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Nostalgia for the Light: A Meditation on the Consciousness of Healing

  • PPSC Annex 80 5th Avenue, Room 1408 New York, NY, 10011 United States (map)

Is there a such a thing as an “art of mourning”? How do we as clinicians work with our patients’ struggle to “make something” out of what has left them…literally, at a loss. On an ordinary January day, Juliet stumbled upon a film that spoke poetically and practically to these life-and-death issues. The award-winning Chilean documentary “Nostalgia for the Light” (2010), brings together the disparate, but inter-connected, worlds of astronomers, archeologists, and The Women of Calama–-who search for the remains of loved ones killed after Pinochet’s 1973 military coup on September 11, 1973. Under the brilliant skies of the Atacama desert, they reflect upon and search for a past that has been disavowed and hidden. Juliet’s edited film presentation explores the tension between honoring loss and creating a space beyond it, where one might “let go” and experience some kind of healing. To explore these ideas, she turns to Freud’s personal experience and writing on mourning and the work of Chilean Buddhist neuroscientist Francisco Varela to explore different ways of conceptualizing the ego’s experience of loss. In the workshop, she will also pay special attention to the film’s director, Patricio Guzmán, to consider how his artistic creation (or co-creation) embodies the relational “third” as it reshapes the pain, shame and memory of the aggrieved Women of Calama. In closing, she will explore how clinicians and patients contribute to the co-created lived experience of the analytic space to honor traumatic memory, to mourn and, possibly, to heal together.

Juliet Heeg, LCSW-R, is the Chair of the Arts & Analysis Sub-Committee of the PPSC Annex. Juliet presented “Nostalgia for the Light: A Meditation on the Consciousness of Healing” at the 2013 IARPP conference in Santiago, Chile and at The William Alanson White Artist Study Group in Manhattan in June, 2014. Her published writings and interests include the topics of loneliness, happiness, money and pop-culture. She has recently published the second of a series of articles on cancer care within the spa industry: Juliet maintains a private practice in Manhattan.

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