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What Psychoanalysts are Doing

VeteranNancy Sherman, Ph.D., who trained as an academic in psychoanalysis at the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, consults with the military regularly and does research and writing on moral and psychological issues facing service members and veterans. A full time academic in the philosophy department at Georgetown University, Dr. Sherman was on leave for three years at the U.S. Naval Academy as the first Distinguished Chair in ethics. She recently was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars working on these issues.

Dr. Sherman has written a book on the stoic culture of the military (Stoic Warriors, Oxford University Press 2005) and is now finishing a followup book on the "war within" that soldiers face, which will be published as The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds and Souls of our Soldiers, by W.W. Norton in 2009. In both works, she interviews soldiers, listens to their narratives, and tries to make the public aware of soldiers' inner struggles in prosecuting war, fighting for their buddies and coming home. In this work, Dr. Sherman is particularly concerned with the moral and psychological burden soldiers privately bear.

Harold Kudler, MD, an Associate Clinical Professor at Duke University's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, is also an advanced candidate in Psychoanalysis at the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Institute. He has worked in the Veteran's Administration since 1984. Dr. Kudler's career has centered on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and he has co-chaired the development of VA/Department of Defense (DoD) Clinical Practice Guidelines for Traumatic Stress, the VA Undersecretary's Special Committee on PTSD, and the first DoD/VA Conference on Post Deployment Mental Health (2005). He also is Clinical Associate Director of a VA Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center on Deployment Mental Health. Dr. Kudler first authored the chapter on psychodynamic treatment of PTSD in the new International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies' Clinical Practice Guidelines which was just published by Guilford Press.
Dr. Kudler's core effort in all this is to help clinicians and administrators (military and civilian) to step back from a reductionistic view of PTSD and other post deployment problems and to see veterans' readjustment as a dynamic within a public health context.

Strategic Outreach for All Reservists (SOFAR)

APsaA supports SOFAR, an organization founded by Ken Reich and Jaine Darwin. SOFAR, a program of the Psychoanalytic Couple and Family Institute of New England (PCFINE), is also supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics and by Division 39 of the American Psychological Association. Utilizing voluntary service by psychoanalysts and psychotherapists in many communities, SOFAR provides help via support groups, education about PTSD, Depression and TBI (traumatic brain injury) and consultation/brief treatment free of charge to families of reservists and Guardsmen/women who have been deployed in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. SOFAR currently has a chapter in the Boston area/New England, with new groups in New York City, Michigan, the Berkshires, and Florida.

The Jenny Waelder Hall Consultation and Training Program

Through its foundation, APsaA has provided a grant to Aimee Nover, Ph.D. of the Baltimore-Washington Institute for the work of this program. It trains military Child Psychiatry and Social Work Fellows at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in psychoanalytically informed consultation to preschool and day care center staff. The program emphasizes the particular challenges faced by young children who may have parents who have been deployed or injured.

The Soldier’s Project

The American Psychoanalytic Foundation Committee (APF) awarded a grant to The Soldier’s Project—a community outreach program that began three years ago under the aegis of the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies which sponsors the Ernest Lawrence Trauma Center, a community outreach program providing free treatment, supervision and educational programs to those affected by trauma in underserved populations. Since the inception of The Soldier Project, one veteran has become a control case for a candidate. Several others are in what has become long-term (two to three times weekly) psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy.

The program has begun to include as volunteers mental health professionals other than those who are members of psychoanalytic institutes or societies. These volunteers participate in training seminars, and several have indicated an interest in enrolling in the extension programs of the respective local institutes and represent potential candidates for psychoanalytic training. Peer supervision groups are led by analysts for those volunteers actively engaged in providing treatment.

The Project now has more than 100 volunteers in Southern California, 25 in New York City, 25 in Chicago and 15 in Seattle. With this growth comes an experience to present a template to other groups for establishing similar projects in other locations.

The project enhances the participation of analysts in their local communities by providing tools for psycho-educational outreach. They will be prepared to present talks to teachers, religious groups, community clinics and other community groups relating to the psychological consequences of trauma, loss and family disruption. Such presentations provide an opportunity to discuss the value of psychoanalytic principles and treatment for these problems. The wider psychoanalytic community benefits from this outreach by the resulting increased appreciation of the value of psychoanalysis by the general public. In turn, this outreach will lead to an increase in the potential number of analytic patients.

Ladies in Waiting - Vivian Eskin, Ph.D. of the New York Freudian Society, who has a long-term interest in the intergenerational transmission of trauma and in applied psychoanalytic work, has formed the "Ladies in Waiting", a New York City support group for wives, mothers, girlfriends, or grandparents of deployed soldiers. She is currently seeking funding to form groups specifically for pregnant women and women with infants and toddlers whose soldier-fathers are deployed.

Norman Camp M.D. was commander of one of the two definitive psychiatric treatment centers in Vietnam during 1970-1971 and has written about the ethical dilemmas facing psychiatrists in the military during that war. He is also currently writing a history of military psychiatry during that war.

Historically - Historically, psychoanalysts have been extremely interested in helping veterans to deal with the traumas of war. For example, the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute's Treatment Center was originally organized in 1946 as an auxiliary center for the psychotherapy of veterans of World War II. AndWilfred Bion established his seminal theory of group regressions while working in a military psychiatric hospital. Mardi Horowitz, Dori Laub, Ira Brenner and other psychoanalysts who studied trauma and stress response syndromes have contributed greatly to our understanding of Post Traumatic Stress responses to war in soldiers and their families.

How to Help the Service Members and Veterans Initiative

  • Volunteer for SOFAR, a unique and innovative program to aid the families and loved ones of army Reservists and National Guard deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait or set up a new SOFAR program in your community - contact SOFAR.
  • Apply for American Psychoanalytic Foundation Committee (APF) grants for specific projects aiding in the current effort. APsaA's APF favors projects aimed at "promoting a better understanding of psychoanalysis and encouraging effective and innovative dissemination of psychoanalytic ideas and services to the public." Click here for the APF grant proposal guidelines.
  • Write letters to their newspapers about the mental health crisis facing veterans — use the related talking points.
  • Write your congressional representatives regarding veterans' mental health issues. APsaA will alert members to any legislation the association recommends taking a position on.