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Exposing the Psychotherapy/Psychoanalysis Binary: The Surprising Relevance of Racism, anti-Semitism, Misogyny, and Homophobia

How did psychoanalysis come to define itself as different from psychotherapy? How have racism, homophobia, misogyny, and anti-Semitism converged in the creation of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis?

This workshop examines the cultural biases and problematic binaries in which psychoanalysis has historically been caught. Drawing from her book with Lewis Aron, A Psychotherapy for the People: Toward a Progressive Psychoanalysis, Karen Starr traces the reverberations of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and homophobia in the creation of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis, associated with phallic masculinity, penetration, heterosexuality, autonomy, and culture, was defined in opposition to suggestion and psychotherapy, which were seen as promoting dependence, feminine passivity, and relationality. Deconstructing these dichotomies and gaining deeper insight into the cultural context within which psychoanalysis developed, can lead the way for a return to Freud’s progressive vision, in which psychoanalysis, defined broadly and flexibly, is revitalized for a new era, a true “psychotherapy for the people”.

Karen Starr, Psy.D. is Clinical Supervisor at The Graduate Center, City University of New York and Adjunct Faculty at Long Island University/C.W. Post. She is author and editor of several books and articles on psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and Jewish Studies, including A Psychotherapy for the People: Toward a Progressive Psychoanalysis, with Lewis Aron; RelationalPsychoanalysis and Psychotherapy Integration, with JillBresler; and Repair of the Soul: Metaphors of Transformation in Jewish Mysticism and Psychoanalysis.Dr. Starr is on the Editorial Board of the Psychoanalysis and Jewish Life Book Series, Academic Press. She is an advanced candidate at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, and maintains a private practice in New York City and Great Neck, Long Island.