Psychohistory Forum is Back
for Tom Ferraro’s
Psychoanalytic Work with Athletes: Probing the Unconscious in Sports
After an over two-year-long in-person intermission, we will finally meet in-person on September 17, 2022, at Fordham University to probe sports, an incredibly important part of our society to which an enormous amount of time, energy, and money are devoted. As a presidential psychobiographer and sports fan, I find that sports mirror American politics, emphasizing aggression, anger, anxiety, denigration, extreme competitiveness, grandiosity, idealization, identification, the “us vs. them” mentality, unconscious inhibitions, and so much else. An example of the power of the unconscious was illustrated when Chuck Knoblauch, who had been a topnotch second baseman for the New York Yankees, suddenly was unable to throw to first base, an essential requirement for his position that he had previously done without a problem his entire career. Despite some intellectuals and even analysts feeling that athletics are somehow juvenile or beneath them, I find that many of my psychoanalytic/psychohistorical colleagues follow different teams closely. Sports are a metaphor for life, and I hope you will attend our session on this important endeavor.
Thomas Ferraro, PhD, is a sports psychoanalyst and columnist who has had a long career treating athletes. He is completing the tentatively titled book Unpacking Depth Sports Psychology: Studies in the Unconscious for Routledge. Tom, who was a longtime member of the Forum, like so many of us, has longed for an in-person session. Finally, one has been scheduled, with the ability for members at a distance to attend online. In our Work-in-Progress seminar, we will finally be able to sit around and spontaneously respond after Tom’s brief presentation in our 40-year-long process of working to nurture and deepen the work of our presenter.
He is quite interested in receiving feedback from colleagues who have read the attached paper and heard his talk. He wants your insights on his work, as well as thought on the general issue of the aggression, anger, anxiety, competitiveness, grandiosity, and so forth in sports and their relationship to the same elements in our somewhat politically correct society. Most sports highlight issues of individuality and teamwork, which are important in so many aspects of life. Because many therapists have patients who reference sports, this should be an opportunity to have a greater understanding of the meaning of particular sports to the patient as well as in society generally. For many in our society, watching and to a lesser extent doing sports is an addiction, which will be good to learn more about. It is worth remembering William James’ suggestion that sports is the “moral equivalent of war,” which might serve as a substitute for it, and bring about a decline in warfare. Directly after my invitation is a letter Tom has written explaining more about his project and what he expects from those who participate.
Ken Fuchsman or I will serve as moderator, and Harold Takooshian is our host who will welcome us back to Fordham. Included below and attached are the papers. The meeting particulars are as follows: