Psychoanalytic Emotional Support in Times of War

Panellists: Harold Kudler, Pilar Gavilano, Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber
Moderator: Marianna Adler

This webinar is in English.
The psychoanalytic world has reacted by organising emotional support links to help refugees, displaced persons and immigrants. Intense episodes of traumatisation, specialised work with children, and harmful reactions in the population justify the construction of international psychoanalytic assistance. These are times of uncertainty that place psychoanalysis as an essential social aid. For this reason, three psychoanalysts propose a reflection that stimulates our understanding of this type of phenomenon.

Moderator: Marianna Adler, PhD (USA)
Marianna is supervising and Training Analyst with the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies (CFPS), Houston and Austin. Full-time psychology and private psychoanalytic practice, Austin, Texas.

Harold Kudler, M.D. (USA)
Harold is Associate Consulting Professor at Duke University and Adjunct Professor at the United States Uniformed Services University. He co-led the development of joint U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs/Department of Defence Guidelines for the Management of Posttraumatic Stress, advised a Sesame Street series for military families and served as Chief Consultant for Mental Health for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  He is President of the Psychoanalytic Centre of the Carolinas and Co-Chairs the Service Members and Veterans Initiative of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
Download summary

Title: Psychoanalytic Thoughts on War and Warriors
Abstract: Psychoanalysis had its beginnings in the radical notion that mental disorders may spring from traumatic events.  Freud’s ultimate understanding of psychological trauma crystallised in the aftermath of World War I and the 1918 pandemic, stressors that resonate with today’s events.  Psychoanalytic approaches in such times require special attention to initial engagement in treatment and to the extreme complexities of transference and countertransference, which are almost inevitably encountered in work with survivors of psychological trauma. Traumatic stressors and their powerful effects will be alive within the therapeutic relationship with such intensity that the therapist may bring that trauma home at the end of the day. This may manifest as feelings of fear, anxiety,  incompetence, and hopelessness within the therapist. Both patient and therapist will need to prove “good enough” to tolerate, manage and, ultimately, work through the fundamental challenges of psychological trauma.
Pilar Gavilano (Perú)
Pilar is a Peruvian Society of Psychoanalysis (SPP) psychoanalyst member. She studied Psychology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and has a master’s degree in Theoretical Studies in Psychoanalysis from the same university. She has taught at the PUCP graduate school and the SPP Institute. She works in private practice and supervision. At the SPP, she has held the library director, vice president, and is currently the president. She created and organised the Emotional Support Line that has been in operation since the start of the pandemic.

Title: Experiences of Psychoanalytic Intervention in Times of Crisis

Abstract: I will present a brief overview of various interventions by members of the Peru Psychoanalytic Society and allied institutions in different critical contexts: the internal armed conflict (1980-92) and its sequelae; the floodings caused by “El Niño Costero” (2007) and the ongoing Covid pandemic. Emphasis will be on contributions that could be important for emotional support interventions during and after the war. 

Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber (Germany)
She was the director in charge of the Sigmund-Freud-Institute in Frankfurt a.M., Germany (2001-2016), professor emeritus for psychoanalysis at the University of Kassel, is now senior professor at the University medicine in Mainz and Robert S. Wallerstein Fellow. She is a training and supervising analyst of the German Psychoanalytical Association (DPV). 2018/19 she was chair and now is member of the IPA Subcommittee for Migration and Refugees.

Title: Psychoanalytic offers for traumatised refugees - Download abstract 

Abstract: Based on the soon to be published book, Trauma Flight and Migration by the IPA Subcommittee for Migration and Refugees and the UN Committee (editors: V. Elton, M. Leuzinger-Bohleber, V. Pender and G. Schlesinger-Kipp) I would like to point out that psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic institutions in their current engagement in times of war draw on a long cultural-critical tradition of psychoanalysis that started already with Freud, e.g. in his impressive correspondence with Alfred Einstein "Why War". In our current struggle for adequate psychoanalytic offers for Ukrainian refugees in Germany, we are trying to consider the chances but also the limitations in our own psychoanalytic experiences with refugees after the so-called "refugee crisis" (2015) with the experience that Gil Kliman and his colleagues at the Harlem Family Institute (US) have gained in many social crises. It seems to be the order of the day that we as psychoanalysts, with our specific knowledge of the unconscious, engage in the care of traumatized refugees and victims of war, persecution and torture. We try to give a language to their embodied memories of the unbearable, although all our efforts can only be a drop in the deep ocean of human suffering due to man-made-disasters.