What Are You Reading and Watching Now?
A column by Carol Mayhew, Ph.D, Psy.D.
Welcome to eForum's new column "What Are You Reading and Watching Now?"
This column is an opportunity for IAPSP members to share what they are currently or have recently read or watched. Both fiction and non-fiction are welcome. If you would like to participate, please email me at . In the meantime, enjoy reading the responses of your fellow members.
Judith Rustin, LCSW
Geographical Location: New York, New York
Academic and Psychoanalytic Affiliations: Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity
What Are You Reading and Watching Now?: After the 2016 election there was much talk on our Social Justice list serv about the importance of having empathy for "the other side". I have read extensively on different components of this past election including some that describe the sentiments of "the other side". For me, the other side means the American Right. The most compelling and intelligent book that I've read on the subject is: "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right" by Arlie Russell Hochschild. Hochschild, a renowned Sociologist from Berkley, California spent 5 years interviewing those who live in the Bayou counties of Louisiana. Her descriptions of the thinking and attitudes of the various people she interviewed are quite extensive. At times the detail becomes a bit tedious. But, it is worth the effort. Her conclusions, putting it all together through her Sociologist's lens and sensibility are compelling. It opened my eyes to a way of thinking and understanding that is profound. The book helped me to bridge the empathy divide in unexpected and bittersweet ways.
Carol Gould, MFT
Geographical Location: San Francisco, CA
Academic and Psychoanalytic Affiliations: IAPSP, IARPP, SFPRG, Self and Relational Psychoanalytic Colloquium
Relationship to IAPSP: Member
What Are You Reading and Watching Now?: I just finished Donnel Stern's Partners in Thought, which I found refreshingly accessible and very illuminating about the nature of unformulated experience and enactment.
Bruce Springsteen's memoir Born to Run and Robbie Robertson's memoir Testimony are both terrific and very self-reflective. I think someone else has already mentioned Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids, also amazing.
I thought I would list a few documentaries I have seen over the years that I've found compelling because they have psychological themes. I'm a big fan of rock music, so many of these films are about musicians.
The Devil and Daniel Johnston: The story of an offbeat musician, songwriter, and cartoonist named Daniel Johnston from Austin, Texas, in the early 1990s. He becomes a cult hero when Kurt Cobain wears a t-shirt with one of Johnston's drawings on it during his performance, and incite curiosity among his fans. Johnston has undiagnosed bipolar disorder which ultimately causes his musical career to stall. A poignant and very sympathetic but troubled character.
The Mayor of the Sunset Strip: The story of Rodney Bingenheimer, a DJ on LA radio station KROQ in the late 60s/early 70s, who introduced many new artists (David Bowie, for one) to the airwaves and hung out with the likes of Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney and many others. The story wouldn't be so interesting except that Bingenheimer is a very odd and unlikely character to be the focal point of so many legendary music icons. Many great interviews with people who were part of the LA music scene at that time.
Be Here to Love Me: The story of Townes Van Zandt, the iconic and troubled singer-songwriter who penned such songs as "Pancho and Lefty" and many others, mostly recorded by other artists. He committed suicide in 1997.
Genghis Blues: The story of Paul Pena, who penned "Big Old Jet Airliner," recorded and made famous by the Steve Miller Band. Pena was blind and disabled from diabetes, and lived alone in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district. He taught himself how to do Tuvan throat singing as they do in Tuva, a remote part of Mongolia, by listening to it on his ham radio. He travels to that region to compete in its annual throat singing contest. The film starts out telling that story and then turns into an entirely different story.
Some Kind of Monster: Metallica records their first album in three years and decides to film the process. Trouble breaks out among the band members and they hire a live-in therapist to help them resolve their conflicts. The movie starts out telling that story and, due to unexpected circumstances, ends up telling an entirely different one. Fascinating, especially when you learn how much the "therapist" (he is really an unlicensed "performance enhancement coach") is paid per month!
Marwencol: a man is beaten outside a bar into a brain-damaging coma, and when he emerges has lost the memory of his entire life. To cope with this overwhelming trauma, he creates a world with dolls, toy soldiers, etc. representing his friends and family in an attempt to restore his memory and regain his coordination. The imaginary world takes on such a huge scope that it is eventually discovered by an artist who tries to bring it to the public, forcing the man to choose between the safety of his imaginary world and the real world.
