An online seminar on the role of ‘negative empathy’ in Lacanian clinical practice, with Stephanie Swales

Empathy, as a way of understanding something about the other’s experience, is thus a way of relating to others which is no less relevant to everyday social relations than it is to the analytic session room. Empathy is also a way to show love—or hatred—because it involves recognition, of recognizing or understanding someone’s being. In this sense, it is part of the human condition to want to receive empathy or to be understood. As such, analysands frequently speak about wanting to be seen, recognized, and understood by the likes of friends, lovers, parents…and of course by their analyst.

In our contemporary moment, patients often enter into the various forms of the talking cure with a transference to what might be described as the subject-supposed-to-be-empathic. From this perspective, treatment is supposed to proceed in the imaginary by way of a clinician who will truly understand the patient.

Empathy is generally thought to play a crucial role in the success of the treatment in psychotherapy and in most schools of psychoanalysis. However, empathy has been considered anathema to Lacanian psychoanalysis because its practice is considered to involve an imaginary order fantasy of the possession of accurate knowledge of another’s experience. Instead, understanding for Lacan is always misunderstanding.

In this presentation, however, Stephanie Swales asks the question: Is it possible to make use of empathy in a way that honors the non-rapport of the sexual relation and stems from the position of the analyst in Lacanian clinical practice? The answer, in short, is yes.

Stephanie Swales, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Dallas, a practicing psychoanalyst, a licensed clinical psychologist, and a clinical supervisor located in Dallas, Texas. She is the author of two books: Psychoanalysing Ambivalence with Freud and Lacan: On and Off the Couch (Routledge, 2019), co-authored with Carol Owens, and Perversion: A Lacanian Psychoanalytic Approach to the Subject (Routledge, 2012). She serves as an editor for the PCSreview section of Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, member-at-large for the Association for Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society as well as for the Dallas Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology, and Secretary for the Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology (APA’s Division 24).

The seminar will take place on Zoom on Thursday 28 March 2024 at 8pm-9:30pm* Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) London time. *Please note that United States will be on Daylight Savings Time while the UK will not during this time, so the event will take place an hour later than usual in the US.

The event is open to everyone and free with registration via Eventbrite. The Zoom link will be available for registrants on the ‘Online Event Page’ (found when accessing your ticket on Eventbrite) on the day of the seminar.

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