Seminar Reviews

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Seminar presented by Jane G. Goldberg Ph.D., April 26, 2002
Reviewed by Adam Shechter

“In the introductory portion of her seminar, Jane Goldberg reviewed basic brain neurology. The developing infant’s neurons fire randomly, more than during any other life period, reactively forming patterns in synchronicity with reinforcing parental attention. I cannot help but think that her lecture accomplished a return to this original consciousness. The traditional neural firing patterns, i.e., perceptions of human emotional culture, as currently and historically seated, were tastefully and brilliantly un- and re-connected.

Jane Goldberg gave narrative shape and defining language to an unprecedented configurative region of the psychoanalytic unconscious. In a seamless articulation, the intimacy of the personal word and the incisiveness of the academic word were unified in a singular nurturing expression.

Scaling this complex tower of words, Goldberg shared the psychic experience of her daughter Molly, who once categorized the world of creatures between those who bite and those who lick, cogently reifying the elusive defense of splitting through the actuality of her child. Goldberg recounted a vacation with Molly, during which they lovingly interacted with an esoteric small creature. After traveling back to their hotel with this small creature in the stroller, Molly plucked the creature from its throne and proceeded to crush the life from it with her foot. Again Goldberg vivified the humanness of murder in the purity of the child; this action was framed within the enraging difficulties of separation.

After centuries of no love, and then centuries of idealized romantic love, we are now in a position to look more closely at the honest constituents of our actual loving. We toured the biblical story of Cain, who was understood to have committed the first murder and founded human civilization. At the same time we were reminded that Freud deemed the man who first flung an insult at his enemy, instead of a spear, to be the founder of civilization. The statistics of domestic violence were reviewed, illuminating that safety from destructive hate is still not found in the mythical loving home. Humans do hate one another, and in place of the spear, we can constructively and verbally express this “destructive” emotion to those who are significant in our lives. Goldberg pointed out that the wish to alter our significant others, in whatever way, is essentially a metaphorical murder. She also unraveled a multitude of emotional and physiological truths behind the romantic façade, e.g., falling in love is governed by a time-limited biochemical reality. Moving through these salient tunnels of normally unspoken thought and feeling, Goldberg constructed a full matrix of the various libidinal and social ties humans engage, and the role of aggression in those ties. Not dissimilar to the patient on the couch, Goldberg was theoretician at the podium, articulating a phylogenetic form of Saying Everything.

The fundamental presence of hate in loving relationships was, I gather, the thematic essence of her lecture. Goldberg delicately offered us a peek behind what might be called a false ideology of love, cleansing shame from hate, that all too misunderstood and powerful human emotion.

Though such difficult and “unpleasant” ground was traversed, the mood in the seminar room was not morbid, nor somber, but in fact loving! Her words resonated with a deep hum across the emotional spectrum and allowed for joyous release through laughter. As separation was a central theme of her talk, admittedly, the conclusion was painful. Though now, an emotion, which I have additional neural connections to better understand. I look forward as I believe many others do, to her return.”