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Love, “The Kiss” and Repair: Clara Thompson’s Contributions to Relational Theory

February 9 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm EST


This presentation begins with a moving account of Clara Thompson’s
collaborative clinical work with the Hungarian psychoanalyst, Sandor Ferenczi.
The vignette sets the stage for understanding the revolutionary aspects of the
active and innovative work between Ferenczi and Thompson, and the
transformative clinical practice Thompson would go on to introduce to her
American colleagues.

Ann D’Ercole will draw from her biographical studies of Clara Thompson (see
below) and from notes from Ferenczi’s Clinical Diary (Dupont, 1988) to give
attendees a sense of the young Clara, her upbringing, and her professional
awakening. In this presentation, D’Ercole will focus on Thompson’s essay
writing to illuminate how this early psychoanalytic pioneer came to embrace the
dynamic interpersonal encounter between the patient and analyst. Those
essays are still relevant today.

Importantly, Thompson was critical of Freud’s views on women. She argued
against the inequality of women and men in society and began what we now
know as the study of gender and sexuality in psychoanalysis. Clara Thompson
deserves to be recognized for her pioneering role in American psychoanalysis
and for her prescient interpersonal contributions that led to the relational turn in
psychoanalytic theory and practice.

Ann D’Ercole, Ph.D. ABPP, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at NYU’s
Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She is
Distinguished Visiting Faculty at the William Alanson White Institute. She is
author of Clara M. Thompson’s Early Years and Professional Awakening: An
American Psychoanalyst (1893-1933) and Clara M. Thompson’s Professional
Evolution and Legacy: An American Psychoanalyst (1933-1958), Routledge,
2023. Co-Editor of Uncoupling Convention: Psychoanalytic Approaches to
Same-Sex Couples and Families (2004) and other essays.

Dr. D’Ercole received the APA, Div.39, SGI Award for Outstanding Contributions
to the Advancement of Sexualities and Gender Identities in Psychoanalysis and
the American Board and Academy of Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic
Psychology book award for her contribution to Frie, R. & Sauvayre, P.
(eds). Culture, Politics, and Interpersonal Psychoanalysis: Breaking Boundaries,
Routledge, 2022 for her essay, Considering the Radical Contributions of Clara
Mabel Thompson. She is in private practice in New York City.