What Can the IPA Do For You? Underwrite a Visiting Scholar from Europe or Latin America

North American analysts for the most part consider the IPA irrelevant and not particularly helpful to their professional lives. But think about psychoanalytic ideas you never have a chance to hear about.  The IPA has a program that provides financial support for visits by psychoanalytic thinkers from Europe and Latin America to your institute or society.
I want to make sure you know about the Inter-Regional Visiting Scholars Grant intended to promote a dialogue across IPA regions and encourage debate from different  psychoanalytic perspectives. It is administered by the IPA Committee on Analytic Practice and Scientific Activities, CAPSA for short. The grant program is commonly called “CAPSA grants”. The visiting scholar usually gives one or two talks, offers some supervision sessions, and guest teaches a class. How to use them is up to the local group and the scholar.
The grant covers travel expenses up to a determined limit. In addition, there are funds for auxiliary expenses such as publicity and translation.
Who can apply?  The answer is:
  • Individual Institutes/ Societies
  • Groups of Institutes/Societies from the same region
  • A regional body
  • IPA Committees such as COCAP (Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Committee) and COWAP ( Women and Psychoanalysis Committee)
  • IPSO
Here is an example of how one society recently used  a CAPSA grant:
The Mato Grosso do Sul Psychoanalytic Society in Brazil invited Serge Frisch from Belgium (and Luxemburg), past president of the EPF. Frisch spent 3 days in the city of Campo Grande, discussing the outreach efforts of the EPF in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. He presented a paper entitled: “The Future Development of the EPF and the New Initiatives.” Later that day he presented a paper on institutional conflicts and how they dealt with them in the EPF. What was of great interest to the Society was his presentation comparing training in the Eitingon model and the French model and what their respective advantages were.

This is a generous program that has been underutilized in North America.  Bionian perspectives are especially popular in Latin America. Laplanche and psychosomatics are two areas of study that are pursued among French-speaking analysts. French analysts also find the death instinct a valuable construct, a perspective you rarely hear discussed in the English-speaking North American analytic community.

Except for a very few psychoanalysts such as Gail Reed, Jonathan House and Suzanne Rosenfeld, not much is known or discussed by English-speaking analysts in North America about French psychoanalytic theorizing.  Jonathan House informs the English-speaking North American psychoanalytic community with his translations of French texts.

If you aren’t sure how to identify scholars  whose thinking would interest your local psychoanalytic community, please email (guntherperdigao@gmail.com) or call me (504-453-8917) and I’ll be happy to make suggestions or help you find the right person. You might also contact Robin Deutsch who is the North American co-chair of the Committee (robindeutsch@earthlink.net)
To access the site  and get detailed information about CAPSA, go to www.ipa.world. Click here for the page that describes the CAPSA program.

After looking over the general description, click here for a Resource Document with more details on how to go about applying. 

Look for a link in paragraph 8 that takes you to a downloadable version of the   “CAPSA Application Form 2017.”

You can also download a pdf of the CAPSA Application form here. If you do use the CAPSA program, please give me a call or send me an email to let me know about your experience.

You have paid for this benefit, don’t walk away and leave money on the table!!  
In future letters and posts, I’ll be telling you about other IPA benefits for its members.
(photo credit:  http://www.ipa.world)

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.

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.


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.


Getting Outside our Psychoanalytic Silo: Engaging the Public and Solving our Morale Problem


I have been asking myself lately why has psychoanalysis become so marginalized?  Analysts have a morale problem. A large number have withdrawn and have removed themselves from the analytic scene. Fifty years ago our discipline was very much part of the Zeitgeist and an integral part of the cultural scene of North America.  At that time, most psychiatry department chairs were analysts. These days there are hardly any left in those positions.  Some joke that the situation has gotten so bad that we don’t even rate cartoons in the New Yorker. What has been our responsibility in the way psychoanalysis is viewed by the public? How has CBT been able to dominate the field of therapy to the point that psychoanalysis or psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy are not even considered as therapeutic options? What has happened that we have ceded the field to CBT?  Psychoanalysts have written about short-term interventions but have we taken a thoughtful public health point of view and made our knowledge maximally useful to the public?  To make matters worse so many analysts are disenchanted with local, national and international organizations and question whether the time and expense of training was worth the effort and whether organizational membership has a pay-off.

It is always painful to look at one’s shortcomings and it is much easier to blame outsiders. We have all heard theories about the reasons for our decline. That psychoanalysis is too threatening, that Freud reduced everything to sex, that it takes too long etc. To compound the situation, we as analysts have not wanted to engage “mano a mano” with our critics. I have often heard the statement from analysts that if you have not been analyzed you are not qualified to critique psychoanalysis.  Psychoanalysts in the past prided themselves for keeping apart from scientific discussions claiming that our discipline is unique and therefore scrutiny from outside scholars is illegitimate.

