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1997 Annual Letter to the Membership

1997 Annual Letter to the Membership

Dear Colleague:

It has now been a little over two years since the formation of the Academy for the Study of the Psychoanalytic Arts as a new section within the MSPP was first announced in the MSPP News (The Narrowing Scope of Psychoanalysis, Feb., 1995; vol. 5, no. 1). The organizing interest and defining project of the Academy was to be found in the reconsideration, reexamination, and rethinking of the philosophical-theoretical underpinnings of psychoanalysis within a contextual metaphor allied with philosophy, the humanities, and the arts. The first year of the Academy's beginnings was a year of moving in leaps and lurches in many different directions.... at the same time. It was an exciting year of organizational beginnings in which a tremendous amount of time, effort, and energy was spent in organizational meetings, the generation of by-laws, and developing near-term directions and longer-term objectives by each of the Academy's Committees. During a half day planning session in early January of 1996, the executive committee articulated and formally adopted the following Mission Statement for the Academy.

To advance the study of the psychoanalytic arts and its practice within a psychological framework allied with philosophy, the humanities, the arts and the anthropic sciences:

  1. through the re-thinking of psychoanalysis as theory, as practice, and as education;
  2. through the presentation to the academic, professional and lay communities these expanded definitions of a philosophical-psychical way of understanding and working with people; and
  3. through the development of educational programs for the study of the many modern and postmodern versions and visions of psychoanalysis that proceed from contextual metaphors such as narrative story, semiotics, amsufism, and psychic theatre.

This statement of purpose has contextualized the development of policies, procedures, planning, and programs during the past 1 1/2 years. I would like to briefly recount some of the many, varied, and significant activities of the Academy that have taken place within this second year that have advanced the study of the psychoanalytic arts and its practice. This second year has been a year of continuing to move in leaps and lurches in many different directions..... at the same time.

The study of the psychoanalytic arts and its practice within a psychological framework allied with philosophy, the humanities, the arts, and the anthropic sciences has been advanced through the presentation of expanded definitions of a philosophical-psychical way of understanding and working with people through paper presentations, symposia, and publications. Paper presentations in which the presenters have explicitly designated their presentations as being contributions to the study of the psychoanalytic arts and the project of rethinking psychoanalysis as theory, as practice, and as education have continued to be made in local, national and international forums. During the past year, papers have been presented at the International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education's annual conference in Boca Raton, Division 39's Spring Meetings in NYC, the APA's annual convention in Toronto, the MSPP's monthly meetings in Southfield and Ann Arbor, the MSPP's Fall Conference, and the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis' annual workshop on theoretical and clinical issues in psychoanalysis. Each of these presentations/papers have proceeded from the premise that the essence of psychoanalysis derives from philosophy and the arts in contrast to the perspective that the application of medicalized principles of psychology can be made to non-medical subjects such as the theater, poetry, history, and the arts. Each of these presentations have spoken in their own way to psychology as the study and understanding of the human psyche within the context of the anthropic sciences.

The study of the psychoanalytic arts and its practice has been advanced through the presentation to the academic, professional, and lay communities expanded definitions of a philosophical-psychical way of thinking through the development of programs, presentations, conferences, debates, study groups, and projects…. The tremendous investment of time, effort, and planning of the program and membership committees during the academy's first year of beginnings has led to a remarkable series of Academy (co-) sponsored programs during this second year which have explicitly spoken to the essence of psychoanalysis as derived from philosophy, the humanities and the arts. During this second year, the six-film series, "Dreaming With Your Eyes Open" was held between February and June at the Borders of Novi; the "Liteness and Darkness" conference was held at the Madonna University in June; an ongoing study group was organized and met around the theme of the MSPP's Fall Conference --"Masquerades of Femininity and Masculinity: The Codes of Perversion;" the Julia Hardy conference on art and psychoanalysis was held in November at the Madonna University; a debate was held in Ann Arbor last month titled "Debating the Issue: Is Psychoanalysis a Health Care Profession? Should It Be?;" an afternoon study group was held this past weekend with Ellie Ragland, Ph.D., a noted scholar and educator who has written and lectured extensively on Lacanian psychoanalysis; the presentation of the powerful award winning play "Remnants" by H. Greenspan, Ph.D. is to be held on April 19th at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield; and, a paper titled "The Life and Work of Erich Fromm -- Author, Theoretician And Clinician" is to be presented by Harold B. Davis, Ph.D. on May 4th at Madonna University.

