PREVIOUS TITLE: Kittens and Other Non-Human Inhabitants in Treatment of Transgenerational Trauma

WHEN: April 27, 2019

9:00 AM – 12:15 AM

3.0 CE/CME (Diversity)

PRESENTER: Katie Gentile, PhD

LOCATION: The Thompson Conference Center at 2405 Robert Dedman Drive, Austin 78712  Room 3.122

PARKING: Complimentary parking is available on-site at TCC on a first-come, first-served basis in Lot 40, which is located at the intersection of Red River at Dean Keeton streets (2500 Red River Street for navigation purposes).

Additional paid parking is available nearby in Manor Garage (MAG) on Clyde Littlefield Drive. Attendees at events in TCC can have their Manor Garage parking tickets validated at the TCC reception office to receive a discount.


Sara Ahmed observes that recognition “produces rather than simply finds its object,” in other words, the techniques of psychoanalytic engagement produce the patients we can recognize. This leaves psychoanalysts attempting to witness and recognize trauma and violence with tools that may themselves re-inscribe violence to their patients. Using case material, this presentation explores the use of animals – the patient’s kitten, not a therapeutic support animal – to attempt to response-ably witness and interrupt transgenerational violence. While Harold Searles in 1960 urged psychoanalysis to incorporate animals and the nonhuman environment within the clinical space, most psychoanalytic theory has ignored the integral role of animals in human lives. This case situates a kitten at the center of a racist enactment between the white therapist and a Latina-identified patient. In this case, the kitten became an important actor and participant, engaging the patient to interrupt potential transgenerational patterns of violence. Integrating Searles’ conflicting ideas with current work on the nonhuman within cultural studies, this presentation will explore the ambivalent dependence of the human on the nonhuman, the co-emergence of these categories and subjectivities, and ways to consciously link these areas of experiencing in our clinical and theoretical work in ways that can open up space for response-able forms of witnessing and recognition.

Learning Objectives:

1) Participants will be able to reconsider the roles of the nonhuman, including animals, in clinical work

2) Participants will be able to conceptualize transgenerational racial trauma as it manifests in the clinical space

3) Participants will be able to expand ideas of witnessing and how it can function in the clinical space


Apprey, M. (2003). Repairing history: Reworking transgenerational trauma. In D. Moss (ed.) Hating in the first person plural: Psychoanalytic essays on racism, homophobia, misogyny and terror, pp. 3-28. New York: Other Press.

Boulanger, G. (2012). Psychoanalytic witnessing: Professional obligation or moral imperative? Psychoanalytic Psychology, 29(3): 318-324.

Moss, D. (Ed.) (2003) Hating in the First Person Plural. London: Other Press.

Roth, M.S. (2012). Memory, trauma, and history: Essays on living with the past. NYC: Columbia University Press.

Searles, H. (1960). The nonhuman environment in normal development and in

schizophrenia. New York: International Universities Press.

Bio: Katie Gentile, Ph.D. is Professor of Gender Studies and Chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York). She is the author of Creating bodies: Eating disorders as self-destructive survival and the 2017 Gradiva Award winning The Business of being made: The temporalities of reproductive technologies, in psychoanalysis and cultures, both from Routledge. She is the editor of the Routledge book series Genders & Sexualities in Minds & Culture and a co-editor of the journal Studies in Gender and Sexuality. She has published most recently on restorative and community-based justice and institutional betrayal around sexual misconduct and the cultural and psychic production of temporalities around reproduction, fetal personhood, and the nonhuman. She is on the faculty of New York University’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis and the Critical Social Psychology program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is in private practice in New York City.

Division 39 is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Division 39 maintains responsibility for this program and its content. CME: These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint sponsorship of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies. APsaA is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. APsaA designates these live activities for a maximum of 13.5 AMA PRA Category I credits. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE: None of the planners or the presenter of this CME program have any relevant financial relationships or conflicts of interest to disclose. ASPP is approved by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (Provider # 1138) to provide continuing education for licensed professional counselors in Texas. ASPP is approved by the Texas State Board of Social Workers Examiners (Provider # 5501) to provide continuing education for social workers and the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists (Provider #1138). 

Diversity Conference 2019

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