Washington Square Institute

37th Annual Scientific Conference
Co-sponsored with The National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalytic and Philosophical Perspectives on
Good and Evil

Presenters: Richard J. Bernstein, Ph.D; Anna Aragno, Ph.D; Henry (Zvi) Lothane, M.D.

Sunday, May 19, 2013 from 9 AM – 4:30 PM

Registration Begins At 9:00 AM

Morning Session: 10:00 AM — 12:30  PM

Welcoming Remarks:

Susan A. Klett, LCSW-R, BCD, NCPsyA


An Overview of Good and Evil
by Gerd H. Fenchel, Ph.D., LP, FAGPA

Dr. Fenchel opens our conference with a psychoanalytic and philosophical inquiry into human being’s capacity for good and evil behaviors. He provides a thorough exploration of the historical influences of religion, philosophy, literature, culture, politics and psychology and poses thought provoking questions regarding the complexity of human nature.


How Not to Think About Evil
by Richard Bernstein, Ph.D.

I want to review briefly some of the ways in which evil has been understood throughout history in philosophical, religious, and literary traditions. I will sketch how deeply entrenched a simplistic quasi- Manichean understanding of the opposition of good and evil pervades our everyday thinking about evil and how it influences our politics—especially in times of crisis. I will contrast this with a much more subtle approach to good and evil that has its sources in Hannah Arendt’s understanding of radical evil and the banality of evil as well as Primo Levi’s analysis of the “gray zone.” Finally I will conclude with some reflections on the relevance of Freud for thinking about evil.

Afternoon Session: 2:00 PM — 4:30 PM

Moderator: Susan A. Klett, LCSW-R, BCD, NCPsyA


The Devil Within: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Evil
By Anna Aragno, Ph.D

Of all the great dualities of human experience ’good and evil’ have been the most instrumental in shaping the beliefs, rituals, and laws, of Homo Sapiens. The splitting and externalization of our nature into ‘good and bad,’ and the anthropomorphic depiction of these two polarized forces have been with us for millennia, providing inspiration for magical rites, representational forms, and the cornucopia of dramas, narratives, and artworks, to which their characters have given divine expression and while all religions advocate for good, the particular narratives of “good and evil” underlying the traditions of western culture come to us directly from the bible.

Yet ‘Good and Evil’ are theological not psychological constructs, and with Freud, later psychoanalysts and especially Fromm, the dark forces believed to have taken over the mad and evil-doers were definitively secularized. This paper adopts a strictly psychoanalytic frame of reference for the concept of evil in an attempt to find a way of understanding how human beings are capable of doing inhuman things. We will look at behaviors manifesting through the psychodynamics of character structure and personality disorders that enable a defacement of the ‘other’ in the creation of an enemy and the breakdown of empathy, offering a few clinical snapshots to illustrate how primitive emotions and defenses, superego pathology, and latent schizoid, narcissistic, and projective mechanisms, provide fuel and rationalization for malignant aggressive, duplicitous, and violent behaviors

What does evil do?
By Henry (Zvi) Lothane, M.D.

The polarity of good and evil and the ethical concepts thereof have preoccupied ordinary mankind, creative writers, philosophers, psychologists, theologians since time immemorial. Philosophers saw good as absence of evil, implying that evil is easier to define as such, while unable to reach a unified conception of evil. For Judeo-Christian theologians, evil was sin against WW  II by choosing death on September 23, 1939. For ordinary men and women evil has the overwhelming meaning of pain and suffering from illness of body and soul, deprivation, poverty, hunger, hatred, violence, cruelty, torture and God’s commandments. However, theologians were unable to reconcile the existence of evil with the theodicy of God as the source of goodness and universal love. Sigmund Freud (1915) faced the evils the Great War recommended “eradicating evil human tendencies [with] education and a civilized environment,” escaping the evils of killing, rape and sexual enslavement, racial and religious persecution and, last but not least, massacres of innocents by armies and individuals.

Panel Discussion

Proceedings of the Conference will be published in Issues in Psychoanalytic Psychology


Washington Square Institute
41 East 11th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10003

Conference Co-Chairs

Gerd H. Fenchel, Ph.D., LP, FAGPA and Susan A. Klett, LCSW-R, BCD, NCPsyA


Marc Angers, LCSW, L.P., NCPsyA., and Marilyn Tauber, M.A., L.P., NCPsyA.

