Patrick B. Kavanaugh - 1999 Annual Letter to the Membership

1999 Annual Letter to the Membership


 Dear Colleague,

This year marks the beginning of the fifth year since the academy's formation. And the Academy continues to thrive as we move toward the end of the century and the millenium. Much has been happening ...

The Project of the Academy

In the United States, the identity of members of the helping professions has been inextricably linked by history and politics with that of a health-care professional. Organized psychology and psychoanalysis have defined psychoanalytic ways of thinking and practice as part of the health-care professions, or a specialty thereof. Identity as a health-care professional has shaped and perpetuated a medicalized psychoanalysis in which ways of thinking about people are organized around a linearized conceptual framework of symptomatology, etiology, and psychopathology; analytic practice is organized around a medicalized formulary of diagnosis, treatment, and cure; and, medical codes of ethics with their largely unquestioned Ethic of Caring govern the thinking, the decisions, and the conduct of health-care professionals in their everyday professional life. Analytic ways of thinking and practice have become inseparable from a medicalized system of logic, beliefs, and values rooted in a paradigm of biology, medicine, and the natural sciences.

In this country, psychoanalysis developed as a medicalized way of thinking categorizing people in shared, communal understandings of psychopathology such as those defined and prescribed by DSM-IV. Mediated by a medical ideology, psychology and psychoanalysis endeavored to become a natural science of the mind with conceptions of people signified in these diagnostic categories of diseases, disorders, and deficiencies. For the most part, psychology and psycho-analysis have modeled themselves on the prevailing assumptions and methods of the natural sciences. And, the general process of producing Bodies of Knowledges in the analytic community has been through an empirical discourse speaking its Truth in the objectivized language of normative standards. This paradigm of biology, medicine, and science provides a sense of security for the practitioner based on the illusion of a scientific certainty, predictability, and control in understanding and working with people. As organized psychoanalysis spoke these Bodies of Knowledges through its educational programs, these Bodies of Knowledges spoke the analytic practitioner of the 20th century as a research scientist, a social engineer, and a health-care professional.

During the past 10 years, the industrialization and commercialization of the health-care professions has dramatically changed the professional standards that regulate and govern the everyday professional life and practice of each practitioner. Cost-driven managed care delivery systems continue to redefine the ethical standards, the standards of practice, the standards of care, and the educational and training standards for the profession. Psychoanalytic psychology continues to be represented by organized psychology and psychoanalysis to the Congress and state legislatures as a medicalized health-care psychology. Identity as health-care professionals has resulted in practitioners being subsumed by the regulations and health-care standards applicable to the other health-care professions. And analytic practice continues to be shaped by the growing complexity of regulations developed by various regulatory, licensing, and accrediting bodies at the federal, state, and local levels. The defining issue of our times, however, is neither managed care nor the business-profit motive in health-care delivery systems. Rather, the defining issue is a theory and practice of psychoanalysis that derives from a biologic-medical paradigm.

Founded in 1995 in response to this industrialization and commercialization of the health-care professions, the Academy took as its two-fold project: 1) the rethinking of psychoanalysis premised in philosophy, the humanities and the anthropic sciences in contrast to biology, medicine, and the natural sciences; and 2) the vigorous and active advancement of this scholarly project in the marketplace of ideas. In recent years, the very concept and meaning of psychoanalysis as theory, practice, and education has been changing as the foundational significance of philosophic pre-suppositions has been recognized and appreciated in the analytic community. Philosophic assumptions are inseparable from one's view of the world, people, life ... and, psychoanalysis.

