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Fridays @CCP: Only That Breath Breathing Human Being: Psychoanalysis, Religious Ideation, and Spiritual Experience(Claude Barbre, PhD)

  • 2 Dec 2022
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM (CST)
  • Zoom
  • 355


  • If you are a current CCP member, events are free of charge.
  • Non-CCP members who are also not students

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Fridays @CCP

Claude Barbre, PhD

(Chicago, IL)

Friday, December 2, 2022

Only That Breath Breathing Human Being: Psychoanalysis, Religious Ideation, and Spiritual Experience

7-9pm (CST): ZOOM

*** A recording will NOT be available for this session. ***

About the presentation: Late in his life, Peter Heller, Anna Freud’s first child patient from the 1920s, critiqued the psychoanalytic movement for its “misjudgment or doctrinaire disregard of cosmic, spiritual, or religious dimensions in a way that limited and diminished humanity. In my child analysis this is suggested by the manner in which religious themes were ignored or set aside, and by blindness or withdrawal vis a vis major nonsexual aspects of existence, the prime instance being the interpretation of my preoccupation with and fear of death as ‘nothing but’ the expression of fear of the father and of my (aggressive, guilt-laden) relationship to him” (Heller, 1992, p. 57).

Otto Rank echoed Heller’s experience by writing in 1930s that psychoanalysis was in need of reclaiming “a psychology of soul”—a view that respects and corresponds to the spiritual life of human beings that seek to create meaning in their lives through creative expressions. Rank argued that “a psychology with a soul” underscores that quality in our psychic life is not reducible to material existence or simply the determination of past experience; rather, Rank found an acausal freedom of the human spirit that transcends the principles of strict deterministic causalities-- the so-called “applied objective psychology.”

In comparison, Edward Reed remarked, “a science as William James advocated, one based on lived experience, remains conspicuous by its absence,” further saying, “Once the science of psychology arrogates the right to reject out of hand the content of a person’s experience---because it is too inchoate, mystical, or whatever—it can no longer pronounce on the meaning of that experience. Psychology in its present divided state applies at best intermittently and incompletely to the lives most of us lead" (Reed, p.220). Echoing these comments, Gerald May once lamented that when psychology and religion become engaged, religious views are more often than not annexed by psychology, ending up as “psychologized religion, a religion denuded of its legitimate transcendent focus” (1955). Charles Gerkin suggested a dialogical perspective and hope, saying that “theology is a unique and self-defined mode of discourse with its own traditions, its own rules of language, its own ways of viewing the cosmos and human behavior…. Yet, the languages of other disciplines can be of great assistance to theologians in what has come to be called a mutually critical dialogue" (Gerkin: 1997).

Clearly, psychotherapy and spiritual experiences have much to gain by a critical mutual dialogue especially in regard to their shared worlds of hope and healing. Keeping in mind James Joyce’s remark that “one needs to have a crossroad mind,” we can say that together these great rivers of psychoanalysis, religious ideation, and spiritual experiences create a contextuality constructed from an “intellectual commons” made possible by our views of the individual in a wider socio-cultural setting—a context suggesting a larger, more complex dimension of experience.

With this intellectual commons in mind, this presentation will examine the intersectional conversations between psychoanalysis and theoretical and therapeutic accounts of spiritual experience through examples in the work of psychoanalytic theorists (e.g. Otto Rank’s writing on “soul-making in clinical work”; C.G. Jung’s perspectives on “transcendent functions and the Self”; Wilfred Bion’s thinking of O, Michael Eigen’s writing on the “psychoanalytic mystic,” Thomas Ogden’s description of “dream and transformative thinking”) twinned with examples of spiritual phenomena experienced in clinical work (e.g. play, parabolic space, dreams) as intuitive models for psychoanalytic experience. We will conclude by reviewing the importance of spiritual assessments in clinical work with a focus on how to think about religious ideations and spiritual experience in clinical phenomenon.

Claude Barbre, M.S., M.Div., Ph.D., L.P., is Distinguished Full Professor, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. He is Course-Lead Coordinator of the Psychodynamics Orientation, and lead faculty in the Child and Adolescent Focus, and Psychology and Spirituality Studies. In addition, he is a Board Member and Training Supervisor at The Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis (CCP), Chicago, IL. A teacher and a psychotherapist for the past 42 years, Dr. Barbre served for 12 years as Executive Director of The Harlem Family Institute, a New York City school-based, psychoanalytic training program working with children and families. Author of prize-winning articles, books, and poetry, Dr. Barbre is a former Editor of Gender and Psychoanalysis(IUP Press), and Associate Editor of the Journal of Religion and Health: Psychology, Spirituality, and Medicine (Springer Press) for 15 years. His edited books include: with Esther Menaker, The Freedom to Inquire (Jason Aronson, 1995), and Separation Will, and Creativity: The Wisdom of Otto Rank (Aronson, 1996); with Alan Roland, and Barry Ulanov, Creative Dissent: Psychoanalysis in Evolution(ABC-Clio Press, 2003); and with Marcella Weiner and Paul C. Cooper, Psychotherapy and Religion: Many Paths, One Journey (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005). He is currently editing the papers of Margaret Morgan Lawrence M.D., entitled Plenty Good Room: The Selected Papers of Margaret Morgan Lawrence, and is completing an edited book on ecocriticism and ecopsychology. He is an eight-time nominee and five-time recipient of the international Gradiva Award in four separate categories (Book, Article, Book Chapter, and Poetry) “for outstanding contributions to psychoanalysis and the arts,” presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis (NAAP). In addition, he is a William B. Given Jr. Fellow of the Episcopal Church Foundation, and a Daniel Day Williams Fellow in Psychiatry and Religion at Union Theological Seminary, New York City. Before coming to Chicago in 2009, Dr. Barbre taught psychology and spirituality at Manhattan College and Fordham University, and served as a mental health counselor and chaplain at five hospital settings in Charlotte, NC. and New York City, NY. He was also a coordinator of the pastoral supervisory group Openings at Bellevue Hospital in NYC for 10 years.

