Dec 11, 2022
"The psychoanalytic frame I have built in myself helps me to find a way to not go too near and not be too distant to a person. It is other than what we learn when we learn to be psychoanalysts. Then we have the opportunity to feel in a room where we are not in danger - it’s more the patient that feels in danger. He is coming and he has fears - but we, knowing our room, our couch, we don’t have many fears. But if you work as I did in an open field, in different houses, in different hospitals, in different orphanages, you are first full of fear and at the same time very curious about what happens and what can happen. It's not the same as if you are in your own practice. One of the most important things I had was my psychoanalytic setting in myself - in myself, not in the room in which I work. I can find a way that doesn’t bring too much fear to the patient and at the same time finds some way to get nearer to him, to his inner problems than if I was just a friend or a religious woman."
Episode Description: We begin by discussing the depth of human pain that Barbara encountered in her work in the poorest areas of Eastern Africa. She describes how essential her psychoanalytic sensibility was to enable her attunement to the closeness/distance space that was so important for mutual safety and understanding. She gives examples of the all-encompassing role of the Koran in those with whom she worked as well as the lack of a subjective self in many of the individuals she encountered. We learn of the effects of genital mutilation and the various reactions she had in seeing such suffering. We close with her sharing with us a bit of her personal story that has led her to this work.
Our Guest: Dr. phil. Barbara Saegesser is a training analyst with the Swiss Psychoanalytical Society and a member of the IPA. She is president of the commission treating ethical problems in the Swiss Society of Psychoanalysis. Since 2005 she has worked part-time in Eastern Islamic African cities: Alexandria, Khartoum, Addis Ababa, Hawassa, Djibouti, Kampala, and Zanzibar. Her work has been in orphanages, with street boys, in baby shelters, psychiatric hospitals, and maternity wards for genitally mutilated women.