The EPIS Institute has been studying the existential elements of the human condition for several years.  Now, various clinicians and theorists have decided to start a new initiative to closely study the relationships amongst death – life – meaning – and current social outcomes along various dimensions. This Initiative will involve research, theory, clinical practice, cultural practice, history, our human anthropology, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and critical theory.  The goal is to pursue a deeper understanding of our attitudes toward death, and how they inform our lifeworld – the lebenswelt.  If you are interested in this project, please feel to contact the institute.

Phenomenology, Transcendence and Other:
A Problem of Immanence & Worlds
Invitation to submit a book chapter

Phenomenology’s relationship with the concept of transcendence – the wholly other – the numinous – is complex and problematic. Phenomenology is a philosophy of givenness, restricting itself to describing carefully and without prejudice whatever is given to experience in the manner in which it is given. But if phenomenology is restricted to givenness, then what do we make of that which does not presence itself in that givenness? If the epoché brackets the transcendent, how can phenomenology lead to change by imagining and committing to that very transcendent? We do see in Sartre a complex relationship between the self as ego and the pre-reflective self, with the possibility of transcending present ego formations. Yet, in our present world, which is strongly structuralized from the outside, there is a difficulty of reaching the transcendent in a way that facilitates change and transformation. Transcendence means to go beyond toward Otherness – – other than one’s self. Thus, phenomenology is a philosophy of otherness. More trenchantly, transcendence is a going beyond toward a deeper experience of the self, thus transcendence is discovered in immanence and never in transcendence as such. More simply, whatever our commitments that have been actualized, they cannot totalize our-selves as future possibility. Thus, the very self is a transcending and transcendent process, but not egoistic in its originary nature. However, this is not to say that the self is not subject to enclosure, oppressive structuralization, and de-presencing through social mechanisms and self-infliction. Instead, the self by its very nature is always a reaching toward the Other, ineluctably transcendent though not without peril or limit. Transcendence, therefore, can only be experienced through the immanent. In contemporary culture, we see serious restrictions on the transcendent, both individual and cultural, which may preclude access to alternative world structures. Thus, this book series, through the discourses of psychoanalysis, existential phenomenology, and critical theory, will seek to clarify the problem of closure – what operates as the inert – along with possibilities for genuine transcendence through an exploration of immanence. The editors at EPIS Press therefore seek book chapters that explore this serious problem, and phenomenon – clinical, theoretical, and practical.
EPIS Press
@ The Existential Psychoanalytic Institute

If you are an interior/exterior designer and are looking to deepen your theoretical base, you can consider the one-year program in design and phenomenology at the Existential Psychoanalytic Institute & Society. For more information refer to episeducation.com or write Dean of Faculty, Kevin Boileau, PhD, at kbradref@gmail.com.  All programs can be accessed online.

If you have an MA or PhD in Philosophy, Psychology, or a related field, are looking for rigorous training in psychoanalysis, please refer to episeducation.com, or write Prof. Kevin Boileau, Dean of Faculty, at kbradref@gmail.com.

Admission is on a rolling basis.

Whether you are a graduate student, younger scholar, or senior scholar, you might consider publishing an article in our peer-reviewed, academic journal.  Please review episjournal.com for information and policies.

From the Executive Editor






Existential Psychoanalytic
Institute & Society

1ST DRAFT 1.1.19
*There may be small modifications in the reading depending upon
the needs of the EPIS community.
*Default is Mountain Time. Please adjust your
calendar depending upon your time zone.

Session 1:
September 6 & September 7 (2019)

Applied & Clinical Phenomenology/Psychoanalytic-Existential Analysis:
(Friday, 4-6 p.m. MT)


The Clinical Thinking of Wilfried Bion, Symington, Routledge, 1996.

1 – The theoretical disjunction between Bion and Freud/Klein p. 1
2 – Bion: His character p. 14
3 – The Emotional Catalyst p. 27
4 – The Grid p. 31

Note: We will engage in a reading of the text from a theoretical and clinical perspective, but also consider phenomenology and critical theory as part of
Transcendental/Existential Phenomenology:
(Friday, 6-8 p.m. MT)


Body, Community, Language, World. Jan Patocka. Translated by Erazim Kohak. Edited by James Dodd. Chicago, IL: Open Court, 1999.

Part One – Body and the Personal Structure of Experience p. 1
First Lecture – Subject Body and Ancient Philosophy p. 3
Second Lecture – Body and Person – Descartes p. 9
Third Lecture – Body and Person – Modern Philosophy p. 19
Fourth Lecture – Personal Space: Reflection, Horizon p. 29
Fifth Lecture – Life’s Dynamics: Intentionality p. 39

Recommended (Primary)
Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History. Jan Patocka. Translated by Erazim Kohák. Edited by James Dodd. Chicago, IL: Open Court, 1996.
Recommended (Secondary)
Edward F. Findlay, Caring for the soul in a postmodern age: politics and phenomenology in the thought of Jan Patočka

Jacques Derrida, The Gift of Death

Erazim Kohak, Jan Patocka: Philosophy and Selected Writings


Psychoanalysis & Philosophy:
(Saturday, 10-noon p.m., MT)

Ecrits, The First Complete Edition in English, Lacan, Article 24 (“The Signification of the Phallus”) Note: This is a review from last year, but because it is such an important concept we are looking at it again.

Critical Theory, Cultural Criticism & Psychoanalysis:
(Saturday, noon-2 p.m. MT)
Self and Emotional Life: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Neuroscience, Johnston, Malabou Columbia, 2013

Part I. Go Wonder: Subjectivity and Affects in Neurobiological Times p. 1

Introduction: From the Passionate Soul To The Emotional Brain p. 3

What Does “Of” Mean In Descartes’s Expression, “The Passions Of The Soul?” p. 12

Session 2:
December 6 & December 7 (2019)

Applied & Clinical Phenomenology/Psychoanalytic-Existential Analysis:
(Friday, 4-6 p.m. MT)
The Clinical Thinking of Wilfried Bion, Symington, Routledge, 1996.

