The Dutch Psychoanalytic Society


Last year, April 2017, it was a very great honor and pleasure for the Dutch Psychoanalytic Society to host the 30th EPF conference in The Hague, the governmental city in The Netherlands. Also historically this location was of interest, because in the beginning The Hague, and also Leiden, a town 30 km. from there, was the center of psychoanalytic life in the Netherlands. Freud liked our country and the seaside. 
It was here that Freud had his short analysis, a walking cure with Mahler. 



The meeting point of Freud and Mahler: In den Vergulden Turk, in Leiden

In 1917 the Dutch Society for Psychoanalysis was established. 
In September 1920, the 6th IPA Congress was held in The Hague, the Netherlands being a neutral country at that time and there were some Dutch psychoanalysts of importance. It was a highlight for the Dutch Society.

In 1930 the first Psychoanalytic Institute was founded in The Hague, and here was the starting point for a real and structured psychoanalytic training. The Institute was opened by the president of the IPA at that time: Max Eitingon.

From the very beginning there have been conflicts and splits, as is characteristic for the psychoanalytic world. At that time two important subjects causing conflict were about lay analysis and the obligatory training analysis.

In spring 1933 the question rose if 4 German- Jewish psychoanalysts should be allowed to become full members of the Dutch Society. They were not doctors. According to Brinkgreve e.a., fear played an important role: fear of foreigners, especially Germans, while the Netherlands tried to stay neutral at that time, and fear of weakening of the own economic position. At that time only a few psychoanalysts could make their living from doing psychoanalyses.  There was the fear of being eclipsed and anti- Semitism.  The four psychoanalysts were allowed in, but conflicts around these matters resulted in the founding of the Society of Psychoanalysts in the Netherlands, but unity with the Dutch Psychoanalytic Society was restored in 1938.

During and after the war the heart of the psychoanalytic life shifted towards Amsterdam. The Amsterdam Psychoanalytic Working Group became more important than the Society.
In 1946 the Society founded the Psychoanalytic Institute in Amsterdam. A year later Lampl- de Groot ea.  organized a European conference, presided by Ernest Jones.


Jeanne Lampl- de Groot, 1971


Internal struggles led to the founding of the Dutch Psychoanalytic Association in 1947. All kinds of cooperation existed between members of the two societies, but there were also conflicts and rivalry. In 1979 the Dutch Society for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy was established by members both of the Society and the Association. It formed an important element in the dynamics of the years to come. The relationship towards psychoanalytic psychotherapy has always remained a complex one, just as in many other European countries.
Many years later , in 2005, a second split from the Society followed and the Dutch Psychoanalytic Group was established. Differences of opinion on how psychoanalysis should be practiced and taught, about who would qualify as training analysts, a serious conflict about antisemitism, developments in financing psychoanalysis as a funded therapy form and the resulting changes due to this in the Dutch Psychoanalytic Institute are only some of the factors that have played a role in the many entanglements in the psychoanalytic field. 

Meanwhile Han Groen- Prakken, president of the EPF from 1987 till 1991, had become active in teaching and working in Eastern Europe. Many colleagues of the Society joined her and in 1999 Groen- Prakken started the “Amsterdam School of Psychoanalysis”, which continued for 10 years.  Many Dutch colleagues were involved in providing training and offering shuttle-analyses, supervision and so on.  

Quite recently, in June 2016, the three Dutch societies merged into one Dutch Psychoanalytic Society, with about 285 members and candidates. We’d  like to draw your attention to the “Letter from the Netherlands”, in The International Journal, (2017) 98:15-20, with some more information about our history and the process of the merger of our three societies. It is important to mention here how crucial the IPA, the EPF Congresses and the meetings with the presidents in the EPF  have been in this process. These meetings formed a common  ground for the presidents of the three Dutch societies to meet and talk. These circumstances helped us to find each other  and to facilitate initiatives for the unification.

To give an overview of the current situation: nowadays, psychoanalysis is under great pressure. Despite the difficulties for the Dutch Society in, for example, attracting candidates, the ageing of the members, and in finding colleagues who are willing to function in committees and as board members, we attempt to provide a space for members as well as non-members to share psychoanalytic thinking, offer training and scientific meetings and congresses.

A group of six candidates started the training programme in September 2016 and we expect a new group of candidates to start in September 2018. In addition, the consultation between the Dutch Psychoanalytic Society and the Dutch Society for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy has been resumed. The existing cooperation and further areas in which forces can be joined are discussed and explored. 

We are very happy that initiatives and activities which were organised in the anniversary year are continuing in 2018. Several of these already took place in the former societies.

To mention some of them: in cooperation with cinemas, films are shown around a particular theme, which changes each year. A psychoanalyst gives an introduction to the film and is part of the discussion afterwards. It has been great success for many years and it is expanding now to four different cities.


Poster for the film-program, 2017-2018


In addition, on a regular basis, clinical seminars are offered to psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists, in which case material is discussed and sensitivity to the unconscious and the psychoanalytic way of listening is developed. Symposia are organised for general practitioners, in which a psychoanalytic way of thinking and relevant subjects are presented. 

Furthermore, every summer a Summer University takes place with growing success. Up and to now, it was only organised in Amsterdam, but we expect it to be organised in Maastricht as well next year. A curriculum has also been developed for university students, which is taught on four evenings per term. Various topics are covered, such as shame, envy and jealousy, fear, defence and inner conflict.

Summer-University 2017

Last but not least, we continue to expand our psychoanalytic centres throughout the country, where psychoanalysts, and often also psychoanalytic psychotherapists, meet, discuss and work together. We also hold regular scientific and clinical evenings for our own members. We have the impression that, since our unification, interest and enthusiasm to join these have grown.

As said before, psychoanalysis is under great pressure, and we have to be alert to threats from the outside, but also to threats from the inside, consisting of our own differences and conflicts. The Dutch Psychoanalytic Society is convinced of the value of psychoanalysis in our society and hopes that the future of psychoanalysis in the Netherlands will be fruitful. 


Celebration of 100 years of psychoanalysis in The Netherlands, the anniversary year, 2017


The society, NPaV, in Amsterdam