Presence and Absence

Psychoanalytic theories of the emergence of the mind are based on a dichotomy of presence and absence of the (m)other. The ability to represent the object as a whole object and the capacity for experiencing oneself as a separate individual, with ambivalent properties, is required for a person to be able to be alive and in touch – with himself and potentially with the other – in the presence of the other.

Psychoanalysis also underlines the importance of frustration (the absence of pleasure and gratification) for the development of thought. We know that unbearable absence and intolerable frustration affect the growing mind in potentially catastrophic ways.

A good enough-balance between the presence of the benevolent, interested object and absence of this gratifying object (optimal frustration) – will over time foster the potential capacity to both be present with another and handle the other’s absence – while keeping the other in mind.

How are these concepts discussed in different psychoanalytical perspectives? How are the themes of presence and absence elaborated in the clinical setting? And how does the digital era affect our understanding and experiences of presence and absence?

On behalf of the European Psychoanalytical Federation

Martin Teising, Mercedes Puchol, Charlotta Björklind


European Psychoanalytic Conference for University Students – EPCUS provides the unique opportunity to approach the psychoanalytic way of thinking by listening to prominent psychoanalysts, by meeting colleagues and forming networks, thus gaining perspectives into various aspects of personal development in a distinct atmosphere of learning, exchange and enthusiasm.



Maria Yassa: Why is Irma sleeping? On the analyst’s counter-transference and reverie
Michael Günter: The Presence of Trauma and the Experience of Horror in the Therapeutic Relationship
Katy Bogliatto: Presence and Absence: caesuras in medically assisted procreation
Patrick Miller: What comes to be presented on a backdrop of absence *
Laura Ezquerra: A psychoanalytic view of the erotic and the obscene
Alexander Uskov: The presence and the absence of the good object
Charlotta Björklind: Forms of presence and absence in a digital age
Bernd Pütz: Reflections on Remote Analysis, the Psychoanalytic Frame and the Consequences of the Corona Pandemic

* Due to confidentiality reasons, Patrick Miller's presentation cannot be streamed online and will be available only to in-person participants.


General information

This conference is of interest for university students and recent graduates, especially in medicine, psychology and other cultural or language sciences.

All presentations will be in English.

The fee of 30€ is the same for in-person participants at EPF House in Brussels and online participants.


Venue: The House of the European Psychoanalytical Federation in Brussels, Belgium

Date: Thursday 5th till Saturday 7th of October 2023

For further information, please contact Frank Goderniaux:, Martin Teising:, Mercedes Puchol:, or Charlotta Björklind:

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