4 – The Grid – Review
5 – Myth and the Grid
6 – Container-Contained
7 – Alpha Function



Transcendental/Existential Phenomenology:
(Friday, 6-8 MT)

Body, Community, Language, World. Jan Patocka. Translated by Erazim Kohak. Edited by James Dodd. Chicago, IL: Open Court, 1999.

Part One – Body and the Personal Structure of Experience p. 1
Sixth Lecture – Recapitulation. Personal Situational Structures p. 47
Seventh Lecture – Recapitulation. Personal Situational Structures p. 55
Eighth Lecture – I and the Other: Appresentation and Being-With p. 83
Ninth Lecture – Being-in-The-Body and Phenomenology p. 69
Tenth Lecture – Three Types of Phenomenology p. 77


Psychoanalysis & Philosophy:
(Saturday, 10-noon p.m. MT)
Ecrits, Lacan, Article 25 (“In Memory of Earnest Jones: On His Theory of Symbolism”); Article 26 (“On an Ex Post Facto Syllabary”)

Critical Theory, Cultural Criticism & Psychoanalysis:
(Saturday, noon-2 p.m. MT)
Self and Emotional Life: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Neuroscience, Johnston, Malabou Columbia, 2013

A “Self-Touching You”: Derrida and Descartes p. 19

The Neural Self” Damasio Meets Descartes p. 26

Session 3:
March 6 & 7 (2020)

Applied & Clinical Phenomenology/Psychoanalytic-Existential Analysis:
(Friday, 4-6 p.m. MT)

The Clinical Thinking of Wilfried Bion, Symington, Routledge, 1996.

8 – A Diagnosis of Thought
9 – Psychic Reality
10 – The Growth of Thought
11 – Transformations

Transcendental/Existential Phenomenology:
(Friday, 6-8 p.m. MT)

Body, Community, Language, World. Jan Patocka. Translated by Erazim Kohak. Edited by James Dodd. Chicago, IL: Open Court, 1999.

Part Two – Being in the World: Two Phenomenologies
Eleventh Lecture – Husserl’s and Heidegger’s Phenomenology p. 89
Twelfth Lecture – Existence, Phenomenon p. 99
Thirteenth Lecture – Reflections as the Practice of Self-Discovery p. 109
Fourteenth Lecture – Phenomenology Within the Limits of Experience p. 119
Fifteenth Lecture – World of Objects and Pragmatic

Psychoanalysis & Philosophy:
(Saturday, 10-noon p.m. MT)

Ecrits, Article 27 (“Guiding Remarks for a Convention on Female Sexuality”)


Critical Theory, Cultural Criticism & Psychoanalysis:
(Saturday, noon-2 p.m. MT)
Self and Emotional Life: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Neuroscience, Johnston, Malabou Columbia, 2013

Affects Are Always Affects Of Essence: Book 3 of Spinoza’s Ethics p. 35

The Face And The Close-up: Deleuze’s Spinozist Approach to Descartes p. 43


Session 4:
June 5 and June 6 (2020)

Applied and Clinical Phenomenology/Psychoanalytic-Existential Analysis:
(Friday, 4-6 p.m. MT)
The Clinical Thinking of Wilfried Bion, Symington, Routledge, 1996.

12 – The Study of Groups
13 – The Phenomenology of Psychosis
14 – Without Memory or Desire
15 – Ultimate Reality, Mystic and the Establishment

Transcendental/Existential Phenomenology:
(Friday, 6-8 p.m. MT)
Body, Community, Language, World. Jan Patocka. Translated by Erazim Kohak. Edited by James Dodd. Chicago, IL: Open Court, 1999.

Part Two – Being in the World: Two Phenomenologies
Sixteenth Lecture – Affection and Sensibility
Seventeenth Lecture – Care and the Three Movements of Human Life
Eighteenth Lecture –Care and the Three Movements of Human Life
Nineteenth Lecture –Phenomenality, Being, and the Reduction
Twentieth Lecture – Personal Spatiality, Heidegger

Psychoanalysis & Philosophy:
(Saturday, 10-noon p.m.)
Ecrits, Lacan Article 28 (“The Youth of Gide, or the Letter and Desire”)

Critical Theory, Cultural Criticism & Psychoanalysis:
(Saturday, noon-2 p.m. MT)
Self and Emotional Life: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Neuroscience, Johnston, Malabou, Columbia, 2013

Damasio As A Reader Of Spinoza p. 50

On Neural Plasticity, Trauma, And The Loss of Affects p. 56

Conclusion p. 63
January 1, 2018 version
EPIS curriculum, copyright, 2019-20
Official Version, Draft 1
EPIS Education

July 26 & 27
EPIS 2019 Call for Papers
Subjectivization & Freedom in a New Era of Constraints

July 26 and 27, 2019

The EPIS Psychoanalytic Institute is accepting papers for its 2019 conference on the meaning of freedom today, given current social and political structure, sophisticated technology, complex laws and regulations, the Internet, unprecedented levels of violence, and an unparalleled semio-capitalism and economy of commodification.

While looking to past theories in psychoanalysis and phenomenology is important, this conference will focus on new, creative ideas, concepts, and theories. The goal is to produce presentations and papers that explore innovative work in psychoanalysis and phenomenology as it pertains to the construction of self-constitution, autonomy, meaning, and freedom in a world that is hyper-dominated by the quest for acquisition, profit, and possession, and complex linguistic structures that create inertia, confusion, and sedimentation.

Our hope is to produce papers that explore alienated relationships between humans and structuralized semiology of capitalism of the lived world, life, and the given, and our contemporary understanding of psychoanalysis and phenomenology. This involves, necessarily, psychoanalytic thinking, critical theory, applied phenomenology, praxis, and potentials for transformative change, individually and collectively. Please refer to episjournal.com for policies.

