THE CULTURE OF THE MOURNING GROUP IN A CULTURE THAT OFTEN FAILS TO MOURN: EVOLUTION OF THEMES OF PSYCHIC ANOREXIA AND SELF-DEPRIVATION

– by Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD, ABPP, D. Litt, NCPsyA

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Abstract

The American culture is known for its consumerism and manic results orientation. Americans are rarely perceived as having time for long term emotional or psychological processes, let alone for a grief process that requires an internal personal focus over time. The culture as a group has just begun to learn about grief. Perhaps our first real venture into it was at the time of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s funeral. The horrific shock of Kennedy’s assassination immobilized the country and gathered all us human souls together in groups with tears that could be, just for the moment, shared openly. How different this was than the gatherings in the street on VE day, after the triumphant victory of World War Two, when Americans kissed, danced and hugged in the streets but would never have thought of crying in those same streets. How many years did it take us to have memorials for the Vietnam War where people thought of grieving together by the monuments. The Korean soldiers have still not been mourned as testified to in radio interviews by a few surviving Korean War G.I.s, just last summer, in the summer of 2003…

About The Authors

Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD, ABPP, NCPsyA, D.Litt.

Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD, ABPP, NPsyA, DLitt is a graduate of the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University, and has been practicing for over 35 years as a psychologist and psychoanalyst in New York City. She founded the Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in New York City in 1991, and has been this institute’s executive director ever since. She is also a supervisor and former faculty member at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, and is a member of the Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Society, where she had served as a faculty member at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health.

Besides individual psychoanalytic psychotherapy and object relations psychoanalysis, Dr. Kavaler-Adler offers groups on mourning, creative blocks, and supervision. She conducts classes on “Projection and Projective Identification,” “The Analyst as an Instrument,” and others, using role playing; and courses on work of Ronald Fairbairn, Melanie Klein, D. W. Winnicott, Michael Balint, Wilfred Bion, and on her own theories of “developmental mourning” and “the demon- lover complex.” Dr. Kavaler-Adler also conducts workshops in self-sabotage, developmental mourning and psychic change, fear of success, envy, creative blocks, and compulsions.

Dr. Kavaler-Adler is the author of 5 books and 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in the field of psychoanalysis and object relations theory. Three of her earlier books were published with Routledge: The Compulsion to Create: A Psychoanalytic Study of Women Writers (1993), The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity (1996), and Mourning, Spirituality, and Psychic Change: A New Object Relations View of Psychoanalysis (2003). The Other Press reprinted The Compulsion to Create as The Compulsion to Create: Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers (2000). Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s two recent books are published with Karnac: The Anatomy of Regret: From Death Instinct to Reparation and Symbolization through Vivid Clinical Cases (2013) and Klein-Winnicott Dialectic: Transformative New Metapsychology and Interactive Clinical Theory (2014).

Dr. Kavaler-Adler has won 16 awards for her books and articles, including the Gradiva Award from NAAP for Mourning, Spirituality and Psychic Change (published by Routledge) in 2004. She has won Arlene Wohlberg Memorial Awards from Postgraduate Center for Mental Health for peer-reviewed journal articles, including “Mourning and Erotic Transference” in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis (1992, Vol. 3), and “My Graduation is My Mother’s Funeral” in The International Forum of Psychoanalysis (2006, Vol 15). Dr. Kavaler-Adler also received multiple Author’s Recognition Awards from the Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Society and the National Institute for Psychotherapies.

For more information, visit www.kavaleradler.com.

Contact Dr. Kavaler-Adler by email: drkavaleradler@gmail.com or phone: 212-674-5425;

Articles:

Kavaler-Adler, S. (2020). The culture of the mourning group in a culture that often fails to mourn: Evolution of themes of psychic anorexia and self-deprivation. MindConsiliums, 20(8), 1-15.

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