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2012-2013 Scientific Meetings

Unlearning and Learning Psychoanalysis

Presenter: Anton Kris, M.D.

“When I was a candidate, the prevailing view held that Freud had established the foundations of the cathedral of psycho-analysis, and that those who followed were slowly building the superstructure. This view is unsustainable. The foundations consist of: 1) the technical rules for carrying out psychoanalysis, which include the method of free
association, the psychoanalytic frame, and the process of analyzing unconscious mental activity; 2) psychoanalytic theory; and 3) the large body of observations gained from psychoanalytic experience. Changes in theory, practice and observation, both during Freud’s lifetime” and in the subsequent seven decades, demonstrate that the foundations are in fact continually evolving. These ongoing changes require unlearning as a necessary part of any new learning. In this lecture, I emphasize that unlearning needs to be understood from an emotional as well as a cognitive perspective.”

Anton O. Kris, M.D. is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He has been a psychiatrist for over 50 years, a psychoanalyst for over 40 years, and a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute for over 30 years. He is the author of Free Association: Method and Process and numerous papers. Dr. Kris has served on the editorial boards of several of the major psychoanalytic journals and on the board of trustees of The Anna Freud Centre, The Sigmund Freud Archives, and The Anna Freud Foundation.

Educational Objectives: After attending the program, participants will 1) have gained awareness of the requirement for unlearning in both the initial and the continuing learning of psychoanalysis, including an appreciation of the danger of unlearning too much; 2) recognize the crucial premise that the foundations of psychoanalysis are ever-changing and have considered a variety of situations and vicissitudes of unlearning-learning, past and present; and 3) understand the nature of unlearning as more than cognitive, that what is at stake are important identifications and emotional attachments.

Target Audience: Psychoanalysts, other interested mental health professionals, and members of the community.

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