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An Open Letter on Trump's Policy of Separating Immigrant Children From Their Parents

Posted June 26, 2018 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar


Amidst the recent news surrounding the Trump Administration’s policies towards the separation of migrant parents and their children, Co-Chair for North America of the IPA’s Committee on Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, Richard Zeitner, shares his thoughts on the impacts. 

The IPA has released an official statement outlining its position on this issue, which you can read here


Although psychoanalysts around the globe applaud President Trump’s executive order just yesterday to end the separation of children from their families under his “zero tolerance” policy, an action that had already separated approximately 2,300 children from their families, there is no plan for the reunification of those children with their families and it appears so far that an apparent chaos in record keeping may render the process of reconciliation extremely difficult – if it is undertaken at all.  

This set of events is one of America’s darkest and most shameful moments in history, and perhaps the most egregious since the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. These actions were originally undertaken as justification for achieving national security, and in the service of delivering on his promises to bring about immigration control, all while Attorney General Jeff Sessions deviously used Biblical scripture to give credence to them, is unimaginable in a nation whose moral foundation has been immortalised by the poet Emma Lazarus’s famous lines, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, inscribed on our Statue of Liberty. While our New York harbour has been a golden symbol of freedom, our Southern border has now become a dark sign of America’s inhumanity. 

For us as psychoanalysts, mental health professionals who pride ourselves on the understanding of the impact of early trauma and the damage these children will undoubtedly incur as a direct result of separation from their parents or caretakers, we are appalled. We know that many or all of these children will experience severe disruption of their development, introducing constitutional physical and mental vulnerability throughout their lives.

There are decades of research on the residual effects in children who suffer early parental separation and loss, and the adverse systemic effects of the resulting prolonged surge of stress hormones on the human body. We cannot expect the average lay person to be knowledgeable about these intricacies of human functioning.  And yet, what we share with our fellow men and women— a sense of sadness and heartbreak about what has transpired with these children and families, the sense of horror that defies common sense about something so abjectly wrong and immoral – all these feelings attest to the truth of the scientific research on the horror that is unfolding in an educated, fundamentally good country that has stood as a beacon of progressiveness since its inception.

As psychoanalysts, we now speak out about this travesty and against the corruption of political machinery and heartless actors who fail to understand the tragic human impact of this dreadful policy.


Richard Zeitner, PhD
Co-Chair for North America, 
For the IPA Committee on Couple and Family Psychoanalysis

0 Replies

Fundamentals of Psychoanalysis Today

Posted March 22, 2018 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar

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 to share our principles and psychoanalytic aims for ourselves and for our patients. Here, we encourage you to create links with other members and to share your knowledge and experience of the important issues raised during the webinar.

If you missed the live broadcast of the webinar, you can watch a recording of the full session by clicking here (you will need to log in as a member to the website).

Whilst the IPA is predominantly a scientific organisation, that encourages free and open debate amongst its members, it is also a humanist organisation that is strongly opposed to discrimination in all its forms. During a webinar facilitated by the IPA on Sunday 18th March 2018, several important issues related to gender and sexual orientation were raised during the discussion.

Scientific debate is vital for the advancement of our field, but it must be conducted without preconceptions, perceptions, misperceptions and prejudices. It must also recognise and be considerate of, diversity and inclusivity, recognising that beliefs are not necessarily facts. Psychoanalysis, by its very nature, is controversial; we seek to understand the intricacies and complexities of the human psyche, and often, we will need to debate difficult and sensitive issues.

To this end, the IPA’s Committee on Sexual and Gender Diversity Studies seeks to understand what we know, and what we believe, about the origins, development and expression of sexuality, gender and sexual object choice, in both human development and the clinical situation. The committee has the full support of our Administration to create a place within organised psychoanalysis in which the many questions and complexities that surround sexual and gender diversity can be studied and considered.

Our Administration is committed to ensuring that the IPA remains a forum for scientific exchange, but one with a policy of equality on all grounds, including age, disability, gender or gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, and sexual orientation.

