Sunday, May 25, 2008

Psychoanalysis and Campaign 2008

Rupture and Repair and the 2008 Presidential Campaign

Kim Vaz, Ph.D., Chair of the Womens Studies Dept. at the University of South Florida, and advanced candidate in psychoanalytic training at the Tampa Bay Institute for Psychoanalytic Studies, shared with me recently some interesting insights about the presidential campaign, and about one candidate in particular, Barack Obama.

Noting that our nation is in a crisis of identity, confronted by otherness, she sees parallels between Obama's stance and that of the analyst: If our nation is in a crisis, having to integrate the multiple selves/identities that are Americans--no longer the faceless of Montana or West Virginia--then Obama, Vaz says, asks us to look to him to "hold'' these "multiple identities that have fomented his imagination and his life of public service."

Obama tells us, as an analyst would, there will be 'ruptures.' And, like an analyst, Vaz notes, Obama tells us that though, 'not a perfect man, nor born of a perfect man, he will be, unlike his father, there, to listen, to learn, to lead, to fulfill promise.' "In other words," says Vaz, "there will be repair."

Vaz further notes that the 2008 campaign brings the "outsider identities of gender, age, and race" center stage. She expects, "We will need all our identities, foreign and U.S. born; male and female; old and young; black, white and brown, to solve the complex global problems America faces."

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