Traditionally, however, psychologists and psychoanalysts will use APA-Style guide and philosophers will use the Chicago Manual of Style. Please also submit a paper for the 2019 journal issue even if you cannot attend the conference. Please submit these papers to Kevin Boileau, PhD, at kbradref@gmail.com.

September 13, 2016: Vivantology and Non-Violence: Introduction


Good morning everybody. This is your host, Kevin Boileau, at EPIS Radio, fighting his way through the studio to emerge as himself and the host of this show.  I’m here. It’s September 13, 2016, and it is 11:30 in the morning, Central Time, in the U.S. of A.


I’m pleased to announce that we’ve started production of two volumes of radio conversations concerning design, architecture, innovative thinking in self structure related to design, and I’m looking forward to our production staff fighting their way to the finish line of those two volumes.


I’m pleased to announce that today, which is September the 13th, 2016, we’re starting a whole new block of shows on some new concepts, very creative concepts, the most creative, innovative, and it’s a frontier, and in a frontier, anything goes. Certainly, in brainstorming and considering and thinking, and that’s the beauty of doing this sort of media. Frankly, you know, when you sit down and write a book or something like that, there’s a certain thinking process that goes on, even if it’s deeply theoretical, or if it’s literature, obviously, very creative. There’s something unique about radio, that you listen to yourself talk and (then) talk with another person, possibly interview somebody. It is a really different experience. I’m bringing attention to it because we’re embarking on some new thinking, right, wrong, good, bad, or otherwise, and the thinking comes out of a book we published last year—I think it was last year—called Vivantonomy: A Transhumanist Phenomenology of the Self, which is in our ZeroPoint series, 2015.


I’ve been told that we have a couple of other books that we’re getting ready to release some time in the next six months. One is called Killbox. Of course, we have our 2016 journal. We have a book on the work of Henry Elkin, a great existentially-oriented psychoanalyst, so we’re looking forward to having those books released somewhere toward the end of the year, January-ish, something like that. So, stay tuned, enjoy the fall, and we will have those books released.


So, in “vivantonomy,” which is the naming of life, the denomination of life, we take issue with and quarrel with a certain kind of way of being in the world that comes from the Enlightenment. It is an aggressive, acquisitive self-structure. It’s how we relate to ourselves, how we relate to others, how we relate to the Earth, how we relate to things in the relationship between being and having, how we treat all other human beings, and by and large, there is a greedy, possessive element to it.


We’re just, by the way, just setting some ideas today. This is going to be 40 shows and possibly 50, so we’re going to ramble a little bit in the beginning so as not to unduly sediment the road ahead, but we do want to bring forward certain important ideas. One of them is [the concept of] human anthropology. What I mean by that is how are humans, human? How are we being humans? How does that manifest in how we treat those around us? I believe Nazarita Goldhammer is on her way in a limousine to the studio and if the limousine shows up in time I’m going to get her on the show and we’ll start dialoguing with her about these concepts.


The title of the show is Vivantology, which means the “logos of life.” So obviously very related to the naming of life, is the logos of life. Logos is how things work, how we can understand things, a basis for meaning. It obviously involves naming, and so it’s called Vivantology and Non-Violence. We want to take on a long-term dialogue about this human anthropology, the effects of this human anthropology on other sentient beings, including other humans and other primates, other animals, all living beings, all living things, all living systems, and we want to start introducing in this dialogue the concept of non-violence, both violence and non-violence, which is a very interesting topic. We must define violence. We must define non-violence.


Let me give you a couple of preliminary thoughts. More and more people in my experience are concerned that human beings are destroying the planet. We have tons of evidence now about how [there is] in some cases irremediable pollution, where we have destroyed waterways. They’re unsafe. You can’t even be on them let alone use them. We have very clear quantitative evidence about numbers of species that have recently gone extinct. They’re gone. There are no more. There are no more members of certain species. There are many other species that are critically endangered because of human encroachment. It’s not because of anything the animals are doing. It’s because of what we’re doing. Some people argue that we’re in the sixth great extinction. There are debates about whether this is true and there are debates about the degree, but some people believe that up to 75% of the current species will go extinct within the next century or less time. We see this now with African elephants. It will be a miracle to save them. It may be that saving them means that there will be a couple of thousand in one or two highly protected, quarantined parks in Africa. That’s it. It’s unbelievable. The grizzly bear population is very small, the wolf population is very small, the world population of tigers is very small, on and on, and from time to time we will give some of these facts because they’re important and you can’t argue with them.


So, in prior work we have pointed out something about how human beings are with each other, and that’s aggressive. You would do well to think about your own aggression, how it comes from your own anxiety and your own fear, and really think about why you are aggressive, and whether there is a better way. What goes along with aggression is violence. We can talk about aggression in sociology and aggression in psychoanalysis. We can talk about violence, which is the related term, violence. You could be aggressive to various degrees of violence. But what’s happening now is we’re seeing more and more evidence of violence in this way of life. [Also, there are] devastating effects of human violence on other humans, there are unbelievable levels of violence. Don’t we want to survive? Why would we be killing each other if we want to survive and flourish? It makes no sense.


The violence towards domesticated animals (animals that we have brought in from the wild, and then in some cases perpetrate harm on them) is to such a degree that is almost unimaginable. But there are subtle forms of violence, such as structural violence, hidden violence, and the violence that we become attuned to. It is like we become desensitized. So, for example, it’s legal to trap animals in heinous ways that cause an extraordinary amount of suffering. [It is] unbelievable. If you have any idea how much it hurts to be caught in a trap, and then when the trapper comes along they’re often very abusive and shameful towards that scared, trapped animal before they kill it, before they murder it. Another sentient being.


