Samuel K. Cohn, Epidemics’ socio-psychological side effects from Antiquity to Covid-19

ABSTRACT: This talk challenges a dominant hypothesis that epidemics across time and space spur hatred and blame towards ‘the other’ and victims of disease. I will instead chart the rich and variegated history of epidemics’ socio-psychological side effects, arguing that impulses towards compassion have been more common than acts of violence and blame. From this history, certain characteristics of some diseases have more readily led to division and hatred but even with these diseases, the targets of blame have not been universally or usually marginal populations or the victims of disease.

BIO: Samuel K. Cohn, Jr., Ph.D. is Professor of History at the University of Glasgow.   He specializes in the history of popular unrest in late medieval and early modern Europe and in the history of disease and medicine. His books include Epidemics: Hate and Compassion from the Plague of Athens to AIDS.  Cultures of Plague: Medical Thinking at the End of the Renaissance. The Black Death Transformed.  He has taught at Wesleyan , Brandeis and since 1995 at the University of Glasgow.  


Paul Elovitz, Psychobiographical Insights on Biden and Trump and the Psychohistory of a Presidential Election in the Shadow of COVID-19  

ABSTRACT: Joseph R. Biden and Donald J. Trump are two septuagenarians with very different personalities and values who have taken contrasting routes to the 2020 presidential election.  Their family backgrounds, childhoods, defense mechanisms, life crises, personalities, and values will be compared and contrasted.  Trump and Biden’s relationship with the electorate in a time of massive fear, economic collapse, and pandemic is examined in the light of their styles of leadership and ability to inspire others. 

BIO: Paul Elovitz, Ph.D. is Founder (1994) and Editor-In-Chief of Clio’s Psyche and founding Director/Convener (1982) of the Psychohistory Forum.  He took his doctorate in history at Rutgers University, trained and practiced as a psychoanalyst, and has presented at every IPA conference.  Elovitz taught at Temple, Rutgers, and Fairleigh Dickinson universities before becoming a founding professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey.  He published the first history of our field, The Making of Psychohistory (Routledge, 2018), and has published over 30 articles on psycho-politics including eight on Trump.


Adrienne Harris, Ph.D., The Pandemic through Three Ecologies: Natural, Mental, Social. 

ABSTRACT: In this talk, I want to draw on psychoanalytic theory in conversation with social theories to consider both the individual and collective reaction to our current experience of pandemic.  Psychoanalytic work on environmental crises is surely sparse, but not actually totally absent. Tracking the work of Searles and Fenichel and the contemporary work of Lifton, Allured, Dodds and Orange, all of whom stress the powerful interactions of  ecological, social and psychic contingencies, I want to hold in tension both a psychoanalytic investigation AND a discussion of social action, trying to heal the split of these two aspects of intellectual and psychic labor.  From a psychoanalytic perspective, we can examine the mixture of denial, guilt and terror at the confrontation of primary helplessness.

BIO: Adrienne Harris, Ph.D. is Faculty and Supervisor at New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She is on the faculty and is a supervisor at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. In 2009, She, Lewis Aron, and Jeremy Safron established the Sandor Ferenczi Center at the New School University. She writes about gender and development, about analytic subjectivity, about ghosts, and about the analysts developing and writing around the period of the First World War.


Michael Maccoby, Ph.D., The Presidential Leadership We Need

ABSTRACT: What qualities are needed in a president during a pandemic in this age of anxiety and distrust? During a devastating plague, Pericles of Athens outlined four leadership qualities needed. Two of our greatest presidents, Lincoln and FDR, demonstrated these qualities. Donald Trump does not. Lincoln and FDR had visionary personalities and humanistic philosophies. Trump is a marketing narcissist with a self-serving philosophy. Few observers saw the strengths in Lincoln and FDR before they were elected. Joe Biden is the likely Democrat presidential candidate. How does he rate according to Pericles’s qualities? What is his personality and philosophy?  

BIO: Michael Maccoby, Ph.D. directed the Program on Technology, Public Policy and Human Development at the Kennedy School from 1970-90. He graduated from The Mexican Institute of Psychoanalysis where he studied under Erich Fromm and with him wrote Social Character in Mexican Village. He is author of The GamesmanThe LeaderSweden at the EdgeWhy Work?Narcissistic LeadersThe Leaders We Need, lead author of Transforming Health Care Leadership, and author of Strategic Intelligence. He is co-editor of Psychoanalytic and Historical Perspectives on the Leadership of Donald Trump which is being published by Routledge on May 20, 2020.


Howard F. Stein, “Who’s on First?”:  What I Have Learned from Studying Boundaries, Us/Them Distinctions, Tribalism, Retribalization, Revitalization Movements, Nativistic Movements, Crisis Cults, etc. from 1968-2020

ABSTRACT: The title for this talk comes from the vaudeville comedy routine, introduced by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in 1937, often revised, and adapted to become known world-wide. Scarcely beneath the surface of the humor is a misunderstanding, failure to listen to and inquire about what the other person means, and endless digging in. It is all great fun for the observing audience, but anguished desperation for the comedian Costello.

The comedy routine is my metaphor for the succession of competing ideologies, intellectual silos of closed thinking, failures to listen, that I have encountered in more than five decades of my effort to study, as psychohistorian and applied psychoanalytic anthropologist, issues central to the human condition, such as identity and its ideologies, boundaries, us/them distinctions, tribalism and retribalization, nativistic movements, the constancy of culture change – including catastrophic change such as been triggered by the COVID-19 scourge –, and complicating all of these, the language people use, and make an idolatry of, in their interpretations and explanations of these issues. I hope to sort out much of this, offer historical as well as psychodynamic perspectives on it, likely raise more (I hope) productive questions than provide definitive answers, and stimulate thought, feeling, and conversation among participants in this virtual conference.

BIO: Howard F. Stein, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center.  He is an organizational consultant, poet, psychohistorian, and is an applied, psychoanalytic, medical, and organizational anthropologist.  Dr. Stein is the author of The Ethnic Imperative: examining the New White Ethnic Movement, Listening Deeply, Centre and Circumference, and many other works. 

Carol Tosone, Politics, Religion, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Shared Trauma: Clinicians' Practice Perspectives on the Legacy of the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland

ABSTRACT: This presentation will address the history of the Troubles, a thirty year period (1968-1998) of ethno-nationalist sectarian violence in Northern Ireland and its impact on the personal and professional lives of clinicians. Based on interviews with clinicians living and working in Northern Ireland during the period, the presenter will discuss the shared trauma and legacy of the Troubles on contemporary practice and clinical education. Shared trauma, distinct from secondary or vicarious trauma, refers to the dual exposure to trauma, both as citizen of the impacted region and as a clinician exposed to the trauma narratives of others. This presentation will also draw from the presenter's prior research of Manhattan clinicians post-9//11 and New Orleans clinicians post-Hurricane Katrina to understand the nature of shared trauma and the history of its development.

BIO: Carol Tosone, Ph.D. is a professor of social work and recipient of the NYU Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Tosone, who joined the NYU Silver School of Social Work faculty in 1993, is a Distinguished Scholar in Social Work in the National Academies of Practice in Washington, DC. Dr. Tosone was selected for a Fulbright Senior Specialist Award for teaching and research at the Hanoi University of Education in Vietnam. She also taught as Distinguished Visiting Lydia Rappaport Professor at Smith College for Social Work. Dr. Tosone received her certification in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, where she was the recipient of the Postgraduate Memorial Award.