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Seminar: Somatization And Symbolization (Marilyn Charles, PhD, ABPP)

  • 20 Jan 2024
  • (CST)
  • 21 Jan 2024
  • (CST)
  • 3 sessions
  • 20 Jan 2024, 9:00 AM 1:00 PM (CST)
  • 20 Jan 2024, 2:30 PM 4:30 PM (CST)
  • 21 Jan 2024, 9:00 AM 1:00 PM (CST)
  • Kinzie Hotel, 20 West Kinzie St., Chicago, IL (and via Zoom)


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Marilyn Charles, PhD, ABPP

January 20-21, 2024

Kinzie Hotel ( Wolf Point Room, 5th floor)

20 West Kinzie Street, Chicago 


Dr. Charles is a psychologist and psychoanalyst at the Austen Riggs Center, Co-Chair of the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society (APCS) and Scholar of the British Psychoanalytic Council.  Affiliations include Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis; Universidad de Monterrey; Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis; and Harvard Medical School. A contributing editor of Psychoanalysis, Culture, and Society, she is actively engaged in mentoring and promoting socially relevant research. Research interests include creativity, psychosis, resilience, reflective function and the intergenerational transmission of trauma. Marilyn is also an artist, a poet, and a writer.  Books: Patterns; Constructing Realities; Learning from Experience; Working with Trauma; and Psychoanalysis and Literature.  Edited volumes: Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis; Fragments of Trauma and the Social Production of Suffering (with Michael O’Loughlin); Women and Psychosis and Women and The Psychosocial Construction of Madness (with Marie Brown); and The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Education (with Jill Bellinson). Forthcoming from APA Press:  Trauma, Memory, and Identity: A Clinician’s Guide.

Seminar Title:  Somatization And Symbolization

Seminar description: Many patients arrive in treatment with somatic complaints that have not been relieved by medical intervention.  Even though psychoanalysis evolved in relation to feelings not recognized by the mind that were being manifested through the body, attempts to theorize somatic complaints, over time, have become pathologizing in ways that threaten to obscure the underlying issues.  In this seminar, we will trace ways in which the field of psychosomatics has tried to recognize the dual language structure that includes both body and mind as constituents of the embodied meanings that both hide and reveal themselves through the symptom.  Recognizing ways in which deficits in early attachment impede the integration of embodied meanings, we will discuss how psychoanalysis can provide a re-entry into the relational matrix through which identity that has been foreclosed might more freely develop.  Towards that end, we will look at views on primary meaning-making and symbol development, highlighting ways in which the consulting room provides a space in which two minds can meet and work together, each from their own perspective.  The encounter with difference allows the decentration of meanings, affording the possibility of actively making use of another’s perspective in the service of learning, rather than feeling destroyed by that encounter. That confrontation with difference includes recognizing the various psychoanalytic perspectives that, taken together, point to the core issues at stake.  Case illustrations will be offered in which somatic symptoms provided important information that was channeled through the analytic experience as a way of making sense of what otherwise remained unknown.  It is hoped that participants will bring their own challenges into the conversation, so that we can learn from one another’s experiences.



Bronstein, C. (2011). On psychosomatics: The search for meaning. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 92:173-195.

Fischbein, J. E. (2011). Psychosomatics: A Current Overview. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 92:197-219.


Carignani, P. (2012). The body in psychoanalysis. British Journal of Psychotherapy, 28(3):288-318.

Carvalho, R. (2012). A brief introduction to the thought of Armando B. Ferrari British Journal of Psychotherapy, 28(4):413-434.LOMBARDI

Lombardi, R. (2009). Body, affect, thought: Reflections on the work of Matte-Blanco and Ferrari. The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 78(1):123-160.

Lombardi, R. (2008). The body in the analytic session: Focusing on the mind-body link. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 89:89-110.


da Rocha Barros, E. M. (2000). Affect and pictographic image: The constitution of meaning in mental life. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 81:1087-1099.

Hartung, T. & Steinbrecher, M. (2018). From somatic pain to psychic pain: The body in the psychoanalytic field. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 99(1):159-180.

Leikert, S. (2021). Encapsulated body engrams and somatic narration: Integrating body memory into psychoanalytic technique. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 102(4):671-688.

Mancia, M. (2008). The early unrepressed unconscious in relation to Matte-Blanco’s thought. International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 17:201-212.


Aisenstein, M. (2006). The indissociable unity of psyche and soma: A view from the Paris Psychosomatic School.  International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 87:667-680.

da Rocha Barros, E. M. & da Rocha Barros, E. L. (2011). Reflections on the clinical implications of symbolism. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 92:879-901.

Karacaoğlan, U. & Lombardi, R. (2018). Microprocesses at the body-mind border in the psychoanalysis of psychotic patients. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 99(6):1305-1326.

Marty, P. (1958). The allergic object relation. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 39:88-103.

Marty, P. (1968). A major process of somatization: The progressive disorganization. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 49:246-249.


Aulagnier, P. (2001). The Violence of Interpretation: From Pictogram to Statement. East Sussex, UK: Brunner-Routledge

Aulagnier, P. (2015). Birth of a body: Origin of a history. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 96:1371-1401

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