In April 2008 at the American Psychological Association, Division 39 (psychoanalytic division) meeting I first heard Lauren Levine, PhD, who was a candidate at the time, present a paper weaving her experience as a mom with that of her analysand’s. There was something so moving and so singular about her presentation that I immediately invited her to Tampa to speak to our local psychoanalytic society. And in 2010 she presented two papers in Tampa, both papers subsequently published. She is guest faculty at the Tampa Bay Institute for Psychoanalytic Studies, Inc and when I found out she had written another paper, I asked her to share it with us. On February 8, 2014 she presented her latest works to the Tampa Bay Psychoanalytic Society, Inc.
I have read a few papers in my time, but none quite like Levine’s. Her voice is unique; it transcends theory. In a feat of lived, not theorized, relationality and intersubjectivity, Levine’s papers are as much about her experience as about her patient’s. In her mindful disclosures to her patients, she reflects to them, in her eyes, themselves, deepening connection and expanding the space for creativity, for herself and her patient, and opens the possibility for desire and greater aliveness. There is reparation and resilience, and transformation ensues. In "A mutual survival of destructiveness and its creative potential for agency and desire," Levine demonstrates how destruction became an agent of change.
I have often stated to supervisees that I feel myself with certain patients holding on to the rim of the abyss, dangling there by one hand, holding the patient, whose weight threatens to pull me down, with the other. I am torn to breaking. I know I must join the patient in the abyss and I know to do so will be the end of us both. Levine, too, describes standing on the edge, trying to pull the patient out of the abyss, feeling too frightened to join him there. There is great shame for us, the therapist, to have doubts about our competency so triggered. It collides with our past vulnerabilities of childhood helplessness and ineffectualness. But, as Levine notes, no matter how difficult it is to find a shared humanity we reach out nonetheless to the disparaging other, knowing that it is in the fidelity to the shared process that hope lies.