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Editorials

STAYING THE COURSE by Hattie Myers

We have lost our grip on any shared sense of reality. Post-Truth philosophers provide cold comfort, telling us we haven’t really lost anything; we have, in fact, gained understanding that reality has never been there to grip. And the deconstructivists tell us that the credibility of any source (and we can include the post-truth philosophers here) is up for grabs. Any way you turn it, truth is subjective and personal. Truth is what we agree upon. Truth is tribal. ROOM 10.19 weaves together a few psychoanalytic truths. We do not hold these truths to be self-evident. Psychoanalytic truths are hard won.

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Essays

NEOLIBERAL GASLIGHTING by Scott Graybow

The term “analytic action” assumes new complexity when we use it to enhance meaningful discourse about our unsettling and turbulent political reality. It opens doors to the possibility of kindling a deeper connection to parts of our psychoanalytic heritage, such as Freud’s free clinic movement. It brings to mind concerns expressed by early psychoanalysts Otto Fenichel, Wilhelm Reich, and Erich Fromm about the way sick societies produce troubled minds. Most importantly, it introduces two pressing questions. First, what issues occurring outside the consulting room demand analytic action? Second, what renders “action” outside the consulting room “analytic”?

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Art

CATCALLS OF NYC by Sophie Sandberg

Catcalls of NYC is a grassroots initiative and collective that uses public chalk art to raise awareness about gender-based street harassment. We solicit stories of harassment and their locations in New York City. Then, we go to those locations, write out the comments word-for-word in sidewalk chalk alongside the hashtag #stopstreetharassment…

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Essays

TOXIC DRIP by Charles Rizzuto

Think back, if you will, to the halcyon days of the Reagan regime, with the Great Communicator’s elaborate economic agenda he called “trickle-down economics.” The alleged benefits never trickled down to most of us, and we know now that the whole thing was little more than a hoax disguising further wealth distribution upward. (We’ll put aside, for now, the fact that the current administration has once again duped the nation and resurrected this bogus plan with its recent tax cuts and other deep discounts for the wealthy and superwealthy.)

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Essays

STILL HERE by William W. Harris

Well, it has been a little over a year, and he’s still here. I have stopped binge-watching TV, but he is still infecting my life. How can I ignore the Greenland saga or tune out the furious tears in response to the caged children or the empty chair at the G7 climate session?

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Poems

POWER FAILURE by Eugene Mahon

Eugene Mahon, MD, is a training and supervising psychoanalyst at Columbia Psychoanalytic Center for Training and Research. He has published three books —A Psychoanalytic Odyssey, Rensal the Redbit, and Boneshop of the Heart—and numerous articles on psychoanalysis. He practices in New York City.

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Essays

SO I LISTEN by Abraham Velazquez, Jr.

I remember my first time being at The Brotherhood/Sister Sol (Bro/Sis) and participating in their writing program, The Lyrical Circle. It was held in the space where we would be sharing and creating art for years to come. We met in a small room on the second floor of a beautiful brownstone in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem. The walls were radiant with bright yellows, and beautiful West African art decorated the room.

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Poems

SACRED by Abraham Velazquez, Jr.

Abraham Velazquez Jr. is a youth worker at the Brotherhood/Sister Sol (Bro/Sis), an organization in Harlem that provides comprehensive, holistic, and long-term support services to youth who range in age from eight to twenty-two. He is also a cofounder of the Hip-Hop and poetry collective the Peace Poets, sharing art which responds to social and political crisis in over forty countries. Abraham earned his master of arts in educational theatre at New York University, where he studied theatre of the oppressed with Julian Boal, Barbara Santos, and Sanjoy Ganguly. In 2015, Abraham released his first solo album, A South Bronx Tale, engineered by Grammy Award recipient Mikaelin “Blue” Bluespruce.

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Dispatches

DISPATCHES 10.19: BRO/SIS SUPPORT SERVICE TO YOUTH

Founded in 1995, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol provides comprehensive, holistic, and long-term support services to youth who range in age from eight to twenty-two. Bro/Sis offers wrap around evidence-based programming.
The organization focuses on issues such as leadership development and educational achievement, sexual responsibility, sexism and misogyny, political education and social justice, Pan-African and Latino history, and global awareness. Bro/Sis provides four- to six-year rites of passage programming, thorough five day a week after school care, school and home counseling, summer camps, job training and employment, college preparation, community organizing training, and international study programs to Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

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Essays

ON EDGE by Michael A. Diamond

All of us work at the boundary. In fact, we work and live at multiple boundaries. We belong to numerous systems and relational networks. The idea of boundary is a metaphor for where and when we come into contact with each other as human subjects and objects —what Thomas Ogden calls “the primitive edge of experience.”

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Art

INTIMACIES by Patrick Webb

Anna Fishzon navigates one of the most recent groups of work by Patrick Webb: Intimacies. Placing us in the hands of Punchinello — the main character in Webb’s scenes — Fishzon guides the conversation through the communion of two souls: the artist’s and his alter ego’s.

Punchinello cautiously becomes the thread linking the evolution of two worlds, neither absolute nor separate, between the realities of the artist and his character.

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Essays

NATIONAL HISTORIES AND IDENTITY by Daniel S. Benveniste

From 1999 through 2010, I lived in Caracas, Venezuela. I arrived just after Hugo Chávez began his presidency, so I saw a rather vibrant Venezuela for several years before its subsequent deterioration under Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution. As an immigrant, I saw Venezuela as an outsider, and at the same time, I could reflect on the United States from outside its borders.

