upcoming events & lectures

Scientific Program Meeting

Countertransference to Patients Facing Death, Reflections on Death Anxiety

Free For Members & NYPSI Students

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
8:00 PM

Presenter: Norman Straker, MD
Discussant: Anna Burton, MD

This presentation will address the longstanding neglect of “death anxiety” by psychoanalysts. As a profession we have denied the importance of helping our patients with the existential crisis of facing death and have had a tendency to discourage our patients from speaking about their fears of death and dying. As a counterpoint, our society has very recently and actively moved to pass legislation for “assisted death” to respond to those who want to exercise control over their anxieties about facing death. Our theory and practice needs to be more connected to the needs of our patients and to our medical colleagues, rather than being stuck in the theoretical past. I have had to evolve my thinking and leave the comfort of Freud’s view that “our unconscious believes in our own immortality.” This view defended me against my own countertransference anxiety about death and permitted me in the past to feel comfortable discouraging my patients from working through their fears of death and dying. I have found that a more direct existential approach backed up by empirical data has given me a sense of competence and comfort in facing the most challenging crisis in each of our lives. This approach lessens the patient’s death anxiety and promotes meaningful, psychological growth at the end of life.

2 CME/CE credits offered

New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute
247 East 82nd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
The Marianne & Nicholas Young Auditorium


Norman Straker, MD is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell College of Medicine, a consultant at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and a member of the faculty of New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute. Dr. Straker also maintains a private practice in New York City. His main area of interest is the subject of his recent book Facing Cancer and the Fear of Death: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Treatment.

Dr. Straker has 40 years of experience with cancer patients and their families. He was one of the original faculty members of the very first psycho-oncology program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. While there he taught courses on psychodynamic psychotherapy, was a consultant to oncologists, conducted empirical research, and participated in the production of two widely distributed teaching videos. Currently, he teaches a course on facing death to psychiatry residents, hematology-oncology and palliative care fellows at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. His psychoanalytic teaching is at NYPSI where he teaches candidates, psychotherapy associates and extension classes. Dr. Straker has chaired a discussion group on the topic of “Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy of Cancer Patients” for the American Psychoanalytic Association for more than 25 years.

Anna Meister Burton, MD is a graduate and member of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education (IPE), affiliated with NYU School of Medicine, and the New Jersey Psychoanalytic Institute. She has been a member of various study groups including the Kris Study Group. Dr. Burton, a graduate of New York Medical College, has been an active member in the China American Psychoanalytic Alliance and is a founding member of The Soldiers Project. She has taught at various medical schools and institutes including UMDMJ, IPE, and the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, where she has also served on the Board of Trustees, the Ethics Committee, and the Program Committee. Dr. Burton has been in private practice for over six decades.

guidance • support • stress • anxiety • depression • conflict • hyperactivity • identity disorders • socialization • self-esteem •
guidance • support • stress • anxiety • depression • conflict • hyperactivity • identity disorders • socialization • self-esteem •
guidance • support • stress • anxiety • depression • conflict • hyperactivity • identity disorders • socialization • self-esteem •