So, there’s something happening in the human pathology, there’s something going on in who we are as a species being. For some people, there’s a concern that this is getting worse, and a concern that we might end up being violent to such a degree that there will be a tipping point that we reach. Once you cross a tipping point, that means chances of recovering from it are almost zero. That’s the concern. I want to talk to Nazarita Goldhammer a little bit about violence. There’s going to be plenty of time to talk about non-violence and strategies to get there. We’re going to have many months to carry on that conversation. But let’s open a conversation about violence and what it means to be violent. Nazarita, are you on the show?


NG: I am. Can you hear me okay?


KB: I can hear you just fine. How about you, can you hear me okay?


NG: Yes.


KB: Fantastic. Okay. Fantastic. So here you are on the show, we talked about non-violent design recently. We’ve had conversations about human anthropology recently, and I’d like to get some of your initial thoughts about violence, non-violence, vivantology, how a science of life or a science of vivantology, a philosophy of life, really pushes up against the ways that we’ve been operating in the world for a long time. I’d like to ask you to explain to our listeners if you would some of your perspectives on this possessive, acquisitive, greedy self that we’ve developed out of the Enlightenment that gets so focused on taking, wrestling away, keeping, squirreling away. There’s a deep, competitive way of being, and I’d really like to hear your thoughts on that as we go forward in the conversation.


NG: Okay. This is, there’s a lot that I’ve been thinking of lately. It concerns humans. [the question] of which race I am, their duality perception, and their limited perception, like designing a relationship in aggression. What I’ve been thinking about lately is that it’s interesting that humans will destroy their own neighborhood, they’ll destroy their own food source, and if they were rational they would go destroy some other area. They wouldn’t destroy their backyard, but we tend to destroy our own backyard and then blame it on someone else. So, I’m looking at this kind of way that we are that we think that we’re trapped in a dualistic, nihilistic egotistical existence, where we think it’s okay to have destruction within our words, within our actions, within our relationships because there might be for the immediate gain. I’ve been reading a lot on water and grains and the way that people use water around the world. I was recently really struck by how people will destroy their own water table, their own source of water to make money in the moment, knowing that the consequences of that, in a very short time, [will be] to cause suffering. But it didn’t matter, because they would be suffering with everybody else [and] they were okay with destroying the immediate present to make a profit knowing that they were going to suffer. So, this really struck me, it struck me in terms of how humans think. For example, designing an environment. Sometimes people will do everything beautiful in their living room, but the back rooms are trash, [as if] there’s nothing good in them. They don’t care, but the public eye sees the living room and therefore they put all their money into this one part of their house to show other people that they’re good and yet the rest of their house is in shambles.


I believe that this is like everything else that we do. We want a source of food, we want to enjoy. There are people who, like me, don’t eat meat. I’m a vegan, but I know that people will enjoy meat for now, knowing that it is destroying the world and destroying the water tables, the grasslands. It’s killing other species, but they tend to enjoy what they have now, knowing that they will suffer in the future with everybody else for their own actions. I hope this gives you a view of what I’ve been thinking. I’m thinking of two things, and others. There’s a big story out now that porpoises obviously have a very complex language that “scientists” are discovering, and the reason that they didn’t discover it before is because they studied porpoises that were enclosed and of course they had nothing to say to each other because they were trapped but they found that they have complex communication with each other. Not just communicating about something, but normal, everyday talking conversations. It reminded me that there are humans who think that humans are the pinnacle of highest intelligence and growth and they just disparage animals and there are other people who think animals are the highest level of compassion and beauty but they disparage humans. I think that we must really start looking at (it’s called an equalization of our views) like why do we want to destroy the future with what we do now, like what is our motive to do that, why are we drawn to do that for immediate gain? We will destroy all possibility of the future and that’s intriguing.


KB: Well, excellent. Thank you. That’s an excellent start. A couple of other notions here, in a preliminary way, are to think about what’s sometimes called the autonomous self. [This is] because we’re really focused on self-structure, aren’t we? Isn’t that where we’re really focused here? Sure, because as people, it is how we wire ourselves. How we continue to rewire our plastic brains through culture and through individual decision-making that determines a kind of self and determines a kind of strategic decision-making positions, how we go, how we deal with things, how we deal with conflict. So, we have created this self that in the Enlightenment that is a kind of autonomous self who supposedly can think and make decisions, act upon the world and shape the world, and constitute meaning. The problem with that is it comes with a lot of negative qualities, baggage as it were. You end up with a social political system that valorizes competition, valorizes alienation, valorizes private property.


I’ll give you an example of that. The American appetite for hamburgers is so great that cattle ranchers can do almost anything they want to produce beef. That means they can, through various procedures, kill anything that comes on their land that threatens their beef production, whether that is a wolf, a coyote, or even wild horses. We’ve learned that the BLM, the U.S. government, has authorized, they’ve now authorized it, to kill 45,000 wild horses that were rounded up, 45,000, that they kidnapped, who they took away from their families. A lot of them died, and they’ve been holding them in pens, large pens, and they didn’t know what to do with them. They’ve never known what to do with them, from the get-go. Some of them have been illegally sold to slaughter, but they have taken these people, they’re horse people, from their lands where they’ve been for millions of years, and they’ve rounded them up because cattle ranchers want to ranch in these areas, so they want to lease land from the BLM, and they don’t want the horses there. That means these beautiful wild horses are going to be killed. It’s a perfect example of how human, this human, alienated, competitive, possessory human, destroys to get. We’re seeing it right now. I want my hamburger and I’m willing to pay for it, and then the cattle rancher goes out and produces it and they kill. They slaughter their cattle.


But the way it’s going, we’re going to see larger and larger and larger, mega, farms for cattle. We will never be able to keep up with it. The mathematics shows that we will not be able to feed the American population on a beef diet. We can’t do it. It won’t work. So, I predict that what’s going to happen is we’re going to keep producing more and more cattle, more and more beef. We’re going to kill anything that gets in its way, whether it be grizzly bear, wolf, horses. There’s going to be a lot of annihilation of other species, and of course the annihilation of all the cattle. We’re going to create an enormous amount of pollution through slaughterhouses. We already have. But it’s going to increase, it’s going to be an unbelievable amount of pollution that ends up in the waterways from slaughterhouses.


