounts to “why do this?” As someone who has done it for a lifetime, I am happy to share the perspective that I have developed over the years.


Dr, Dimitijevic has presented us with much interesting data. I can certainly affirm at least two of his points from personal experience. One is his documentation of the decrease of empathic capacity as medical students progress in their training. One of the teachers in my residency, Herman Serota, used to talk to us about the necessity to shed what he termed our “autopsic encombrances” that we had acquired in medical school. By that he meant that we were not to regard our patients as inert things to be acted upon, but as partners in a collaborative attempt to investigate and understand their sufferings and its sources. The attitude of the autopsic encombrance toward patients is, of course, antithetical to trying to take a position inside their subjective experiences –to attempt an empathic grasp of their inner world.  Interest in subjectivity, and attention to feelings and fantasies, was – to the somewhat insecure scientists of the medical establishment – quite suspect and certainly “unscientific.” Rather, one needed to examine the patient and the data with extrospection – the use of our senses to attend to external phenomena that could be measured, ideally mathematically. And this approach rigorously excludes knowledge from introspection and empathy. In addition the medical students were frequently in a state of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the patients’ illness or suffering and the total inability to engage, and/or ameliorate psychological distress. The response of many students is, understandably, to shut off and shut down. No wonder that the empathic pathways in themselves do not enlarge. They shrivel. And finally, the new technologies offer an  exponential increase in the physician’s capacity to diagnose and intervene in the course and treatment of organic disease, and this fosters the young physician’s further distance from and stunts the growth of his/her empathic capacities.


In my own personal experience as a medical student who had gone to medical school so that I could become a psychoanalyst – the only route to psychoanalysis in those dark days - I had to contend with my feeling very much out of synch with many of my peers – and certainly the faculty – whose disregard and disdain for the subjective and especially for the affects that our encounters with the nitty- gritty of medical phenomena stimulate – the corpses in our freshman year, the seriously ill patients in our clinical years, the overwhelming amount of data of the basic medical sciences – left me feeling both enraged and isolated.  I was fortunate to be able to go into a psychotherapy with one of the storied analysts in Chicago (who refused to undertake an analysis with me at the time in spite of my entreaties. I would have to wait for that, he told me, until I was old enough to benefit from such an enterprise.) So I was able to maintain my interest and investment in my own subjectivity and know also that my own inner turmoil could be respected and understood.


Of course, I was not the “typical” medical student, because I was already on the road to becoming a therapist and an analyst when I entered medical school, and so – point two from my personal experience – I conformed to the model that Dr. Dimitrijevic  has constructed about those of us in our field. Like the 75% of therapists in the one study, I had to deal with psychological trauma in my family when I was a child. My mother became severely depressed after our family had moved back to Chicago after my father suffered an ill-fated business venture in California. I was 10 years old at that time, and though my mother recovered after several months of treatment, I became and remained a source of some comfort as I was mindful of trying to enliven and cheer her up. I knew that her pride in me was important for her own sense of well-being and that our sharing of some intellectual and cultural interests was also important. The need to be empathic to a distressed parent became deeply engrained in me. As with many of my colleagues, my training in empathy and therapy began very early – with all of its attendant strengths and problems. For those, I also had the good fortune to finally undertake the analysis I had sought in medical school. And I think  that had allowed me to work through many of the issues that the premature parenting of my mother caused so that I could be reasonably open to my patients and be able to deal with myself when I got in the way.


But there was another developmental experience that I believe was the source of my empathic capacity. I think it was the nurture and comfort I had received from my mother earlier in the course of my childhood in a rather unique way. Dr. Dimitrijevich discussed this element of the development of empathy when he quoted Ferenczi’s observation that  “children who had suffered morally or physically had the appearance and mien of age and sagacity.” However, what was left out – if perhaps implied – was how that suffering had been responded to.


I had had repeated and prolonged bouts of otitis media middle ear infections - from before I was a year old until about age 9. These were the days before antibiotics – especially penicillin. In fact I happened to be one of the first children to receive the medicine at around age 10 when I was hospitalized for a week to get injections of the new miracle drug every 4 hours – to avert a frequent complication of otitis media in those days – mastoiditis. Mastoidits meant that the infection had spread from the ear to the skull , and if that were to have occurred, it would then invade the brain.  The only way to arrest the progress of the infection was to remove the mastoid bone, and of course that surgery also had great risks - there being no antibiotics to prevent the infection that the surgical procedure might well produce. So penicillin, barely available to the civilian population in 1944, saved my life and heralded the end of the excruciating periods of pain I had undergone.