Why have we not educated the public? We were proud of our isolation and unfortunately the world has passed us by. We have not conveyed to the public that psychoanalysis is not a static discipline and that we have evolved in the last 100 years.  CBT does not arouse the same negative reactions in people. What have the CBT people done that we have not been able to do? The received wisdom is that CBT can accomplish results faster than a psychodynamic intervention. Analysts have written about short-term therapy and crisis intervention.  Yet in spite of these publications we have not been able to swing the tide of public opinion in our favor.  Something else must be at work.  What have we done to contribute to our undoing?

Psychoanalysis was set up in a rigid hierarchical way where the elders had the wisdom and were the owners of the truths. Unfortunately, different truths were promoted as the only possible way of viewing the mind. The public mocked our arrogance and candidates were put in a position of having to choose and acquiesce to demands that in any other circumstance would not be countenanced. The role of ideology in the psychoanalytic process poses the danger of analyst indoctrinating his patient with his own beliefs and ideas. The objectivity of the analyst may be disturbed by his own ideological beliefs or by political ambitions within institutions. So why have young analysts participated in this dysfunctional set up?

The compact in these situations revolves around the promise that if the candidate shows loyalty to his or her analyst or to an important figure in the society he/she will be rewarded by advancement in the organization or by the referral of patients.  The use of younger people to further the ambition of senior people has permeated many of our societies and led to great ambivalence toward authority that is then projected on to our national and international organizations.

The perception about some of our organizations is that strife in their ranks is essentially endless; people want to stay away and wash their hands of the whole scene. Interestingly, rightly or wrongly CBT is perceived in the mental health field as more democratic without the power struggles that plague psychoanalysis.

It does not have to be that way. Psychoanalysis is thriving in other countries. There is excitement about our discipline along with a lively dialogue with psychiatry, anthropology, epistemology etc.

I am running for the position of North American representative to the IPA Board and I would like to change the negative perceptions about psychoanalysis by promoting both interdisciplinary and interregional dialogues. In the past, I organized several clinical conferences where members of FEPAL and NAPSAC alternated presenting clinical cases in small groups. These conferences had an uplifting effect on all the participants. We need more exchanges with other disciplines. Why don’t we have them with CBT therapists, Jungian analysts or personal change gurus like Brené Brown? They are obviously perceived as having something to offer to the public. Has any psychoanalyst ever given a TED talk? If not, why not? Paradoxically, as our profession struggles, there is evident public thirst for insight into motive, emotion and ways to change and lead a more satisfying life. That’s what we know.

If we talk to the public and people outside our psychoanalytic silo, we might learn something from each other.

The Far Reaches of Psychoanalysis: Mozambiques’ Child Soldiers



Belonging to an international organization like the IPA has opened unanticipated doors for me and exposed me to many interesting problems worldwide.  A Brazilian psychoanalytic society has undertaken the task of providing mental health consultation in ex-Portuguese colonies.  In 2011 I was invited to participate in a conference in Mozambique to discuss therapeutic approaches to assist the nation as it struggles with the problems of former child soldiers–children  who   fought in the civil war that ended in the mid nineteen-nineties. Reintegrating these former child soldiers into society is one of the most challenging tasks facing Mozambique as well as other countries that engaged in the same practices.


The forced conscription of children to become soldiers is one of the most egregious crimes against humanity. This practice not only harms the children themselves but also the society as a whole. In Mozambique both sides consistently practiced abduction and forced recruitment. The stories we heard about recruitment practices were unimaginably inhumane and horrifying. Boys were forced to engage in violent acts that were witnessed by their villages, effectively closing the door to any possibility of a return home. This insured the boy’s alienation from his village. To harden their psyches the children were deliberately exposed to horrific scenes. They were physically and sexually abused and made to witness the killing of family members.  Such experiences made the children commit violent acts during and after the armed conflict. Obviously the psychological wounds and traumas suffered in childhood reverberated throughout their lives as they grew up.


The children are utterly and, in most cases, irrevocably altered by their child soldier experience.  Former child soldiers have no skills for life in peacetime and have had great difficulty in letting go of the conviction that violence was a legitimate means of achieving their aims. This conviction has made the transition to a non-violent life style very difficult. In addition, to having been exposed to years of unrelenting killing and violence, these children lost years of stability and schooling. The result has been a reduction of human and economic potential for Mozambique.