This is a perfect example of a violent way of life that comes about from a certain kind of human being. Of course, there have been theorists who have argued that we can change, that we don’t need to be that way, that we can see violence for what it is, that we can transcend that kind of acquisitive, ego-based, selfish, self-structure. It’s a selfish self-structure. We see theorists like Levinas, Buber, in some cases the very late Sartre, Gabriel Marcel, and these guys are not the only ones, but they’re very important thinkers [making these common points]., What we’re starting to understand is that we don’t live in a bubble, we don’t live in a vacuum, and that has been eye-opening for some people.


I’m one of those persons. I’m shocked at what we do. I’m starting to accept it so that I can help deal with it and help change. But what we have is people living in a bubble where they don’t realize what we’re doing. Then [there are] the very few of us who are starting to get glimpses of these horrendous outputs that we’re producing. It is a large task. But the truth is we can change the self. We can transcend the ego. We can correct a certain anthropological mistake, we can finally admit that capitalism doesn’t work. It really doesn’t.


Capitalism is a structure that is inciting really bad behavior. I mean, people raise dogs, they breed dogs from the time they’re puppies, as soon as they’re old enough to breed they breed them, and breed them, and breed them. Then they throw them into the garbage, for money. [They do this with] pit bulls or blood lions in South Africa [that they breed] to shoot. They breed lions to kill. Some people would say the way that we are being selves is going to result in our ultimate destruction and the destruction of everything else, along with it, and perhaps before. I think the issue about beef is one of them. We just simply can’t keep up with it. It takes too much water and too many resources to raise one cattle unit, just one. It doesn’t feed that many people. So, we’re spending more to produce than we get out of it. It’s a loss. I guess that’s the right way to put it. There’s a loss, an economic loss. So, we all know that if we’re constantly spending more than we make that eventually there’s going to be a tipping point, and then it’s all over. But some people just don’t realize that. You must, therefore, stay out of that tipping point. [This is] because once you’re there, even if business becomes good, you must just stop, move, and do something new.


So, we argue in our book Vivantonomy for a new kind of, a new standing of solidarity, and a new kind of responsibility. I just wanted to point out that there are fewer than 50,000 [wild] horses that exist in the United States. I just wanted to mention that, because what this means is if we kill the 45,000 that we’ve already imprisoned, we only have 5,000 left. What that means is the population is so low that we might not be able to protect it. I’m just now reading something here about Oregon mustangs, they were captured last Wednesday in a roundup. They’ll never run free again, they’ll never see their families again, and it’s unconscionable. It’s absolutely unconscionable.


I’ll give you another example. It’s part of this example. So, part of what the BLM was going to do was to implement a humane plan to sterilize these horses, but what they did instead was to create a way of sterilizing the horses. I’m going to describe it to you because this is an example of violence. What they do is a veterinarian reaches into a female horse’s vagina with a knife and makes an incision in the vaginal wall and manually twists and severs the ovaries with a tool with a chain on the end of it, which obviously causes bleeding and infection. This is unbelievable. We’re doing all of this to get rid of anything that would get in the way of cattle.


This is unbelievable to me. I mean there are 50,000 wild horses, and I’m harping on this because there are many, many examples of this, but it’s good to stay with one, because we’re doing this. It’s good to stay on this example because [it is important]. Sally Jewell is the Secretary of the Interior. Her phone number is (202) 208-3100. You could call her, actually, and tell her what you think. This is unbelievable [what the BLM is planning.] But we’re doing this across the board. [For example,] there are other people who want to build great big condos all around the Grand Canyon. Now, if we do that, we will kill 99% of the animals who live there. No question about it. We will end up polluting, we will end up polluting one of the most beautiful places in the world. This is unacceptable.


So Nazarita, and here’s another thing that’s going on in Korea and other countries: [In China] they’re breeding teacup puppies where they can almost fit in your hand, so that people can carry them to work and put them in their purses, and they’re now cutting them out by C-section before they’re even mature. They’re doing everything they can to make them these little designer dogs. This is madness, it’s utter madness, but this is what we’re doing. In our book Vivantonomy, Nazarita Goldhammer and I started developing several related concepts. One of them is solidarity, a new kind of a solidarity to where we don’t just have solidarity with our best friend, or with a spouse or a family or a community. [Instead], we have solidarity with life. In other words, we are so loyal to life, and we always promote life in such a way that we create this other concept. It’s a new level of responsibility, and it means that we become responsible for the responsibility of the other. That means not hurting somebody, not excommunicating them, not killing them, not being violent to them, but taking the responsibility to teach them. Teach them, train them, to help them learn things that they need to know. These interrelated concepts of solidarity and responsibility are very important for the development of a new anthropology that’s based on vivantology. So, I’m going to ask Nazarita Goldhammer if she would to dialogue with me a little bit about solidarity and a new kind of solidarity and this new level of responsibility. Nazarita?


NG: Yep. Yep. Yep. Solidarity and responsibility for the other. Those are deep, profound, important words that should have meaning to everyone. They should trigger some deep place inside of us that gives us a way to go forward as better humans, better people who are solid with each other that fight for things that are not right. I think we must start with something that says why do you have a view that you have? Where is your view from? Do you believe that you need to eat protein to be healthy? Do you believe that you have animal protein to be healthy? Where is that view from? There’s another view that came out in the news, today, this morning, and it’s how the sugar industry made some damning evidence of heart disease, linking sugar to heart disease disappear, and to blame it solely on saturated fats.