But the point of this tale of childhood illness is to relate what my experience in those 9 years was. Since there were no antibiotics to treat ear infections during my childhood, one simply had to wait until the infection reached a point when it would perforate the eardrum. The swelling of the drum prior to its rupture took several days, and the pain of the swollen drum was often excruciating. It was during such times that my mother would try to comfort me. She held me, and I recall her often pacing the floor – often at night – holding me as I whimpered on  her shoulder. Her ministrations were somewhat effective. The pain seemed to ameliorate somewhat, and I recall that I was often able to sleep after such a siege. She did all of this with great patience and without complaint. She was truly empathic to my pain and anxiety without becoming anxious or resentful herself. In later years we never discussed those quite selfless acts. She took it as a matter of course . And I, too , never quite realized the significance of those experiences of being empathically connected in my suffering with my own inclination to be sensitive to pain – especially psychological pain – combined with my own desire to try to alleviate such suffering. Interestingly, it was only after I had retired from practice that I became aware of this important origin of my own sensitivity to my patients’ psychological pain  and of my own patience I had felt in listening over the many months and sometimes years – trying to understand, of course, but also with some hope and expectation that my efforts would eventually be rewarded with the patient’s relief from the suffering and the bonus of psychological growth. Maxwell Gitelson called these attitudes and expectations of the analyst “the diatrophic attitude.” He defined it as the predisposition of the analyst to want to nurture and heal. He felt that this was essential for any analysis to succeed.


One further observation about the curious fact that I did not make the connection between my illness and my mother’s deeply empathic response to it with my own empathy until some time after I had retired from clinical practice. Perhaps I needed the distance from my everyday immersion to observe that something that was so deeply a part of my early experience and later character that I had not marked it out as a discreet part of myself.


I apologize for this lengthy autobiographical excursion, but I have taken us on this trip to make several larger points that I think are related to Dr. Dimitrijevic’s thesis. Though he has referred to Ferenczi’s observation that I have just discussed, and he has also cited the importance of resilience in dealing with these childhood traumas, his main concern has been in calling our attention to the conflictual elements in many of our backgrounds. And, as you have heard, my own history is consistent with his findings. But my own history also suggests that there may be less conflictual determinants of our later empathic capacities. There may also be some leading edge components of our abilities. Might there also be deeply positive experiences of empathic connection in many  of our histories that have been overlooked by our understandable investigations of the trailing edge determinants? It is a question that I think would be interesting to investigate.


This is not to diminish the significance of our conflictual sources. It is surely important to be aware of them and the problems they give rise to. And I think this effort – our mindfulness about our roles in helping or hurting our patients is a facet of another value that we and our profession embody. That is the commitment to prolonged empathic immersion in the service of the healing and growth of our patients. That is the hallmark of psychoanalysis. If we step back to view our work in the broader context of society, we may become aware that what we do is quite unique, and I hold, greatly beneficial to our community and perhaps to civilization itself.


I think I need to explain  and perhaps justify this rather grandiose claim. The benefits that accrue to individuals are self-evident to all of us. The enrichment of lives, the release from the sufferings of chronic depression or emptiness, the discovery of meaningful work in the world, the ability to engage in intimate relationships, even the saving of lives are among the many benefits that all of us have experienced. But very often such positive outcomes are hard won. They require the many years of the work of empathic engagement that do not invite triumphalist bragging. We know how hard and uncertain the process is. And we are very mindful of the ongoing demands of our current work. There is little time, space or even permission for this kind of self-validation. It was likely no accident that my own awareness of the positive roots of my empathy came only after I had retired from practice. But I think it is necessary to remind us of the virtues, as it were, of our work. Like the positive elements of structure formation in development, we also need to pay attention to positive value that is inherent in the work that being empathic.


But it is not only the benefits to individuals that benefit society. The knowledge that we have gained from studying and understanding human psychology that has been generalized into theories about subjectivity and relatedness has and can further illuminate who we are and what we do to and with each other. In an increasingly interdependent world, such knowledge is crucial. For with this knowledge we may be able to help construct institutional and political structures that foster both individual growth and group cohesion. We may even be able to help illuminate processes that permit sustained productive and peaceful relationships among and between groups.  (Though I must admit that in this area we have been notable failures in our own professional relations. The splits and mutual demonizations of our theoretical schools are both legendary and shameful.)


