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Psychoanalysis and the Fight Against the Assault on Women’s Rights:
What Can We Contribute?

A Continuing Education Event Celebrating the Release of A Womb of Her Own: Women’s Struggle for Sexual and Reproductive Autonomy

Authors and presenters:

Ellen Toronto, Maurine Kelber Kelly, Richard Ruth, Meredith Darcy

May 21, 2017, 11AM-2PM

Check-in and brunch: 10:30-11AM
Book signing: 2:230PM


General Admission (program open to all): $15

With Continuing Education Credits:

Regular fee $90
WSP Current Member $60
WSP Current Student: $15

Credit Hours

3 CE/CME credits

At Washington School of Psyciatry, 5028 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington DC 20016

Roe v. Wade was an inflection point in the fight for women’s rights. It was a victory of the work of the feminist movement, a social force with a much broader vision and agenda. Psychodynamically oriented feminist mental health clinicians have played, and continue to play, critical roles in the movement for women’s rights and freedom.
With the election of a president who has bragged about his assaults on women, and the coming to power of a regime that has been bold in stating its intention to dismantle women’s legal rights, social gains, and sexual freedom, the defense of women’s reproductive rights, and the feminist vision more broadly, are on the line. It is important that psychodynamic clinicians play active roles in the counter-offensive that is needed.

A Womb of Her Own, a recently released collection of essays by psychodynamic and psychoanalytic clinicians, was developed under the auspices of the Section on Women and Gender of the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association. An exciting and groundbreaking engagement of issues at the intersection between feminist clinical work with women (and men), the feminist movement, and current strategy debates about how to protect and extend women’s rights, it is essential reading for everyone working to engage the challenges of our unsettling political juncture.

This continuing education event will feature presentations by editors and contributors to the book. We hope you will join this essential conversation.

Discounted copies of A Womb of Her Own will be available for sale at the event.

Claiming Women's Autonomy in A Patriarchal Society
Ellen Toronto

While post-modern theory has carried us into a whole new view of gender as socially constructed, women in a patriarchal society have not been in charge of their own bodies and their amazing biologically-based capabilities.

The presentation will explore the ways in which women's sexual and reproductive capabilities have been regarded as societal and patriarchal property and not as the possession of the individual woman. We will examine two clinical cases: one of a woman whose infertility precipitated a crisis in her marriage and one of an otherwise caring and self-aware man who struggles to control his continuing encounters with prostitutes.

Women, Sexual Trauma, and Women’s Relation to Motherhood
Maurine Kelber Kelly

Dr. Kelly’s presentation surveys several sections and chapters in A Womb of Her Own. The poignant case of a young woman addresses the multifaceted societal, interpersonal, and intrapsychic factors leading to her tragic choice of a malignant partner – what one author calls a demon lover. Papers in a section titled Women Defining Motherhood address the choice to be child-free, the birth rights movement, infertility, and the psychological birth of the adoptive mother. Finally, the section on Therapist as Mother /Mother as Therapist includes the consequences of miscarriages and still births not only to the mother, but for the entire family; the pregnant therapist; traumatic births that result in PTSD; and post-partum depression - topics that have been under-explored in our psychoanalytic literature.

“We’re (Not) Pregnant”: Gay Men and Women’s Rights
Richard Ruth

Dr. Ruth’s presentation, based on his chapter in A Womb of Her Own, will examine how the gay movement emerged from feminism, but then has pursued, to its detriment, a divergent agenda. He will present clinical work demonstrating how engaging the inner experience and misogynist attitudes of some gay men pursuing parenting can be clinically meaningful and how to mobilize the gay community’s active support for women’s rights at this crucial historical and political moment.

