Clarity and Chaos
(In the Human Mind and in Psychotherapy)
Presenters: Judith Teicholz, Ed.D
Discussant: Elizabeth Feldman, Ph.D.
Affect can help us achieve greater clarity in our lives by pointing to and helping us focus on what is most important to us. But affect disavowed or disconnected can leave us with no inner compass while affect uncontained can leave us in abject states of chaos. Thus affect is a force that can either infuse our lives with meaning or overwhelm us to the extent that we are unable to pursue our life goals. As an integral aspect of every treatment, the psychotherapist must either help the patient gain access to walled-off affective experience or engage emotionally with the patient toward regulating affective states that were previously disruptive in the patient’s life. To achieve these goals the therapist must participate in an intersubjective process through which the patient can better recognize his affective states, bear them, make sense of them, and integrate them into an expanded, more inclusive and sturdier sense of self. But a growing array of research from diverse scientific disciplines points to the mutual regulation of affect from birth onward. From this we can only conclude that the analyst’s capacity to access, bear, process, and communicate her own affect will be of central importance in every treatment. Some clinical material is offered to illustrate these ideas.
Judith Guss Teicholz, Ed.D., is a Faculty member and Supervising Analyst at the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis. She has authored two books and dozens of articles on diverse psychoanalytic topics. She’s on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology and was on the Harvard Medical School faculty in Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital for 25 years from 1975 to the year 2000.
Elizabeth Feldman, Ph.D., is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Northfield, IL. She is on the faculty at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, teaching in the Adult Psychoanalytic and the Adult Psychotherapy Programs, and is a member of the International Association of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology and the Midwest Self Psychology group.
Participants in this program:
- Will learn some of the steps a psychotherapist might take toward helping a patient better regulate his or her affective experience.
- Will learn how the modulation of affect can improve a patient’s sense of well-being as well as his or her capacity for decision-making concerning important life choices.
- Will become familiar with clinical examples of how a psychotherapist might talk to a patient whose affect is in a state of dis-regulation.
Psychoanalysts, other interested mental health professionals, and members of the community.