PSEN US Training Year – Working With Chaos, Uncertainty & Complexity
Required Readings

Self Examination in Psychotherapy

Countertransference & Subjectivity in Clinical Practice

Bill Cornell

Cornell emphasizes the capacity to call one’s self into question as a fundamental outcome of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Attention is paid to the conscious and unconscious forces that create profound dynamic tensions between the enlivening desire for a fuller life and the defenses that deaden one’s capacity to think and to engage more fully in one’s life and relationships. The dynamics of transgenerational transmission of grief, loss, and trauma are also examined closely.

This is an extraordinary practical, useful and relevant book.  We will reference particular chapters of this book for each training week.  (Required)

Psychiatric Diagnosis, 2nd Edition

Understanding Personality Structure in the Clinical Process

Nancy McWilliams

McWilliams explains major character types and demonstrates specific ways that understanding the patient’s individual personality structure can influence the therapist’s focus and style of intervention. Guidelines are provided for developing a systematic yet flexible diagnostic formulation and using it to inform treatment.

This book has been a staple in PSEN Training for referring to depth work with particular character types.  We’ll use it this year to  understand neurotic vs psychotic disorders.  (Required) We’ll also revisit the paranoid character.

Psyche’s Veil

Psychotherapy, Fractals & Complexity

by Terry Marks-Tarlow

Because the essence of psychotherapy involves change, Psyche’s Veil suggests that clinical practice is inherently a nonlinear affair.

Written at the interface between artistic, scientific and spiritual aspects of therapy, Psyche’s Veil is a case-based book that aspires to a paradigm shift in how practitioners conceptualize critical ingredients for internal healing.

We will be referencing various sections of this book this year, particularly the material on nonlinear processes & the certainty of uncertainty.  (Strongly recommended.)

Catch Them Before They Fall

The Psychoanalysis of Breakdown

by Christopher Bollas

Bollas offers a courageous & new clinical paradigm.  He suggests that the unconscious purpose of breakdown is to present one’s self to another for transformative understanding; to have its core distress met and understood directly.  If addressed properly, a breakdown can become a breakthrough.

We will reference the notion of breakdown as something quite relevant to the times we now in.  This is a brilliant and provocative book that helps us get ‘what it takes’ to face the dangers of a psyche falling apart.  (Strongly recommended.)

At the Interface of TA, Psychoanalysis & Body Psychotherapy

Clinical & Theoretical Perspectives

by Bill Cornell

Cornell invites the reader into a more vivid experience of being engaged and touched by this work’s often deep, and at times difficult, intimacy.  Attention is paid to the force and richness of the transferential and countertransferential tensions that pervade and enliven the therapeutic process. Unconscious processes are viewed as fundamentally creative and life-seeking, with the vital functions of fantasy, imagination, and play brought into the foreground.

Being a Character

Psychoanalysis & Self Experience

by Christopher Bollas

Christopher Bollas describes how we ‘dreamwork’ ourselves into becoming who we are, and illustrates how the therapist and the client use such unconscious processes to develop new psychic structures that the client can use to alter his or her self experience.  

Intimacy & Separateness

by Warren Poland

One of the great writers in the field of psychoanalysis, Poland conveys clinical theory in straightforward and deeply compassionate ways.

His understanding of and appreciation for ‘self and otherness’ is multifaceted and complex, yet also quite human and practical.  He helps us wrestle with the dilemma innate to therapy – confronting our separateness while sharing in commonality.

To Be Added…

Resources Related To The Training Themes


THIS JUNGIAN LIFE QAnon: Ancient Lies & Sexual Slanders – 1hr, 23m

QAnon is a recent iteration of a historical pattern: Romans persecuted Christians, Christians libeled Jews, and citizenries hunted witches. When existing social structures break down, psychological splitting ensues in an effort to counteract fear and re-establish certainty.

IPA OFF THE COUCH – There’s a Real Person In There! – 41 min

Warren Poland speaks about ‘regarding the other’, and other vital topics from his book, Intimacy & Separateness.  A sage in the field of psychoanalysis, compassionate, real and filled with depth.