Too Warm, Too Soft, Too Maternal: What is Good Enough?
Meredith Darcy

A Womb of Her Own considers issues of motherhood – not from the perspective of the child, but from the subjective experience of the mother. Current analytic and cultural identification of the feminine with the maternal has defined the “good enough mother” as the one who sacrifices her own subjectivity, needs, and desires. This discussion will address this internalized struggle of women in crafting an authentic and unique sense of self-identity as both mother and therapist. Creating a holding environment is more difficult than we think. In becoming a mother, one’s previous identity is shed and a new one emerges.  This new, unknown self can be confounding, and idealized images of the mother we want to be or think we should be can be inundating (over-whelming?). An unreal sense of ourselves, in attempts to fulfill an external or internal idealization of “self as mother,” can be destructive and futile. Similarly, attempts by therapists to cure patients through the technical stance of trying to be good objects have failed. A patient/child needs a human being as a therapist/mother, that is, a human being who can accept her own limitations and failings.

About the Presenters

Ellen Toronto
Dr. Toronto is a founding member and Past President of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Council. She is also Past President of the Section on Women and Gender of the Division of Psychoanalysis of American Psychological Association. She has published numerous articles on the topics of gender issues and non-verbal maternal communication. She was first editor of Into the Void: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on a Gender-Free Case (Routledge 2005) and A Womb of Her Own: Women’s Struggle for Sexual and Reproductive Autonomy (Routledge 2017), She has also written Family Entanglement: Unraveling the Knots and Finding Joy in the Parent-Child Journey (CreateSpace, 2013), which uses psychoanalytic concepts, made accessible to a lay audience, to address difficult parenting issues. Dr. Toronto currently writes a blog called SeeSawParenting for PsychCentral. She is in private practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Maurine Kelber Kelly
Maurine Kelly has been an active member of the Washington School of Psychiatry community since 1981. She is a supervising and training analyst with the Contemporary Freudian Society, and has presented frequently at meetings of Division 39/Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the International Psychoanalytical Association. She maintains a private practice in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Richard Ruth
Richard Ruth is associate professor of clinical psychology with the psychodynamically oriented PsyD program at The George Washington University, where he is also a founding and core faculty member with the interdisciplinary LGBT Health Policy and Practice graduate certificate program. He is a member of the faculty and steering committee and a supervisor with the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Program at the Washington School of Psychiatry. Dr. Ruth has served on the boards of the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association and its sections on Women, Gender, and Psychoanalysis and on Childhood and Adolescence. A clinical and forensic psychologist and a psychoanalyst, he is in private practice in Wheaton, Maryland, and Washington, DC.

Meredith Darcy
Meredith Darcy, LCSW-R, is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. She has specialized in working with patients with eating disorders, as well as with children and adolescents. Currently her practice focuses on women's issues, motherhood, and somatic responses. She has written and presented papers nationally at psychoanalytic conferences exploring the therapist’s affect, experience, and the body.

Learning Objectives

As a result of attending this continuing education program, participating mental health professionals will be able to:

  1. Identify three key ways current assaults on women’s rights are affecting the inner lives of women.
  2. Articulate three effective tactics for engaging misogynist attitudes in work with psychotherapy patients/clients.
  3. Describe two key implications for psychotherapy of women’s contemporary redefinition of motherhood.


We still have space, but have closed online registration.

You may come and pay at the door.


Cancellations and Refunds

Refunds will be made for cancellations received at the School office in writing at least 10 days before the seminar date and are subject to a non-refundable administrative fee of $50.

Who should attend?

The workshop is intended for psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, physicians, medical students, and other graduate students.


The Washington School of Psychiatry is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Washington School of Psychiatry maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

The School is approved by the Social Work Board of the State of Maryland as a provider of continuing education for social workers in DC, MD, VA and WV.

The Washington School of Psychiatry has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6388. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The Washington School of Psychiatry is solely responsible for all aspects of the program.

The School is accredited by MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The School designates each session for a maximum of _ of AMA PRA Category I Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disclosure of Commercial Support and the Unlabeled use of a commercial product. No member of the planning committee and no member of the faculty for this event have a financial interest or other relationship with any commercial product.