Tag: Psychoanalysis

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I updated this piece, originally published in the New York Times in 2015 It is Memorial Day weekend, and I’m feeling hopeful. On my run this morning I could smell the spring bloom mixed with May showers. I’m grateful that we no longer need to wear a mask outdoors. Cautiously, we are emerging from the isolation and pain of the last year, still unable to fathom the deaths of over 50,000 people in our own city.  The pandemic forced us to work from home and communicate digitally. With technology, flexibility, and patience our team was able to start the renovations of two synagogues, oversee the […] Read More

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Published in The Jewish Week Friday night. We are standing in a paved plaza beside Riverside Drive; the air is crisp, the fresh snow is sparkling like diamond dust in the setting sun. We are six feet apart and masked (I can’t wait for this combined phrase to become obsolete). We join the Chazzan, chanting the Jewish Friday evening prayer, welcoming the Sabbath as the sun disappears over the Hudson river. “Come my beloved towards your bride to welcome the Sabbath.”  Suddenly I’m choked up, no longer able to sing. My eyes fill with tears and emotions. I have sung […] Read More

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On January 21 President Joe Biden released the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. In this document, he calls for a collaborative effort in which “federal government works with states, cities, Tribal communities, and private industry to increase supply and administer testing and the vaccines that will help reopen schools and businesses safely.” He continues to promise that “Equity will also be central to our strategy”. He acknowledges the great challenge but says he believes “that a true national strategy will take all of us working together.” Biden links collaboration with gender and racial equity, and his […] Read More

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Published: Yale Paprika In this interview, Miriam Dreiblatt speaks with founder of Studio ST Architects Esther Sperber on the challenges of designing religious spaces that promote serenity and connection while maintaining a high level of security. Sperber aims to design sacred spaces that foster a sense of community and belonging while being mindful of prayers and their individual spiritual needs. Sperber further discusses the impact of the concern and need for increased safety measures in synagogue architecture. These measures culturally informed and therefore take different forms, ranging from gates and police cars surrounding the site to hidden cameras and security […] Read More

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Our profession has suffered from a biased image of The Architect. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the architect is most often seen as male, independent, educated, white and secular. This architect could rationally analyze any building program, study the urban fabric of any place and produce a building to meet the needs of any client. He is a kind of ‘archetypal’ human, able to respond to any ‘typical’ client, with standard ergonomic proportions and known needs. Of course, to a certain degree, this is a gross and inaccurate accusation of our field. Many architects are deeply attuned to the particularities, or […] Read More

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Esther Sperber was a guest speaker on Archinect’s podcast, Archinect Sessions, where she spoke about mental health in architecture. This discussion looks at the prevalence of mental health issues in creative industries and provides advice on learning how to empathize, managing stress, and seeking professional treatment. The full episode is also on other streaming platforms through Archinect. Read More

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From the exhibit brochure: “The English language has two distinct words that refer to the place of dwelling: “home” and “house”. The term “house” identifies a physical structure that enables domestic activities, but a home is also a mental state characterized by a sense of belonging, protection, love and shelter. A home is a place located between the physical reality and a conceptual idea, between past memories and future aspirations. Home straddles the threshold separating private intimacy and the public world of buildings and culture.” Exhibit Brochure Read More

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“Levitt has a rare ability to integrate insights from the fields of architecture and psychology, revealing the internal processes that enable creative design. Using beautifully narrated vignettes drawn from his teaching and design practice, Listening to Design describes techniques for overcoming creative impasses and finding your own inner passion. It also provides valuable insights for art, design, and architecture educators as well as therapists working with creative clients.”

