Open Analytic Theory Classes: Course Roster

Full Open Analytic Theory Classes course description listing.  Course offerings may change from semester to semester.

*Distance Learning is available  for those living outside the St. Louis metro area

Each year, the Institute opens several courses in the training program to non-candidates.  Graduates of an advanced Psychotherapy program (such as the Advanced Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Program affiliated with the Institute or comparable training programs), individuals in psychiatric training programs, academics with a research interest in the area, along with Advanced Analytic Candidates and Faculty of the Institute may apply to take these open courses.

1st Year Classes:

Neurosis & Neurotic Character

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the realm of psychopathology traditionally referred to as “neurotic” (e.g. non-psychotic symptom specific syndromes as well as “higher level” character pathology). Students will learn to describe the psychological processes that characterize neurotic phenomena, as well as the common presentations and dynamics of this form of disturbance as distinct from superficially similar clinical conditions. This survey will enable the candidate to also describe a “neurotic” process when present, to distinguish it from other forms of psychopathology, and to formulate hypotheses regarding the forces, origins and meanings contained therein.

Developmental Viewpoint

Developmental Viewpoint is a two-semester study of psychosexual development beginning in infancy and ending in adolescence. It is part of the core curriculum, offered as an Open Class only with the full year commitment. The writings of Freud, Klein, Bion, Winnicott, Stern and others will be presented.

Core Concepts

In this course, we will discuss some basic concepts of psychoanalysis, such as the unconscious, fantasy, the drive, psycho-sexuality, transference and counter-transference, topographical and structural theories, defenses, importance of dreams, and object relations.  We will address a central question of psychoanalysis: why is psychoanalysis a talking cure, and how does it help?


This course will focus on theoretical and clinical aspects of trauma, beginning with a definition of trauma relative to other psychic pathology. We will discuss implicit and explicit memory as they relate to traumatic experience, and the problems of subjectivity and changeability of memory as they affect the practice of reconstruction of traumatic events.  We will also explore the effects of various traumas, including incest, neglect, and wartime experience, on development and symptom formation in children and adults.  Clinical examples will be of adults who have experienced traumas in childhood and adulthood.  Important aspects of work with victims will be reviewed, including common transference and counter-transference phenomena encountered in therapeutic work.

2nd Year Classes:


The primary focus of the Freud course is to teach clinicians and researchers Freud’s theory in a way that will enhance their clinical work as well as their critical understanding, and to provide a basic framework for psychoanalytic thought. Although we proceed more or less chronologically, “early” Freud is not discarded in favor of a “later” Freud, and we encourage students to see the continuing relevance of his ideas on psychoanalytic theory and technique as it is understood today.  The course is intended as an introduction to Freud, with the goal of opening up more complicated topics and questions which continually interact with each other. Freud’s theories on the nature of sexuality and its impact on subjective life; the nature of unconscious thought and how it can be observed and interpreted; problems of relationships with others and with oneself, and Freud’s impact of cultural ideas will be taken up.  The course is aimed at students who have found themselves curious about such questions in one form or another – through clinical observation or research interests– and who want to enrich their own work with the study of Freud’s ideas.


This course is a detailed overview of the multiple theoretical approaches to the understanding of a large population that, historically, came to be labeled as “borderline.”  This group could not be easily described or understood using the classical formulations of neurotic psychopathology. Neither did this group fit well into the theoretical or phenomenological realm of psychoses.  The course will consider both clinical phenomena that demand explanation as well as developmental models that inform theory and technique. An emphasis is placed upon the relationship of theory to observational data along with an appreciation for the evolving understanding of assessment and diagnosis.

While this course is not a technique course, treatment approaches are discussed.  Treatments range from psychoanalysis modified to safely allow and promote deep regression, to supportive techniques.  Those who speak for the current state of the psychoanalytic art recommend specific forms of psychotherapy such as transference focused psychotherapy; mentalization based psychotherapy, or combinations of the two, for most patients. These modes of treatment are now the ones most subject to empirical validation.

Prerequisite: Core Concepts


Aging is a developmental crisis that either elicits adaptation and ongoing development or pathological solutions. A multitude of losses are characteristic of late life and we will focus on the internal experience of loss of health, loved ones, independence, and autonomy. We will also touch on the topic of healthy aging.


Culture and Diversity: Psychoanalytic Perspectives
This course presents a psychoanalytic understanding of culture and diversity with regards to race, gender, and sexuality. Intersubjective, relational, and self-psychological perspectives will be examined.  This course has four primary goals: 1) to locate the analyst and patient within a greater historic and socio-cultural context; 2) to stimulate awareness of diversity and difference within the analytic relationship; 3) to encourage the breaking of difference-based barriers to effective analytic treatment through awareness; and 4) to understand multiple frameworks for thinking about culture and diversity.

3rd Year Classes:

Models of the Mind

Psychoanalysis is both a theory of pathology and its treatment and a general theory of human behavior. The course, “Models of the Mind,” is designed to help us organize the vast array of observations and thoughts about human behavior contributed to our literature over many decades. Surveying Ego, Object Relations, Self-Psychological, Intersubjective, and Relational and perspectives, we hope to present the material in a way that allows for thoughtful discussion of what is most true and most helpful. Too often, psychoanalytic debates take on the character of contests between competing ideologies, with allegiances to ideas grounded more on transferences (allegiances) to influential analysts than to reasoned assessment of the state of our knowledge. We seek to teach thinking skills that promote the highest standards of rigorous academic discourse.

