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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Jul 25, 2021

"Thousands or millions of people who will never meet each other sharing certain sentiments - these sentiments have historical, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. When I started this, of course, conflicts between large groups have certain realistic aspects as you can imagine: political, personal and legal ones, but underneath those I figured out that everything is in the name of maintaining and protecting one's large group." 


Episode Description: Dr. Volkan begins by describing his experience of loss and conflicted mourning as a stimulus for his life-long study of large group phenomena and its application to international diplomacy. We review his concepts of 'chosen trauma' and 'chosen glory' as they function to emotionally collapse time for large groups seeking to intergenerationally transmit a sense of collective entitlement. Dr. Volkan gives examples of how his understanding of large group phenomena has informed and impacted diplomatic negotiations. We conclude with his sharing his view of both the progress that psychoanalysis has made over the past half century and some of his concerns for its future. 


Our Guest: Vamık Volkan, MD is an Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, a former president of the International Society of Political Psychology, the Virginia Psychoanalytic Society, the American College of Psychoanalysts and the Emeritus President of the International Dialogue Initiative (IDI). He applied a growing theoretical and field-proven base of knowledge to issues such as ethnic tension, racism, transgenerational transmissions, leader-follower relationships, and other aspects of national and international conflict. He was a member of the International Negotiation Network (INN) under the directorship of former President Jimmy Carter (1989-2000). He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times with letters of support from 27 countries. Dr. Volkan is the author, co-author, or editor of sixty books. 


Recommended Readings: 

Volkan, V.D. (2006, 2019). Killing in the Name of Identity: A Study of Bloody Conflicts. Durham, NC.: Pitchstone. 


Volkan, V. D. (2013). Enemies on the Couch: A Psychopolitical Journey Through War and Peace. Durham, NC: Pitchstone Publishing. 


Volkan, V. D. (2015). A Nazi Legacy: A Study of Depositing, Transgenerational Transmission, Dissociation and Remembering Through Action. UK: Karnac. 


Volkan, V. D. (2017). Immigrants and Refugees: Trauma, Perennial Mourning, and Border Psychology. UK: Karnac. 


Volkan, V. D. (2020). Large-Group Psychology: Racism, Societal Divisions, Narcissistic Leaders and Who We Are Now. UK: Phoenix. 


Volkan, V. D. (2021). Sexual Addiction and Hunger for Maternal Care: Psychoanalytic Concepts and the Art of Supervision. UK: Phoenix.