Conference Program Below is Followed by Abstracts and Bios 


8:30-8:55 am  GoToMeeting Orientation

8:55 am – Intro by IPA President Brian D’Agostino, PhD

9:00 am to 12:20 pm  Panel: Ethnic Conflict and Intergenerational Trauma through the LENS of Psychohistory, Psychoanalysis, and Cinema Analysis

  • (#1) Destruction and survival in a dangerous journey (Ruth M. Lijtmaer, PhD)
  • (#2) Multigenerational Trauma of German-Speakers in Italy’s Alps (Peter W Petschauer, PhD, Dr. h.c.)
  • (#3) Shadows of Trauma in the Widening Grave: The Psychology of Vigilantism and its Psychohistorical Causes, Claude Barbre, Ph.D., L.P.

12:20–1:00 pm  Lunch

1:00-2:00 pm – (#4) Individual Presentation: The Founding and Evolution of the Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis: A Personal Journey that Grew Out of Psychoanalytic History (Susan Kavaler-Adler PhD, ABPP, D.Litt., NCPsyA)

2:00-2:10 pm  Break

2:10-4:20 pm  Panel: Frankenstein: A Metaphor for Malignant Trauma from an Individual, Familial, and Cultural Perspective 

  • (#5) Frankenstein: Monsters in the Tri-Personal Field – Coupleland (Claire Beth Steinberger, Ed.D.)  
  • (#6) Finding Frankenstein: A Clinical Entry into a Minefield of Annihilation and Intrapsychic Catastrophe (Rose Gupta, PsyD, LCSW)
  • (#7) Frankenstein and his monster: A clinical and cultural perspective (Sue Grand, PhD)

4:20-4:30 pm  Break

4:30-5:30 pm  Group Process


8:40-9:00 am – GoToMeeting Orientation

9:00 AM to 12:20 pm – (#8) Panel: “FIVE SESSIONS,” the PLAY: CLINICAL REFLECTIONS on CLASS, RACE and GENDER, Jaime A. Estades, MSW, Esq. and Ovita Williams, Ph.D., LCSW 

12:20-1:00 pm  Lunch

1:00-3:10 pm  Panel: Psychodynamics of Capitalist Ideology 

  • (#9) Capitalism and Its Discontents (David Lotto, PhD)
  • (#10) Relational Trauma, Authoritarianism, and State Capitalist Ideology (Brian D’Agostino, PhD)

3:10-3:20 pm  Break

3:20-4:20 pm  Moderated Discussion for Saturday and Sunday Presentations

4:20-4:30 pm  Break

4:30-5:30 pm  Group Process


(in alphabetical order by presenter last name)

TITLE: Shadows of Trauma in the Widening Grave:  The Psychology of Vigilantism and its  Psychohistorical Causes

PRESENTER: Claude Barbre, Ph.D., L.P.

ABSTRACT: A vigilante is often defined as a “civilian or organization acting in a law enforcement capacity (or in pursuit of self-perceived justice) without legal authority”.  Thus, “vigilante justice” is “often rationalized by the concept that proper legal forms of criminal punishment are either nonexistent, insufficient, or inefficient. Vigilantes normally see the government as ineffective in enforcing the law; such individuals often claim to justify their actions as a fulfillment of the wishes of the community” (Harris, 2001) As Segal (2013) notes, in societies where there is a loss of external, central control twinned with the rise of multiple conflicts between various communities,  there is a declining ability of customs to regulate conflict: “In sum, in a society where the threats of danger appears on all sides, and the legal system retreats before these dangers, violent trauma is likely to promote a never-ending spiral of aggression…The result is a great rise in post-traumatic stress disorder, and the consequent increase of institutionalization of vigilante behavior.” In this presentation we will explore the causes of vigilantism, in particular the psychosocial roots and psycho-historical forces that forge these destructive frames of social character. As Stephen Frosh writes, “The potential value of psychoanalysis for people concerned with politics lies in its ability to provide an account of subjectivity which links the ‘external’ structures of the social world with the ‘internal’ world of each individual (Frosh, 1987). Drawing from the writing of Vamik Volkan and Sabby Sagall, not only will we will explore the political and economic influences that divide communities and activate vigilante justice, we will also explore the links between psychology and history, the objective and subjective reasons for vigilantism, exploring the causes of despair and humiliation that seeks its own justice through murderousness and self-hate, as well as the forces of irrational dehumanization of the other that often emerges from intergenerational conflict and unresolved, unspeakable suffering and injustice.

TITLE: Relational Trauma, Authoritarianism, and State Capitalist Ideology

PRESENTER: Brian D’Agostino, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.

ABSTRACT: This paper traces the etiology of authoritarian attitudes and ideology to relational trauma resulting from punitive parenting.  The ideology at issue revolves around political symbolic objects that serve as scapegoats (minorities, the poor, and public officials tasked with addressing their needs) and sacred cows (U.S. military power and capitalist arrangements).  I build upon survey and clinical research pointing to anger displacement and identification with the aggressor as core sources of the ideology.  The paper examines the role of punitive parenting in the etiology of this psychological complex and concludes with implications for clinical and social practice.

