PSYCHIC DEVASTATION: BEYOND MOURNING AND MELANCHOLIA
As clinicians we are currently encountering numerous losses in our clients’ lives as well as our own. The ravages of covid-19, global climate change, and racial unrest have increased our sense of loss while significantly restricting many of our primary ways of coping with loss. Our capacity to do the psychological work of mourning is being challenged, leading to often destructive forms of defending against loss. As Judith Butler suggests in her paper, “Violence, Mourning, Politics”, “nonviolence can and should emerge from the practice of mourning.” Freud’s seminal paper, “Mourning and Melancholia”, laid the groundwork for our thinking about mourning in its healthy and pathological forms. Klein, Ogden and Gaines have developed Freud’s work adding to our understanding of the mourning process. Gerhardt, in her recent article, “The Traumatic No Man’s Land of Psychic Devastation: Beyond Mourning and Melancholia has introduced a period of psychic devastation in mourning based on her own experience of losing her husband. She views psychic devastation as “a state of emptiness, absence, or void that encompasses the survivor’s internal fragmentation, dissociation, frightening loss of identity, and difficulties in thinking symbolically and reflecting on experience.” This state interferes with the process of mourning and is frequently encountered in those that have experienced traumatic loss. How do we mourn what has been lost? What is the cost of not being able to mourn? What is the difference between healthy mourning and pathological mourning? What is the developmental process through which the capacity to mourn develops? When the capacity to mourn has not developed or has been lost in the wake of trauma how do we facilitate its development? How do we breathe life into the deadened, emptied self? Does this require embracing the paradigm shift occurring in our field from an explanatory, causal perspective to a more emergent and phenomenological perspective? How is creativity related to the mourning process? These are some of the questions we will grapple with in this study of the mourning process. These and related questions will be addressed through weekly readings, clinical narratives, and class discussions as together we explore the challenges involved in facilitating the psychological work of mourning in our clinical work.
Presented By: Virginia Hendrickson
50 E St. SE, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20003
Dates: Ten Sessions
Fridays: 10:30-12:00 noon: Oct 1, 2021 – Dec 10, 2021
Fee: $450 (includes course material)
The seminar will be conducted on Zoom.
If interested, please fill out and return the bottom form to Virginia Hendrickson at the above address or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please call 703-750-3647 if more information is required.
(CEUs applied for)