The Bad Psychoanalytic Societies
The problem with the badness of the psychoanalytic societies is the lack-even the absence- of a solution to their badness, because they are created and structured to be bad. The psychoanalytic societies are descendants of the ‘secret committee’ of the 1912. That committee was meant to protect Freud from his adversaries. It was not formed for a good purpose. It was established by Jones to maintain certain secrets, and the secret selection of a group of privileged analysts, who would be entrusted with the protection of Freud, and protecting psychoanalysis from the deviations of the open members of the societies. There is no place in this post to detail how this secret committee became the porotype of all our psychoanalytic societies. Anyhow, the psychoanalytic societies are not meant to be nice; on the contrary, they are supposed to be bad because they are protecting certain people and maintaining their privileged status secret, with the assumption that those are the guardians of the profession and the good analysts. Their positions in the organization are secure for life and they oversee the choice of the next generation politicians. We encounter this type of societies only in illegal organizations. Honestly, I do not mean by that to be sarcastic or mean. I just see blatant resemblance between certain illegal organizations and our organization, and I do not know of any professional society that runs the way the psychoanalytical societies are run.
As long as the psychoanalytic societies are overtly meant to protect psychoanalysis from the deviations of its members but actually and covertly protects the privileges of some members, psychoanalysis will be degraded and the internal relationships between the members will also deteriorate. The result of that is neglecting the standards of professional communication, acrimonious groupings, and a tendency to splitting. I am sure that we all notice those three results in our past and current status of the psychoanalytic societies.
In my last year as undergraduate and early graduate studies (mid Fifties) I learned from my professors few things about the “controversies’ in London, and more about the split in Paris. But what left a lasting impression on me (because I witnessed and live an episode in it) was the Lacanian convulsions to separate with his group from the French Association when he felt strong enough to do that. When I moved to North America in the early seventies I read about and noticed from distance some of the shenanigans in the APsaA in the past, and followed more closely the crisis in the West coast organization when Bion was invited by some, and the Kohutian disappointment for missing the chance to be the president.
The psychoanalytic societies (almost everywhere in the world) are doing the same thing: the senior members who rule the society leave psychoanalysis to God to save it and they take care of their own especial privileges. The appeal to change has to go through them, therefore it is very illogical to expect any change. Added to that, the ordinary member does not have any notion about what has to be changed and to what. I know. I lasted eight years as a member of the training committee and four years as associate director of the institute. I witnessed few things that are very difficult to change and are out of the reach of the members, even to the training analysts who are not fully cooperative in running matters.
Arnold Richards asked this question in one of his last communications: Some feel that it would be better for candidates and institutes that the training analyst not be part of the political and organizational structure of institutes Is that practical? Is that possible? Worth discussing?
I think it is worth raising but not worth discussing. First, who is going to separate the privileged from his privileges? Second, this is not possible because you cannot separate the privileged training analyst from the privilege to also be a politician. Third, the present situation in the psychoanalytic societies, as was the old situation too, is a product of the system of training; it is engrained in the way the societies are formed. Better, the system of training is the safeguard against changing the status quo in the societies.
The Eitingon system of training was originally established to organize (control) the membership to the psychoanalytic society. Training was the means to streamline the wishers to join the society by creating a frame work for choosing those wishers based on what was available at the time to identify the serious from the not serious. After decades of discussing, arguing, criticizing, complaining of our system of training there is an unhealthy refusal to see and acknowledge that the Eitingon system of training came out of the necessities of the period, and is not dictated by anything related to the purpose of training as such. What I mean is that training in Eitingon’s time was not instituted to train but to choose the proper members, while now it is presumed to be for training. Training was and still is a pretext to choose the candidates whom we consider suitable…to what!! I say that because:1) there is an obvious decline in the appeal for training which practically speaking ‘leave us no choice’, 2) the standards of candidates and graduates show signs of continual deterioration (my experience in Canada, and the calibre of discussion that we get on the net suggest that).
There nothing in the theory of psychoanalysis itself, or the demands put on the practicing psychoanalysts by the ethics of the profession that could explain the reason for opting to still adopt the Institute System of training and continue it from Eitingon’s time. Giving up that system is not sacrilegious. We should do what Eitingon himself did: build a training system that suit our time in regard to the psychoanalysis we have now, decide what means of training are available to us, what type of trainees we expect to get, and what do we expect of the new psychoanalysts. Up till now we still keep the tripartite model in training future psychoanalysts: learn Freud’s work and some of his collaborators’, undergo a relatively good period of psychoanalysis for therapeutic or didactic purpose !!1, and practice clinical psychoanalysis under supervision of few senior analysts. The purpose of that system of training was and still is to train practitioners psychotherapy. All that is done in specialized institutes administered by senior analysts; which gives training the meaning that was once there for training for a guild (trade).
To go back to Richards query, I would say that the present system of institute training is backward, primitive, is unsuitable for psychoanalysis of today. Whatever patch work will be done to it, it will still graduate immature analysts whether professionally or emotionally. Because the bad psychoanalytic societies are creatures of bad institutes there is no chance that psychoanalysis will survive. The natural step forward is to start negotiating with universities to accept psychoanalysis as one of its programs with the idea that gradually we will phase out the institute system completely and get the graduates the recognition of the IPA. We have to do that quickly before psychoanalysis loses whatever is left of its credibility and the universities would not consider our appeal any more.