Counter-Counter-Oedipals: What Parents Cannot Know About Children and What Children Cannot Know About Parents

Sunday, May 5, 2019
Howard H. Covitz, PhD, ABPP, NCPsyA
Elkins Park, PA

Aida’s Secret is a documentary film about two brothers who hadn’t met in maybe 60 years trying to understand their mother who one had seen occasionally and the other had not “been with” (he was blind, so never saw her) since infancy. This seminar will look too, at Annie Reich’s gambit (“A Special Variation of Technique,” IJPA, 1958) which examines those times when an analyst has to affirm the pathology of the parent. We’ll ask: But what of the unknowable/unbewusste in the child’s understanding of the parent? … of the choices made by the Parent that the Child cannot fathom? We will consider the two-way difficulty … parents not being able to enter the world of their children (Gibran’s note on Children) and vice versa.

Learning Objectives: After attending this program in full, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify moments in treatment when a patient’s belief in the damaging character of the parent needs to be affirmed.
  2. Explain the value of assisting patients to accept the inevitable limitations in their understanding of their parents, including in pathogenesis.
  3. Discuss the structural value of forgiveness and transcendence in treatment.


“A Special Variation of Technique,” Annie Reich, IJPA, 1958.

Howard H. Covitz, PhD, ABPP, NCPsyA is a late middle-aged psychologist-psychoanalyst. For many years he was Director and on the Training Faculty of The Psychoanalytic Studies Institute (PSI/IPP) in Philadelphia. His 1998/2016 Oedipal Paradigms in Collisionwas nominated for the Gradiva Psychoanalytic Book of the Year. He has written on the connections between Narcissism and Oedipal Development and on internecine conflict in the psychoanalytic community. He was a member of the Board of the Nat. Assoc. for the Adv. of Psychoanalysis for 10 years. His political activism arose at a point equidistant from his roles as Father, Grandfather, Citizen and Therapist. He is among the 27 therapists who contributed to the recently-published The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. He taught Mathematics, Statistics, Psychology, Biblical Characterology and Psychoanalysis from 1966 to 2011.

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