7th Annual Wilfred Bion Conference
Of Things Invisible to Mortal Sight:
Celebrating the Work of James S. Grotstein
Annie Reiner, PhD, PsyD
Ofra Eshel, PsyD
Saturday, January 28, 2017
8:30 am to 3:45 pm
New Center for Psychoanalysis
2014 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
5 CME/CEU's available
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PCC's 6th Annual Wilfred Bion Conference honors the life and work of James Grotstein, an esteemed and beloved member of PCC who died on May 30, 2015. While Grostein did not live to see the publication of the Festschrift in his honor, he was delighted to know it was a work-in-progress and had a hand in selecting the contributors.
In today's conference, editor Annie Reiner will present an overview of the recently published volume,
Of Things Invisible to Mortal Sight: C
elebrating the work of James S. Grotstein. The volume reflects Grotstein's far-reaching scholarship, creativity, and the tremendous influence of Wilfred Bion, his analyst, supervisor, and muse. While there are so many fine contributions in the volume, the planning committee selected two papers for today's presentation that have a strong clinical focus and application.
In the morning session, Dr. Reiner will present her paper, "Ferenczi's 'astra' and Bion's 'O': A clinical perspective," which is a continuation of a conversation that she had with Grotstein, months before his death. Grotstein was not familiar with Ferenczi's concept of the "astra," but was intensely interested in it. Ferenczi's idea of the "astra" delineates a response to early trauma and emotional abuse in which the child escapes the painful, emotionally deprived earthly self to seek comfort through contact with an all-knowing, omniscient part of the mind. It is essentially a disassociated state in which the infant's real self exists far away, "in the stars." Contrasting the two concepts, Dr. Reiner shows how Bion's idea of the capacity for at-one-ment with "O" (reality) allows access to a deeply intuitive self, and yet for these "wise babies", as Ferenzci called them, this foray into the infinite astral plane is an escape from the reality of the self. Using three clinical cases, she shows how patients escape to the astra as a way of disengaging from feelings too painful to bear and from mothers unable to help them bear their painful feelings.
Dr. Eshel's paper from Grostein's festschrift is entitled, "Into the depths of a 'black hole' and deadness." She chose to submit this paper to the volume because Dr. Grotstein's writings on these topics have greatly enriched her thinking. The paper explores the vicissitudes of a difficult analytic encounter with massive, devouring deadness in the self-m/other relationship, which she has named and characterized by metaphorically applying the astrophysical "black hole" to interpersonal psychic space. At her visit to PCC in 2013, Dr. Eshel presented an earlier version of this paper. In today's afternoon presentation, "The possibility of rescue and a moment of at-one-ment: Further thoughts on 'black holes,' deadness, and existing analytically," Dr. Eshel significantly expands her exploration of this case and proposes a new vantagepoint by drawing on Bion's idea from the July 9, 1997 Rome seminar: the awakening of the "possibility of rescue." In addition, she applies her understanding of Bion's "O" and a moment of at-one-ment to this touching clinical material.
MD's, Psychologists, LCSW's, MFT's, Registered Nurses, and other learners interested in developing psychoanalytic understanding.
As a result of this course, participants will be able to:
Differentiate Ferenczi's concept of the "astra"
from Bion's concept of at-one-ment with "O" i
n patients who make contact with transcendent states of mind.
2. Utilize Bion's idea of the "possibility of rescue" to assess the emergence of hope in the dead, interpersonal psychic space between doctor (therapist) and patient.
Take steps to apply transference and countertransference experiences in facilitating positive outcomes in the treatment of highly disturbed patients.
Annie Reiner, PhD, PsyD, LCSW, FIPA, is a training and supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of California. In addition to her work as editor and contributor to Of Things Invisible to Mortal Sight: Celebrating the Work of James S. Grostein, she is the author of several papers and two books about psychoanalysis, Bion and Being: Passion and the Creative Mind (Karnac, 2012) and The Quest for Conscience and the Birth of the Mind (Karnac, 2009). Her work was profoundly influenced by Wilfred Bion, with whom she studied in the 1970's. Dr. Reiner is also an accomplished poet, playwright, and painter, with four books of poems, a book of short stories, and six children's books which she also illustrated. She practices and supervises in Beverly Hills, CA.
