Today’s discussion is with Dr. Lara Sheehi, psychoanalytic practitioner-scholar and activist (she/her/hers).

Psychoanalysis reminds us that we must reclaim the disavowed to move to health. In thinking of this, here is my ethically imperative commitment, as a clinician, to a liberatory psychoanalysis and a decolonial praxis–and a challenge/entreaty to all clinicians to take this up in every space, every day:

  1. If we speak of co-created spaces, we cannot build a liberatory psychoanalysis without also discussing white supremacy, and the ways in which it enlists us all and needs everyone to be viable. We should not be interested in a psychoanalysis that is ableist, purist, xenophobic, nationalistic.
  2. If we believe that all that is repressed will reemerge and seek to be seen, we cannot build a liberatory psychoanalysis that erases and nullifies black and indigenous folks, and especially women. We should not be interested in a psychoanalysis that disavows the labor of those who come before us, our elders, and our contemporaries who have done and do the hard work for us.
  3. If the unconscious does not forget and does not have time or space limitations, we cannot build a liberatory psychoanalysis that does not take history and lived (and occupied) space into account. We should not be interested in having a psychoanalysis, for example, that can’t see the connections between physical and psychic boundaries (and their violations) and the rights of Palestinian people, for example, whose relationships to confinement, space, and movement are dictated by their colonial oppressors.
  4. If we espouse fluidity as health, and assess rigidity as symptomatic, we cannot build a liberatory psychoanalysis that does not make space for trans, non-binary, and GNC folks, we should not be interested in an exclusive psychoanalysis.
  5. If we believe that work, love, play, and the vicissitudes of pleasure are markers of health and wellness, we cannot build a liberatory psychoanalysis that does not include sex workers. We should not be interested in a psychoanalysis that shames folks and especially women for their chosen labor or enacts patriarchal rules around body autonomy and purity.
  6. If we reject the primacy of the oedipal relationship, and understand the ways in which people choose objects with whom to identify, healthy introjects to take in whole, safe attachments that heal, we cannot build a liberatory psychoanalysis that only props up settler sexuality (e.g., as spoken of by Kim Tallbear and Scott Morgensen). We should not be interested in a psychoanalysis that prioritizes traditional familial configurations at the expense of alternative family and love-relationships.

Dr. Sheehi is co-organizing the 40th Annual Spring Meeting of Division 39 – Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology of the American Psychological Association (APA), March 18-21, 2020, New York City.

Dr. Sheehi presented her work at the conference Psychoanalysis and Politics: Colonial Fantasies, Violent Transmission, Swedish Psychoanalytic Association, Stockholm, May 10-12, 2019.

Rendering Unconscious Podcast is hosted by psychoanalyst Dr. Vanessa Sinclair, who interviews psychoanalysts, psychologists, scholars, creative arts therapists, writers, poets, philosophers, artists & other intellectuals about their process, world events, the current state of mental health care, politics, culture, the arts & more. Episodes are also created from lectures given at various international conferences.

Rendering Unconscious is also a book! Rendering Unconscious: Psychoanalytic Perspectives, Politics and Poetry (Trapart, 2019).

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The track at the end of the episode is “It Started with the Alarm” from the album of the same name. Words by Vanessa Sinclair. Music by Sheer Zed.

Artwork for the Division 39 Spring Meeting.