We welcome the opportunity webinars bring  to encourage members to openly engage in debate. We want to promote a culture where we can speak freely about issues - even if they are difficult - and to encourage strong exchange, but in a way that is respectful and constructive, leading to new and better understanding. Respectful and rich dialogue is essential for the continued progression of both psychoanalysis and the IPA.

Virginia Ungar, President
Sergio Nick, Vice-President
Andrew Brook, Treasurer 


Last reply on April 5, 2018 by Mr. Matthew Grimley, Mr
1 Reply
Posted January 8, 2018 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar

To Three or Not to Three: That is Not the Question
Written by: 
David Jachim


A controversial psychoanalytic training relic regarding the adequate (or required) frequency of analytic sessions has recently been exhumed, culminating in the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) making a policy change in its recommendation to component societies. This change gives each society the individual prerogative of establishing a three session minimum and a five session maximum per week for psychoanalytic training.  This change (not the first of its kind in psychoanalytic history) has fueled tensions between various sections of the international psychoanalytic community and the steam that this movement has created is not yet run out.


To understand the tenacity of this continued steaming one needs to consider several factors. First we start with Freud who never endorsed a mandate of four or five sessions but realized that three sessions were perfectly fine for many people. It was only for more disturbed patients that he felt a higher frequency was necessary. For various historical reasons (e.g. American models vs. European models) that go beyond the scope of this essay Freud’s flexible thinking in this regard was lost and a higher frequency became concretized, creating an analytic moat that, for some, could not be crossed.


Second, the defense of high frequency philosophy has been supported by some legitimate clinical concerns regarding the potential re-hardening of defenses (e.g. “Monday Crust”, “thread loss”) that can occur between widely spaced, infrequent sessions. Others, like Kernberg (2001), even warned of a “slippery slope” of decreasing traditional frequency  (“If three then why not two or one?”). In addition, there is perhaps the less often mentioned and less conscious fear for some analysts regarding the economic loss in a reduced frequency scenario. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Last reply on May 1, 2018 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar
4 Replies
Posted January 8, 2018 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar
Peter Wolson, in the Huffington Post, writes:

Americans are shocked on a daily basis by President Trump’s infantile, narcissistic behavior: his hypersensitivity to criticism and impulsive, retaliatory insults, such as against MSNBC journalists “Morning Joe” Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, his flagrant lying and grandiose hubris through which he elevates his ego above respect for the responsibility and integrity of the American presidency. His political inattention, poor judgment and ominous self-reliance have resulted in two congressional committees and a special counsel appointed by the FBI investigating him and his campaign for collusion with the Russian government and obstruction of justice, which pundits are comparing to Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Instead of “making America great again,” Trump’s America is rapidly losing its leadership in international affairs. The drumbeat for impeachment grows louder. Read full article
Peter Wolson, Contributor
0 Replies
Posted March 17, 2017 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar

Dr. Gohar Homayounpour is a psychoanalyst and author who belongs to the International and American Psychoanalytic Associations. She lives and works in Tehran.

As an Iranian-Canadian psychoanalyst who has been oscillating between rage and sadness since the beginning of the Trump administration, it is so seductive for me to get emotionally involved, especially after the Muslim ban. This temptation arises as Iranians are separated from their children, or when a friend tells me, “I have just gotten my visa approved to take my thirteen-year-old daughter to New York for cancer treatment. You know, this is how terrorists are made”, or with the thoughts of the shattered hopes of dispossessed refugees and so many others affected by Trump’s new policies.

But I must attempt to keep my analytic attitude, futile as that attempt may be.

The moment I get back to my analytic mind, well then, this is where I think things get interesting. These are my associations:

Wasn’t Trump democratically elected? Didn’t millions of people vote for him in the United States? Did he not say exactly what his plans were for America? Did he not specifically say he would have a Muslim ban, anti-immigration and refugee policies? Did he not say that he will build a wall? People kept saying it was just campaign rhetoric.

Is this not reminiscent of Hitler? For God’s sake, he wrote a book saying exactly what he was going to do, discussing his world view in detail. People still voted for him in large numbers.

