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Esther Sperber presented at the Psychology and the Other Conference at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA

“It is one of the most basic paradoxes of psychoanalysis that in order for a person – the patient – to discover and experience him/her self, they engage in a relationship with another person –the therapist. We become our own selves within a relational matrix of mothering, mirroring and mentalizing Others.

“Over the last years I designed a number of synagogues and I am fascinated by the physical and spatial design as well and the personal, phenomenological experience of communal prayer.

“I see communal prayer as similar to the magical moments in a psychoanalytic treatment that soften and dissolve the borders of self and other, past and present, verbal and embodied, creating a new shared intersubjective experience. Similarly, transcendent moments of communal prayer occur when the intimate, intrapsychic spiritual experience of accessing longings, vulnerability and gratitude are dialectically co-exist within the intersubjective experience of others and the shared rhythm of ritual.”