The challenge at the conference was to come up with a way to address these emotional consequences.  Western psychodynamic therapies obviously were not an answer but psychodynamic understanding was of value, especially theories of attachment and the sequelae of trauma. A local psychiatrist who had psychoanalytic training in Germany came up with a solution. He recognized the importance of myths in the local tribal culture and the fact that many traumatized former child soldiers consulted the shamans for help. The challenge was how to form a therapeutic alliance between the mental health professionals and the shamans.


He had succeeded in forming a collaborative program with shamans where psychodynamic concepts were discussed in the terms of the local myths. The mental health professionals, university graduates themselves, told us that when they were sick, they first consulted the shamans to invoke the help of the spirits and only when that didn’t work would they visit a conventional western trained physician.


The results of the conferences with the shamans have been promising; the main bottleneck has been the difficulty in training sufficient mental health professionals to talk  psychodynamically in myth language to help the shamans deal with their patients.


The impact on the participants in the conference, confronted with this unspeakably brutal reality, was enormous. It was hard to process the powerful emotions generated in us as we worked to help the local people cope with this overwhelming trauma. The analysts from the Brazilian Society who were present have also continued their work in other ex-Portuguese colonies particularly in Angola where the same practices prevailed in their civil war.


We all left the conference traumatized by the horrific stories we heard and it reminded me of my work interviewing holocaust survivors seeking reparations from the German government. The latter experience had a more direct impact on me because I could feel the pain and suffering in the person I was talking to in the room.  The Mozambique experience however shook all of us up because we heard about events where the most basic human taboos had been breached  in a most brutal manner.


Despite the painful content of the conference and the work I was proud at these times  to be part of international psychoanalysis, learning about the courageous work of colleagues like those in the Brazilian societies, and thinking together about the far extensions and applications of psychoanalytic ideas.



IPA Training Models and North American Concerns

Trying to understand why so many individuals in APsaA feel alienated and uninvolved with the IPA, I have seeking the opinions of members, who, to my knowledge, have not had much contact with the IPA. I was especially concerned to discover that even Training Directors often feel the IPA is not very relevant to their professional work.  

In talking with some who expressed this view, it seemed to me there is significant confusion about the Eitingon model. In a recent survey done by APsaA’s Task Force on the Eitingon model of some 15 societies in Europe, Latin America and US, we found there is wide variation in their training approaches regarding frequency of sessions, gender of control cases, graduation requirements and criteria for career advancement from associate member to full member to training analyst. (To clarify terminology that can be confusing, the word “society” is used generically in IPA parlance to describe institute, center or association and implies a training function).

Here are some of our findings from the survey:  APsaA is the only society that requires certification. Everywhere else, graduation from an institute is a sufficient credential to apply to the society. However, some societies have stringent requirements for graduates to advance to full membership. We found that considerable variation exists regarding requirements for frequency and number of training cases.

Although at every Congress the IPA has an afternoon meeting with training directors of societies, among some training directors I spoke with there is a feeling that there is not enough communication between the training directors and the IPA and that there is a general attitude of indifference toward them.

I asked Fernando Weissmann, the chair of the IPA Training and Oversight Committee, to clarify the IPA’s position regarding its role in overseeing training he said the following: “The Eitingon model is an abstraction and there are many variations on the model depending on various circumstances such as the size of the society, political and economical considerations. The model exists only to give an appearance of unity in the IPA. The component societies have complete autonomy.”

A lively argument is going on in North America about what training requirements should be regarding frequency, hours of supervision and whether variations of the Eitingon model are acceptable to the IPA.  Some members wish for more definitive guidelines while others prefer more latitude. Those in the latter category resent the feeling that big brother is watching them.

As a result of the increased flexibility the big challenge ahead is in who can analyze candidates. The old rigid tradition-bound rules seem less relevant. Here the IPA could provide tangible help in the form of an online discussion forum where differing views can be discussed. This would be a very timely topic for the directors of training meeting during the IPA Congress.

Another area that needs exploration is the issue of criteria of competence for supervising analysts. What training is necessary? Some societies mandate attendance at supervisory seminars while others have instituted a piggyback system where a new supervisor presents his supervisory work to a trained supervisor.

Again this is another area where the IPA has dropped the ball.  I propose that the IPA address these questions and become more proactive in fostering discussions about TA’s and supervising analysts. These should take place in a collegial atmosphere that would encourage brainstorming and finding new solutions, rather than perpetuation of a tradition of gate-keeper type oversight that is no longer appropriate. That would make the IPA more relevant and usable.