Dear COR Community,
The Center for Object Relations is built upon the idea that psychological understanding comes through deep emotional experience that transforms and enriches our internal world. On this idea, we strive to connect with and support our patients and our community towards lives of meaning and love. Transformative emotional experience comes in many forms, but sometimes these experiences are catastrophic. They shake us to our core, dysregulating us, and irreversibly disturbing our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Such experiences are deeply unsettling and terrifying because they are experienced as a direct threat to our internal status quo, our ego as we know it. Yet, these experiences provide us with an opportunity to be changed for the better. To let ourselves feel and be changed by such opportunities is the key to our personal and collective psychological evolution. The recent deaths of Black individuals due to fear, racism, hate, and ignorance, which echo countless similar deaths throughout the history of the United States, and the recent collective astounding response to these deaths, are examples of these disturbing emotional experiences that we hope we can courageously face and by which to let ourselves and our organization be transformed.
Central themes of Object Relations theory are projection and splitting, which assert that parts of ourselves that feel intolerable are split off and pushed out into others. Racism is a pronounced example of this defensive process. In such instances, others became the symbols of what we cannot bear to accept in ourselves, and we create conscious and unconscious avenues of dealing with this projective process, distancing ourselves from the other, devaluing the other, and/or seeking to expunge the other through violent acts. When these parts of ourselves are not acknowledged, felt, and reintegrated, our internal worlds become toxic, our thinking obstructed, and our sense of ourselves fragmented. A rigid, dogmatic, hierarchical, and oversimplified view of ourselves and others pervades, and control, paranoia, and violence result. We experience these split-off parts as threats to our view of ourselves as they could potentially dismantle grandiose and narcissistic phantasies. These psychic results can be seen in the way the US culture has systemically, and sometimes violently, devalued Black people and other people of color.
It is our belief that as psychoanalytic psychotherapists it is our duty to face these unconscious projective and splitting processes in ourselves, accept them back as parts of ourselves, and be transformed through this reintegrative process. This process is in the service of our patients, our organization, our community, and ourselves. This is not an easy task. Bion wrote, “To dare to be aware of the facts of the universe in which we are existing calls for courage.” The parts of the self revealed in such deep-seated projective processes, such as those being newly revealed in the wake of the latest violent and racist actions against Black individuals, reveal some of our deepest, most painful and shameful, aspects of ourselves. Unconscious hate, violence, terror, shame, and guilt are used to counter even deeper feelings of dependence, helplessness, abandonment, smallness and vulnerability. What will we do with these revealed emotions? Turn away? Or, will we move closer, facing them, holding them, with courage, humility, and care so that we may become better people, better therapists, better parents, better friends, and better members of our community? Our hope is that COR can meet this call to reflect on and respond to injustices experienced by people of color and other marginalized populations.
COR’s mission is to increase the knowledge and application of British Object Relations theory and the spirit of helping those who suffer. The COR Board of Directors plans to let ourselves and our organization be transformed by these excruciating and shame-filled experiences currently represented by the loss of Black lives, so that our organization can facilitate a spirit of diversity, one in which perspectives and voices from all races, cultures, genders, sexuality, and backgrounds are safely received, supported, and emboldened. It is our belief the mind grows in the confluence of difference, not sameness, in the countless perspectives and visions of all those that want to be involved in our community.
In light of these deep emotional revelations, the COR Board of Directors is currently reviewing and considering how we can best support and encourage diversity and equality, both within the larger psychoanalytic community and also specifically at COR. We recognize that psychoanalytic institutions and organizations have often struggled to foster diversity, specifically ethnic diversity, and we hope to begin the long work of uncovering our own unconscious biases, while also taking specific steps to actively engage with this issue in the coming year. There will be more to come as we honestly wrestle with this and continue to think together on how to foster growth and change within our community. If you would like to be involved, please email the COR Administrator at email@example.com. We believe COR is a thriving and special community; one of our core values is the importance of all people’s experience no matter what the color of their skin, to foster a community that listens and supports all who participate in this often mind-bending endeavor of psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
Board of Directors
Center for Object Relations