The Unwelcome Child: A Developmental, Psychosocial and a Socio-political Crisis

January 17, 2020

Adrienne Harris

Friday, January 17, 6:00PM–8:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Co-sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities & the Western Branch Canadian Psychoanalytic Society (WBCPS)


Considering the fate and state of radically unwelcome children, this lecture begins with a consideration of a seminal paper of the Hungarian psychoanalyst and a colleague of Freud’s, Sandor Ferenczi. Published in 1929, The Unwelcome Child and his Death Instinct,took up a devastating question. What is the developmental trajectory for a child who is in unwanted. Sometimes this is very explicit, sometimes part of an unconscious transmission, and sometimes communicated unconsciously over several generations.  This situation is a clinical, a familial and personal problem.

In this presentation, Harris considers this as a social problem, thinking of unwelcomeness in the context of refuges, exile, unwanted children (and their families) in the context of increasingly dangerous situations worldwide. The paper will discuss the international refuge crisis and the work on some American projects for the protection and support of refugee children and families.


Adrienne Harris, Ph.D. is Faculty and Supervisor at New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She is on the faculty and is a supervisor at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. She is an Editor at Psychoanalytic Dialogues, and Studies in Gender and Sexuality. In 2012, she along with Lewis Aron, and Jeremy Safran established the Sandor Ferenczi Center at the New School University. She, Eyal Rozmarin and Steven Kuchuck co-edit the Book Series Relational Perspectives in Psychoanalysis, now with over 100 published volumes. She is an editor of the IPA e-journal Psychoanalysis Today, which is developing cross cultural communications among the five language groups in the IPA.

She has written on topics on gender and development, analytic subjectivity and self-care, primitive states and the analytic community in the shadow of the First World War.  Her current work is on analytic subjectivity, on intersectional models of gender and sexuality, and on ghosts.