with Salman Akhtar, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry, Jefferson Medical College
Training and Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia
With the basic premise that poetry is one person psychotherapy and psychotherapy is two person poetry, this presentation and workshop will address the nature of poetry as well as its healing impact on the human mind. The various formal characteristics of poetry (metre, rhyme, alliteration, simile, metaphor) would be shown to evoke a dualism on the one hand and magically overcome that very dualism on the other. They enhance the libidinal cathexis of links, bonds, and psychic tethers. All in all, poetry serves a bridging function between (1) phonetic and instinctual, (2) unknown and known, (3) separateness and merger, and (4) music and prose. The last mentioned bridge has also interesting links with the mother’s body and the father’s law-giving words. It is via the construction of such bridges alongside their kindling neurophysiological effects that poetry exerts its healing impact. These ideas and their application to the clinical process will be highlighted with illustrative vignettes and selected poems.
As a result of attending this presentation, the participant will become able to
(1) Identify the psychological components of poetry.
(2) Understand the various ways in which poetry helps relieve psychic distress.
PLEASE NOTE: Ticket Prices for the seminar include a copy of Blood and Ink, Salman Akhtar's new volume of poetry.
Salman Akhtar MD, is a world-renowned psychoanalyst and psychiatrist and one of the most creative and prolific psychoanalysts writing today. He was born in India and completed his medical and psychiatric education there. Upon arriving in the USA in 1973, he repeated his psychiatric training at the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine, and then obtained psychoanalytic training from the Philadelphia Psychoanalytic Institute. Currently, he is Professor of Psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College and a training and supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Centre of Philadelphia. He has authored, edited or co-edited more than 300 publications including books on psychiatry and psychoanalysis and several collections of poetry. The recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association’s Best Paper of the Year Award (1995), the Margaret Mahler Literature Prize (1996) and the Sigourney Award (2012), Dr Akhtar is an internationally sought speaker and teacher, and his books have been translated into many languages. He is also a Scholar-in-Residence at the Inter-Act Theatre Company in Philadelphia. Between Hours (Karnac 2012), a collection of poems by fellow-psychoanalysts. He says of this project: “While accommodating playfulness and even a bit of audacity, both psychoanalysis and poetry deeply respect formality of structure, nuance of affect, and the multifaceted resonance of the spoken word.... To put it bluntly, psychoanalysis is two-person poetry and poetry one-person psychoanalysis.”