Handling Anxiety about the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Despite the fact that it is as large as Texas and has a population of 41 million people — 30% the population of Russia — Ukraine is a country unfamiliar to many Americans. Nonetheless, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has hit us hard, as many have realized how many colleagues, friends, clients and neighbors are personally affected by this conflict.

I teach psychoanalytic graduate programs to Russian and Ukrainian students. When the news broke, I knew that it would affect my students and colleagues tremendously; Janine Wanlass, who organizes our program in individual psychotherapy, reported that, on the day after the invasion, her students were openly weeping in class. With this in mind, I did the same thing in my course on couple and family therapy on Friday, as news spread of the advancing of Russian troops into many areas of the country, including Kyiv. Ironically, my originally scheduled lecture was scheduled to be on “Aggression in development and in families and couples”; now we were confronted with aggression on the global scale. None of my Ukrainian students were present; they were personally threatened, fearing for their own safety and that of their families.

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