Fundamentals of Psychoanalysis Today – What are we defending?

Sunday 18th March 2018 16:00 London / 12:00 Washington DC / 13:00 Buenos Aires / 17:00 Paris


Psychoanalysis has shown that creating social and intellectual links relies on human relations, both individual and collective. We live in an atmosphere of enormous social and scientific development, demanding us to rethink some of our theoretical proposals, our practice, convictions and ideologies. In our psychoanalytic communities, it is more crucial than ever to create links that can bring us together; share our principles and psychoanalytic aims for ourselves and for our patients; becoming the “subject of one’s own history and thoughts.”

Psychoanalysis was born with the twentieth century. However, as Freud said: “It did not fall from the skies.” It had its starting point in older ideas, which it developed further; it sprang from earlier suggestions, which it elaborated. Freud went on to say: “If psychoanalysis conquered a place in the history of our times, it is because of its relationship to the normal psychic life.” By doing so, “it subjected every individual, as it were, to the analytic reaction, by uncovering what had by universal agreement been repressed into the unconscious; and in this way it forced its contemporaries to behave like patients who, under analytic treatment, above all else bring their resistances to the fore.”

But times have changed! Psychoanalysts themselves have changed, and yet something has remained eternal. Times have changed, but the unconscious and the drives have not been altered. We must always imagine a substance having neither time nor space, nor form, nor figure, and yet we must restore order by listening and interpreting.

What then has changed? It must be admitted that it is the relationship between the unconscious and the forces that contain it that have changed. All progress arises from the necessity to transform the relation of forces between the unconscious and what impedes it revealing itself, and at best to recover new forces previously hidden.

It remains to be seen whether the prevailing ideologies can really integrate the new forces of a formerly repressed unconscious, or simply produce a masquerade of innovation.

  1. These days, a century later, how have social and scientific developments influenced psychoanalytic fundamentals and concepts, e.g. drives, systems and processes? How have these influences affected our patients and our work with them?
  2. How have new scientific and cultural data affected the two directions of psychoanalysis - the somatic / social and sexuality / prohibition? In our practices, how have they interfered with our listening, as we must, more than ever, listen to our patients and to society’s impulses?
  3. How do new ways of social organisation and communication relate to psychic pleasure? How does a culture which always refuses satisfaction, influence psychoanalytic theory and practice and vice-versa?
  4. What about the Oedipal complex today? What about other concepts of primal scene, unconscious fantasy, desire and defence, pleasure and reality, the duality of drives, affect, and psychoanalytic listening? 

What are we defending, what brings us together?

Three eminent psychoanalysts will give us their understanding of these issues:

Marilia Aisenstein: Philosopher, member and training analyst of the Paris Psychoanalytical Society and of the Hellenic Psychoanalytical Society. A past President of the Paris Psychoanalytical Society, past President of l’Institut de Psychosomatique de Paris, former European representative to the Board and former Chair of the International Psychoanalytical Association International New Groups, she is the author of many papers and publications about psychosomatics and received the Bouvet Award in 1992. She is the current Scientific Director of the CPLF (French Language Psychoanalysts Congress). 
She is the author of a book on Michel Fain, PUF (1999), author of the main key report on Between the psychic and the soma at the French-Speaking Psychoanalysts Congress (CPLF) held in Athens (2010), and lately of An Analytic Journey, Karnac Books (2017), a wonderful collection of Marilia Aisenstein's writings, attesting to her long and outstanding career as a psychoanalyst of the French psychoanalytic tradition. She also published in Spanish “El dolor y sus enigmas”, Mexico, Paradiso Editores, 2015. She is co-editor of Psychosomatics Today: A Psychoanalytic Perspective, Karnac Books (2010), and of Liliane Abensour: L'ombre du maternel, The shadow of the maternal, PUF, 2013.


Leticia Glocer Fiorini: is training and supervising psychoanalyst of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association (APA). Co-Chair for Latin America of the IPA’s Committee “Studies on Sexual and Gender Diversity”. Professor at the University of Buenos Aires (Master: “Interdisciplinary Studies of Subjectivity”). Past president of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association, past Chair of the Publications Committee of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) and of the APA. She was awarded the Celes Cárcamo prize in 1994 for her work: “The feminine position: a heterogeneous construction”. 
Author of The Feminine and the Complex Thought (2001), Deconstructing the Feminine: Psychoanalysis, Gender and Theories of Complexity (2007) and Sexual Difference in Debate (2017). Co-editor of On Freud’s Mourning and Melancholia, On Freud’s Femininity and the Experience of Time. Other contributions in psychoanalytic books and journals include: 'The enigma of sexual difference', in Feminine Scenarios; ‘Assisted fertilisation, new problems' in Prevention in Mental Health; 'The sexed body and the real, its meaning in transsexualism' in Masculine Scenarios; 'Psychoanalysis and Gender, Convergences and Divergences' in Psychoanalysis and Gender Relations; and 'The bodies of present-day maternity' in Motherhood in the Twenty-first Century.


Harvey Rich: Psychoanalyst and author. Clinical psychiatrist / psychoanalyst member of the American Psychoanalytic Association and founder and former first President of the American Psychoanalytic Foundation. He is co-founder of the Coalition for Patients’ Rights. Former faculty member at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington School of Psychiatry, Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, Wilford Hall Medical Centre at Lackland Air Force Base, and Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. Consultant to the World Bank. Teacher and lecturer, appearing at schools and on national public radio. 
Author (with Teresa H. Barker) of In the Moment: Celebrating the Everyday, Morrow (NY), 2002 and of In the Moment: Embracing the Fullness of Life 2003. He has written for the Washington Post, has been quoted in the Science section of the New York Times, and has been a guest on National Public Radio.