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Saturday, May 25th 2013

TICP Spring 2013 Conference - Meaning, Mortality and Music: Existential and Evolutionary Perspectives

Dr. Malcolm Owen Slavin, PhD
presented by TICP-Toronto Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis

10:00 - 4:00

Hart House, Debates Room, University of Toronto, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, ON

Register online at:

To view the full conference brochure, please download the pdf above.


We need art so we do not die of the truth

Dr. Slavin will address the question of why we humans vitally need art -- focusing specifically on the visceral experience of both visual imagery and music.

What was the universal trauma, the “original loss” -- the partial disconnection from the rest of nature-that made it essential for art and music to co-evolve with-to use as well as counterbalance -- the rest of human intelligence and language? How do art, myth and religion allow us to grieve continuously the loss of our embeddedness in nature -- to create hope, meaning, connection, agency and joy in face of human existential anxiety?

Dr. Slavin’s talk begins clinically with our response to trauma, taking us through 50,000 years of human pre-history and mythology with dramatic images of ancient, sacred cave art and multiple musical examples. Then, returning to the clinical context, we focus on how patients probe their analysts’ capacity to open themselves imaginatively to a mutual, creative process that inevitably embraces the analyst’s version of the same universal, existential issues for which their patient has sought help.

(Talk #1) The Music Knows: Grieving Existential Trauma In Art, Music and Psychoanalysis

(Talk #2) Each Session is a Lifetime: Realness, Reciprocity and Adaptive Probing In the Treatment Relationship

Learning Objectives

1) Understanding how, in the course of human evolution, our species endured a significant loss of a former embedded state of connectedness and automatic knowledge of nature.
2) Understanding how the enduring "trauma" of this "original loss" is at the heart of existential anxiety and our continuing need to create meaning through art and music.
3) Recognizing, how an evolved, adaptive probing for realness and reciprocity emerges as therapist and patient mutually encounter shared, human, existential dilemmas.


10:00 Introduction (Brent Willock)
10:10 The Music Knows: Grieving Existential Trauma In Art, Music and Psychoanalysis (Malcolm Slavin)
11:10 Discussion with Audience
12:00 - 2:00 Lunch (on your own)
2:00 Each Session is a Lifetime: Realness, Reciprocity and Adaptive Probing In the Treatment Relationship (Malcolm Slavin)
3:00 Discussion with Audience
4:00 Closing Remarks (Brent Willock)

Malcolm Owen Slavin, Ph.D. graduated from Yale, studied at the Sorbonne, and earned a doctorate in psychology at Harvard University. He is Past President (and a founder, faculty member and supervising analyst) at the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis (MIP) as well as on the faculty and a supervisor at many other psychoanalytic institutes in the United States and around the world. Dr. Slavin’s book, The Adaptive Design of the Human Psyche: Psychoanalysis, Evolutionary Biology and the Therapeutic Process, has been followed by a series of papers including “Why the Analyst Needs to Change,” and, “Lullaby on the Dark Side” – explorations of working clinically with a broadly relational sensibility informed by both existential and evolutionary biological perspectives. Dr. Slavin is on the Board of Directors of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP) as well as the International Council for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. He is an Associate Editor of Psychoanalytic Dialogues, a Corresponding Editor of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and on the Editorial Board of The International Journal of the Psychology of the Self.


OCTOBER 5, 2013: Dr. Michael Eigen

JANUARY 26, 2014: Dr. Jessica Benjamin


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