Read full article

0 Replies
Posted March 17, 2017 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar

Ethics Committee Newsletter Piece: Confidentiality and Case Reporting
For the IPA Ethics Committee
by Howard B. Levine, MD

Professional Ethics are a foundational principle of clinical practice and, according to the philosopher Levinas, of all human relations (Chetrit-Vatine 2014). In this short communication, we will focus on patient confidentiality and case reporting, a subject that has been of recent discussion in both the Ethics Committee and the IPA Board.


In Freud’s (1913) second essay on technique, “On Beginning the Treatment,” where he described the fundamental rule of psychoanalysis - say everything that comes to mind without exception (pp. 134-137) -, he made it clear that nothing was to be exempt from disclosure in the process of free association, noting that:


            “It is very remarkable how the whole task [of analysis] becomes    impossible if a reservation [to speak one’s thoughts freely and         completely] is allowed at any single place. But we have only to       reflect what would happen if the right of asylum existed at any one point in a town; how long would it be before all the riff-raff of             the town had collected there? I once treated a high official who             was bound by his oath of office not to communicate certain things        because they were state secrets, and the analysis came to grief as             a consequence of this restriction. Psychoanalytic treatment must          have no regard for any consideration [that would allow evasion of             the basic rule], because the neurosis and its resistances are             themselves without any such regard.” (pp. 135-136).


Although unstated in this essay, no doubt Freud, who was a physician and who had taken the Hippocratic Oath, assumed that the analyst had a reciprocal obligation. If the patient was required to tell all without regard for social conventions or personal comfort, then the analyst, like the priest in the confessional, was obliged to hold whatever was told or occurred in the privacy of the consulting room in the strictest of confidence.


Without this safeguard of absolute privacy protection of the patient’s disclosures, psychoanalytic treatment becomes impossible. This principle was upheld in US Federal Court in a famous case (Jaffe vs. Redmond), in which a police officer shot and killed a man who was committing an armed robbery. Although the police officer was found to be operating within the accepted stipulated principles involving the use of force by law enforcement officers, he was nevertheless sued by the deceased robber’s family for a civil rights violation.


Read full article

Last reply on April 18, 2017 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar
1 Reply
Posted March 17, 2017 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar

Manifiesto en el Día de la mujer 

Alicia Beatriz Iacuzzi: Las violencias hacia las mujeres como cuestión de Salud Mental comunitaria


No es difícil imaginar cual es el por-venir de una cultura ‘tomada’ por las violencias. Los des-bordes humanos en el siglo XXI son de presentación cotidianaLas relaciones vinculares son llevadas cada vez más a los estrados judiciales en búsqueda de respuestas a una conflictividad creciente. Las tensiones en lo individual traen resonancias en lo colectivo, haciéndose necesaria la problematización del desarrollo de los excesos de estas expresiones. Cuando una comunidad está afectada por tal desmesura de violencias la sociedad toda se tras-torna. 

Las violencias (físicas, psicológicas, económicas, sexuales, etc.) hacia las mujeres hoy es un enorme problema en nuestra sociedad. La tensión entre los sexos y la diversidad de géneros viene en escalada. El atractivo del poder lleva a no poder sustraerse a la dominación de uno sobre otro a costa de agresión o muerte si es necesario, a los destructivos entrampes sometedor-sometido, amo-esclavo. 

Dentro de la maraña de rencillas del ‘versus’, se habla de las violencias  feminicidas y sus  excesos: los Femicidios. Las modalidades brutales en la resolución de conflictos colapsa el sistema de ‘custodia’. Las violencias hacia las mujeres requiere básicamente atender los Derechos Humanos al portar ribetes letales.    

Las violencias feminicidas abarcan un continuum en el que algunas consumaciones (activas o pasivas) son la antesala anunciada de las que prosiguen. Cobijan y encierran en sus intersticios un memorándum de opresión patriarcal. Actualmente tienen trascendencia jurídica por habérselas incorporado al Código Penal Argentino. El Femicidio es el eslabón vinculado al momento en que el agresor comete el asesinato de la mujer. El Femicidio es la judicialización de la muerte con nombre de mujer. 

