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As a writer, I’m only anything if observant. And yet I have frightening blind spots. Despite the low square footage of my Harlem apartment, too often I can’t find things in it. Clothes, shoes, the remote. Even the can opener, which has only one place of keeping, the utensils drawer, which I search through and swear doesn’t contain the utensil it inevitably must. On the other hand, things I can find easily — and know I can find easily — I waste my time finding (my wallet, keys, and phone), a vestige of my childhood compulsions.

Such as knowing the location of my security animals. As a child I had a stuffed Tigger which I brought on sleepovers and errands with my mother. Around the third grade I added a rhinoceros named Rhino.

The night I couldn’t find Rhino, we were shacked up in a transitional apartment; we were moving about an hour away from where I had great friends and awesome sports teams and a sense of home. I wasn’t inconsolable, but unconsciously desperate. Searching not my room, but some proxy box-with-bed, I felt poles of sick hope and futility pulling from each end of me, with the magnetic force of an ultimatum I hadn’t agreed to. Too young to question the imperative of Rhino’s presence, my dread that he was still missing bemused me. Childhood is rife with navigating conflicting feelings. Most of the time, that’s when you called for Mom. More… “A Year in Psychoanalysis”

Brian Birnbaum grew up just outside Baltimore. An MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, his work has been published or is forthcoming in The Collagist, Atticus Review, 3AM Magazine, and more. Brian is a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) working in development for the family communications access business. He lives in Harlem with MK Rainey and their dog.

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Few have ever witnessed the dehumanizing potential of mass society so up close as Bruno Bettelheim. After internment at Dachau and Buchenwald, Bettelheim came to America, where he served as director of the Orthogenic School at the University of Chicago from 1944 to 1973. There, he practiced what might be best described as a humanistic form of psychoanalytic theory. His approach was profoundly influenced by his experience of the camps, and, because of this, he went on to view his students — most living with either autism or prior emotional trauma — as struggling to develop an authentic sense of self in balance with an authentic sense of community. It’s important to note too that “authentic” here means what is emotionally and psychologically sustainable, derived from profound consideration of one’s self and one’s community. Many who were closest to Bettelheim in his decades at the school speak of his steadfast dedication to the regeneration of his young students, but, it should be noted, considerable controversy has mounted on this subject (and his reputation in general) since his death. More… “You, Me, and Everyone Else”

Nicholas Cannariato is a writer and teacher living in Chicago.

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