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"Emmy Grant: Immigration as Repetition of Trauma and as Potential Space"

This talk has been approved by New York State for 2 hours of Continuing Education Credit for LMSWs and LCSWs.

Some environments are so toxic that one needs to move far away to extricate oneself from their poisonous field of gravity. The desire to escape a noxious interpersonal constellation in a corrupt society can be a motivating factor in the choice to leave one's country. Oedipus fled from Corinth to evade the fate of murdering his father and marrying his mother, as predicted by the oracle at Delphi, only to find himself in Thebes, where he was born, murdering his father and marrying his mother, thus fulfilling the prophecy he set out to escape. Like Oedipus, immigrants frequently find themselves in the kind of milieu they were hoping to leave behind. Life in a strange land, far from a familiar environment may recapitulate and even intensify the disjointed experience of a poisoned childhood. Away from one's original environment reality no longer intrudes upon fantasy, and one's destructive introjects gain free reign. The past remains arrested and it can easily turn into an imaginary static realm. Paradoxically though, immigration can also facilitate healing. Exile can become a haven, a potential space, if you will, in which to develop the capacity to think and build linkages and process a disturbing personal and historico-political domain.

Veronica Csillag, LCSW, Faculty and Co-Chair of Colloquium Committee, Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis; former Faculty and Supervisor, Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services; former Faculty, NYU School of Social Work. Co-author, coproducer and actor,The Blue Crystal Teardrop (1990), a 35-minute narrative film; author, The child patient of this particular therapist (2005), Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy; Ordinary sadism in the consulting room, (2014), Psychoanalytic Dialogues. Emmy Grant: Immigration as repetition of trauma and as potential space. (2017, in press). She is in private practice in New York City.

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