I know if you ask most Americans what they believe [about this] is that saturated fat is the cause of heart disease. Maybe sugar is linked to diabetes. Maybe, you know I think so, but they won’t really link it to heart disease because the sugar industry covered up this evidence and more importantly, they paid the researchers to skew the evidence. The person who was in charge of the skewed evidence became part of the food pyramid for the nation which everybody [now] believes. That’s why and when you’re really looking at what is your real belief, what do you think of solidarity, what do you think of the responsibility for the other?


Do you think “Oh, you know they’re Italian, I’m not responsible for them Italians, I’m only responsible for my ethnic group. That ethnic group is on their own. I’m not responsible for animals because God gave us mastery over all of them to use as we will, so we have to really look at beliefs, at desires, the way that we process information and we have to ask: “Where does this come from? Do we have beauty strips in our minds that we don’t really want to look at where something comes from?”


I just want to point out that there’s a big movement of humane treatment of animals so that we can eat them.  [Food industries are promoting the ideologies of] no hormones, no bad preservatives, [for example with] chicken. But what that means the person who raises the chickens can’t sell them in that way, cannot give any antibiotics so chickens [who] are sick and they can’t help them because people don’t want to buy antibiotic-filled chicken. So, I think we need to really look at the way we’re using the earth, [how]we’re using animals, [how] we’re using each other, and see that we are [in a mode of] anti-solidarity and we need to change that. We need to really look at what [is in] our hearts, really know what is really the future of our world. If we don’t change now I believe that we’re heading for the tipping point as you like to say and which is true and that we will never recover from, we will annihilate ourselves and everything else on the planet. We now have opportunities to choose what we’ll do.


KB: Let’s focus then on that responsibility that Nazarita Goldhammer is pointing out. We have just about three minutes left. I want to just talk about that responsibility and clarify that. In American jurisprudence, responsibility has always been that you can do whatever you want with your life if it’s lawful, if it’s not directly impeding on a legal interest of another person. Beyond that, responsibility may come from your ethnic group, your family, your culture, your religion, some other place, which is more informal. There’s no jail penalty if you violate it. You might be in trouble with your church or your family, and sometimes that can be severe, but in American jurisprudence we let people do whatever they want to do. We don’t have a notion of what I would call a strong version or a proactive, deep version of responsibility. We are advocating in our work a much deeper level of responsibility that is proactive, which means number one, I must be responsible for everybody else’s responsibility. I must make sure that everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do. That means I must reach out. I need to talk to people. I need to engage in critical dialogue with them in a kind way but [also] to challenge them. [I must] challenge, perhaps, their lack of the exercise of responsibility. I must challenge myself. It’s a way of deepening your self-structure, and the way we do that is by constantly challenging ourselves and rethinking the ways we approach others, rethinking the way we approach the world in general, and developing a new kind of self. Frankly, it’s a new kind of self.


What’s happening around us—and this is no joke—the amount of extermination and violence and eradication of life is huge. That’s part of what we’re going to be talking about over the next ten months, perhaps even a whole year, because what could be more important. We’ll see you next week. We’re going to talk about the six axioms presented in Vivantonomy just to get some concepts out on the table.


This is Kevin Boileau, your host at EPIS Radio, signing off and wishing you all a good week.

September 29, 2015 – Psychoanalytic Approach to Conflict Resolution

Good afternoon everybody, this is Dr. Kevin Boileau with EPIS Radio. Good afternoon. It is Tuesday. It is Tuesday, September 29th. September 29th. Yes, it’s the end of the month. September 29th, and it is 1 p.m. Mountain Time. It is noon on the west coast, in San Diego, it is 2 pm in Chicago, and it is 3 pm already in Florida. Excusez moi. When we come back at you next Tuesday, we will revert to our normal 10:30 a.m. scheduling time, and we apologize to all our listeners who had expected a 10:30 show. Here we are at 1 o’clock. As you know, all of our shows are archived in perpetuity. You can access them on your way home from the store, surfing on the west coast, flying back from your business trip to Texas, whatever you need to do.

We have concluded, at least for now, our work on the radio on trans-humanism and we’re going to shift gears for the rest of the fall, that means today, and October, November and December, and then we’re going to start a whole new block. We [will] have this block for the rest of the fall. It’s going to be on conflict resolution and psychoanalysis – a psychoanalytic approach to conflict resolution. In January, we aim to start a whole new block. So please enjoy the next twelve or thirteen weeks of programming.

Why is this important? Why are we doing this? Well, it’s because the human world is a mess. And yes it’s true that there are beautiful things, and yes it’s true that some human beings do amazing things. It’s also true that most human beings don’t. Most human beings are selfish; they live in their aggression cycles in their limbic brain system. They, in situations of difference or conflict, have a very difficult time moving into their cerebral cortex and searching for solutions that are positive and constructive for everybody involved. Today in the studio is one of our mediators at BCS [Mediation], Nazarita Goldhammer. She’s also the Director at the Existential Psychoanalytic Institute and Society. She was able to take just a few minutes from her busy work schedule to pop into the studio and make sure everything’s going well, just like a director is expected to do, even though we also expect directors to work well into the evening – that’s why they’re the directors. So we really appreciate very much that Miss Goldhammer could actually come into the studio today. Thank you, Nazarita.

What’s really motivating this show is an intense amount of research into dispute resolution design, which we’ve been doing for a number of years. And we’re eyeball-deep into that research. We’re studying game theory mathematics as it relates to applied psychoanalytic theory, phenomenology, both existential and transcendental, and critical theory. If you look around you, you’ll see that the way that people solve conflict is not always what we want. It’s not always ideal. You know, there’s the gun, the knife, the fist, the adversarial court action, the duel: they’re all the same. They’re about winners and losers, and this goes right along, hand in hand, with a competitive, capitalist, free market economy, which is killing the world. We have some people who have tens and tens of billions of dollars and can satisfy any whim they want to at any time, I mean literally, anything they want to do. We have other people who, today, will actually starve to death. They’ll starve to death because they don’t have enough food to eat. This is a huge problem. This is a huge justice issue. But even beyond the justice, the socio-political, the moral, is the economic. And in the economic, there is simply no way that this can continue. The disparities in wealth, the way that we’re murdering the earth, murdering non-human beings for food, is not sustainable. Just do the math. If you don’t believe me, go out and start doing the research and do the math. We are on a one-way ticket to oblivion.