Read full article

0 Replies

Archive Posts

Posted February 22, 2016 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar

Dear Colleagues: 
On December 23, 2015, The Board of Directors of my institute, the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR) in New York City issued the following Position Statement on Xenophobia and Islamphobia.   This followed a somewhat similar Position Statement on Syrian Refugee Resettlement issued by the American Psychoanalytic Association on December 2, 2015. Our statement is framed clinically. Our Board thought it was important in these perilous times that psychoanalysts in the United States be at the forefront of opposing circumstances that lead to xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, and prejudice. Psychoanalysts in other parts of the world, given the media stories that come from the United States, may not be familiar with the extent to which psychoanalysts in this country are expressing their views.   
1 Reply
Posted March 3, 2016 by Ms. Kimberly Scholefield Kleinman
I appreciate the statement from the IPTAR board of directors describing the dynamics of xenophobia.  Promoting an understanding of the psychological mechanisms that result in what the public refers to as prejudice and how "otherness" reactions are exacerbated by stress is a fundamental approach to diminishing it's harmful effects.  Thank You!
Kim Kleinman
member Contemporary Freudian Society
Posted July 19, 2016 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar

On behalf of the of the British Psychoanalytic Association (BPA) I strongly endorse the recent statement from the President of the British Psychoanalytical Society concerning the referendum vote for the UK to leave the European Union.
The result has led to seriously destabilising consequences in the UK, Europe and the wider world and its full implications are not yet clear. The anti immigrant atmosphere which has developed and the recent spate of racist attacks in the UK are to be deplored.
Psychoanalysis is an international venture and the background of the members and candidates of the BPA reflects this.
The referendum vote will not lead to us turning away from our international colleagues. The BPA will continue as an outward looking Society which places great value in its membership of and participation in the EPF and the IPA and which welcomes members and candidates from throughout the world.
Philip Roys
British Psychoanalytic Association

0 Replies
Posted July 19, 2016 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar

I am speaking on behalf of the Executive and Board of the British Psychoanalytical Society consequent to the result of the referendum vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union which has sent shockwaves rippling across Europe and indeed internationally.  Psychoanalysis was born in Europe and nurtured from its inception by colleagues of many nationalities, initially in Europe and the UK and very soon after in the United States and internationally.  That growth has similarly been supported internationally in adjacent disciplines sympathetic to psychoanalytic ideas.

From the earliest days psychoanalysis in the UK has relied upon the creativity and support of European and other colleagues.  Our membership and candidates from the beginning have been drawn from an international pool and patients attending the London Clinic of Psychoanalysis come from many countries.  Similarly, our small staff team has an international profile. 

Here in the UK we value and need these links as bridges in a troubled world and will continue to welcome and offer support to prospective members, candidates and staff according to talent and regardless of country of origin.  We are part of the European Psychoanalytic Federation and the International Psychoanalytic Association and we intend to continue working with them both.

As far as we understand the present situation immigration and visa status for those studying, working and receiving treatment here will remain unchanged and that is likely to be the case for some time.  We will of course continue to monitor the situation and advise all accordingly.


