A Discussion of Transience and Hope: A Return to Freud in a Time of Pandemic

January 8, 2021 at 12:45 PM

Jonathan Lear, PhD will present a virtual Grand Rounds on January 8, 2021.Virtual  Grand Rounds  with  Jonathan Lear, PhD 
12:50-1:50 p.m.   

NOTE: This is s a VIRTUAL event and requires advance registration.  

Grand Rounds are designed for mental health professionals, offered free of charge, and provide 1.0 continuing education credit (see details below).  

Register now for an Austen Riggs event.

We are transient beings, and in some sense we understand that about ourselves.  So, too, our great cultural achievements are bound to pass eventually.  Transience, one might say, casts an intransient shadow over the human condition.  But though one can think these thoughts at any time is there something special about trying to think them in a time of world-catastrophe?  Freud wrote an essay "On Transience", only three pages long, that has become a classic -- as it were an immortal statement about our mortality.  Did it make any difference that he wrote it in the midst of World War I?  This lecture will return to Freud as a way of addressing a question which confronts us now: how our thinking about the human condition is affected by living in a time of pandemic.

Dr. Lear will present an expanded discussion of his recent (November 2020) Newberry Library lecture, Transience and Hope: A Return to Freud in a Time of Pandemic​, and reflect on the meaning and relevance of Freud in the pandemic.  

Jonathan Lear, PhD, is the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor at the Committee on Social Thought and in the department of philosophy. His work focuses on the philosophical understanding of the human psyche—and the ethical implications that flow from us being the kind of creatures we are. He trained in philosophy at Cambridge University and The Rockefeller University where he received his PhD in 1978. He works primarily on philosophical conceptions of the human psyche from Socrates to the present. He also trained as a psychoanalyst at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis. His books include Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (2006); Aristotle and Logical Theory (1980); Aristotle: The Desire to Understand (1988); Love and Its Place in Nature: A Philosophical Interpretation of Freudian Psychoanalysis (1990); Open Minded: Working out the Logic of the Soul (1998); Happiness, Death and the Remainder of Life (2000); Therapeutic Action: An Earnest Plea for Irony (2003); Freud (2005); and A Case for Irony (2011). His most recent books are Wisdom Won From Illness: Essays in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Harvard University Press, 2017) and The Idea of a Philosophical Anthropology: The Spinoza Lectures (Assen: Van Gorcum, 2017). He is a recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award. In 2014, he was appointed the Roman Family Director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society and continues in that role currently. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

For questions or additional information, please contact Erikson Institute Education Coordinator and Events Assistant, Kathleen Young at: kathleen.young@austenriggs.net/ 413.931.5230.   

Register now for an Austen Riggs event.


  1. Attendees will be able to apply principles from Freud’s writing to understanding current pandemic-related events.
  2. Attendees will be able to describe the impact of mourning on emotional health during the pandemic.
  3. Attendees will be able to discuss the influence of mortality salience on mental health during periods of crisis

Physicians, Psychologists, Social Work, Nursing
Pending for: LMHC 

The Austen Riggs Center designates this live interactive webinar for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category1 Credit(s) ™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.    

The Austen Riggs Center is accredited by the Massachusetts Medical Society to provide continuing medical education for physicians.   

The Austen Riggs Center also designates this live interactive webinar for 1.0 continuing education credit(s) (CE) for psychology.   

The Austen Riggs Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Austen Riggs Center maintains responsibility for the program and its content. For additional information about this program, please call the Erikson Institute Education Coordinator, at 413.931.5230.   

The Austen Riggs Center, #1344, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. Austen Riggs Center maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider Approval Period: 02/02/2020-2/2/2023. Social workers completing this live interactive webinar will receive 1.0 continuing education credit(s).    

For a listing of jurisdictions that accept ACE, please visit www.aswb.org/ace/ace-jurisdiction-map/.   

This live interactive webinar program meets the requirements of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing at 244 CMR 5.00 for (1) contact hour(s).     

This live interactive webinar meets the requirements of the MaMHCA, authorization # TBD for 1.0 category 1 continuing education credit(s).   

The Austen Riggs Center follows all state and federal laws and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). In accordance with the ADA, the Austen Riggs Center is committed to accessibility. If you need accommodations for your course, please contact info@austenriggs.net.  

For information about our accreditation, please visit: www.austenriggs.org/accreditation-educational-activities.  

Attendees who wish to receive CE credit should note:     

After the conclusion of the event, you will receive an email with a link to complete the evaluation and claim your credits.  


1 hour