There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
-Zora Neale Hurston
Having recently graduated, the question of what being part of a psychoanalytic community means to me feels more imperative than ever.
During psychoanalytic training, one takes for granted the connection to a community of classmates, supervisors, instructors, and our own analysts, not to mention psychoanalytic writers, ideas, and concepts. Alone with patients, one is never really alone. The content of our classes inevitably turns up in the consulting room. When studying dreams, patients present more dreams. While reading classic Freud, castration anxiety abounds. Learning about self psychology, we are more attuned to narcissistic injuries and repairs. And whatever the class, whatever the struggles with patients during the week, there is comfort in knowing that you can talk about it in class on Thursday night.
Outside of the classroom, I was able to participate in our community in so many important ways. I joined the curriculum committee, helping to establish MIP’s first-ever seminar series and reviewing the curriculum for opportunities to include conversations around race, sexuality, and diversity. As a member of the planning committee – aside from cleaning up after the holiday party! – we brought together candidates and graduates for the annual 11th week seminar to discuss, argue, probe, and ponder a variety of stimulating topics, from intergenerational transmission of trauma to dealing with money and technology to our transference towards the institute.
Last year, I started the Analysis Now blog, having no idea how much it would deepen my connection to the institute and members of the community. What a joy to be trusted to edit Irwin Hirsch, one of the most published interpersonal analysts of our time. Or to have the chance to inspire someone like Jonathan Kurfirst, a first-time blogger, to capture in words key aspects of his 30 years as an analyst on an inpatient unit. I have the pleasure of working closely with Willa Cobert, my former supervisor and one of MIP’s founders, and with the newest member of the editing team, Justine Duhr, a second-year LQP candidate, among others. I bring together faculty, supervisors, and candidates to brainstorm ideas and encourage members of the community to contribute, and in this way, I too stay connected. According to web editor Joe DiMattia, people around the globe read this blog! I never imagined community defined so broadly, and nothing could be more satisfying.
After graduation, how do we stay connected? At first, I was committed to taking a year off, reading fiction, and devoting Thursday nights to Netflix. That didn’t last long. I joined a reading group almost immediately. I found myself reading Ogden, Levenson, and Bromberg on the train to work. I even started a peer supervision group with MIP graduates whom I had gotten to know as part of the community, through seminars, colloquia, and committees. And, of course, I forge ahead with this blog!
The MIP community remains important to me as I grow my private practice. Clients referred to me by MIP’s clinic during my first years in the program are still in my practice. The relationships I’ve forged with close friends and colleagues at MIP will last long past my training days. I don’t know what more is in store for me in my professional life, but I know that MIP is a community that will continue to support me as an analyst, supervisor, teacher, and beyond.
Blair Casdin, LCSW, is a graduate of the Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis, and is in private practice in Manhattan. Blair is a co-editor of the Analysis Now blog.