Psychoanalytic Association of New York

Established 1955

Welcome to the website of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York, the affiliate society of the American Psychoanalytic Association that is
associated with The Institute for Psychoanalytic Education affiliated with NYU School of Medicine.

In these pages, you will find information about our scientific programs, our officers and members of the Board, membership, and the PANY Bulletin.


Next Event

Monday, April 24, 2017

8:15 PM

NYU Langone Medical Center

550 First Avenue - Smilow Seminar Room

The Psychodynamics of Witnessing Atrocities

Coline Covington, BPC, PSA

In 1941, in the Lithuanian city of Kovno, a man beat to death 50 Jewish men between the ages of thirty and fifty, one by one, with a crowbar over the course of 45 minutes. Men, women and children looked on and, when he had finished, sang along as he played the national anthem. This was the beginning of the Nazi pogroms in Lithuania known as Operation Barbarossa.

We are now used to hearing accounts of atrocities such as this and, through the media, most of us have, at least inadvertently, seen images of victims. But being present as someone is being cruelly hurt or killed is another matter. While in some cases witnesses may be unable to intervene, e.g. when they too are held captive, in other instances they may be at relative liberty to intervene but don't. Singing the national anthem at the end of a massacre suggests not merely a passive complicity but some form of active participation. We are left asking, "Who could stand by and let such cruelty happen?"

By addressing this question from a psychoanalytic perspective, I hope to shed light on the complex psychodynamics at work in those who witness evil doing and fail to intervene. 

Educational Objectives:
1)     To stimulate thinking about the psychodynamics of those who witness atrocities without intervening.
2)      To relate the material I will present to clinical work with patients.
3)      To re-assess our theoretical assumptions about the processes of denial and dissociation.

Coline Covington, PhD, BPC  received her BA in Political Philosophy from Princeton and then moved to the UK where she received her MPhil in Criminology from Cambridge and her PhD in Sociology from LSE. She worked for nearly ten years as a consultant with criminal justice agencies throughout England and set up the first mediation project between victims and juvenile offenders with the Metropolitan Police in London. Coline is a Training Analyst of the Society of Analytical Psychology and the British Psychotherapy Foundation and former Chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council. She is a Fellow of International Dialogue Initiative (IDI), a think tank formed by Prof. Vamik Volkan, Lord Alderdice and Dr. Robi Friedman to apply psychoanalytic concepts in understanding political conflict. From 2011 to 2013 Coline was Visiting Research Fellow in International Politics and Development at the Open University and Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.. Coline's publications include Terrorism and War: Unconscious Dynamics of Political Violence (Karnac, 2002), Shrinking the News: Headline Stories on the Couch (Karnac, 2014), Sabina Spielrein: Forgotten Pioneer of Psychoanalysis, 2nd edition (Routledge, 2015), and Everyday Evils: A Psychoanalytic View of Evil and Morality (Routledge, 2016). Coline is in private practice in London.

There is no fee for this event. There is a $25 administrative charge for CME credits for non-IPE/PANY members


See a full list of upcoming PANY events for the 2016-17 Academic year here.