January 23, 2019
I have just returned from the IPA Board meeting in Lisbon Jan 19-21 and I would like to tell you what the IPA is doing these days.
The main thrust of the present administration is to encourage its members to engage more actively in the community, to engage in social issues and to inform people what help the IPA can provide to the world’s communities.
To many analysts in North America, the IPA is terra incognita. Many feel it is irrelevant to their professional lives and have expressed little interest in its activities. This is borne out by the low percentage of members who bother to vote in IPA elections. I hope some of this sense of irrelevance will diminish when you hear about some exciting IPA initiatives.
In keeping with the IPA policy in expanding to Asia, we now have an observer on the Board from the Asia-Pacific region, Julie Meadows from Australia. She gave us detailed figures regarding the number of analysts and candidates in the different countries of that region. It was impressive: 180 analysts and over a hundred candidates.
Our meeting included discussion of various community initiatives the IPA has sponsored. We had two invited participants. Harvey Schwartz from Philadelphia spoke about the IPA in Health initiative. This IPA committee has built a Facebook site that is a meeting place for all IPA psychoanalysts who are involved with and interested in the interface between the dynamic understanding of the mind and the physical health of individuals. It is a networking center for those clinicians who are immersed in this interface and to share with others a description of their activities. It hopes to publicize this important work and thereby encourage others to learn what many analysts have been quietly doing for years. Harvey presented examples of the exchanges on the site. He gave the example of a Canadian analyst (Dr.Hercz) who is both a nephrologist and an analyst whose work concentrates in the emotional responses and conflicts of patients in dialysis. Dr. Zerbe from Portland wrote about the management of eating disorders. To join the group, follow this link: www.facebook-IPAin Health
The other invited participant was Gertraud Schlesinger from Germany who spoke about the efforts of German analysts assisting refugees both in terms of practical interventions helping the refugees get resettled and providing therapy to help the refugees cope with the trauma.
Some of the IPA in the Community Committees are planning to edit books. Routledge will be publishing “Psychoanalysis, the Law and Society” edited by Adrienne Harris and Plinio Montagna (from Brazil) with contributors from many countries.
The IPA in Culture Committee sent out a survey and received 1722 responses indicating the main interests of the members in literature, movies, philosophy and sociology, performance arts and visual arts.
The IPA is actively reaching out to partner with humanitarian organization and we were very gratified by the enthusiastic reply we received from these organizations.
After this inspiring discussion, the Board turned to business and discussed the report of the Finance Committee. The unsettled international situation has naturally impacted the IPA. The financial crisis in Argentina (its currency has lost 50% of its value) and the situation in Venezuela where the IPA at this moment receives no dues do affect our bottom line. Another factor is that IPA dues are paid in US dollars but most of its expenses are in British pounds making the IPA very vulnerable to currency fluctuation. The IPA is dealing with the problem by hedging the currency which has worked to our advantage.
Various task forces reported on their activities. One important issue that has surfaced as a result of the IPA Board’s 2017 decision regarding a more flexible Eitingon frequency standard is the concern in Germany on how to provide a mechanism to assess equivalency of training in large societies who wish to join the IPA. This matter will be studied in great detail by the ING (International New Groups Committee).
We had a report on the health of the IPA. We have around 12,700 members. IPA institutes/societies are training 5575 candidates globally. This breaks down to 1208 from North America, 1885 from Latin America and 2365 from Europe. Among these are 117 candidates from the Asia Pacific Region.
Why are there so few candidates from North America? Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why we are unable to generate more interest in North America? Does our apathy extend to a disinterest in helping a new generation become excited about becoming analysts? Psychoanalysis is flourishing everywhere but in North America. In the Asia Pacific Region there is a lively interest in psychoanalysis.
The last issue discussed at the Board was confidentiality. A final report will be presented at the London meeting detailing the various pitfalls and difficulties in ensuring as much security and confidentiality as possible in this era of electronic communication.
To sum up, the cordiality, mutual respect and ability to work together on some difficult issues were extremely rewarding to all us from the three regions.