Report from IPA Congress: New Leadership Team, 4th Region in Development

Dear Colleagues:

I returned from the IPA Congress in Buenos Aires intending to give you a report on the meeting.  Meanwhile, flooding created a crisis in my hometown of New Orleans, and our country is witnessing a national crisis, with the events in Charlottesville and their aftermath.  In that context, one could ask “who cares about the IPA Congress?” For me, engagement with international psychoanalysis feels more important than ever, and I’m determined to make that case to you, as one of your representatives on the IPA Board.

For instance, our European colleagues (for example, Sally Weintraub in London and Christer Sjödin in Sweden) have made major contributions offering psychoanalytic perspectives on global warming, undoubtedly one of the reasons New Orleans’ very existence is threatened.

And psychoanalysts in Latin America and Europe have much to offer us in understanding our current political crisis.

New IPA administration focusing on communication, outreach & inreach

A new administration assumed office at the Buenos Aires Congress and wants to change the image of psychoanalysis and the IPA. Virginia Ungar, our new President, made a point that analysts need to go outside their consulting room. She and Vice-President Sergio Nick want to involve more members and improve communication between the IPA and the membership. There is a strong feeling in this administration that the IPA needs to do more in-reach and outreach, especially to our younger members, involving them in the affairs of the IPA and seeking their feedback about what they would like the IPA to do for them.

We have kept ourselves out of the public eye.  We cannot continue to hide in our offices while the world is falling apart.  Analysts need to connect with the community and convey our experience and passion for our work.

The president was very emphatic stating that we should have a presence in hospitals, schools, universities, engage in dialogues with related disciplines like anthropology and political science and also humanitarian organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders and agencies that deal with deal with refugee issues. Board members felt our voices have not been heard about the political situation we are in and our social ills.

I found this discussion both heartening and curious.  I’m glad my fellow Board members are thinking about bringing psychoanalysis out of the consulting room.  I also had the impression that many are unaware of the many ways colleagues have engaged with social issues, with APsaA’s efforts regarding LGBTQ rights and service members’ needs being one important example. Personally, I was fortunate in being able to join a team of psychoanalyst who had been asked to advise Mozambique how to deal with the societal consequences of the of child soldiers who have now grown up and are very disruptive to the nation. This information gap is another example of the need for more communication and sharing of ideas.

Plans for fourth IPA region in Asia

Another very exciting development-plans are underway to develop a 4th region in the IPA. At the Buenos Aires Congress three Iranian psychoanalysts presented papers. Several groups in Iran have contacted the IPA wishing to become Study Groups. The Japanese Society has been in existence for almost 100 years and the Indian society is almost as old. The IPA has Study Groups in China and Taiwan and had two Asian conferences recently. COWAP (Women and Psychoanalysis Committee) had a meeting in Wuhan China attended by 800 people. In the Eizirik administration (2005-9) there was a psychoanalytic meeting in Irkutsk, Siberia which is closer to Beijing than to Moscow. The enthusiasm and eagerness with which psychoanalysis is received is very refreshing. In contrast with what is happening in the States, people in Asia are breaking down doors to get access to psychoanalytic training!

Psychoanalysis arose out of a Western European tradition. Both Hindu and Confucian philosophies can add other perspectives to our understanding of the UCS.

The establishment of an official Fourth Region in Asia will unify these efforts and provide greater access to the thinking of colleagues in Asia.

Gunther

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