Jessica Benjamin – The Wolf’s Dictionary: Predatory Profit and the Unconscious Assumption that “Only One Can Live”

Chicago Psychoanalytic Society

Scientific Program: December 6th, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.

Location: University Club, 76 E. Monroe St., corner of Michigan Ave., Chicago

Admission is free. No reservations are required.


Presenter: Jessica Benjamin, PhD

In her talk, Benjamin draws connections between the current political situation in the United States and other historical moments in which mass movements with authoritarian tendencies played a significant role. Her thesis is that psychoanalytic thinking can contribute to understanding this profoundly anti-democratic constellation in terms of the core fantasy of “only one can live.”  This fantasy, which takes form in political ideology as extreme individual self-interest, undermines social solidarity. It also supports the polarity between “Them and Us,” in which a discardable, devalued subjugated group is seen to be a threat to the self-proclaimed superior and dominant group. She considers an alternate trajectory of politics that might enable the containing of conflicts within a non-violent civil society as well as the acknowledging of the history of harming to engage in repair.


Jessica Benjamin, PhD, is a preeminent psychoanalytic thinker, as seen in her being one of only two living authors (along with Tom Ogden) to have a paper among the ten most read in the archive of psychoanalytic journals.  A clinical psychoanalyst, she also has been involved for decades as a thinker and activist regarding social problems.  Along with many papers, she has written four books, including The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Problem of Domination and, just published, Beyond Doer and Done To: Recognition Theory, Intersubjectivity and the Third.  She is Clinical Professor at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis and a faculty member and co-founder of the Stephen A. Mitchell Center for Relational Studies.

Discussant: Celia Brickman, PhD, LCPC


Celia Brickman, PhD, LCPC, is a psychoanalytic therapist and a faculty member at The Center for Religion and Psychotherapy of Chicago, where she has served as Director of Training.  She is the author of Race in Psychoanalysis: Aboriginal Populations in the Mind, just published in a second edition.

Educational objectives:  After the presentation, the participant will be able to:

a) recognize and explain the fantasy of “only one can live,” which leads to extreme self-interest and blocks a person from responding to the needs of others; and,

b) appreciate the value of acknowledging how dominant groups have harmed those who are lacking in power.

Admission is free. No reservations are required.  Continuing Education Credits are offered exclusively to Society members in all membership categories.