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Trauma and the Accursed

An Argument for the Human in the Clinic and in Art
With Leah Ra’chel Gipson and Richard Hoffman Reinhardt 

Thursday, April 13, 2023 | 7:00pm

Trauma-informed approaches are in vogue right now both in clinical and popular discourse. But what is trauma, and how is it transmitted? The concept of trauma has been reworked from earlier iterations. From religious notions of the accursed to psychiatric ideas of the pathological, cultural discourses aim to capture what is unwanted and transmitted through generations. This talk engages in psychoanalytic accounts of trauma which unsettle the idea of trauma as a problem to be solved or an experience with any singular representation. Rather, we insist on trauma as a category that, in some way, defines the human in various singular experiences. Both in the clinic and in artistic representation, then, we aim to promote a new appreciation for what the subject creates and attests to in traversing trauma. As cultural and artistic works, the films His House, La Llorona, La Teta Asustada (Milk of Sorrow) push us to deal with representations of trauma that might unsettle monolithic discourses about it.

Leah Ra’chel Gipson is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art Therapy and Counseling at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She teaches at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy Chicago, and is a board member for A Long Walk Home, an arts-based organization led by Black women and girls that empowers young people to end gender based violence. Leah is a registered and board-certified art therapist (ATR-BC), and a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) in Illinois, with a Master of Theological Studies. As an interdisciplinary artist, Leah facilitates hyperlocal, community projects that engage Black culture and imagines critical “call and response” environments. Since 2009, Gipson’s participatory projects in the west side neighborhoods of Chicago address racial and gender inequity, and provide care and support for Black artists, activists and their communities. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Propeller Fund Award for The Rectory, an Austin neighborhood artist studio co-op. Her work has been featured at the South Side Community Art Center, Jane Addams Hull House Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and Project Row Houses, and Nawat Fes.

Richard Hoffman Reinhardt is a PhD candidate in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan, where he studies theories of religion and psychoanalysis and early modern histories of Christian spirituality and mysticism, African diasporic religions, missionization, colonization, and enslavement. A Candidate Analyst of the Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis (San Francisco), where he is also faculty, he works as a psychoanalytic clinician at Depth Counseling, a psychoanalytic group practice and behavioral health clinic in Chicago. He is a member of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Circle of the Freudian School of Québec and of SPIIRAL (the Society for Psychoanalytic and Interdisciplinary Interventions and Research after Lacan). He teaches on psychoanalysis in the MA in Art Therapy and Counseling Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy Chicago, and at the Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis. He has a particular clinical and research interest in the psychoanalytic clinic of psychosis and extreme states.