The study of the psychoanalytic arts and its practice has been advanced through the rethinking of psychoanalysis as theory, as practice, and as education. And through the vigorous proactive presentation of this rethinking to the professional community…..During the past year, over 250 copies of the Academy's "Perspectus" has been distributed at national conferences, mailed to local chapters of division 39, and sent to various professional newspapers throughout the country . "Letters to the Editors" from different members of the Academy presenting a different perspective on health care, psychoanalysis, history, and education have been published in the Michigan Psychologist and the Newsletter of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Council. The Psychotherapy Networker, a national professional publication, has referenced the Academy's project and objectives in its feature article last September dealing with various reactions from the practice community regarding the impact of managed care on the practice of psychotherapy. The Psychologist-Psychoanalyst Clinician, the newsletter of Section V of the Division of Psychoanalysis, published an article from the Academy earlier this month on psychoanalysis as situated in philosophy, the humanities, and the arts with some of the implications that derive for the future of psychoanalytic education.

In the meantime... During this past year, there has been an unrelenting and continuing encroachment of the changing professional standards into each practitioner's everyday professional life and practice. With the failure of health care reform through the passage of national legislation in 1994, state legislatures became the forums through which such legislation was to be enacted. As recently reported in a national publication, 30-40% of the Health Security Act of 1993 has been enacted through state legislative initiatives. The other 60-70% is currently in various stages of legislative enactment at the state level. The health care professions have continued to be industrialized. The practice of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy have continued to be subjected to increased regulation and strangulation by various regulatory agencies and accrediting bodies at the federal, state, and local levels. Psychoanalytic psychology has continued to be represented by organized psychology and psychoanalysis to Congress and state legislatures as a medicalized health-care psychology which understands the human condition within the conceptual framework of symptomatology, pathology, and etiology. And cost driven managed health care delivery systems have continued to redefine and set the "ethical standards," the "standards of practice," the "standards of care," and the "educational and training standards" that subvert psychoanalytic thinking, conceptualization, and practice.

The executive committee of the Academy recently received a letter from a member of the Academy who expressed her increased concern with the growing incompatibility of certain ways of thinking and of practicing with these ongoing and current revisions of "ethical standards" and the standards "...of care... of practice," and "...of education and training" that are being mandated for health care providers. She has proposed that a Forum be organized and held in which issues related to "private practice" be formally addressed and considered with legal consultants and advisers. Such questions as the following might be considered at the Forum:

(1) If one were to surrender their "health care provider" status, then how does one identify themselves professionally? or, Does one?,

(2) How does one "language" or define the discourse when meeting with another in the consultation room? Particularly, if practicing outside of licensure/certification with its mandated rules, regulations, and standards?

(3) What are the legal implications of holding a license/certification as a health care provider and: 

(i) keeping no records?,
(ii) not participating in the proliferating lists of duties, e.g., to warn?, to report?, to hospitalize? and/or to medicate?,
(iii) refusing to respond to a court ordered subpoena for records and/or testimony?,
(iv) conceptualizing the right to confidentiality as an absolute rather than a conditional right belonging to both practitioner and recipient of psychological services?,
(v) believing and proceeding from the premise that an individual holds both the right and the responsibility to decide how to utilize that which unfolds in the psychoanalytic process, in the creation of his or her own life journey?, and

(4) What would constitute a legal defense of failing to comply with legally and professionally mandated standards and regulations that could also be understood as a dehumanizing assault upon privacy, freedom, human dignity, and autonomy for both practitioner and recipient alike?

As succinctly expressed in this letter to the executive committee: "The 'space' from within which I have been able to meet with individuals on a private basis, in a manner that neither accepts nor complies with the 'standards of practice' of that same 'health care profession' to which my psychology license professes membership, has become increasingly and dangerously narrow." The dilemma further articulated by our colleague is one in which she has acquired...... both a 'license to practice' and a 'way of thinking and practicing' that are decisively and irretrievably incompatible." And this dilemma has been spreading through the professional community.

To advance the study of the psychoanalytic arts and its practice within a psychological framework the executive committee has given its unanimous endorsement and support for the development of such a Forum for the purpose of exploring and discussing these issues pertaining to "private practice." The executive committee has committed the resources of the Academy to this project, --limited through these resources might be --so as to advance the development of such an educational program in the professional community. Each member of the executive committee has expressed their willingness to be of whatever assistance possible. Those members of the Academy who share similar concerns, realizations, and dilemmas in their "private practice" should forward to me their names, addresses, and phone numbers. Also, please indicate your interest in helping to organize, participating in and/or, attending such an Academy sponsored Forum. The development of this project will be through the academy's program committee. The years ahead promise to be increasingly difficult for those who might understand people and conceptualize behavior outside of the predominant contextualizing metaphor of disease-illness, treatment and cure. As such major players in the Behavioral Care Industry as Columbia Systems and Medco gain entry into the health care scene in Michigan, it is likely that the practice community will see even more of an emphasis upon qualitized, homogenized, and medicalized professional standards. Amongst colleagues in the community-at-large, the freedom and impetus to rethink psychoanalysis within a psychological framework might very well prove to be yet found in the realization that there will be very little, if anything, left to lose………