51 Birch Street: A documentarian films his parents over the two years leading up to their 50th wedding anniversary with the intention to present the film to his parents on the event of the anniversary. His mother dies suddenly before the anniversary date, and three months later his father marries a woman who'd been his secretary 35 years before. The three children discover their mother's diary and a whole story emerges that had never been hinted at before.
The Bridge: A documentary about suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Filmed under false pretenses due to the filmmakers' awareness that they would never be able to make the film if the authorities knew their real intention, it explores suicide at this iconic location from the perspective of the friends and family of victims, and even one jumper who survived his fall. Incredibly done, not one bit sentimental or exploitive, and surprisingly not depressing at all.
If you've seen any of these films or read the books and want to talk about them, feel free to backchannel me at ! I love to talk about them.
Peter Jay Stein, MD, MA
Geographical Location: Rockville Centre (Long Island), New York
Academic and Psychoanalytic Affiliations: member: IAPSP; member: American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry
Relationship to IAPSP: Member
What Are You Reading and Watching Now?: The Geologic Time Scale, 2012 describes Earth's evolution, in tens of millions and hundreds of millions of years. Though humbling and terrifying, geologic time is awesome, as is the human intellect, which can grasp facts far beyond one's finite lifespan. I attempt to summarize the emergence of life in a website, www.emergentearth.com
Flora Lazar, PhD, LSW
Geographical Location: Chicago
Academic and Psychoanalytic Affiliations: Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis
Relationship to IAPSP: Web site redevelopment committee, Social Action Committee, EForum, Early Career Essentials
What Are You Reading and Watching Now?: As we are an international organization and should thus not be limited to reading in English, I would urge any of our francophone members to read L'Ablation, a short novel written by the Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun, a member of France's illustrious Académie Goncourt and an exquisite chronicler of the interior lives of his subjects. This work, one of several taking up questions of embodied experience, is a raw first-hand account of the physical sequelae of the subject's prostate removal surgery and its impact on his subsequent emotional life. The author spares nothing in his treatment of the main character's experience of impotence and incontinence, especially his feelings of shame, loss, and isolation.
Geographical Location: Highland Park, IL
Academic and Psychoanalytic Affiliations: LCSW
Relationship to IAPSP: Member
What Are You Reading and Watching Now?: Is It All In Your Head?, Suzanne O'Sullivan, Consultant Neurologist, 2017.
Dr. O'Sullivan takes us through several stunning cases of psychosomatic illness and demonstrates how crucial the physician's interactions with the patients are in helping the patients come to terms with an other than recognizable physical illness diagnosis. I learned that the brain of a person experiencing psychosomatic symptoms is not the same as the normal picture. There really are brain changes, and the symptoms are really experienced. What it is so hard for patients to grasp is that their real symptoms are being caused by emotional distress of which they are unaware. I also am envious of the British system, in which apparently patients who are not critically ill or completely disabled can be hospitalized for a diagnostic examination, a practice which I think probably could not happen in the United States. Very thoughtful and enlightening.
Geographical Location: Manhattan
Academic and Psychoanalytic Affiliations: Past president, Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Society; Delegate, International Federation of Psychoanalytic Societies; Member NYSCCW, AGPA, EGPS, APA, AAMFT, IFPS, IAPSP.
Academic: Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, National Institute for the Psychotherapies, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center, Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy
What Are You Reading and Watching Now?: I read all the time in my spare time, novels and history. In the last two years I have re-read Hemingway: Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls. Reading Hemingway later in life makes you appreciate just how much of a magnificent writer he was. I also discovered James Salter, known as ": A writer's writer." And he is. Extraordinary. A Sport and a Pastime, Light Years, All That Is, Last Night. Actually, I read all his books. I also read "How We Die". I read Hoeullebecq "The Map and the Territory" and have "Submission" on my night table.
The history books I have read in the last year are: D Day Through German Eyes, Dora Bruder (Modiano), How to be a Tudor, Crack and Thump.
I also saw the Musical "Hamilton" which is worth all the Hype. It is a "must see!"
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