"A philosophic discourse sets forth the law for all others, inasmuch as it constitutes the master discourse on discourse." (p.61) ... "It is philosophy's power to reduce all others (discourses) to the economy of the Same." (p.74)
(L.Irigaray, 1985, This sex which is not one, Cornell Univ. Press)

Many different versions of analysis currently exist in the analytic culture. These more contemporary versions of analytic thinking and practice have a different philosophic premise, set of theoretical assumptions about the basic nature of people, and a very different set of objectives and values in the analytic discourse than those that derive from a biologic-medical paradigm. And one's philosophic premise sets forth the laws for analytic thinking, practice and the analytic discourse. Some of these more contemporary versions of analytic thinking and practice develop from the study of the psychoanalytic arts, e.g., the Arts of Critical Thinking such as philosophy and philosophic inquiry, the Arts of Continuity such as history, mythology, and the theatre; the Arts of Communication such as linguistics, semiotics, and literary theory; and the Arts of the Anthropic Sciences such as anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies. And these Bodies of Knowledges speak the analyst of the 21st century in the tradition of a Philosopher, an Historian, and an Artist.

The academy has joined with other like-minded groups in reconsidering and re-examining the underlying assumptions of a once monolithic psychoanalysis and its tradition of education. These groups include Aprés Coup in New York City, the Chicago Open Chapter, Free Associations in San Francisco, and the International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education --- an organization that provides an international and interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of such ideas.

The Academy's Programs and Presentations

During the past several years, the strategic planning, the policies and procedures, and the programs sponsored by the Academy have been developed around several key elements of the Mission Statement adopted in January of 1996. Namely, the scholarly project of rethinking psychoanalysis within a psychological framework allied with philosophy, the humanities, and the anthropic sciences. And the vigorous advancement of these expanded definitions of a philosophical-psychical way of understanding and working with people in the marketplace of ideas. This statement of purpose has contextualized the many and varied activities of the Academy.

During these past several years, members of the Academy have continued to present their thinking in local, national and international forums. Since January of 1997, these presentations have been made at the MSPP's monthly meetings at the Fisher auditorium in Southfield; the MSPP's Fall Conference '96 in Southfield, Masquerades of Femininity and Masculinity: The Codes of Perversion, and Fall Conference '97 at the Oakland University, What Have We Been Thinking!!!! Discovering Hidden Assumptions in Theory, Research, and Practice; Division 39's 17th annual Spring Meeting '97 in Denver, and the 18th annual Spring Meeting '98 in Boston, Psychoanalysis and Sexuality: Reflecting on an Old Love Affair; the APA's 106th annual convention in Chicago '97, and the 107th annual convention in San Francisco '98, The Question of Ethics of Psychoanalysis; and, the International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education's 8th annual conference in Ann Arbor '97, The Future of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Education and 9th annual conference in NYC '98, How Will the Body Speak in the 21st Century?. Each of these presentations have proceeded from the basic premise that the essence of analytic thinking and practice derives from philosophy and the arts in contrast to the more institutionalized ways of thinking modeled after biology, medicine, and the natural sciences.

Also during the past several years, the Academy has sponsored a series of programs that speak directly to the organizing significance of philosophic assumptions in analysis: Debating the Issue: Is Psychoanalysis a Health Care Profession? Should It Be? with Marvin Hyman, Ph.D. and Melvin Bornstein, M.D. in Ann Arbor (January, 1997; co-sponsored with the MSPP); Workshop on Lacan's Theory of the Object a by Ellie Ragland, Ph.D. in Royal Oak (April, 1997; co-sponsored with the MSPP); Remnants, an award winning play authored by Hank Greenspan, Ph.D. and performed at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield (April, 1997); The Life and Work of Erich Fromm - Author, Theoretician, Clinician by Harold B. Davis, Ph.D. at Madonna University (May, 1997); A Click of the Shutter, Freud, Foucault, and Postmodernism in Southfield by A. Thomas Cappas, Th.D. (October, 1997); Searching for Homer's Troy: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Heinrich Schliemann by Evangeline Spindler, M.D. and Alvin Curtis Spindler, M.D. (November, 1997); and, In Praise of Pathology: Neurosis as the Basis of Individuality and Religious Faith in Dostoevsky's Notes From the Underground and The Grand Inquisitor by Frederick Peters in Ann Arbor (June, 1998). Upcoming programs and presentations include a co-sponsored program with the MSPP in February at the Fisher auditorium in Southfield, Michigan, USA titled: The Why Behind the How in Working with Kids: Philosophy, Ethics, and Technique, with Bette Glickfield, Ph.D., Ira J. Schaer, Ph.D., and Linda J. Young, Ph.D. (February, 1999); a paper presentation in Southfield: "?... Question-ing Bodies of Knowledges and Mark-ing Psychoanalysis as Uncertainty... ?" by Gloria E. Cruice, Ph.D. (April, 1999). And a conference is in the planning stages with Bruce Fink, Ph.D., the details of which will be forthcoming at a later time. Later this year, the International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education will be holding its tenth annual interdisciplinary conference in San Francisco, California, USA, November 5th - 7th, the theme of which is What Is Psychoanalysis?. The Call for Participation will be mailed later this month.

