What is the IPA up to these days?

I wanted to tell you my impressions about what is happening in the IPA.  There is indeed a lot going on in the IPA. First, let me provide you with some key statistics about the IPA.  It has about 12,800 members and close to 6000 candidates. This past year, 664 new members from 51 different countries joined the IPA.  There are now 72 IPA societies spread over 63 countries, with 43 languages spoken by IPA members.  Clearly with this impressive set of figures, the rumors of its demise are premature. It is therefore unfortunate that so many North American analysts consider the IPA irrelevant to their professional lives. Many analysts here in North America are very concerned about the survival of psychoanalysis, something which is less obvious on the world-wide stage. At one point a few years ago, when Piers Pendred was the executive director, the London office was so swamped with applications for new study groups that they considered having each region do their own vetting of new requests. I hope that with greater contact with our colleagues overseas, we can share ideas and learn more about creating community interest in psychoanalysis.

The new IPA president, Virginia Ungar, has emphasized that analysts should step outside their consulting rooms and involve themselves more with the community.  Here in North America, APsaA’s President Harriet Wolfe, set a fine example stepping out of her office with her trip to Houston. Harriet shared resources developed by Gil Kliman and her for children affected by the hurricane.

Recent environmental and political events mirror a rate of change and group trauma that is nearly unprecedented. I think we will benefit from learning what our analytic colleagues are doing in response to these challenges.  I called Pablo Cuevas, a long-time friend and colleague in Mexico, following the earthquake to find out how the analytic community there was faring and how they are reacting to the earthquake there.  I learned from Pablo that analysts set up a hot line for people to call and come in for help free of charge. They have made a special effort to provide help to people who had been buried and finally rescued after a long wait buried under the ruble. Fortunately, no analysts or candidates were personally injured and the society building is intact.

I also spoke recently with Peter Wegner, another longtime IPA colleague, because I was curious about the analysts’ reaction to the recent German election.  There is concern about the rise of the right-wing party, he told me. German analysts have been engaged with the refugee population through various outreach efforts.  Our colleagues in Germany are eager to let you know what they have been doing in this arena and I will have more to tell in a subsequent note.

Besides inherently doing good, these activities convey an impression to the public that psychoanalysts want to extend themselves and are willing to offer meaningful help to people in distress.

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