Life after death: How the pandemic has transformed psychic life*

November 3 – 5, 2023

There used to be no house, hardly a room, in which someone had not once died. 

(Rose, 2021, p. 4)

The majority of Covid deaths have occurred in the isolation of the hospital room, not in a home.  We– none of us — are allowed to touch the dying for fear of our own dying.  

Massive death, even when unseen and blocks/cities away, infects our state of mind in myriad ways. In this weekend we will explore our upended experience of time: “Grief brings time shuddering to a halt” (Rose, 2021. p. 8).

We ask what is the mental impact of living in time and space brought to a halt: losing one’s bodily and mental space, no longer able to move freely in the inside or outside world; simultaneously losing the free flow of time, creating a version of mental claustrophobia.  In the days and weeks after George Floyd’s death, his unheard plea “I can’t breathe” echoed in so many of us, a haunting echo of the violence inherent in structured racist policies.  Saidiya Hartman (2002) asks: “How might we understand mourning, when the event has yet to end? When the injuries not only perdure, but are inflicted anew? Can one mourn what has yet ceased happening?” 

We are required to “wait.” It is in the time of waiting that all is held in balance. We wait to find normal again only to slowly apprehend it is not coming back, rather something we call “the new normal” will take its place. As the old is replaced by the new we wait in uncertainty. This is a most painful state of mind, an extraordinary demand the pandemic has placed on us.

And yet in waiting there is work to be done. It makes all the difference in the world if we hold onto hope, or what we as psychoanalysts call the “good object.” In this weekend’s presentations and discussion we will focus on the conflict between hope and despair, love and hate, life and death. Can we as individuals and in the larger societal sense, face the hurt, the loss and hatred and resultant painful frustration to instill and maintain a sense of “mattering” in our relations. (Baraitser, 2020).  How we come to develop a sense of mattering—or not, and whose lives matter- whose lives are “grievable” (Butler) ?

* Title from Jacquelyn Rose, London Review of Books, 12/7/21

Coordinator: Lynne Zeavin, Ph.D. Shelley Rockwell, Ph.D.


LINDSAY L. CLARKSON, M.D. , Lindsay L. Clarkson, M.D. , a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, is an emerita training and supervising analyst at the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis, and a member of the Psychoanalytic Studies Group at Dartmouth. The Kleinian/Bionian tradition has greatly informed her work. From this perspective Dr. Clarkson has explored the details of clinical work, narrative and environmental literature, poetry, and biography to extend the purview of psychoanalytic listening and developmental theory to include the place of our relationship to the natural world/environment within our internal worlds. Recent book essays include: Trees and other Psychoanalytic Matters (2021) and Locating ourselves in Relation to the Natural World (2017). 

M FAKHRY DAVIDS, M.SC. (CLIN PSYCH), qualified as a clinical psychologist in his native South Africa, and travelled to London to train as a psychoanalyst. He is a Fellow and Supervising and Training Analyst of the British Psychoanalytic Society. He is a founding Board Member of Partners in Confronting Collective Atrocities, PCCA (, which pioneered the use of the Group Relations method to address societal atrocities such as the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakbah.  He has published a book, Internal Racism: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Race and Difference. He is a member of the EPF Forum on Migration and Cultural Identities.

KAY LONG, PH.D. is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New Haven, CT.  At the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis, she chairs the Progression Committee and is Director of the Scholar’s Program. Her teaching and writing interests involve contemporary Kleinian approaches to therapeutic process and change. She serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and is co-editor (with Penelope Garvey) of The Kleinian Tradition: Evolution of Theory and Practice. She is working on a memoir about longing for home told through her search for her ancestor’s frontier story in 19th century West Texas.

DONALD MOSS MD has maintained a full time private practice in New York for 45 years.  He is recipient of the Elisabeth Young-Bruehl prize from the IPA for his work against prejudice.  He is the author of five books including Hating in the First Person Plural and his most recent, Psychoanalysis in a Plague Year.  He chairs the Program Committee of APsaA and is a member of The  Holmes Commission for Racial Equity in American Psychoanalysis.  In addition he is a founding member of Green Gang, a group of three analysts and a biodiversity scientist who have been working for the past 10 years on the relationship between the human and natural worlds.