Locked into Othering, Closed-off from Contact:  Can We Cultivate Curiosity?

Instructor:  Anton Hart, PhD

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As seen on a Sussex Directories Inc site

Date: Thursday, November 1, 2018

Time:  7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Location: At the Institute,  8820 Ladue Road, 3rd Floor, St. Louis, MO 63124

Fee: $55

This program, when attended in its entirety, is offered for: 2.0 Credit Hours

We live in a world where othering—viewing and treating people as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself—is, apparently, on the ascendance. Separateness and polarization are fueled by fear and anxiety about contact. Conventionally proposed remedies, such as becoming more literate or competent about others (or urging others to do so), are directive, objectifying, and insufficiently dialogic. A psychoanalytic stance, with its inclination to prescribe free, open, exploratory thought and speech in response to dread (and its dissociative defenses), represents an antidote to the deadening simplifications of mastery-based forms of dialog. Proceeding from the premise that racial, ethnic, sexual, socioeconomic and other forms of prejudice and discrimination represent dissociative defenses involving profound, anxiety-based failures of curiosity, this workshop focuses on how issues of difference and “othering” emerge and can be fruitfully engaged in the psychoanalytic psychotherapeutic situation. We can start by attempting to have conversations about these matters with each other.


We will examine both the resistances to, and the necessity for, psychoanalytic engagement—and prioritization—of issues of otherness, difference and diversity. Anxieties associated with authentic, curious, exploratory dialogue about difference and diversity will be identified. A case will be made for a stance of cultivating curiosity in relation to difference and also for an emphasis on the noticing and learning from those moments where diversity-related communication, that which seeks to cross the borders of otherness, seems to break down. Attention to such breakdowns is portrayed as crucial to developing forms of dialogue that can lead to more diverse—and diversely applied—psychoanalysis. We will utilize experiential exercises involving personal and clinical experience of racial and other forms of difference to bring these dynamics to light. Finally, we will explore the presenter’s concept of “radical openness” as a counterpart to the cultivation of curiosity.

Course Objectives:

Participants in this presentation will be able to:

1) List the anxieties associated with engaging issues of diversity, difference and otherness.

2) Describe the central role of curiosity as an antidote to cultural ignorance and insensitivity and be able to cultivate such curiosity in themselves and in their patients.

3) Describe the pitfalls and breakdowns that can occur in diversity-related explorations, and apply these in the service of the restoration of open, constructive dialogue.

Course Level: Advanced

Anton Hart, PhD, FABP is Training and Supervising Analyst, and on the Faculty of the William Alanson White Institute in New York. He is one of the co-producers of the film, “Black Psychoanalysts Speak”, and he is Chair of the Section on Diversities in the Department of Psychoanalytic Education in APsaA. 

 Click HERE for Continuing Education Credit details.