‘Philly on the Couch’ analyzes the city’s troubles

    We often use mental health vocabulary to describe the city of Philadelphia — dysfunctional or depressed come to mind.

    At a Wednesday night event, the city will be “on the couch” as if it were a person in a therapy session.

    This public and not entirely serious analysis will take place at Temple Contemporary, part of Tyler School of Art. It brings together a historian from the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent and a psychoanalyst to dig deep into formative events in Philadelphia’s history to understand its present-day personality and character.

    Emerging from inferiority complex

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    Clinical psychologist Robert Kravis says the city was long been plagued by low self-esteem, always comparing itself with its neighbors.

    “There’s New York to our north and Washington to our south, and we’re just kind of the bumpkin in between,” he said.

    Kravis says the city has come into its own, and grown more confident. He wouldn’t diagnose it with any specific disorder.

    He says Philadelphia hasn’t always handled conflict well in the past, but has learned from the experience.

    “Conflict is a part of everyday life. The issue is how do you handle the conflicts? Can you regroup and rise to the challenge?”

    Looking forward

    Robert Blackson from Temple Contemporary says they will use historical objects to represent important events, and he hopes the audience will come away with a vision for Philadelphia’s future.

    “That’s part of the examples of bringing these various objects,” explained Blackson. “It starts to create this lineage in your head of how we have gone on, and so from there. I do think it will hopefully develop into some kind of therapy session that will have a prognosis to it, to see what should we do now.”

    The objects from the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent will remain on display in the gallery at Tyler for two weeks.

    More information on the event can be found on the Temple website.

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