And so part of this leads to a structuralization of our culture, of our societies, our communities, that fosters, and that means in an evolutionary way, promotes competition for goods that one person or one group gets and another person doesn’t get, or another group doesn’t get. So you can see all kinds of unrest that occur, also, in just a local level in the organizations that you’re a part of, or in your personal life, your social life. So we have these structuralizations in conflict resolution that when we look at it [them] from a game theory mathematics approach, rarely lead to both parties or all parties being satisfied. And it’s unfortunate because we miss the boat on a lot of these so-called resolutions.

So in our institute, we’re looking at other forms of design for dispute resolution. So we want to focus on psychoanalysis, phenomenology, critical theory – these interrogating disciplines that actually have a lot of merit and a lot of power to them. Mediation. I want to focus on mediation. I don’t want to focus on litigation directly, at least not right now. There is a psychoanalysis of litigation, to be sure, and there’s a psychoanalysis of any kind of structuralization of a dispute resolution process. So mediation has gone through the informal stage. It started to become professionalized and [is] called settlement mastering, or settlement agreements, [that] largely focused on the law. Again, [this is a] kind of a dogmatic substantive approach that was adversarial in nature, and once upon a time not so long ago, somebody came to a very clear idea that instead we should focus on what parties really want, what they think they want, what they need, to be sure, and what their preferences are, ranking some preferences; and then somehow put all those together in a creative algorithm, and create solution sets. And indeed, we have needs-based, or interest-based negotiation and mediation.

An even newer development is the transformative phase of mediation where people actually realize that their self systems are not static; they’re not sedimented. They can change; they do change; a person’s rankings of value in their life change. They go through lots of evolutions. And in a conflict situation, it’s a perfect time for a person to reexamine his or her value rankings, and possibly deliberately change their self-structure to something that’s more suitable to their future. And it’s also true that underlying this way of thinking is the challenge to the Cartesian translucent self –  this idea that somehow the mind is potentially translucent consciousness or that we can become fully aware if we have clear and distinct ideas if we use the right methodology. Freud comes along. Marx comes along. Nietzsche comes along. A lot of people come along and start attacking this notion.

Psychoanalysis is one of these attacks: the idea that the self is far more complicated than this translucence and that part of the self is unconscious, either by choice or other factors that we can get into as we go. And with this new philosophy of mind, it changes how we approach conflict resolution, how we approach litigation, how we approach mediation, because we start to see that people aren’t these fully moral agents who are aware of what they want; and instead we find that people are mostly unaware of what they want. And so in this new philosophy of mind we’ve got this unconscious set of forces; this unconscious level motivating a person towards thought, intentional structures, emotional experience, and then behavior in the world, and certainly behavior relationally, and certainly relational behavior that involves stepping into conflict in dealing with it.

In these conflict resolution approaches, the litigation format is trial. And there’s a due process discovery procedure, questions that are asked, and answers, and all of this evidence is blossomed and is delivered to a jury or a judge, a neutral decision-maker who makes a judgment. Mediation formats are all over the board now because mediation is in flux. We have arbitration which is more like a court system than mediation. We have reconciliation. We have conciliation, and perhaps there are even other designs and newer designs that we’re not aware of right now. But our institute, it’s called BCS Dispute Resolution Institute, studies, with mathematics and logic, the way people deal with their unconscious motivations, their anxiety, their fear, and how they strategize or orient themselves towards a conflict situation, and we call those games. They’re just games. It’s very interesting to see how these psychoanalytic theories can help us understand the relationship between unconscious material and somewhat conscious strategies or games that people play in transactions of difference or conflict.

We always want to keep in mind that there’s an unconscious element and a conscious element in a self structure. They come together. I’s not a neat division, and as we look at some of the newer models in psychoanalytic theory, we see them very much unstructured, like there’s something above the waterline and something below the waterline. It’s much more complicated than that. For the sake of our discussion though, let’s suppose that everybody’s self system has some unconscious content and motivation, and some conscious. And I think that’s very helpful. And also consider that we can use a powerful way of diagramming conflict using any kind of diagram that’s helpful: storytelling, identifying games and how they come together, what the likely results are. If you want to use numbers, we can use numbers, as is used in the Prisoner’s Dilemma. There’s lots of ways of expressing these strategic positions and what their outcomes are.

And so if somebody’s trying to resolve a conflict and they’re not aware of game theory, they’re not aware of their unconscious, or that there even is such an element, they’re going to be trying to solve conflict with both legs broken and their arms behind their backs. They’re not going to have the tools necessary to solving them. We also find in our work that there is somewhat of an algorithm, a kind of a hard-wired matrix or filter constituted in early childhood due to a person’s situations, sufferings, deficiencies, whatever was going on at home, and [that] created a certain way of coping with one’s environment and certainly with other people. As you can imagine, these operate very below a pond or lake, at the very bottom. And so we might see manifestations up top, waves and such, seaweed growing, you know, whatever’s going on up top, but the strings are being pulled by whatever’s going on at the bottom.

Or if you don’t like that metaphor, we can use a different one. The strings are really being pulled from elsewhere, some other place other than a person’s conscious mind. This is very important because indeed, if you’re involved in solving a conflict as a professional person, if you discount game theory, if you discount this philosophy of mind with an unconscious, you might solve conflict. You might be very good at it, but you’re doing it by ignoring a very powerful and helpful dimension. And we think that if you take that dimension into account, you might actually do better work. So we have come up with a window into conflict resolution and we’ll focus on mediation. We’ll focus on mediation, and we’ll use the three-person model. There’s two conflicting parties and a third person [who] is hired to help them solve their conflict.

