Transformations in Oneness in Psychoanalytic Work:
A Day with Ofra Eshel
Recipient of the 2022 Leonard J. Comess
Israel Teaching Award
Saturday, February 5, 2022
9am-2pm PST via Zoom

4.5 CE Credits
Early registration (by January 10) $110; $135 after January 10;
Students and Clinical Associates $60;
International Registration $25 USD
Ilan Bernat, PhD
João Carlos Braga, MD
Program Coordinators:
Dahlia Nissan Russ, PsyD, LCSW, and Thomas M. Brod, MD
Part I: Being-in-Oneness with the Patient’s Experience:
The Analyst’s Struggle

The first presentation offers further reflections and new ideas on the
fundamental dimension of analytic work created by the analyst/therapist’s “presencing” (being-there) within the grip of the patient’s psychic reality and the ensuing patient-analyst entity of oneness, and its clinical challenges. Eshel draws on the radical writings of Winnicott and late Bion, especially for working in the throes of massively traumatic, unthinkable and unrepresented unconscious states. She illustrates how this emerging dimension, with its profound ontological-experiential implications, can break through stale treatment situations and forge new possibilities for revolutionizing analytic work, thus extending the reach of psychoanalytic treatment to more disturbed patients, more deeply disturbed aspects of patients’ personalities, and difficult treatment situations. Her particular focus in this presentation is on the analyst’s struggle for being-in-oneness with the patient’s unbearable psychic reality, or the analyst’s struggle for Eros in Racker’s (1968) sense, or for “passion” in Bion (1963) when “two minds are linked.”

Part II: Bion’s Long Road Towards Intuiting the Patient’s Suffering:
"Theoretical" vs. "Clinical" Bion

The second presentation explores the complex relationship and the significant gap that Eshel discerns between Bion's theoretical and clinical work, as documented by Bion's own writings from the critical years of his move to LA (1967-1968), and during his later years, particularly in the last two years of his life a decade later. It focuses on two of Bion’s own analytic case descriptions from 1967 in Los Angeles and 1968 in Buenos Aires, and on the account of the Brazilian analyst Junqueira de Mattos of his analysis with Bion over the final two years of Bion’s life -- while comparing them to a close reading of Bion’s radical theoretical-clinical writings during those years. These detailed accounts allow a textual investigation of Bion the theoretician versus Bion the practicing analyst, particularly highlighting the significant and disturbing gap between them. Eshel attempts to offer a possible explanation and understanding of this gap, and especially of Bion’s long road towards intuiting the patient’s suffering.

Learning Objectives
After attending this session, participants should be able to:
  • Apply psychoanalytic principles of “presencing” and analytic oneness with transference-appropriate sensitivity when working within massively traumatic, unthinkable and unrepresented unconscious states
  • Demonstrate increased capacity to bear counter-transference challenges with the patient’s unbearable psychic reality
  • Explain the significance of the gap between Bion's theoretical and clinical work, as documented by Bion's own writings during the LA period
  • Apply an understanding of Bion’s radical change to their own clinical work
Ofra Eshel, PsyD, is a training and supervising analyst and faculty member of the Israel Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, a member of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA), an honorary member of NCP, Los Angeles, and vice-president of the International Winnicott Association (IWA). She is founder and head of the post-graduate track “Independent Psychoanalysis: Radical Breakthroughs” at the advanced studies of the Program of Psychotherapy, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University. Her papers have been published in psychoanalytic journals and book chapters, translated into five languages, and presented at national and international conferences. She received the Leonard J. Comess Fund grant at NCP (Los Angeles, 2011), the David Hammond grant at MIP (Boston, 2016), was a visiting scholar at PINC (San Francisco, 2013), a visiting lecturer and supervisor at the advanced international training program in Winnicott’s psychoanalysis (Beijing, China, 2018), the lecturer at PCC's 8th Annual Wilfred Bion Conference (Los Angeles, 2018), and the 2021 Robert Stoller Lecture speaker (NCP, Los Angeles, 2021). She was awarded the 2013 Frances Tustin International Memorial Prize and the 2017 Symonds Prize, and in 2012 was featured in Globes (Israel’s financial newspaper and magazine) as sixteenth of the fifty most influential women in Israel. She is the co-editor of Was It or Was It Not? When Shadows of Sexual Abuse Emerge in Psychoanalytic Treatment (Carmel, 2017), and author of The Emergence of Analytic Oneness: Into the Heart of Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2019). She is in private practice in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Ilan Bernat, PhD, is a training and supervising analyst and faculty member at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society (IPS, IPA). He is currently the Chair of Training of the Eitingon Institute, Israel Psychoanalytic Society. Dr. Bernat teaches seminars on Bion’s work at the post-graduate track “Independent Psychoanalysis: Radical Breakthroughs,” the advanced studies of the Program of Psychotherapy, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, at the Israel Winnicott Center, and the Center for Psychotherapy Studies of the IPS. He is in private practice for adults and adolescents in Kiryat Ono, Israel.
João Carlos Braga, MD, is a graduate psychoanalyst of the Brazilian Psychoanalytic Society of São Paulo. Dr. Braga is presently a full member, training and supervising analyst, and faculty member at Brazilian Psychoanalytic Society of São Paulo. A founder, training and supervising analyst at Curitiba´s Psychoanalytic Group, Brazil, Dr. Braga has been in psychoanalytic practice in Curitiba, Brazil since 1985. He has published nearly 30 psychoanalytical papers and book chapters internationally.
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