Since the Academy's beginnings four years ago, over 30 papers and programs have been presented or sponsored as contributions to the study of the psychoanalytic arts by 28 different participants. Most importantly, each of these presentations and programs have spoken in their own way to the study and understanding of the human psyche within the context of philosophy and the anthropic sciences. In so doing, they have raised questions about the biological-medical model and have contributed to the scholarly project of rethinking psychoanalysis. These presentations and programs have brought into question the question of a medical code of ethics governing the thinking, decisions and actions in analytic practice, the educational philosophy, objectives, methods, and tripartite model of a medicalized psychoanalytic education; the implicit and explicit implications that derive from modernistic notions of analytic thinking that reside in linearized assumptions of time, place, logic, and causality; and the defining influences of philosophic assumptions in how one listens, understands, and responds in analytic practice. These presentations and programs have spoken to --- and high-lighted --- the vast differences between more contemporary versions of analytic thinking, practice, and education and those versions that derive from a paradigm of biology, medicine, and the natural sciences.

Revision of the Academy's Mission Statement

Prompted by these far-reaching differences, the executive committee set aside time this past September to formally reconsider and rethink the Mission Statement of the Academy. The following revision was adopted in October of '98. The mission of the Academy is:

To advance the study of psychoanalytic epistemology, theory, practice, ethics, and education within a psychological framework consisting of philosophy, the arts, and the anthropic sciences as opposed to biology, medicine, and the natural sciences through

  1. the re-thinking of psychoanalysis as a creative intellectual discipline dedicated to the understanding of the psyche;
  2. the rethinking of psychoanalytic practice as consisting of a collaborative inquiry to further self-understanding rather than the "treatment" of disease, disorder, or deficiency;
  3. 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;
  4. the articulation and advancement of an ethic and principles consistent with this psychological framework; and
  5. the presentation of these ideas to the academic, professional, and lay communities.

We believe that this revised statement of purpose more clearly delineates the significance of philosophic premise in psychoanalytic education, theory, ethics, and the analytic discourse; more specifically defines an organizing focus for the strategic planning of the executive committee; and more sharply contextualizes a framework for the Academy's future programs and con-ferences. This updated mission statement translates into some rather basic principles for analytic practice as succinctly stated in an advertisement of the Academy published in recent editions of the MSPP News (October, 1998, vol. 8, No. 3,) and the Psychologist-Psychoanalyst (vol. XVIII, No. 4, Fall 1998), the newsletter of Division 39 of the American Psychological Association.

