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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Jul 14, 2019

“I have never needed the psychoanalytic professionalism as much as in these very unconventional situations. It took the woman out of the shock of her freezing psychic state. In the acute situation just to meet a human being who dared to try to stand the horror of what she’s gone through - I think it was essential for her.”


Description: Harvey Schwartz welcomes Dr. Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber. She is a training analyst at the German Psychoanalytic Association and a member of the Swiss Psychoanalytical Society. She’s a recipient of the Sigourney Award in 2016 and the Haskell Norman Price for Excellence in Psychoanalysis in 2017. From 2001 to 2016 she was the director in charge of the Sigmund Freud Institute in Frankfurt, Germany. From 2001 to 2009 she was chair of the IPA research subcommittee for conceptual research. Her areas of interest include psychoanalytic developmental research, prevention studies, interdisciplinary dialogue between psychoanalysis and literature, educational sciences and the neurosciences.


In today’s interview, we will learn about what Dr. Leuzinger-Bohleber considers her “psychoanalytic spirit” which she brings to all of her clinical encounters. This reveals itself to include warm empathic humanity and a wise clinical ear.


Key takeaways:

[4:25] Social and clinical situation of refugees in Germany.

[5:50] An overwhelming welcome culture.

[7:25] Split in society regarding refugees.

[8:12] Developing of antisemitism.

[10:00] Trying to break the intergenerational transmission of the trauma.

[10:30] Step by Step program to bring psychoanalytic sensitivity to large groups of people.

[14:55] Trying not to deny trauma but rather educate people about it.

[16:08] Principles developed for refugees.

[16:51] Traumatized people shouldn’t get into a passive situation.

[17:25] Refugees participating in activities and also giving back to contribute to the village.

[19:37] Recognizing sadistic impulses and nonverbal gestures.

[20:20] Addressing cultural distances.

[21:11] Crisis intervention.

[22:28] Homosexuality.

[23:35] A clinical case.

[30:14] Being grateful for psychoanalysis

[31:22] What Dr. Leuzinger-Bohleber learned from the empirical research.

[32:09] Trying to symbolize the trauma.

[33:30] Impact of psychoanalytic interventions with refugees.

[34:48] Chronic depression and early trauma.


Mentioned in this episode:

IPA Off the Couch

Short film by Rose Palmer about STEP-BY-STEP project


Recommended Readings:

Leuzinger-Bohleber, M. (2015): Finding the Body in the Mind – Embodied Memories, Trauma, and Depression. International Psychoanalytical Association, London: Karnac


Bohleber, W. & Leuzinger-Bohleber, M. (2016): The Special Problem of Interpretation in the Treatment of Traumatized Patients. In: Psychoanalytic Inquiry 36: 60-76, 2016


Leuzinger-Bohleber, M. , Rickmeyer C, Lebiger-Vogel J, Busse A, Fritzemeyer K, Burkhardt- Mußmann C, (2015): Early Motherhood in Migration: A First Report from FIRST STEPS- An Integration Project for Infants with an Immigrant Background. J Preg Child Health 2:147. doi: 10.4172/2376-127X.1000147


Leuzinger-Bohleber, M., Rickmeyer, C.,Tahiri, M.,Hettich, N. (2016a): Special Communication. What can psychoanalysis contribute to the current refugee crisis? Preliminary reports from STEP-BY-STEP: A psychoanalytic pilot project for supporting refugees in a „first reception camp“ and crisis interventions with traumatized refugees.  Int Journal of Psychoanal, 97 (4): 1077-93.. doi: 10.1111/1745-8315.12542. Epub 2016 Aug 11


Leuzinger‐Bohleber, M. (2016). From free speech to IS–pathological regression of some traumatized adolescents from a migrant background in Germany. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 13(3), 213-223.