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Concluding Comments on Death, Immortality, and Unconscious Fantasy

Les Fleischer


I would like to make some observations on the dynamics of today’s symposium
and I will attempt to tie together some central themes. This morning
during our audience discussion, the participants’ comments alternated
between theoretical issues and personal anecdotes, often followed by
a joke about death. There was relatively little discussion of clinical cases.
The afternoon’s discussion focused more on clinical issues, with the occasional
joke, about death, castration, or immortality, followed by a return to
clinical issues, with little focus on personal issues. It seemed as though the
participants had to process their own personal reactions about death first,
before they could delve into their work with patients. In both the morning
and afternoon, the audience seemed to be able to tolerate only a certain
amount of discussion about death, without turning to humour, which then
enabled the audience to return to theoretical or clinical issues.

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