A different world? Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Relatedness in Stormy Times
We are living in turbulent times, without a doubt! The post-pandemic upheavals, the war in Europe, the consequences of climate change, and the rise of authoritarian and anti-democratic attitudes are all significant challenges we face. Psychoanalytic psychotherapists across Europe are confronting these multiple threats and are, as Bion put it, “thinking under fire.” These threats include attacks on the therapeutic framework, the undermining of scientific rationale, the erosion of interpersonal relationships, and even the assault on the fundamentals of life itself.
However, a fundamental question lingers: Is this truly a different world, or are we simply more aware of the challenges people have always faced? How can we effectively address these challenges in our clinical practice?
Simultaneously, psychoanalysis and the treatment modalities it has spawned are undergoing a permanent transformation. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is grappling with numerous questions and challenges, including neuroscientific advancements, evolving perspectives on relationships and gender, the imperative for empirical research, and the growing recognition of psychoanalytic psychotherapy in the academic sphere.
EFPP offers a unique structure, encompassing clinical approaches across various treatment modalities: adult, child & adolescent, couple & family, and group. These four sections have historically evolved independently, each accumulating clinical expertise. However, perhaps we have underestimated the potential benefits of cross-sectional fertilization in the past. Exploring beyond the confines of one’s clinical background may enrich our therapeutic abilities and help us tackle the complex challenges of today.
We envision the conference as a space for fruitful discussions and presentations of your work, encompassing diverse backgrounds in group therapy, family therapy, couples therapy, and individual therapy. We eagerly anticipate your active participation, as it is through your contributions that we can gain insight into your unique approaches and establish meaningful connections.
Our conference will be held in Poland to facilitate attendance, especially for Eastern European colleagues. All four sections of the EFPP—adult, child & adolescent, couple & family, and group—are collaborating, aiming for a productive joint venture.
The EFPP serves as a unifying platform and has already fostered new forms of connections. The use of digital platforms has significantly increased the number of interactions. The virtual EFPP large group has garnered widespread recognition in Europe and beyond.
We invite you to engage with us and make this four-section conference a vessel for safe navigation in these stormy times.”
Uri Levin and Michael Stasch
EFPP Conference Co-chairs
WELCOME LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE EFPP MARÍA EUGENIA CID RODRÍGUEZ
It is with real pleasure that I welcome you all and invite you to participate in the upcoming Four Section Conference of the EFPP in Warsaw in 2024. The chosen Conference theme:
“A different world? Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Relatedness in stormy times”.
constitutes an attempt to ask questions and find answers from a psychoanalytic perspective about the state of our world today. Eight years ago the EFPP organised the last 4 Section Conference. In the meantime, our planet, the societies and the individuals within it, have received tremors and shocks that have not only challenged our perceived understanding of the world, but at times seemed to undermine its very foundation.
Changes of all kinds are happening and new challenges emerging at such speed that it sometimes seems that we don´t have the time to take stock, to meet the challenges intrinsic to the changes, to digest, metabolize, process and understand them. At times it appears that we are sailing in stormy weather, looking for our North star while wrestling with the birth of what seems like a new paradigm, one that lacks pre-conceptions of conscious and unconscious expectations of what it is to be human in the future.
Destructiveness manifests itself again in the crudest and most visible form as well as in sophisticated and hidden ways: war on our doorstep, nuclear threats, energy crisis, terrorism in its many forms, the ecological disaster, corruption. The proliferation of voyeristic pleasures and public exposure on internet platforms that act as a substitute for true intimacy. A greedy creation of new forms of acting out the unconscious fantasies. An epidemic of addiction and abuses of all kind and a fetish attraction to consumerism. The falsification of reality and spread of conspiracy theories leading to a so called post truth culture, in the service to seduce, manipulate and to polarise, and so undermine the fundamental values of our societies. The rapid development of AI, artificial intelligence with a tremendous potential to do good but simultaneously if unregulated, with a tremendous potential to do harm in its attempt to clone all that is human without being human.
There are other challenges that have emerged for our clinical practice and understanding that have challenged our conventional setting and clinical thinking. The recent pandemic forced us to live in virtual isolation, separated from friends and loved ones for many months, and the unreality sustained in that vacuum of isolation felt at times like living in the strangeness of a science-fiction world. For months we could see our patients only across a computer screen. The emerging gender fluidity complexity in our younger patients reaches almost epidemic proportions and requires us to ask questions and seek new answers.
At the heart of this storm are we, human beings, in our quest for meaning, the need for relatedness and our desire to make sense and understand. As we are seeking to survive we are looking for new references that can sustain us. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic thought as well as clinical practice have to create a thinking space in which to examine the impact of the storm on the individual, the child and adolescent, the family and couple and the groups; in other words the mental health of society as a whole.
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy has developed different modalities over time. The EFPP believes that we can be more open minded to creatively contemplate the cooperation between the different psychoanalytic modalities without undermining the depth that the examination and understanding of the unconscious offers us. The EFPP has a unique organisational structure in which four sections that cover the different modalities psychoanalytic psychotherapy have organiscally grown and coexist: Adults, Child and Adolescent, Group, Couple and Family. These various modalities have co-existed in parallel and cooperated in various ways under the umbrella of the EFPP. We came to realize over time that we must create spaces such as this Conference, for dialogue, relatedness, tolerance, mutual knowledge. Creative collaboration, which also implies respectful assessment and trust in the work of our colleagues is not to forsake the dynamic and approach of the individual section but to develop a broader vision of psychoanalytic psychotherapy which recognizes that the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.
At this conference, the EFPP wants to provide a unique opportunity for the dialogue of the different voices of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. By the same token, the EFPP provides a space for the development of relatedness between psychoanalytic psychotherapists around a topic that affects us all as clinicians and that also calls us to deepen our theoretical understanding.
We couldn’t find a better European setting than Warsaw as a meeting place. Warsaw named the Phoenix City for its ability to regenerate itself from the ashes and devastation after the war. The Host city Warsaw, considered one of the most livable cities in Europe, is one of the main economic, financial and cultural centers of Eastern Europe. The historic city center was declared a World Heritage Site in 1980.
Thanks to the city of Warsaw for hosting us. Thank you, our guests, for your attendance, for your curiosity and knowledge that you bring. Your participation, in the many possible ways: as keynote speakers, presenters in workshops and panels is highly valued and appreciated.
Thanks to the Local Organizing Committee, the Scientific Committee, the Coordinators of the Conference. A big thank you to all those who, with their work and enthusiasm, make this Conference possible.
With my warmest wishes.
Maria Eugenia Cid Rodriguez EFPP President
EFPP Conference Co-chairs
Institute of Group Analysis – Local Committee
The Polish Society for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy – Local Committee
The Hanna Segal Institute for Psychoanalytic Studies – Local Committee