New Directions Essay

All the King's Horses

Thomas Rini, PhD, New York, NY

     His royal blue suit fit like a glove of expensive Italian leather. Trouser bottoms flirted with superb ebony shoes permitting flashes of brilliant cobalt socks that lured my gaze. I almost missed his handshake.

     “Hi, nice to meet you too, please come in” 

     An ivory shirt spotlighted his crimsoned face. My smile intensified its hue. We unlocked eyes providing that male-to-male kindness extended when shame, or desire is in the air. 

    Fatherlessness intoxicates me. Its sway, blinding, prompts impulses to erase a swirling past – fling a buoy rather than steady a lifeboat. I want to rescue an already drowned boy. Again.

     “So, um, sorry but I don’t think I need to see another therapist. My wife vehemently disagrees…. No offense to you – you come highly recommended”

   Traces of childhood molestation, traumatic family history, and flares of ardor for his toddler daughter enter the room. Ambivalent compliance infiltrates it. He’s arrived but he’s not here. I think “happy wife, happy life”. I hate myself for the knee jerk appraisal. I’m relieved by its expansion:  sweet boy/deep injury. Recognition swarms.  Two men from the neverland of boyhood trauma. Distant ruins might have kept us inhabiting different universes had his spouse not insisted on consulting a so-called expert.

     “So, perhaps we have a few consultation meetings and see if this is something you want to do?  

     “Yeah, ok, sounds cool. I can meet early morning” “How’s 7:45 AM, Thursday?”  I respond too quickly.  “Perfect.” 

     He arrives impeccably dressed for work. His polish less infectious than his shame. Summaries of notable professional success, navigated over mountains of anxiety, all egged on by voracious appetite. A heartbreaking affair that near collapsed his marriage and deep longings disguised as sinful. All shame. Initial sessions keep me feeling lost in the jungle of traumatic losses. He, a wounded lion. I, a tourist with good binoculars and a weakened heart. I am either too much, too little, or maybe too late.

     I am again brought to respect those stabilizing forces of disavowal. Their masculine utility, superior adhesion, solid reliability. Identification overcomes me. We’ve met before in the many boy/men I have cared deeply about. Another of the Un-Humpty Dumptys: All the gifted men who survive a shattering with nary a thought about the failure of king’s horses and men. Putting themselves back together again. And again. 

      His wife’s directive disrupted emotional scar tissue. Eventually her voice infiltrates our sessions.   

      “What did you talk to Thomas about?” ….”Why the fuck are you talking about sports, wasting money and time?”

      His reticence above me arrives via her. How crucial those mothers, wherever they show up, become refuge from the fathers who hadn’t. 

      Homophobia, that great cover for father longing eventually replaces his wife’s looming. Dissipating, father hunger shows up, as painful longing for a son. Grief slashes him and our mirrored tears became silent safety zones.

     He could’ve made his father proud had he been able to instill a dad in him.

Spring 2024 Newsletter Articles

Letter From the President

The Center is operating at full tilt, with the usual high level of excellence that we are known for. Simultaneously, we are engaging in diversity, equity , and inclusion efforts across the Center to become a center in which all our members are valued, respected, respectful, and embraced. I will highlight a few of these efforts.

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Dr. Andrew Carroll Awarded 2024 Edith Sabshin Teaching Award

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Andrew Carroll, the 2024 recipient of the Edith Sabshin Teaching Award.  The Sabshin Award was established by the APsaP Council to recognize those who have made outstanding contributions as educators of students who are not psychoanalytic candidates, and those teaching in other settings such as undergraduate, graduate, medical schools, and psychotherapy training programs.

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2024 LGBTQ+ Workshop

We are pleased to announce that Sam Guzzardi, LCSW, a New York City-based psychoanalyst trained at the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity (IPSS), will present “Holding Laplanche Lightly: The Story of Two Queer Treatments” at our fourth annual LGBTQ+ Workshop on October 20th.  

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