Finally, in this very perilous time, when truth, empathy, decency, the wish to help or heal others are absent, and the converse of those values and actions, - the lies, the selfish use of others for one’s personal gain, the lack of constraints, and the wish to hurt and humiliate - are frighteningly present, our work of prolonged empathic emersion is both a model and bastion.  Though obviously, this does not and cannot mean that the relationship that is present in a therapeutic situation can or should exist or be expected in everyday adult life. Other than a parent, adults in any kind of relationship with peers cannot put themselves in the position of requiring them to enter in to such a lopsided position. But the values and importance of mutual respect and the need to understand the other that are the guiding principles of our work can help maintain the importance of such attitudes in the everyday world.


So I think the answers to the question that Dr. Dimitrijevic poses to us, “why devote your life to psychotherapy?” are quite deep, manifold, and compelling.  In addition to the opportunity to gain further mastery of childhood precocities, one has the deep satisfaction of developing one’s own empathic capacities, and the even deeper satisfaction of seeing the effect of our prolonged empathic immersion in relieving suffering and witnessing growth in our patients. Yes, this not an easy process, and we often fail in our efforts to understand. But persisting and suffering through and ultimately restoring the empathic connection bring often surprising transformations. And while doing this work, we may have the satisfaction of knowing that we benefit not only our patients and ourselves but our society.

faculty, research

Seidenberg Prize presented at APsaA conference


Selection committee chair Prudence Gourgechon, Stephanie Gangemi, and Harold Hirshman, at the recent Chicago APSaA conference where the prize was announced as part of a conference session on violence. 


Winners of the Seidenberg Prize for psychoanalytic perspectives on problems of incarceration propose a new way to train corrections officers and offer a critical perspective on over-incarceration in the U.S.


Read more and get copies of the papers here

“The Seidenberg Paper Prize has demonstrated the value of psychoanalytically-informed psychotherapy as a clinical approach and way to understand our world,” said Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute President Erika Schmidt. “The prize papers clearly show how these ideas work within prisons with incarcerated men and women as well as guards responsible for their care. It exemplifies our field’s dedication to advancing knowledge of human beings—their feelings, thoughts and behavior—and to improving people’s lives.”

Stephanie Gangemi, LCSW, Behavioral Health Programs Manager of the El Paso County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office received the first prize of $15,000 for her paper: “Are They Mental Health or Behavioral?” Toward Object Relations Translation for Corrections Officers.

Elizabeth (Beth) Kita, LCSW, PhD, a clinical social worker in public/private practice and lecturer at University of California-Berkeley, received 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.

“Our paper prize asked for practical solutions that didn’t involve changing the whole system,” said Prudence Gourguechon, MD, a faculty member at the Institute who chaired the judging committee. “Kita offered a brilliant overview, and Gangemi had a practical angle. We wished we could have given two first-place prizes.”

The Seidenberg Paper prize was a brainstorm of senior Dentons' attorney Harold Hirshman who approached the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute to partner in the formation of the prize. He and Institute President Erika Schmidt presented the first place prize to Gangemi on June 22, at the American Psychoanalytic Association annual conference in Chicago.


Seidenberg Prize Comments

Hirshman spoke about the meaning of this prize:

“Compassion has limits. Recognizing the humanity of your fellow man is an ideal, easily ignored in everyday life.  Prisons are filled to overflowing with the poor, the mentally ill and minorities. The prisoners are controlled mainly by free white men and some women.  This crucible tests the limits of compassion and humanity on a daily, even an hourly basis. Is there something useful psychoanalysis has to say to help alleviate the pressure in that crucible?  The hope that led to the Seidenberg prize was the belief that this community had people willing to try to formulate such help. Dentons, my law firm, was willing to fund the prize. We all were overjoyed at the response.  Now the job is to find a way to actualize the winner’s insights.”


“A moment about Henry Seidenberg.  Henry grew up as a child of immigrants on the mean streets of Philadelphia.  He benefited from a fine public-school education. He couldn’t go to Swarthmore because he couldn’t afford the car fare.  He went to Penn instead. He was a compassionate man. He had lived through dark times, but he refused to endorse Civilization and its Discontents, saying that book was the work of Freud the man, not Freud the genius.  In his memory and in his honor I hope that we can increase compassion and humanity in prisons. It is not an easy task, but neither was growing up poor in Philadelphia to become a distinguished Chicago psychoanalyst.”

