En Route to Buenos Aires: International Psychoanalysis-What is its Value?

On the eve of the IPA Congress in Buenos Aires I would like to reflect on what belonging to the IPA means to me. Over this past year I spoke to many North American members. The feeling among the majority of the people I talked to is that the IPA does nothing for them and is basically irrelevant to their professional lives. I think the IPA has not been forceful enough in communicating the value of international engagement to its members. But if we are not involved with the IPA, I think we in North America are missing out on lively discussions on many topics of psychoanalytic and sociopolitical interest.

As the reach of the IPA expands to different parts of the world, it is confronted by very different customs and mindsets. For example, there was recently an IPA meeting in Rome on Psychoanalysis and Geography. The question at that meeting was whether psychoanalytic concepts are universal and if our methodology is applicable to different cultures worldwide and how to establish comparisons between different anthropological positions. Is psychoanalysis able to deal with very different cultures without changing it methodology?

Analysts from various backgrounds spoke on how to deal with transcultural problems. A Muslim South African analyst of Malaysian origin practicing in London spoke of the challenges for a Muslim analyst trained in western thinking to go back in time to his earlier cultural mind and address customs, taboos and family values with patients coming from a non-western culture. These issues are not just of esoteric interest. In our practice, we are confronted with immigrants who have come to the US with hopes of having a better life but at the same time still live psychologically in their old cultural environment.

You might be interested to know that the IPA is adding a fourth region, Asia, because of an intense interest in that part of the world in our theory and methods.

How can we accommodate these different cultures under the umbrella of Psychoanalysis? There have been many articles by analysts regarding the problems of immigration the whole world is facing today. These can be found on the IPA website which is veritable treasure trove of information or in the latest IPA Newsletter sent out to the members on July 20th.

Another perk offered by the IPA is the CAPSA program. APsaA societies in particular have not availed themselves of that benefit. In that program, the IPA pays transportation for an analyst from another region to come and spend a few days with your Society. The Society provides for lodging. It is shame to walk away leaving money on the table when this is offered at a very modest cost to the Society. This allows for exposure to other points of view and allows a comparison between what we do now and how an analyst from another region conceptualizes his/her analytic work. I would be happy to help societies interested in this benefit find interesting scholars from other regions and make connections.  Here is the link for more information ipa.world/ipa/en/IPA/procedural_Code/….aspx

In future communications, I plan to acquaint-or reacquaint- North American  members with other benefits the IPA provides. I also urge you to browse the IPA website www.ipa.world and see what might appeal to you or your society. I am always available to explain the programs further, or provide needed introductions.

If you are going to the IPA Congress in Buenos Aires, I’d be delighted to say hello and introduce you to Latin American or European analysts who might share your interests.


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