Thursday, November 11, 2021

8:00PM – 9:30PM

“Lost Souls: the Erotic Roots of Self-Unknowing”
Paul Sireci, LCSW – presenter
Sarah Mendelsohn, LCSW – discussant

As clinicians most of us have encountered patients who cannot locate their own spontaneous affects, judgments, or desires. They relate to us as if their own inner worlds were second in importance to our own. There is general agreement among Interpersonalist, Relational, and Self psychological communities that these were children whose spontaneous subjective experiences were pervasively negated or impinged upon by caretakers. These young people learned not to recognize large swaths of their interior experience but rather to hyper-attune to and accommodate the imagined expectations of others. Perhaps surprisingly, in this paper I will consider the normative erotic dimension of the parent-child bond as well as its dynamics in problematic family relationships that lead to this sort of self-unknowing. Exploring the erotic register of the parent-child relationship in cases of traumatizing parental narcissism enables us to generate new experience-near descriptions of its phenomenology and intersubjective dynamics: supercharged affect, confused boundaries, searching for souls through bodies, dread of fragmentation, overwhelming desires, and the unconscious conflicts that very compromised but well-intended parents might experience. With reference to our patients’ difficulties accessing truly personal interior experience and the necessary psychoanalytic project of subjectification that takes place in their treatment, I believe thinking about erotics can help us make useful links to other concepts from the psychoanalytic canon (abjection, perversion) and add to our ability to understand and make use of our countertransferences.


Virtual, via Zoom

(Meeting link will be e-mailed to registered participants on the day of the event)


Paul Sireci, LCSW is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. He is a graduate of Smith College School for Social Work’s MSW program, the Ackerman Institute for the Family’s adolescent family therapy certificate program, and was a co-founder of the transgender adolescent care program at Mt. Sinai’s Adolescent Health Center. He is a candidate in the 4-year psychoanalysis program at the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity from which is he on track to graduate later in 2021.

Sarah Mendelsohn, LCSW is a faculty member and supervisor at the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity and The Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy.  She has written and presented on the analyst’s subjectivity, and she is an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology: Psychanalysis, Self and Context.  She is a psychoanalyst and clinical supervisor in private practice in New York City.

1.5 Continuing Education Credits for Social Workers & LMHC’s