PARTICIPANTS In Order of Presentation

Richard J. Bernstein, Ph.D — is Vera List Professor of Philosophy of the New School for Social Research where he has been a former Dean. His books include John Dewey (1966), Praxis and Action (1971), Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis (1983), Habermas and Modernity (editor, 1985), Philosophical Profiles (1986), The New Constellation: The Ethical/Political Horizons of Modernity/ Postmodernity (1991),Hannah Arendt and the Jewish Question(1996), Freud and the Legacy of Moses (1998), Radical Evil: A Philosophic Interrogation (2002) and The Pragmatic Turn. Violence: Thinking without Banisters will be published in the spring of 2013.

Anna Aragno, Ph.D. — is a published author of many scholarly papers and of two books, “Symbolization: Proposing a Developmental Paradigm for a New Psychoanalytic Theory of Mind” (IUP,1997) and “Forms of Knowledge: A Psychoanalytic Study of Human Communication”(PublishAmerica, 2008). Dr. Aragno came to the US from Italy on a Fulbright in the late 60’s. After an international career as freelance prima ballerina, she resumed academic studies at The New School Graduate Faculty receiving her psychoanalytic training at Washing- ton Square Institute and Post Graduate Center. She devotes her time to private practice specializing in the treatment of creative artists, presenting at conferences, and writing scholarly papers on a variety of topics with a strong emphasis on metapsychological revisions. In pursuit of this interest her affiliations have now expanded to include contributions to the new scientific field of Biosemiotics.

Henry (Zvi) Lothane, M.D. — Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City. Private practice of psychiatry, psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis. Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, member of the American and International Psychoanalytic Associations. Author of the definitive In Defense of Schreber Soul Murder and Psychiatry (expanded version, Seelenmord und Psychiatrie Zur Rehabilitieung Schrebers), historical research on the life and work of Sabina Spielrein, most recently as co-chair and presenter at the winter meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association and as invited discussant after the showing of Ken Wydro “Secrets.” and papers on the methodology of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. In 2009 he created the concept of dramatology, an entry in Wikipedia and a paper in Issues in Psychoanalytic Psychology.


Gerd H. Fenchel, Ph.D. — One of the original founders of Washington Square Institute. Dr. Fenchel is Co-Director/Dean, Supervisor and Training Analyst, WSI; Fellow, Council of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists, American Group Psychotherapy Association, and the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, International council of Psychologists; Member National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. Licensed Psychologist: New York State, Pennsylvania.

Susan A. Klett, LCSW-R, BCD, NCPsyA. — Certified Psychoanalyst –Co-Director, Director of Continuing Education, Washington Square Institute; Faculty, Supervisor and Training Analyst, WSI, Faculty and former board member of Postgrad* The Institute of the Post- graduate Psychoanalytic Society; Past President, The Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Society, Co-Chair Planning and Education Program, Past Chair of Education Committee, The New York State Society of Clinical Social Work. Private Practice, New York City.

Who Should Attend

Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, licensed psychoanalysts, nurses,
marriage ⁄ family counselors, EAP and HMO clinicians.


If payment is by check, mail the registration page (PDF) with your check made out to
Washington Square Institute. If payment is by credit card, you may call it in or pay Online.

PDF of the of Annual Conference brochure and registration form

PDF of just the registration form

To Register & Pay Online

Registration Fees: Amount:
Early Bird Special (Before April 19, 2013) $125
Advance Registration Received before May 1, 2013 $140
Students with ID $50
Advance Registration received before May 1, 2013
(If registering by name, enclose copy of Student ID)
At the door $155
WSI faculty and Staff  (Early bird special before April 19, 2013) $120
WSI Faculty and Staff $130

Checks payable to: Washington Square Institute and mail to

Washington Square Institute
41 E. 11th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10003

Refunds will be given up to one week prior to conference date only.
Registration begins at 9:00 A.M.

For more information call (212) 477-2600 or Fax: (212) 477-2040

e-mail the Registrar: registrar@wsi.orgemail

Washington Square Institute is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Participants in the conference will receive 5 CE credits.

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