Programs in Psychoanalysis, Society, and Culture
Not only is psychoanalysis a method of examining and understanding culture, but psychoanalysis itself, as a theory and a body of knowledge, is a cultural product. Psychoanalysis always takes place within a social and cultural matrix, even while it seeks to understand the unconscious elements in social and cultural institutions and processes. The programs in Psychoanalysis, Society and Culture offer an open forum for the exploration and systematic analysis of the interface between psychoanalysis and the social and cultural matrix within which it is embedded. This interface becomes especially critical when we undertake research, policy formulation or clinical practice within such a multicultural society as the United States.
The interdisciplinary Master’s and Doctoral programs build on the critical nature of psychoanalysis by offering grounding in psychoanalytic theory and providing the theoretical and methodological tools to critique society, culture, and psychoanalysis itself. By exploring psychoanalysis in relation to social theory, history, politics, anthropology, systems theory, literature, art, and cultural studies, students engage in an interdisciplinary process of scholarship and discovery. This leads to a deeper appreciation of the profound psychological and social dynamics involving gender, race, psychopathology, social violence, bureaucracy, and other complicated systemic concerns. It also sets the stage for applying theory to practical applications such as organizational leadership, diversity management, and consultation.
At the Master’s level, students gain a psychoanalytic foundation for cultural studies. Through BGSP’s integrative approach to learning, they develop the critical and research skills needed to prepare for doctoral study and to apply their knowledge in social service and other organizational settings. Building on their Masters’ studies, Doctoral candidates embark on a critical investigation of larger systems and social issues through immersion in advanced seminars, unique field experiences, and original research.
In the Master of Arts program in Psychoanalysis, Society and Culture, students:
- Acquire an in-depth knowledge of the broad scope of psychoanalysis as a discipline, including its theories of unconscious motivation, affect, and the nature of the mind.
- Learn about the range of methods used in psychoanalytic and sociocultural studies, including quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic and textual analysis, and demonstrate an understanding of the range, value and utility of data sources for interdisciplinary research in psychoanalysis and culture.
- Acquire a grounding in critical social theory and its history, and develop a critical attitude towards the traditional disciplinary premises about the nature of mind and society.
- Investigate the relationships between psychoanalysis, critical social theory, and cultural analysis and use their interrelationship to better understand culture, society, and larger systems, including social service organizations; gain insight into group and organizational dynamics.
- Explore the culture-bound definitions and manifestations of psychopathology and other cultural phenomena in relation to the management of diversity in today’s global society.
The doctoral program in Psychoanalysis, Society and Culture includes the M.A. level of study. At the doctoral level, students additionally:
- Explore the tensions between psychoanalysis and the social sciences, examining to what extent current psychological approaches have reified the human psyche and the implications of this for understanding societal concerns psychoanalytically.
- Develop and apply analytic and critical reasoning skills to the understanding of a range of cultural representations, including mental health and illness and culture-bound therapeutic practices (including psychoanalysis), and social definitions of gender, race, and ethnic status.
- Gain deeper experience in methods of research and analysis as the basis for informed investigations that cross disciplinary borders.
- Focus on the critical reading of psychoanalytic and cultural texts regarding a specific research topic. Using appropriate methods, engage in synthetic, interdisciplinary study of a specific aspect of culture or society.
The programs in Psychoanalysis, Society, and Culture provide an educational space in which the student becomes progressively more capable of and responsible for integrating theories and methods from multiple disciplines and applying his or her knowledge and skills to theoretical and practical work. What direction the student takes upon graduation depends in large part upon his or her interests and synthetic conclusions.
To a large extent, the graduate of a program in Psychoanalysis, Society, and Culture is a self-made individual. Program graduates follow their own distinctive paths to success, applying their learning in applied and academic settings relevant to their areas of interest. Over the last five years, 71% of graduates from this program secured employment in a related field such as augmenting professional practice, administrative leadership, and untenured positions in academia.
Master’s students complete 48 credits, including courses in psychoanalysis, cultural analysis, integrative electives, and research methodology. Students also complete a fieldwork practicum and complete a master’s paper. (Students who have written an approved Master’s paper or thesis in prior studies may ask to have this requirement waived.) In addition, students engage in a training analysis throughout the course of study.
To qualify for the Psya.D. degree in Psychoanalysis, Society & Culture, a candidate completes 24 core and elective courses (72 credits), the master’s level fieldwork practicum, and directed research. In addition, students engage in a training analysis. Students pass written comprehensive and oral qualifying examinations before they undertake research at the doctoral level. After completion of doctoral research, students then make an oral defense of the dissertation.
The two semester practicum is designed to expose students to real-world situations in which to integrate theoretical and topical knowledge of psychoanalysis, society, and culture with hands-on experience in agencies, institutions, cultural settings or the community. These activities may be based in a social institution such as a hospital, prison, court, or school, or in a cultural setting such as a radio or television station, film institute, fashion design studio, magazine or newspaper office, research institute, or any other relevant site. Students may also apply to conduct the clinical fieldwork externship (see M.A. in Psychoanalysis catalog) in a residential or day treatment setting for regressed patients.
The student arranges the practicum with the Fieldwork Coordinator according to his or her area of interest, and, for the clinical fieldwork only, applies to the Dean of Graduate Studies for approval. In conjunction with the clinical fieldwork, students enroll in the PT 185 Fieldwork Seminar and PT 111 Group Supervision throughout the field experience.
Each student participates in a training analysis, working one-on-one with an analyst throughout the program. The training analysis is an important part of the educational process. It provides an experiential understanding of the methods and knowledge base of psychoanalysis and a further appreciation for one’s own subjectivity and the operation of the unconscious. Students engage in a training analysis with an approved training analyst throughout their studies on a weekly or every other week basis and complete 50 hours of training analysis to graduate from the Master's program and 120 hours to graduate from the Psya.D. program.
Master’s students enroll in a research methods course and complete the Master’s Paper, which offers the opportunity to integrate psychoanalytic and sociocultural knowledge and theory in formulating a research question and carrying out an empirical research study.
Doctoral students enroll in advanced research methods courses and complete an original research project for the dissertation. Completion of a dissertation is one of the most important requirements of the doctoral program. It is an original empirical project that makes a substantive contribution to the knowledge base in psychoanalysis in relation to society and culture. The dissertation is supervised by a primary advisor and a doctoral committee consisting of at least two additional faculty members, one of whom may come from outside of the school in order to contribute expertise in a particular subject area. The committee is responsible for approving the dissertation proposal, overseeing the data collection and analysis, and reviewing the dissertation and oral defense.
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