British Psychoanalytical Society

Last reply on July 21, 2016 by Marius Müller
1 Reply
Posted June 29, 2016 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar
How can we explain the virulent hatred toward Hillary Clinton from men and women of both political parties? The attacks against her: Benghazi, personal emails, lying, etc., are relatively minor, the usual political scuttlebutt, in contrast to the extreme intensity of her vilification. So many people say they just don’t like her, and this negative impression is not new. Since her role as First Lady in Bill Clinton’s White House, she has been portrayed as a witch, a Lady Macbeth, a ruthlessly ambitious, egocentric woman who considers herself above the law to achieve her exploitative goals. Some see her as a shrieking harpy. As a psychoanalyst, I believe that the intensity of this character assassination is motivated by a largely unconscious misogyny that is deeply rooted in the human (male and female) psyche. It is often triggered in response to a strong, independent woman. But this enmity is especially intense for Hillary, who is emotionally reserved and aggressive in her pursuit of the presidency. (See SNL’s recent hilarious caricatures of these qualities.) ...Read More
2 Replies
The vilification of hillary
Posted July 23, 2016 by Lic. Sherry Elizabeth Lupinacci Vigilio
As female psychoanalyst and staunch Bernie Sanders supporter i suggest you do some serious research. This is a very difficult task because nost or all of mainstream press has been purchased in addition to those sgencies and institutions meant to protect Americans and above all democracy
The vilification of Hillary
Posted September 22, 2016 by Dr. William Earnest
The article illustrates why the great potential for a psychoanalytic contribution to the analysis of political questions has not been realized. Following the reductionist playbook to the letter, the author dismisses any reasons Hillary's opponents might offer and instead jumps to speculatively prioritize the "largely unconscious" question of misogyny. That this debunking maneuver has so many, many times resulted in an equally dismissive debunking response is lost to the author, who appears to be bent on elbowing his way past, for example, Clinton's close alignment with banks responsible for the 2008 crash, or with a right wing government she helped to install in Honduras, or with anti-welfare policies she helped to impose in the 1990s, etc. This is not to say that misogyny might be a principal organizer of some responses to Clinton. But it is to say that psychoanalytic criticism cannot expect to find an audience if it appears that to speak of unconscious motivation means mundane reality is committed to obscurity. This is a cocktail party parody of applied psychoanalysis.
Posted February 29, 2016 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar
Nilüfer ErdemPsychoanalyst and member of Psike Istanbul, writes
"How the actual turbulent situation in Turkey might affect our work as psychoanalysts?  This is a question that we are asked more and more frequently in our encounters with colleagues from different parts of the world. I will try to address the question with a few sentences. It is of course difficult and misleading, if not illusory, to pretend that we can draw generalizations about clinical experiences of all psychoanalysts, regardless the analytic situation specific to each cure." Read More

1 Reply
Reply from: Dr. Gabriele Treu
Posted April 18, 2016 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar
Nilüfer Erdem verknüpft die griechische Tragödie Antigone mit den Ereignissen in der Türkei und macht damit sichtbar, dass hier etwas aus der Urgeschichte der Menschheit wirksam ist. Ihre Beschreibungen haben mich sehr berührt, vielleicht auch deshalb, weil ich vor einigen Jahren das Glück hatte, die kreative Atmosphäre im Gezi Park und die hoffnungsvolle Aufbruchsstimmung in der Provinz Van mitzubekommen. Viele Menschen, denen ich begegnet bin, interessierten sich für Kunst, Kultur und Wissenschaft, die meisten waren politisch engagiert. Es vibrierte in den gesellschaftlichen Übergangsräumen, um einen Begriff der Autorin aufzugreifen. Mir hat der Text nahegebracht, dass es bis in die innerpsychischen Räume der Individuen hineinreicht, wenn solche gesellschaftliche Übergangsräume angegriffen werden. Archaische Motive werden wachgerufen, und wir werden daran erinnert, dass wir alle betroffen sind, grenzübergreifend.

Eine Gruppe von Therapeuten hat eine Online-Petition gestartet, mit der türkische Wissenschaftler unterstützt werden sollen, die sich für Meinungsfreiheit und für inhaftierte Kollegen einsetzen:

Nilüfer Erdem compares the Greek tragedy Antigone with recent events in Turkey and proves that human prehistory still has its relevance in the modern world. I was very moved by the descriptions, probably also because I was lucky enough a few years ago to experience the inspiring atmosphere in Gezi Park and the spirit of optimism in the province of Van. Many people I met were interested in art, culture and science and most of them were involved politically. It literally vibrated in the social transitional space - to pick up on an expression by the author. The text taught me that it touches the internal psychic space of the individual when social transitional spaces are under attack. Basic archaic motives are awakened and we are reminded that this affects all of us, regardless of where we live.
Posted April 18, 2016 by Ms. Rhoda Bawdekar
The following articles came through from the Public Communications Committee.
1 Reply
Psychoanalytic observations of societal phenomena
Posted April 19, 2016 by Dr. Laura Ravaioli
Psychoanalytic observations of societal phenomena are important to comprehend the complexity and fight that same prejudice that create violence.