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Fridays @CCP: Somatization and Symbolization: Clinical Considerations (Marilyn Charles, PhD)

  • 19 Jan 2024
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM (CST)
  • Zoom
  • 265


  • 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

Marilyn Charles, PhD

(Stockbridge, MA)

Friday, January 19, 2024

Somatization and Symbolization: Clinical Considerations

7-9pm: (CST): ZOOM Presentation & Discussion

About the presentation: Psychoanalysis had its origins in an era when feelings not recognized by the mind were being manifested through the body. Resolving this type of split requires recognizing the dual language structure that includes body and mind as constituents of the embodied meanings that both hide and reveal themselves through the symptom.  The field of psychosomatics helps provide keys to this language of symptoms, marking essential, patterned truths that are recognized at basic levels and increasingly organize our perceptions.  This process requires sufficient attunement from an interested other to adaptively register and make meaning from one’s own experience.  Insufficient containment in early childhood is itself traumatic and trauma freezes time, disrupting the integration of embodied meanings and the identity development that depends on our ability to sequence events interpersonally and across time.  Learning to make meaning from somatic symptoms can help the individual shift from a trajectory that soothes distress without resolution – as in eating disorders and other addictions – towards greater capacity for symbolization.  I will look at psychoanalytic theories that helps us to recognize the processes at play in this work in which our own embodied experience of self-in-relation-to-other forms the cornerstone that anchors possibilities for the other person. As recognition of self in relation to other.  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.  Case illustrations are 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.  

Marilyn Charles, PhD, ABPP 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.

Learning Objectives

1. Participants will be able to describe one way in which Countertransference with somatizing patients can promote mentalization 

2. Participants will be able to describe one reason why somatic complaints that are not relieved by medical intervention should be thought of as an attempt at communication.

This is an Intermediate Level Presentation


CCP members: free with annual $195 membership, payable at registration.

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

Fellows: free with annual $175 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 January 18, 2024 at: tkalven@ccpsa.org

References/Suggested Readings

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

Charles, M. (2023). Somatization and Symbolization. American Journal of Psychoanalysis,.

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.

Presented by

The Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis/CCP Program Committee: Toula Kourliouros Kalven, Alan Levy, PhD, Zak Mucha, LCSW

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.

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