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Originally published: Lilith Magazine Esther Sperber reviews Daphne Merkin’s memoir, This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression. ‘The Melancholic displays something else besides which is lacking in mourning—an extraordinary diminution in his self-regard, and impoverishment of his ego on a grand scale. … a delusion of (mainly moral) inferiority is completed by sleeplessness and a refusal to take nourishment, and – what is psychologically very remarkable – by an overcoming of the instinct which compels every living thing to cling to life … the self reproaches are reproaches against a loved object which have been shifted away from it […] Read More

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What is a home? Is it a place or an idea? Is our home the destination we yearn for on a long journey, or the childhood origin from which we travel? The home structures the way that we live and is structured by the cultural norms around us. And yet as these homes we inhabit create the necessary environment for dwelling and for Bachelard’s “daydreaming,” they also inhibit other forms of domesticity. It is only in the estrangement that is created by art, the shock of the uncanny, and the awareness of our embodied reaction to our dwellings, that we […] Read More

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Psychoanalysis has long been interested in the creative process, and yet architecture has rarely been studied from a psychoanalytic perspective. This paper examines the creative process of architecture in which the space between an existing problem and a physical, occupiable building is bridged. I follow the story of Daedalus, the mythic first architect, and suggest that the architect's creativity depends on the ability to utilize multiple modalities of the human mind and body and to allow them to converse with one another in what Philip Bromberg called a moment of “standing in the spaces.” Read More

Publisher: Karnac Books Foreword by Esther Sperber: “A foreword is a collection of words that comes before; the text one encounters when opening the cover of a new book. A foreword is an invitation to follow the author on a journey of insights and ideas. Like a journey, a book also begins with hope of seeing new places, experiencing strange cultures, and discovering hidden aspects of ourselves. The foreword anticipates this voyage, sets expectations, and maps the road that will soon unfold. “Books, like journeys, have many different styles. Some books take us on a business-like trip – efficient, productive, […] Read More

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How do disciplines interact? How does one field affect, question and transform another? Is knowledge from one area of study applicable to others? In this chapter I will explore a potential overlap between relational psychoanalysis and the understanding of the architectural experience, both as a creative design process and the phenomenology of inhabiting and dwelling within the architectural space. Relational psychoanalysis has brought to the fore a new attention to the mutuality of the therapy process, contending that we discover our own minds only through the intersubjective field that is shared with others; a view that exposes the interdependence of […] Read More

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Originally published in Lilith Magazine “I was sitting at my office desk, Thursday morning, March 31, multitasking as usual; checking my email, drafting plans for my sister’s apartment renovation in Tel Aviv, logging data into my bookkeeping software, and (I confess) checking Facebook once in a while. I scrolled through the feed of vacation photos, op eds and political comedy when I suddenly caught my breath – Zaha Hadid had died of a heart attack, age 65. “I’ve been thinking about Hadid’s death since its startling appearance in my Facebook feed. Had you asked me on Wednesday who my architectural […] Read More

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Originally presented at the Manifesto Fest, Psychology and the Other Conference, October 10, 2015 “We live in a fast world. We eat fast, travel fast, read fragments of stories with great rapidity. And then we realize that in this haste we have lost something valuable. “The slow movement, which started with slow food in the mid-eighties, expanded to slow reading (read every word), slow travel (notice the beauty of the wild flower field) and slow schooling (respond to each child). These slow movements share an appreciation of the pleasure and connoisseurship that come with slowing down. “We can now add Slow Therapy […] Read More

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In a lecture titled “Architecture and its Pasts” Mark Cousins, an architectural historian and theorist, asked provocatively why young architects need to study the history of architecture. If architecture is about finding solutions to social, technological and cultural problems – why do we care about the Greek orders or the architecture of the Quattrocento? Cousins’ goes on to compare architecture to medicine and law, two other professions that emerged in the 19th century, and wonders if anyone would suggest that the training of doctors should include learning the medical procedures of the middle ages. Like architecture, the profession of psychoanalysis […] Read More

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Esther Sperber spoke at the American Psychoanalytic Association Annual Meeting workshop on psychoanalysis. APsaA website Read More

Published in the journal Psychoanalytic Psychology Abstract: Hans Loewald’s understanding of sublimation differs radically from Freud’s use of this term. Whereas Freud saw sublimation as a change of aim, elevating drive-based desire to a higher level of art, for Loewald, sublimation is a process of linking two experiences of reality. I suggest that Loewald’s sublimation combines ideas from his two teachers—Martin Heidegger and Sigmund Freud. Using Heidegger’s terms building and dwelling, I argue that architecture is always a sublimatory product, combining a rational, functional reality of building with a phenomenological experience of inhabiting space and dwelling. I described how this concept of sublimation […] Read More