Prerequisite: Freud Course or Core Concepts

Gender and Sexuality

In this course we will explore gender and sexuality as independent, yet intricately linked, and multiply determined components of human identity, experience and expression. We will read from the contemporary psychoanalytic literature to further our understanding of the development and emergence of gender identities and sexualities across the lifespan, along with evocative video clips.  Expressions of gender and sexuality within the therapeutic relationship will be emphasized, with particular attention to erotic transference and countertransference.


Freud was originally, and maybe essentially, a neuroscientist. He abandoned neuroscience, realizing that the technology of the time, clinic-anatomic studies, did not allow for investigation of dynamic relationships in the brain. We now have those tools, ones that Freud anticipated and certainly would have used. A new, interdisciplinary field of study has emerged, named by Mark Solms and colleagues, neuropsychoanalysis. This course will introduce students to some of the advances in neuroscience that allow for dynamic models of brain functioning that correlate in striking ways with psychodynamic theories of the mind.


The premise of this course is that psychoanalytic theories of how the mind works provide the most useful inroads to the understanding and treatment of psychosis.  Not only can psychoanalytic theory help mental health professionals to treat psychosis more effectively, the study of psychosis is also invaluable for an understanding of how the unconscious mind is put together even in non-psychotic subjects.

4th Year Classes:


This course will use basic readings, commentaries, and clinical material in an attempt to introduce and deepen the participant’s understanding of Bion’s basic theoretical concepts and their implications for clinical work. Emphasis will be placed on his theories of thinking and knowing, his intersubjective view of psychic development and functioning (alpha function, waking dream thoughts, reverie, container/contained), listening stance (“without memory and desire”), and the vicissitudes of learning from experience.


The Kleinian point of view conceives of the mind as an internal space where the individual’s phantasies about himself and others are dramatized. Though they’re immaterial, our phantasies tangibly affect the way we live our lives. In this space, highly personalized interactions are constantly taking place between the individual and other (imagined) persons. The loving or hateful nature of this internal drama is reflected in the relationships the individual enjoys or suffers with the actual people in his or her life.

This course will deal with the origin and development of these ideas in Melanie Klein’s work with young children and their elaboration by subsequent generations of writers. Along the way, we’ll learn about the dream as our best opportunity to glimpse the happenings of the internal world. We’ll conclude with an examination of contemporary Kleinian work.

Prerequisite: Core Concepts, Freud or Models of the Mind

Attachment Theory

The Attachment Theory course will be taught from the point of view of how various Attachment theorists view their patients. It will cover some of the important Attachment theorists, e.g. Bowlby, Main, Ainsworth, Fonagy. Finally, it will cover Fonagy ‘s “points of contact” and “points of divergence” between Attachment Theory and selected Psychoanalytic theories.
It is intended to help therapists widen their understanding of patient’s clinical material.

The Body in Psychoanalysis

The very birth of psychoanalysis is tied to the study of Emma’s cough (i.e. conversion hysteria or the symbolized body) and the psychoanalytic drive is that elusive chameleon linking body and psyche, the earliest form of representative activity based on somatic excitability. The body functions as a template (Freud’s famous “the ego is first and foremost a bodily ego”), a reservoir (trauma and the actual neuroses), a defensive structure (Bick’s second skin and Yarom’s  somatic shelters). Yet, in spite of all these psychoanalytic acknowledgements of the varied, crucial roles the body occupies in psychic life, I believe, too often the body seems to be stalled at the consulting room door while only the “psyche” or the “relationship” is allowed admission.  What might result if we were to regularly bring the body into practice and not only into theory?  Therefore, as we view the body and its roles in theory (McDougall, Ferrari, Aisenstein, Anzieu, Miller, Aulagnier) we will also attempt to translate the theory into day-to-day practice.

Prerequisites:  Core Concepts and Freud   

Integrative Theories

In this course, we will study three psychoanalytic thinkers who, dissatisfied with linearity of thought, seek to maintain standpoints embedded in a variety of psychoanalytic models of the human mind and human development.

Hans Loewald draws on the ideas of Hartmann, Mahler, Winnicott and Kohut to create his own unique blend. As he puts it, “Much can be said for an oscillation between such various standpoints, as perhaps in their juxtaposition and combination lies the secret of success in understanding more about the conflicted and ambiguous creatures that we are.”

Thomas Ogden seeks out the dialectical interplay and tensions between opposing elements that stand in dynamic and changing relations to each other. In elaborating a conception of analytic intersubjectivity and the analytic third he draws on and integrates the ideas of Klein and Winnicott.

Jessica Benjamin seeks to elaborate a theoretical perspective in which intersubjectivity rivals but does not defeat the intrapsychic. She develops a conception of double recognition, making one’s own subjectivity known while recognizing the difference of the other’s subjectivity. Building on the work of Mahler and Winnicott she integrates the work of feminist thinking as having contributed as much as psychoanalytic theory to intersubjectivity.

Prerequisite: Models of the Mind