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Essays

A WINDOW IN by Elizabeth C. Evert

As a magazine at the intersection of the psychological and the political, Room has published a number of articles that aim to explore the cultural divides in the US and beyond. In this vein, Jacob Smith has written a piece about being an Evangelical Christian in 2019, who cares deeply about humanitarian as well as spiritual issues.

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Essays

AN EVANGELICAL’S PERSPECTIVE by Jacob Andrew Smith

As we approach another long election cycle in the United States, news outlets will be reporting on the political trends of evangelicals. It is often reported that 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and they continue to remain faithful to him almost three years into the completion of his first term in office.

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Essays

HOPE, DESPAIR, AND UTOPIA by Isaac Tylim

The 9/11 terrorist attack punctured America’s innocence, inflicting massive trauma on people across the country. Almost without delay, psychoanalysts felt compelled to shed their mantle of neutrality to better assist survivors, first responders, and those who were vicariously affected by the tragedy.

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Fiction

TOOTHACHE by Joshua Maserow

The Analyst stares into the steam of his green tea. Some of the more proactive flakes escape a tear in the frail nylon sachet, wending to the surface, a morning Rorschach for no one to interpret.

The first of his five patients for the day is out in the waiting room, flicking through one of the old copies of the LRB fanned out on the scuffed coffee table with splintered legs. After all, the Analyst wanted to make and maintain the right impression — urbane, intellectual, and playful were three adjectives he hoped crossed some folks’ minds some of the time.

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Poems

TRANSFERENCES by Jane Lazarre

Jane Lazarre’s most recent book is The Communist and the Communist’s Daughter, a memoir. Her first memoir, The Mother Knot, was recently published in Spain as El Nudo Materno. Other works include Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black Sons, and the novels Inheritance and Worlds Beyond My Control. She has just completed a collection of poems, Breaking Light.

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Poems

THERE GOES by Polly Weissman

Polly Weissman is a mostly nonfiction writer who takes facts more seriously than is currently fashionable. She has published books for children and contributed to many textbooks. She is currently working on a novel about someone who keeps getting it wrong.

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Editorials

DEMOCRACY AND PSYCHOANALYSIS: MINDING THE GAP by Hattie Myers

Democracy, psychoanalysis, and Room share a powerful connection. They were created to contain and facilitate the many voices that comprise (and conflict with) our polities, ourselves, and, in the case of Room, the space between ourselves and our societies. This is not coincidental. As Jill Gentile explains in her book Feminine Law, Free Speech, and the Voice of Desire, there is a resonance between the method of free association underlying the work of psychoanalysis and the right of free speech which is the bedrock of democracy.

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Essays

THE CULTURING OF PSYCHOANALYSIS by Karim G. Dajani

From my very first contact with psychoanalysis, a fascination in the theory and practice took hold of me. But becoming a psychoanalyst was a bit unimaginable. How would a lower-middle-class Palestinian immigrant navigate such a life goal? How could I possibly pay for years of analysis and navigate an environment I perceived as potentially hostile to me? I really did not know, but the calling did not subside.

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Essays

A FAMILY ROMANCE by Jeri Isaacson

In mythology, in fairy tales, and in psychoanalysis, losing one’s sight often indicates that a disaster has occurred, an event so unbearable that it is no longer possible to look at it. Yet in the ongoing scourge that is the Trump administration, Trump cannot bear that we look away from the disaster.

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Poems

CLYTEMNESTRA by Sara Mansfield Taber

Sara Mansfield Taber is the author of Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy’s Daughter, the writer’s guide Chance Particulars: A Writer’s Field Notebook, and two books of literary journalism. Her poetry, essays, travel, and opinion pieces have appeared in literary magazines such as The American Scholar and newspapers such as the Washington Post. A psychologist and social worker, she has taught creative nonfiction writing for twenty years.

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Essays

VAGINAL VERITAS by Jill Gentile

In a recent interview1, Adam Phillips ventured the hypothesis that psychoanalysis was invented to address the problem of misogyny. This was a bold and unusual statement, and though we’ve long been initiated into Phillips’s refreshing, even scandalous, takes on often otherwise mundane or familiar assumptions, this seemed, at least to me, an astonishing statement, striking not because it was outlandish, but because it was utterly, perceptively true.

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Art

THE BACCHAE: THE FEMINIZATION OF VIOLENCE by Gala Garrido

From time immemorial, there have been crimes committed by women who were driven to pursue their own power. These transgressive crimes center on the tearing down of established systems. They make it possible for us to reflect upon the meaning of the offenders, sacrifice in Euripides’s Bacchae: offenders who, beyond their frantic alienation, rise, as Medea did, through a reflective process that leads to a destruction that does not horrify them and that few of them repent.

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Essays

#USTOO, SIGMUND by Elizabeth Cutter Evert

I am writing in the spirit of #MeToo to bear witness to damage that has been done to a subset of women I have known personally in my thirty years of practice as a psychoanalyst, who felt pressured by the value placed on sexuality in the cultural milieu of the 1960s and, 70s and in the psychoanalytic circles they came to for help. I am also writing because I think these women’s stories offer a window into ways the mid-to-late-twentieth-century sexual revolution was experienced differently in various parts of the United States. This inquiry is part of a larger project, where I have been exploring ways to bridge cultural divides that block collaboration on a humanitarian political agenda.

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Art

CITY OF WOMEN by Francesca Schwartz

City of Women is an encounter with the confusion about what happens to a woman’s body over her lifetime. We become divided subjects from the beginning — separated from the womb and ourselves in birth. Then the divided mind, now we become both subject and object, observer and the observed.

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