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COURSE TWO – Documentaries Viewed Through a Psychoanalytic Lens

COURSE TWO – Documentaries Viewed Through a Psychoanalytic Lens

Online Course

Course Coordinators: Karen Dougherty, RP, FIPA and Steven Silver, TIP Candidate

Wednesday, 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm: September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 2024. (4 sessions)

Fees: $280

Deadline for registration is September 11, 2024.
Preregistration is required.
** DISTANCE PARTICIPATION ONLY – This course will be conducted online.

This four-evening course, now in its second year, is offered for those who are interested in a psychoanalytically informed approach to documentary filmmaking through the lens of iconic point-of-view films about family secrets, trauma, and healing.

The Course instructors: Karen Dougherty and Steven Silver, co-present each evening with a guest expert. Attendees will view each film in advance.

Films, Topics, Discussants

September 18, 2024, Stories We Tell (d. Sarah Polley, 2010, Canada)

Discussant: Iris Ng, DOP
Sarah Polley’s unique and dramatic personal journey to unravel a lifelong family secret and confront her biological father won many awards. The Director of Photography, Iris Ng, will talk about her childhood friendship with Polley and how this informed and complicated their creative collaboration.

October 2, 2024, Offspring (d. Barry Stevens, 2001, Canada)

Discussant: Barry Stevens, Writer, Director
In his award-winning personal journey Offspring, writer/director Barry Stevens charts his search for his sperm-donor father. In the process, he discovers he was one of hundreds potential offspring of Dr. Bertold P. Wiesner, who ran a London-based fertility clinic between 1943 and 1962. The film raises many questions about identity, paternity, and belonging.

October 16, 2024, Unloved (d. Barri Cohen, 2022, Canada)

Discussant: Filmmaker/Counsellor Barri Cohen
Barri will be on hand to contemplate her experience discovering two lost siblings, her father’s silence, capturing her quest on film, and what it means to put yourself front and centre in a family-secrets focused documentary.

October 30, 2024, Crumb (d. Terry Zwigoff, 1994, USA)

Discussant: Karen Dougherty, Psychoanalyst/Doc Filmmaker
To explore this intimate portrayal of counter-culture comic artist R. Crumb and his traumatized family, Course Instructor Karen Dougherty will invite the group to engage psychoanalytically with various reviews of the film since its controversial appearance 30 years ago: is the filmmaker responsible for the suicide of Crumb’s brother? Is Zwigoff’s gaze, and his subject’s, misogynistic or is there a way to exonerate Crumb from such critique using feminist psychoanalytic theory?

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  1. Understand why engaging with the documentary form is of particular importance to psychoanalytic thinking and practice;
  2. Define and recognize the uniquely psychoanalytic lens of point-of-view, verité, and observational documentary;
  3. More fully appreciate the ethical, emotional, technical, and artistic challenges inherent in documentary filmmaking, especially in relation to personal, familial, and trauma-related subjects;
  4. Relate psychoanalytic concepts to documentary films and more broadly narrative story-telling.
Karen Dougherty, MA, RP (CRPO), FIPA

Karen Dougherty is a Psychoanalyst in private practice in Amaranth, Ontario, a filmmaker, a former producer in TVO’s Documentary Unit, and mental health consultant for film and television. She is a clinical supervisor who teaches at the TIP, ATPPP, the FPP, the Extension Program of the Toronto Psychoanalytic Society.

Steven Silver, Filmmaker, TIP Candidate

Steven Silver is a South African-Canadian entrepreneur, media executive, investor and a producer/director of film and television. Steven’s documentaries have won many awards including an International Emmy. Steven runs a private psychoanalytic psychotherapy practice in Toronto.

This event is eligible for Section 1 CME credits (0.5 credits/hour). This event is an accredited group learning activity (section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certificate Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, approved by the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA). The specific opinions and content of this event are not necessarily those of the CPA, and are the responsibility of the organizer(s) alone. As per the Royal College standard, each presentation provides a minimum of 25% interactive learning.

Full-time students in universities and colleges, and mental-health trainees are eligible for a 25% reduction in course fees. Proof of 2024/2025 status needs to be provided. Please contact the tps&i directly to register at a discount.

Refunds must be requested in writing two weeks prior to the beginning of a course. A handling fee of $30 will be retained. After these two weeks, fees cannot be returned.

For more information about and for registration in the tps&i Extension Programs, Scientific Meetings, Training Programs, Study and Supervision groups and Special Presentations, please visit our website: or email

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