What's In Mind?

This weekend conference will be held online using the Zoom platform.


November 3-6, 2022

This weekend will explore the notion of mentalization, the developmentally-achieved capacity to recognize that what is in our minds is a product of our experience and to know that others have minds of their own, with contents that are related to their experiences. This capacity emerges within the caregiving relationships, during the first four years of life. Deficits in mentalization appear frequently in patients with severe personality disorders and occasionally in all patients (and therapists/analysts). Improvements in this capacity are an important marker of successful treatment.

How does an appreciation for the developmental trajectory of mentalization affect one’s ways of listening to patients? How does an appreciation of this capacity lead to different ways of intervening? What difference does it make if we take a patient’s insistence that her internal world defines reality as a defensive distortion, as opposed to a failure to mentalize? These questions can stimulate active discussion/exploration in the course of the weekend. Opening ourselves to data framed in this way can change how we think and ultimately how we help patients to think.

Coordinator: David Cooper, Ph.D. and Anne Adelman, Ph.D.


CLAUDIA M. GOLD, MD is a pediatrician and writer who specializes in infant-parent mental health. She is on the faculty of the Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship Program at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, the Berkshire Psychoanalytic Institute, and the Brazelton Institute at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is the author of four books: The Power of Discord with co-author Ed Tronick (2020), The Developmental Science of Early Childhood (2017), The Silenced Child (2016), and Keeping Your Child in Mind( 2011), with a new book- Learning from Babies: How Our Earliest Relationships Teach Us to Navigate Uncertainty and Loss -forthcoming.

SANDRA HERSHBERG, MD is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis. She serves on the Program Committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association, is an Associate Editor of Psychoanalysis, Self and Context and is on the Editorial Board of Psychoanalytic Inquiry. She has published and presented papers on a wide variety of subjects including biography and psychoanalysis, pregnancy and creativity, therapeutic action, ethics, and the mother/daughter relationship. Dr. Hershberg is the Co-Editor and a contributor to the book Psychoanalytic Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice: Reading Joseph D. Lichtenberg published by Routledge in 2016.

ROBERT PINSKY’s autobiography Jersey Breaks: Becoming an American Poet, was published by Norton this year. His books of poetry include Selected Poems, The Want Bone and The Figured Wheel, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His best-selling translation is The Inferno of Dante. His Tanner Lectures at Princeton University were published as Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry. As Poet Laureate of the United States, he made the videos at http://www.favoritepoem.org, featuring people from many walks of life reading poems by the likes of William Shakespeare, Pablo Neruda, Frank O’Hara and Gwendolyn Brooks.

STEPHEN SELIGMAN, DMH is Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco and at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis; Training and Supervising Analyst at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California; and Editor Emeritus of Psychoanalytic Dialogues. He is the author of Relationships in Development: Infancy, Intersubjectivity, Attachment (Routledge, 2018), which has been translated in Italian, Spanish, and Ukrainian (delayed), and co- edited the American Psychiatric Press’ Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health: Core Concepts and Clinical Practice. Dr Seligman has published nearly 100 articles, chapters and reviews, many of which take up the intersection of infancy research and psychoanalysis.