Nominated three times by graduate students at The Chicago School for excellence in teaching (2012, 2015, 2016), Dr. Barbre is the 2017 recipient of the Ted Rubenstein Inspired Teaching Award, and the 2018 Distinguished International Research and Scholarship Award-- both presented by The Chicago School. He is also the recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Psychoanalytic Educator Award, from the International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education (IFPE), and the 2022 Joanna K. Tabin Award for Exceptional Public Service, from the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis (CCP). Dr. Barbre’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Cold Mountain Review, Indelible, Sophrim, Mountain Summer, and Clio’s Psyche. He has recently read his poems at the Festival of Books in Dubai, UAE (American University), the London Center for Interdisciplinary Research (University of London), The London Arts-Based Research Centre (London), and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society (Rutgers University). He is also the editor and coordinator of the Chicago poetry consortium, Zoas, and on the consultation board of the literary and arts journal, Indelible. Dr. Barbre is in private practice in Chicago, IL.

Learning Objectives

  1. In this presentation we explore the implicit and explicit connections between psychoanalytic theorists and spiritual experience and narratives.
  2. In this presentation we will outline and describe the theoretical and therapeutic contributions of psychoanalytic meaning-making that reflects an intersectionality with spiritual approaches and affinities.
  3. In this presentation we will examine how assessing a client’s view of their religious beliefs and ideations may help the therapist experience and assess the client’s own ways of seeing the self and other. 
  4. We will think about the psychoanalyst’s own spiritual experiences and how they may have affected our perceptions of clinical work

Level of the Program: Beginning and Intermediate


CCP members: free with annual $175 membership, payable at registration.

Students:free with annual $150 membership, payable at registration.

Fellows: free with annual $150 membership, payable at registration.
Non-CCP members, single admission: $50

Continuing Education
This program is sponsored for Continuing Education Credits by the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis. There is no commercial support for this program, nor are there any relationships between the continuing education sponsor, presenting organization, presenter, program content, research, grants or other funding that could be construed as conflicts of interest. Participants are asked to be aware of the need for privacy and confidentiality throughout the program. If the program content becomes stressful, participants are encouraged to process these feelings during discussion periods. The Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis maintains responsibility for this program and its content. CCP is licensed by the state of Illinois to sponsor continuing education credits for Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Social Workers, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Counselors and Licensed Clinical Psychologists (license no. 159.000941 and 268.000020 and 168.000238 Illinois Dept. of Financial and Professional Regulation).

Professionals holding the aforementioned credentials will receive 2.0 continuing education credits for attending the entire program. To receive these credits a completed evaluation form must be turned in at the end of the presentation and licensed psychologists must first complete a brief exam on the subject matter. No continuing education credit will be given for attending part of the presentation. Refunds for CE credit after the program begins will not be honored. If a participant has special needs or concerns about the program, s/he/they should contact Toula Kourliouros Kalven by December 1, 2022 at: tkalven@ccpsa.org

References/Suggested Readings

Barbre, C. (2018). The contrapuntal play of paradox: Alikeness and    

difference in the theories of Otto Rank.  In B. Willock, R. C.  Curtis, & L. Bohm (Eds.).  Alike / different: Navigating the divide. New York and London: Routledge Press.

Eigen, M. (1998). The psychoanalytic mystic. London and New York:Free Association Books.

Jones, J. (1991). Contemporary psychoanalysis and religion. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Levine, H. B., and Civitarese, G. (2015). The W.R. Bion tradition: Lines of development—Evolution of theory and practice over the decades. New York and London: Routledge. 

Rizzuto, A. (2005). Psychoanalytic treatment and the religious person. In Shafranske, E. (2005), Religion and the clinical practice of psychology. Washington, D.C., American Psychological Association.

Presented by

The Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis/CCP Program Committee: Carol Ganzer, PhD, Toula Kourliouros Kalven,  Alan Levy, PhD.

The Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis is an IRS 501(C)(3) charitable organization, and expenses may be tax deductible to the extent allowed by law and your personal tax situation.

"Nothing human is alien to me"  --Terrence

(c) 2018 Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis & Psychotherapy

Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis & Psychotherapy is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. PO Box 6095, Evanston, IL 60204-6095

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