In the mean time……. As we enter our third year, Academy sponsored programs are currently in various stages of planning, design, and implementation in the local and the national marketplaces of ideas. The Chicago Open Chapter has contacted the Academy and indicated their interest in developing and co-sponsoring a program sometime in the future. And the Academy has recently received an invitation to participate in Division 39's meetings at the APA's 1998 annual convention in San Francisco... The message has been spreading. And it continues to do so as we enter the third year of our project......

AND.........The study of the psychoanalytic arts and its practice within a psychological framework is being advanced through the development of educational programs for the study of the many modern and postmodern versions of psychoanalysis as theory, as practice, and as education…….The International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education will be holding its eighth annual interdisciplinary conference this year in Ann Arbor at the Campus Inn, October 3rd through the 5th. The Federation provides an international forum in the marketplace of ideas for the presentation of various perspectives and versions of psychoanalysis. And the Federation actively encourages the presentation of creative innovations and visions for psychoanalytic education. The theme of this year's conference is The Future of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Education. This year's conference has been organized around the growing appreciation of the radically different conceptualizations of people, of the world, and of life that have been making their appearances during this postmodern era. This year's conference explicitly recognizes the emergence of new and different versions of psychoanalysis of extraordinary power, passion, and poetic situated in philosophy, the humanities, the arts, and the anthropic sciences...

The Federation's "Call for Participation" in this year's conference welcomed the submission of papers and symposia from all psychoanalytic theoretical viewpoints on all aspects of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic education. The following topics were suggested as the kind of contribution that might be submitted: --- Theory: Is psychoanalysis better understood within a psychological framework allied with philosophy, the arts, the humanities and the anthropic sciences? What might be the some of the implications for the future of psychoanalytic theory, practice, and education? -- Practice: As the Behavioral Care Industry in the United States redefines and rewrites professional standards for the healthcare professions and the standards of industrialization and commercialization are applied to the practice of psychoanalysis, how is the psychoanalyst to survive professionally, ethically and economically inside or outside of the health care system in the future? --- Culture: As the westernized cultures enter the cultural epoch of the postmodern, the world transforms into a global village. What influences might the World Wide Web, communications technology, differences in world views and philosophic presuppositions have upon the post modern discourse of psychoanalysis? of science? of education?

The study of the psychoanalytic arts and its practice within a psychological framework allied with philosophy, the humanities and the arts is being encouraged through the development of such educational programs ---and through the presentation to the professional community of these expanding definitions of a philosophical-psychical way of understanding and working with people. The Federation's "Call for Participation" in this year's conference was mailed to over 8,000 psychoanalysts, anthropologists, musicians, philosophers, psycholinguists, sociologists and like-minded others in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Germany, Poland, Belgium and Australia. Recipients of this "Call for Participation" have been urged to attend this international Forum and to participate in this ongoing discourse of discovery and debate that questions and extends the conceptual parameters of psychoanalysis as theory, as practice, and as education... Like-minded others are coming together and assembling in local, national, and international forums to exchange ideas in the marketplaces of ideas. Psychoanalysis as situated in philosophy, the humanities, and the arts has been -- and, is being -- proactively and vigorously advanced.

The driving force of the Academy during this second year of beginnings has continued to be the dedicated, committed, and creative responses by the many like-minded colleagues who have joined together in this two-fold project of rethinking psychoanalysis and vigorously, continuously, and collectively advancing psychoanalysis as allied with philosophy, the humanities, and the arts. During this second year, "Membership Through Involvement' has continued to be defining of the like-minded in the Academy. The message of the Academy has been spreading in the local, national, and international marketplace of ideas in the professional, academic, and lay communities. Membership is open to those who have a self-declared interested in the Academy's project and a commitment to its purposes and objectives. If you know of others who might be interested in becoming involved, please have them forward their name, address, telephone number, and their particular areas of interest to this address, "Attention: Membership Chair."

If you are in continuing agreement with the project and the directions of the Academy for the Study of the Psychoanalytic Arts (CD) please so signify by returning the enclosed membership dues statement.

Carpe Diem (CD),
Patrick B. Kavanaugh, Ph.D., President
Academy for the Study of the Psychoanalytic Arts