So the other element that is preliminary and important is to really get that every time you enter into a social environment of any kind, you’re infecting the environment in obvious ways and you’re also infecting that environment in unconscious ways. And so we call this the phenomenological field. It’s the field of all phenomena that occurs between all people at various levels. It can be very conscious; it can be very unconscious, but there’s something occurring. If you can just look at it like a fish tank, and there’s water in it. And above the line, we have these obvious things that we’re doing like conscious discussion, protocol formats for a mediation process, how we dress, how we talk, where we meet, etc., etc. And then there’s a lot of stuff happening under the waterline. But the fact of the matter is, the container of the fish tank is actually a phenomenological field. That’s my point. And we’re more or less aware of what’s happening.

The question is how can we use psychoanalytic theory to solve a case, knowing that we professionals affect what’s going on? Knowing that we don’t really and entirely understand the backgrounds of the individuals, let alone our own, and we really want to have that understanding, right? Because if we have more of that understanding, it’s safe to say that we’re going to have more information, more knowledge, about what will really work for disputing parties. Sure, I suppose it could be viewed as a giant reel of information and data. That’s true. That’s actually true. So the question is now, what sort of psychoanalytic approach could be helpful? Well, we’ve come up with some models.

So the model starts with the assumption that we infect the mediation process, and we have our own issues, our own longstanding issues that we’ve worked on, more or less. So the models that we’ve created are: number one, the existential model; that’s the existential phenomenological model; the second one is the empirical psychoanalytic model; and the third one is the structural-linguistic model. You have to understand that, and this is really a good place to start, to launch in this direction, is that right now we’re largely using needs-based or interest-based mediation. So the idea is that if you can figure out what the person needs and what they want, and you can do that for both people, then you might be able to create some combination of the distribution of goods involved to satisfy both people. And that if you employ this competently, you don’t ever have to talk about the law or their rights or anything like that. So the law or their rights might be somewhere you might turn if the parties are in an intractable position.

If we take needs-based mediation though, then we’re into this problem of what is the self, what is the human anthropology, and that’s when we come face to face with this new conclusion that we’re not fully aware of anything. We’re working on it. So we’ve seen in these processes that people change their mind about what they need. Sometimes they don’t know what they need and sometimes they never know in a conflict resolution process. That’s a very, very difficult problem to face as a professional, if somebody doesn’t really know what they want or they need. The other issue is that people change what they want and what they need, even in the course of the dispute resolution process. So you always have to be aware of a moving target, a moving mind, as it were. So what you think is a need or an interest or a preference might not be, and you have to be sensitive enough and savvy enough to get that because people often speak in code. And then [there is] also the problem of change: changing needs, changing interests. And in fact, often when people start exploring their larger conflicts, they actually start thinking about having a different life with a different self, frankly. So your job as a professional is to help them gain that awareness through dialogue, through challenging questions, through a heck of a lot of empathy, being highly empathic to the whole struggle.

One model is this existential phenomenological model. We’re going to talk about it a little bit. We’re going to delve into these issues more in the future. The idea is that we can actually transform the individuals in the conflict. You know, people often, at some level of development, they will make the argument that they want to be respected for who they are. “I want to be me,” people will say. “I want people to respect me for who I am.” And in transformative mediation, as we see it, the self structure is a fluid, changeable structure that should change through time, that is supposed to change through time. We want to get rid of unwanted baggage, unwanted dysfunctionality, revisit our values, our objectives, our intentionalities, that that’s really healthy, to keep kind of a fluid self system going, between ego and unconscious subterranean waters. So keep that in mind, that there’s transformative mediation and transformative self processes that actually occur in dispute resolution, and you can see how that can soften up two opposing sides, if that makes sense.

So the first view is what we call the existential approach and this is the idea that ideally, and in principle, the mind or consciousness is theoretically capable of being translucent. But that’s too much of an ontological burden on the self, for anybody. I mean literally, anybody. So we create these pockets or regions of black holes. We engage in strategies of self deception about who we think we are and, in fact, clinging to a certain kind of self structure just is one definition of self deception. And you’d be amazed at how people will defend a certain identity or what they think they want, and they’ll fight tooth and nail for it, and they’ll realize at some point in the future – they always do – that they never really wanted that. And it’s really deflating, right? Here you are, you fight like heck, you fight like heck for something, for some kind of a good, and then you realize that it was just an illusion.

And what this existential approach uses is the phenomenological method, and ideally, and subject to budget and context-appropriate processes, you not only as a mediator would engage in the phenomenological method, but you would get clients to do this as well. And that means to bracket assumptions – and we’re talking about clients now – bracketing assumptions, biases, prejudices, expectations, going into a beginner’s mind, letting go of the big conflict and the constellation of conflicts, and setting aside what people are most attached to, just setting it aside, and moving themselves into a position in consciousness where they can be more what we call “experience near.” And they can re-ground themselves foundationally in their own relationship to their body, to the material world, to their sociality, like who they really want to be. Do they want to be remarried again, do they want to be single, do they want something else? Sometimes this means new jobs, new careers, shifting in a number of ways, socially and materially, and then also dealing in new ways with the unanswerable questions, the questions of uncertainty in life. There are questions of uncertainty. And some people try to answer them through spiritual practices, religious practices. Some people try to answer them through philosophical or scientific practices, but the point is that it’s another dimension that we can take on. We can also, as I’ve said, look at a new way of relating to our self.

EPIS Education, a division of the Existential Psychoanalytic Institute & Society, is now accepting applications for the 2018-19 school year for its new program in non-violence, psychoanalysis, phenomenology, and critical theory.

Please contact Dr. Kevin Boileau for details at kbradref@gmail.com.