The Institute has formed an online community for the paper authors to exchange ideas in the coming year, and is exploring other opportunities to share the ideas in the papers including  with public officials.


research, Advocacy

Separating Children from Families is Poor Policy

world war II children separated from parents

Insights from World War II led to changes in policy to reduce the separation of children from their families

The evacuation of children from London for their protection during the Blitz created an unfortunate “experiment in nature” from which psychoanalysts such as Anna Freud, John Bowlby, and Donald Winnicott and others learned a great deal. Their observations of the effects on children deepened our understanding of the importance of primary relationships and continuity of care. This image poignantly captures the distress, bewilderment, and anxiety of children separated from those they love.

The insights gained during WWII led to enlightened approaches to caring for children in situations when they are apart from their families. Nearly 80 years later, the enforcement of the official policy of separating children from their parents when they are caught trying to enter the United States illegally was greeted with outrage and widespread protests until the President ordered it ended this week. The Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute supported the formal statement of protest issued by The American Psychoanalytic Association and recently joined other mental health practitioners and organizations in a petition to policy makers urging a more humane immigration policy.

Many Chicagoans will be marching Saturday at the Families Belong Together rally, hosted by Indivisible Chicago, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Women’s March, and other organizations, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Daley Center (check local news for details).


Advocacy, research, faculty

Seidenberg Prizes go to psychoanalytic psychotherapists who care for people in prison

Winners of a prize for psychoanalytic perspectives on problems of incarceration propose a new way to train corrections officers and offer a critical perspective on over-incarceration in the U.S.

“The Seidenberg Paper Prize demonstrates the value of psychoanalytically-informed psychotherapy as a clinical approach and way to understand our world,” says Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute President Erika Schmidt. “Thisprize shows how these ideas work within prisons with incarcerated men and women as well as guards responsible for their care. It exemplifies our field’s dedication to advancing knowledge of human beings—their feelings, thoughts and behavior—and to improving people’s lives.”

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

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.

More details on the papers and articles are available for download online here

“Our paper prize asked for practical solutions that didn’t involve changing the whole system,” says Prudence Gourguechon, MD, a faculty member at the Institute who chaired the judging committee. “Kita offered a brilliant overview, and Gangemi had a practical angle. We wished we could have given two first-place prizes.”

The Institute plans to form an online community for the paper authors to exchange ideas in the coming year, and is exploring opportunities to publish several of the essays and hold a symposium. They also hope to share the winning papers with public officials.

research, Advocacy

Smart Foundation helps candidate study end-of-life ‘Existential Maturity’

Linda EmanuelPhoto: Linda Emanuel 

Sometimes patients say striking things like: “Cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me.” And patients' loved ones say things like: “Accompanying him on his last journey is the most inspiring thing I have ever done.”

Sometimes palliative care clinicians say equally odd things. Like: “I could never find the vitality that we have in palliative care in another medical discipline;  it comes from the people we care for.”

Comments like these across a career in medicine inspired Linda Emanuel, MD, PhD, a candidate in the Institute Psychoanalytic Education Program’s Child Analysis Committee, to investigate what she has come to call “existential maturity.” She coined the phrase to refer to a state she’s observed in patients old and young who are facing their own or another person’s mortality.

“Existential maturity is a state of balance in which the essential, integrated reality is death. That reality can be unspeakably painful, but it is in place with the rest of life and the greater world,” Emanuel says. “This way of being seems particularly capable of love, finds or creates meaningful value, tenderness, and acceptance, even along with other emotions that may be passionate, turbulent, and pained.”

Grant Support; Partners

Emanuel recently received support from the Smart Family Foundation and the International Psychological Association to work with children and adults who have terminal cancer in order to explore what existential maturity feels like experientially and how psychotherapists can assist in achieving the state.

Partners for the project include Supportive Oncology Services at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, therapists and clients of the Chicago Institute’s child treatment centers, and the Lurie Children’s Hospital at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

Emanuel came to the Institute with deep expertise in palliative care and a research interest in understanding what moves people when mortality seems near.

Many times, she says, “inhibitions that impeded loving relationships before would lift, and people become freed to relate and love fully.” She also observed that often people have not known how to think about death and as they learn how to do so they achieve needed skills in approaching it.

The partners in the research project will work together to produce insights that they expect will be reported in papers based on cases of children and their family members with whom they work.

students, research