The Academy, Psychoanalysis and Cyberspace

The Academy finds itself well-positioned in cyberspace as we move closer to the end of the century and the millenium. Working with faculty and students of the Lawrence Technological University (LTU) in Southfield, Michigan, a website committee comprised of Roxanna P. Transit, Ph.D. (Chair), Terri Egan, M.A. and Kathy Kremser-Nelson, Ph.D. took on the massive project of organizing and coordinating the history, philosophy, and membership listing of the Academy. Further, they constructed a time-line of programs and presentations, solicited and prepared materials and papers to be placed on the website, and made it possible for the Academy to be on-line this past November 1st with an extraordinary website. A website prototype was developed, approved by the executive committee, and constructed in a relatively short period of time. The Academy's website is organized into various sections entitled Origins, Organization, Programs, and Library. There is also a Guestbook where visitors can sign in, ask questions or leave comments; and Copyright Information where a person can obtain information on copyrighting their work published on the website --- if they are so interested. We are considering the addition of a Chatroom, a Links section, a Search function, a List Server, and possibly a Newsletter and E-journal at some future date. In the meantime, visit your website ( Various websites have been described as billboards along the information superhighway. If this is so, then the Academy's website could be described as a rest stop where one can visit its historical origins, browse through its programs, or linger awhile in its library without walls.

The website has much to offer to the membership of the Academy. For example, we now have the potential and capability to develop a marketing program that speaks to the lay, academic, and professional communities. More specifically, the website makes possible the immensely practical and pragmatic project of presenting information to the local community about the more contemporary versions of analytic thinking and practice that currently exist outside of a health-care context. Further, the website provides the unique opportunity to link and interface with 1) local Parent-Teacher Organizations, business corporations, and other community based groups; 2) members of the professional community to speak about the implications for analytic theory and practice that follow from changes in professional standards; and 3) various university departments and interdisciplinary groups in the scholarly pursuit of rethinking psychoanalysis as theory, practice and education. And the website provides the opportunity for these groups to link with us. We would not have these opportunities to use the power of computers and the potential of communications technologies were it not for the combined efforts of the Academy and LTU in the construction of this website.

The industrialization and commercialization of the health-care professions continues unabated. Its defining impact is found in the changing professional standards of health-care professionals, e.g., ethical standards, the standards of practice, of care, and of education and training. As reported in the Nov-Dec issue of the National Psychologist (vol. 7, no. 4), behavioral managed care will continue to shape the health-care delivery systems of mental health services for the forseeable future (standards of practice and care). "Case rates"--- once dismissed as baseless fears of the over-reactive --- are now viewed as the mid-step in the transition from traditional fee-for-service to a full capitation health delivery system (economics of practice). New generations of mental health providers are being trained for the managed care marketplace (education and training standards). And the Ethics Committee task force continues updating the APA's medical code of ethics for practitioners to be more in line with our historical and political moment (ethical standards). These changes in professional standards apply to all mental health professionals irrespective of theoretical orientation, where they might practice, or with whom they might meet.

This redefinition of professional standards is reflected in the sweeping changes in licensing laws recently proposed by the PEW Health Professions Commission (National Psychologist, Jan-Feb., vol. 8, no.1). The commission asserts that the present system of licensing has become obsolete. Because of the monumental shift to new reimbursement and delivery structures, there is an increased need to pay more attention to the quality of care of health services delivered. Wrapped in the cloak of protecting the consumer, "Regulators could be involved in competence requirements at the four junctures identified by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing: entry to practice, for continued authority to practice, reentry to practice and after disciplinary action." (p.1) Competence for continued authority to practice is to be evaluated by the quality assurance standards of health-care. And would be required throughout one's professional life-time. ...And the beat goes on.....

Located on the website in the Organization section under Application Materials is an Academy membership form. Encourage a friend to visit, browse, and join the Academy. As an interdisciplinary group, membership is open to all those in the academic, professional and lay communities who might be interested. Members of the Academy have the option of publishing their membership and contact information on the website.

The driving force of the Academy during the past four years has been the dedicated, committed, and creative initiatives by many like-minded colleagues who have joined together in the Academy's project. Membership Through Involvement has continued to be defining of the like-minded in the Academy. As we begin our fifth year, we hope that you continue to be in agreement with the project and directions of the Academy.

Carpe Diem (CD)
Patrick B. Kavanaugh, Ph.D., President