The Magical and the My-Person in Psychoanalysis During the Covid Pandemic

by Paola M. Contreras, PsyD


The author describes how Ogden’s description of two forms of thinking ––dream thinking and transformative thinking–– are preceded by the Magical of the session. Drawing on her external and internal experiences amidst the unrest experienced in response to the COVID pandemic, the author describes the use of what she terms the analyst’s my-person involvement. She explains the my-person concept. She argues that the involvement of the analyst’s my-person permits the Magical of the session to continue to occur, especially during times of great social unrest. The author uses my-person content, clinical examples, and references to magical realism to describe the Magical of analytic work and how the analyst contributes to it.

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 68(6):1113-1126, Jan 2021. DOI: 10.1177/0003065120981733

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About the Author

Paola Michelle Contreras, PsyD, is BPSI Psychoanalyst Member, Co-Chair of Community Division and the 2019 Arthur R. Kravitz Award recipient (click here to watch her recent interview about her humanitarian work). Since 2006 Dr. Contreras has provided education and training to law enforcement, legal professionals, as well as national and international anti-trafficking organizations, advocating for legislation sensitive for survivors of human trafficking. She has published important articles, including Psychological Treatment: Reflections on a Psychoanalytic Perspective to Work with Human Trafficking in Working with the Human Trafficking Survivor: What Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers and Medical Professionals Need to Know (Routledge, 2019, pp. 61-80), and co-produced a short documentary on human trafficking. Dr. Contreras has recently won a grant through the International Psychoanalytic Association to study unconscious forces, such as attachment patterns, that may contribute to difficulties in leaving situations involving exploitation, trafficking, and prostitution. She is an Assistant Professor at William James College in Newton, and in addition to her teaching and advocacy, she has a private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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