TITLE: “Five Sessions:” Clinical Reflections on Class, Race and Gender 

CO-PRESENTERS: Jaime A. Estades, MSW, Esq. and Ovita Williams, Ph.D., LCSW

ABSTRACT:  The play “Five Sessions” follows a 24-year-old Caucasian female, a recent Ivy League graduate and therapist, and her first client, a blue-collar suicidal Latino man in his mid-50s, through an agreed-upon five sessions to confront his issues. Through the tensions of macro and micro practices, political correctness, socio-economic differences, and passion, we watch the two characters explore each other's personal struggles and triumphs as they fight to save his life.  After a screening of this work, playwright Jaime Estades will lead an interactive discussion of the social, clinical, and existential issues it raises.

TITLE: Frankenstein and his monster: A clinical and cultural perspective

PRESENTER: Sue Grand, Ph.D.

ABSTRACT: This paper inquires into the memory of annihilation and asks how that memory is lived, shared, and silenced in the relational nexus of evil (Grand, 2000), and embedded in our social and cultural surround. In particular, I am preoccupied with the way annihilation’s memory is transmuted into the perpetration of evil and the transmission of transgenerational trauma and destruction.  I ask, and I propose, how atrocity transmogrifies the surviving victim. Will his/her lived memory be a force of justice and a refusal of the “bestial transformation” (Ibid., 2000) or a renewal of violence?  Psychoanalytically, we can understand destruction as unleashed instinct, a perverse hungering for an object, and, I propose, a shared encounter with the no-self in mindless repetition.

TITLE: Finding Frankenstein: A Clinical Entry into a Minefield of Annihilation and Intrapsychic Catastrophe


ABSTRACT: This experience-near paper focuses on the inevitable prospect of entering the unspeakable mental terrain of traumatized patients while also managing the analytic task of staying alive and enlivened. I envision the inevitable collision with a patient’s unrepresented state as one comprised of a dissociated, collapsed self and an uninscribed, unsymbolized object. I describe the shape, energy, and affect of one such uninscribed object in the form of Victor Frankenstein. Also, I demonstrate a greater use of the analyst’s mind in moving from the unspeakable to the spoken.


TITLE: The Founding and Evolution of the Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis: Integrating British and American Clinical Theory

PRESENTER: Susan Kavaler-Adler, Ph.D., ABPP, D.Litt., NCPsyA

ABSTRACT:  On July 4th, 1991, our Independence day, Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler sat down and wrote a radically new curriculum, which would become the basis for the founding of the Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (ORI), and for its New York State charter in 1993.  Eventually the teachings of ORI would expand to teaching professionals all around the U.S./World.  Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s inspiration for the curriculum was to teach the contributions of the British Psychoanalytic Theorists, as well as the seminal work of the American Object Relations Theorists, and to teach how such theories are applied to Clinical work.  A further intent of Dr. Kavaler-Adler was to integrate British theorists (e.g. Klein and Winnicott) and to integrate British and American theories, overcoming divisive polarities. 



TITLE: Destruction and survival in a dangerous journey

PRESENTER: Ruth M. Lijtmaer, Ph.D.

ABSTRACT:  Through the examples of two films, "El Norte" (1984) and "Fire at sea" (2016), the presenter will show how the trauma of escaping dangerous living conditions, changed and did not change in 32 years.  "El Norte" shows the journey of two teenage siblings, who manage to escape the massacre in Guatemala and decide to start a new life in USA. "Fire at sea", describes how many men, women and children packed into the battered vessels that ply the waters near Lampedusa, Italy, suffer from hunger, exposure and illness.

TITLE: Capitalism and Its Discontents

PRESENTER: David Lotto, Ph.D.

ABSTRACT: This paper starts with a description and critique of our current economic system of free market capitalism. It goes on to examine the popular and tenacious mantra in the United States lauding the benefits this system and explores some unconscious motivations that may underly it.  The paper closes with some possible solutions to the problems and flaws of unfettered capitalism and why it is such an uphill struggle to make the necessary changes.


TITLE: Multigenerational Trauma of German-Speakers in Italy’s Alps

PRESENTER: Peter W Petschauer, PhD, Dr. h.c.

ABSTRACT: South Tyrol or Alto Adige in Northern Italy’s Alps is troubled by latent and open hostilities of Italian-speakers toward the German-speaking minority whose ancestors were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1919. Much to their deep emotional hurt, great-power arrangements after WWI and WWII assigned them to Italy. Although the Italian government has granted considerable autonomy, the minority continues to be affected by the trauma of the separation of what previous generations knew as their homeland.


TITLE: Frankenstein: Monsters in the Tri-Personal Field – Coupleland

PRESENTER: Claire Beth Steinberger, Ed.D.   

ABSTRACT:  Clinical work with couples highlights the vulnerable aspects of psychic development, reflecting   the continuous interweaving of “self-identity” with manifest and latent forms of familial, multigenerational and cultural experience.  Psychic growth is a transformative process, beginning within the matrix of infant-caretaker relating and affect-driven states of being and “knowing”.  When the early environment fails to provide sufficient instinctual, emotional and cognitive support, memory traces can appear in psychic eruptions and trauma-fueled enactments (Bollas,1987). In this way, the struggles of adult intimacy show up in the tri-personal field, where the “relational unconscious” holds monster elements aroused by catastrophic loss and reactive regression and destruction.  The transitional space welcomes Frankenstein – the foreboding imagoes embedded in past, present and future time (BCPSG, 2013; Eigen, 2005; Winnicott, 1971).