The Possibilities of Amy


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Just jumping in and trusting the universe…

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While Doc is described as wearing whatever he wants with no consequences, Anna O. These stockings are so expensive. Here, Anna O.


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Doc noticed that there was practically no difference except that Anna O. In this moment, Anna O. Further, as they learn that Doc is also Anna O. Which one evoked their judgment? The ways in which Anna O. Doc discovers in this moment that his straight male privilege as a Jewish American renders him more human than Anna O. There are several ways in which we can understand this description of a childhood that we know never to have happened.

Second, we can understand this childhood portrayal as Anna O. For instance, how can Anna O. However, those experiences, described through Doc, become absolutely believable in a global sense when if attached to Anna O. Through therapy with Doc, Anna O. Combining the two narratives, as we are instructed to do by the revelation that these characters are the same person, allows us to understand Anna O.

Schulman shows us this is necessary by the ways we understand Doc and Anna O. Through Anna O. Although Anna O. Schulman begins Empathy with a standoff between herself and Freud, something not at all surprising if one reads Freud as a stand-in for secular Jewishness.


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She quotes:. Some of her intellectual attributes could be associated with masculinity: for instance her acuteness of comprehension and her lucid objectivity, insofar as she was not dominated by her passion … It signified the attainment of the very wish, which, when frustrated, had driven her into homosexuality—namely, the wish to have a child by her father … Once she had been punished for an over-affectionate overture made to a woman, she realized how she could wound her father and take revenge on him.

Henceforth she remained homosexual out of defiance against her father. Schulman, : Epigraph. Schulman frequently reminds readers of her distaste and skepticism for Freudianism and its inspired therapies, just as she frequently reminds them of the injuries inflicted by the project of assimilation.

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In later years, Pappenheim spoke out about her experience, and not in altogether positive terms. Similarly, Bertha Pappenheim critiqued the practitioners of psychotherapy. Therefore, while Schulman critiques Freud, Freudianism, psychotherapy, and contemporary therapies, it is less the therapies themselves that come under fire than the ways in which they are shaped by the societal biases of their practitoners, which she takes to task in Empathy and in her later work Ties That Bind.

Schulman also uses Freud and Freudianism as code for assimilated secular Jewish life. This follows the assertions of numerous theorists who make similar claims as Schulman does in Empathy. The claim is therefore … also an argument about intellectual history: the reason they felt so comfortable was that the psychoanalytic world-view was so much like the Jewish one. Frosh, 11 , emphasis in original.

Therefore, if the psychoanalytic worldview was so much like the Jewish one and the science originated from secular Jewish thinkers, then it follows that Schulman uses the coding of Freudianism as stand in for Jewish American identity throughout Empathy.

Schulman can both construct a Jewish American identity different than the expected religious narrative through this coding as well as poke fun at the universalization of Freudian thought when it is so essentially rooted in Jewish cultural identity. When Schulman was writing Empathy , which is in a sense a manifesto and memorial to survivors and strangers, she was a year-old queer Jewish woman attempting to make a home through the experience of being a stranger. Schulman is a ghost to her nieces and nephew who may, ultimately, she surmises, only know her posthumously for her work.

And, yet, she continues to attempt to make a home in this exiled stranger state, leaving a map for her younger relatives to find her, and have recourse to her story. Schulman uses her personal story and the lack of intervention from her therapists to question the ways in which current therapeutic methodologies, along with therapists untrained to deal with the reality of the lives of queer people, reiterate societal homophobias and further harm the queer person. Further, she posits, the family loses the opportunity to recover from its homophobias because these are rarely addressed and the queer person is forced to learn to put up with the homophobia or relinquish their family.

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In Empathy , Schulman, employs fiction to show what those lost opportunities to recover look like for the person rendered a stranger: Anna O. As in Empathy , Schulman attempts to express a nuanced experience of being an oppressed person who does not have the respite of a family life in which family members bear the same identity something that can make queerness different from many other oppression experiences.

After recounting five separate instances when she was persecuted for being gay several of which were at the hands of her father, unable to check his homophobia , Schulman complicates matters further by rooting her own familial experiences in the ghosts of a traumatic Jewish history. His mother grew up in abject poverty, nearly starving. She continues:. They did not have the right to be educated, to own property, or to practice their religion. Clearly my father grew up among the profoundly traumatized, and he needed treatment himself to be able to emotionally reconnect enough to be able to love his lesbian daughter.

Schulman, My mother also comes from a background of trauma, oppression, and mass murder. Her father also came here alone from Russia. I deeply and fundamentally believe in the human responsibility to understand why people do what they do.

Amy Anfinson / Divine Unlimited Possibilities

Schulman urges readers to consider epigenetics and the effects of cultural trauma on the ways in which oppression is carried out in families even as she urges empathy for those who transmit these ghostly matters. Unfortunately, this formal search for help was not always very helpful and in Ties That Bind Schulman details a variety of different therapeutic settings in which she found herself re-traumatized by homophobia.

The failure of therapy to heal and reconnect leaves Schulman alone in dealing with the experience of being rendered a stranger. Much like the Anna O. Schulman creates a world where Anna O. Through this self-therapy, Anna O. For Anna O. Rather than work towards assimilation through attempting to empty herself of strange excesses and remainders, Anna O.

In this way, writing Empathy paves the way for writing Ties That Bind. For instance, both Empathy and Ties that Bind recount traumatizing moments of shunning that Schulman experienced at family holidays, with the fictional accounts echoing the later biographical accounts. In Empathy , written many years before Ties That Bind , Schulman writes the scenes as one might describe the experience of trauma to a therapeutic listener—through a cinematic lens, a dissociated moment that has become further dissociated in the reenactment of remembering.

Years later, in Ties that Bind , Schulman is more able to express emphatically why this shunning is wrong, perhaps partly because of the self-therapy of writing Empathy. At this event Anna O. However, they move on quickly, with no acknowledgement of Anna O. Her father proceeds to pseudo-philosophize why secular Jewish families continue to meet for holidays like Passover.

Her father misses the irony that by glossing over Anna O. As the Seder nears its end, Anna O. As Anna O. This scene shows the ways in which Anna O. Years past her something-year-old self, Schulman continues to insist on humanizing the stranger, this time without resorting to the veil of fiction. In Ties That Bind , Schulman describes the ways in which queer people try to cope with this pain of familial homophobia.

She describes three different variations, two of which are self-annihilating and one that is self-embracing, difficult, and often unsuccessful. As she writes:. WHi Leonard, I'm fine. What a surprise!. Did something happen to Sheldon? Amy, Sheldon's being a little sad and discouraged by having to work with Kripke, you know they've never got along.

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Besides, Sheldon's feeling insecure about the quality of his work. Would you like to come to Caltech and have lunch with him at noon? I think it would be a nice surprise for him. Amy asked permission to leave the laboratory for a few hours.


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