MCPP Monthly Meeting


Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy



On Whether to Build Walls: A study of disgust, horror, awe, and fascination

Susan Miller, Ph.D.


Sunday, January 20, 2019 

Michigan League, Henderson Room

Ann Arbor

11 a.m. - 1 p.m.


Emotions configure the self in relation to another person, environment, or idea. An emotion can position one aspect of the self in relation to another. Each of the emotions to be discussed has an important and unique connection with the boundary around the self. Disgust erects a wall around the self. Horror reflects the collapse or rupture of the boundary. Awe and fascination relax the self’s boundary and invite in the outside world. Through these four emotions we establish or alter aspects of relatedness to other people, as well as to natural environments, concepts, things, and self. Clinically, alertness to the core dynamics of emotions can help attune us to foundational fears, needs, and conflicts.


Susan Beth Miller is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She received her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan and worked as a staff psychologist at the University of Michigan adolescent service. Susan has published both psychological studies and fiction. In 2018, she published the book, Emotions of Menace and Enchantment: disgust, horror, awe, and fascination. Other published books include Indigo Rose (a novel), The Shame Experience, Shame in Context, When Parents Have Problems, and Disgust: the gatekeeper emotion.



At the end of this presentation attendees will be able to:

1. Describe how four emotions each position the self-in-the-moment in relation to the environment.

2. Identify where the emotions have common ground and where they contrast with each other.

3. Discuss how each emotion operates in relation to self-boundary.

4. Use emotion-expressions to attune to dynamics within a therapy hour.



Haidt, J. (2013) The Righteous Mind. New York: Vintage/Knopf Doubleday.

Hatzfeld, J. (2008) A Time for Machetes. (L. Coverdale, trans.) London: Serpent’s Tale.

Lemma, A. (2010) Under the Skin, a psychoanalytic study of body modification. New York: Routledge.

Miller, S.B. (2004) Disgust: the gatekeeper emotion. Hillsdale, N.J.: the Analytic Press.

Miller, S.B. (2018) Emotions of Menace and Enchantment: disgust, horror, awe, and fascination. New York: Routledge.

Miller, W.I. (1997) The Anatomy of Disgust. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Sartre, J. (1948) Portrait of the Anti-Semite (E.D. Mauny, trans.). London: Secker and Warburg, Lindsay Drummond.

Thompson-Miller, R., Feagin, J.R., and Picca, I.H. (2015) Jim Crow’s Legacy, the lasting impact of segregation. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.



Questions?  Please email David Freiband, Ph.D., V.P. for Programs, at



Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (MCPP) is an independent, contemporary training institute founded on feminist principles and open to diverse theoretical perspectives.  We offer a positive professional community and welcome colleagues from within and without the psychoanalytic community to join us for our free monthly programs and classes. Monthly programs include continental breakfast.

This presentation is open to all interested persons, regardless of their level of experience or knowledge of psychoanalysis. Pre-registration or cancellation is not required. 

Two social work CEUs and psychology CE credits are available. There is a $15 fee for non-members.*  

The Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy is approved by the Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative. The Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy maintains responsibility for this program and its content.  

The Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education credits for psychologists.The Michigan Council for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Click here for the APA certificate. 

For more information please contact V.P. for Programs, David Freiband, at Regarding CEUs for social workers, please contact Marybeth Atwell, LMSW at and CEs for psychologists, please contact Ralph Hutchison, PhD at

* None of the planners and presenters of this continuing education program have any relevant financial relationship to disclose.