Ofra Eshel, PsyD, is a training analyst at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society; co-founder, former coordinator, and faculty member of the Program of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy for Advanced Psychotherapists at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society and the Israel Winnicott Center, and on the advisory board of the International Winnicott Association; founder and head of the track Independent Psychoanalysis: Radical Breakthroughs at the advanced studies of the Program of Psychotherapy, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University. She is book review editor of Sihot-Dialogue, Israel Journal of Psychotherapy. Her papers have been published in psychoanalytic journals and she has presented at many national and international conferences, including her memorable presentation at PCC as the winner of the Frances Tustin Memorial Prize in 2013. She is in private practice in Tel Aviv, Israel.
||Registration and continental breakfast
||Welcome, Dr. Jennifer Kunst, CE Chair
||Overview: Of Things Invisible to Mortal Sight, Celebrating the Work of James S. Grostein, Dr. Reiner
||Ferenczi's 'astra' and Bion's 'O': A clinical perspective, Dr. Reiner
||The possibility of rescue and a moment of at-one-ment: Further thoughts on 'black holes,' deadness and existing analytically,
||Closing remarks and adjourn
Continuing Education Credit
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the IMQ and the CMA's CME accreditation standards through the PCC. The PCC is accredited by the Institute for Medical Quality/California Medical Association (IMQ/CMA) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The PCC takes responsibility for the content, quality and scientific integrity of this CME activity.
The PCC designates this educational activity for a maximum of 5.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. This credit may also be applied to the CMA Certification in Continuing Medical Education.
Psychologists may apply hours in attendance at this CME accredited live activity toward their continuing education requirement for licensing.
This course meets the qualifications for up to 5.0 hours of continuing education as required
by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (Provider # PCE1355) for those holding MFT or LCSW licenses. This course is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (Provider #CEP6003) for up to 5.0 contact hours.
Participants will receive a certificate of attendance at the event, which can be used toward licensing requirements. Participants should only claim continuing education hours/credit commensurate with their actual participation in this activity. Credit is offered for actual instruction time and does not include breaks.
Refunds, less a $10 administrative fee, will be made if cancellation notification is phoned or postmarked three (3) business days in advance of this program. There will be no refunds on requests received after the refund deadline. Full refunds are made in the event that PCC must cancel this program.
A $25.00 service charge will be assessed for checks returned by the bank.
While PCC goes to great lengths to assure fair treatment for all participants and attempts to anticipate problems, there will be occasional issues which come to the attention of the PCC staff which will require intervention and/or action on the part of the staff. Visit
for PCC's procedural guidelines for handling such grievances.
Facilities are accessible to persons with disabilities. If you have a special need and plan to attend the conference, please contact the PCC Office by phone at (310) 478-4347 or via email at email@example.com. Special needs requests will be fulfilled if received one week prior to the event, which will ensure we have ample opportunity to meet your needs.
Commercial Support Disclaimer
: The planners and presenters for this event have not received commercial support for the conference nor are there any relationships between the CE sponsor, PCC, and the presenter, program content, research, grants or other funding that could reasonably be construed as conflicts of interest.
Jennifer Kunst, PhD (chair); Persila Conversano, PsyD; Chris Minnick, MD; Susan Mitchell, PhD; Honey Pietruszka, PsyD; and Ellyn Singer, PsyD.
PCC Executive Committee
Leigh Tobias, PhD, President
Jennifer Langham, PhD, President-Elect
Janis Goldman, PhD, Secretary-Treasurer
The PCC Referral Service
PCC offers referral for low cost psychoanalysis and reduced cost psychoanalytic psychotherapy provided by PCC candidates in training. For information and referral call (310)208-1053 .
Contact the PCC Office
Telephone (310) 478-4347