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 Reviewing Grandparents: Ageing and Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Later Life

Ronald Ruskin, MD, FRCP[C] Dip Psych [McGill] FAPA

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. EST

*This is a Zoom Virtual Conference Event* 

About the Presentation

The author reviews the role of grandparents in contemporary life with reference to graphic/narrative representations of ageing in art, children’s [fairy] tales, and societal family life. As analysts we study individual development in psycho-sexual stages with particular emphasis on early childhood, pre-oedipal and oedipal issues. Erikson’s writing on the life-cycle included eight stages to the age of 65, amending a ninth stage of old age shortly before death. From Freud onward psychoanalysis has focused on treating individuals in the first half of life. What of the second half of life and grandparents? What is their role in our understanding the relational dimensions of psychoanalytic process? Now it is common for individuals to live productive lives well into their 80’s or 90’s and it is not unusual for patients to enter psychoanalysis in mature years. Psychoanalytic candidates are often middle-aged, while many practicing analysts work well past middle-age. As we and our patients age, our resilience and capacity to respond to conflict is influenced by the support of significant others and the strength of our body-ego. The author cites the reality of the grandparent-child relationship as a supportive cohesive structure in family and psychic life. The reciprocal of this relationship is the metaphor of the adult-child as caregiver to the elder parent/grand-parent. Now, as analysts, analytic patients, and analytic societies age, may we discuss the realities, conflicts, and transferences of later life? The author presents personal experience and clinical examples to illustrate this perspective.

About the Presenter

Dr. Ron Ruskin is an associate professor of Psychiatry [U of Toronto], staff psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Hospital, a training analyst at the Toronto Psychoanalytic Institute and faculty at the Toronto Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis. Ron is a founding editor of Ars Medica, a journal of medical humanities, and has published three novels and co-edited two texts “Clinical Perspectives in Psychotherapy Supervision” (APA Press) and “Body & Soul: Narratives of Healing from Ars Medica.” His work has appeared in JAMA, American Journal of Psychiatry, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Intima, Queen’s Quarterly, and The Healing Muse. 

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