We believe that the time is ripe to embark upon another great scientific endeavour: the preparation of an IPA ENCYCLOPEDIC DICTIONARY OF PSYCHOANALYSIS.

There are many excellent dictionaries of psychoanalysis, but the IPA (and, in our opinion, only the IPA, at this time) has the human resources, the scientific potential and the cultural articulation to create an extraordinarily complete and advanced one that is truly representative of the various theoretical trends and schools in the psychoanalytic world.

The reason the Board preferred both names (“Encyclopedic Dictionary”) was to include the historical evolution of the concepts (“Encyclopedic” should mean this, in this case) besides the “catalogue” of the concepts in themselves (“Dictionary”). 

A work of this magnitude requires not only an extensive knowledge of psychoanalysis, past and present, but also considerable editorial and organizational skills: it will not be the work of a few - however valuable - researchers, but of several coordinated work groups.

The goal is to provide all psychoanalysts and all psychotherapists who work psychoanalytically with a truly international and up-to-date tool for consultation and reference, of superior quality and ‘wide scope’, which represents both the ‘trunk’ and the ‘branches’ of the psychoanalytic tree, as it has grown from Freud to the present day. 

The Project

The Task Force will be made up of psychoanalysts from different countries and different schools, so as to present the historical and conceptual wealth and complexity of psychoanalytic terms. 

Three regional Working Groups, each one coordinated by a regional Chair, will present the history and the many specific contributions produced for each term by the most important authors from their tradition and geographical area. 

The further task of compiling these regional contributions into a comprehensive inter-regional overview will fall to the Task Force: this will not necessarily be a work of integration, but rather one of broad, complex representation. The convergences and differences in the conceptualizations of the various schools and areas must be clearly described, in full respect of their theoretical specificity and their historical and cultural background.

As such, the method of working will be two-phase:

1. Firstly, to collect the historical and theoretical notes specific to the areas and schools considered; 
2. Secondly, to compose the overall picture, respecting and highlighting the differences.

Both the historical aspect and the theoretical ‘wide scope’ will justify the use of the adjective ‘encyclopedic’ in the title of this work.

Of course, we need clear rules regarding the format, extension (number of words) and number (that is: choice) of the concepts, even if we have to take into account that – being the projects multi-national – the range of concepts should be wide and reach enough.

This ambitious project will naturally take time, given its demanding and complex nature. Furthermore, it is clear that an undertaking of this magnitude cannot be accomplished by a few people alone, however talented they may be, as it would take far too long to complete. It will therefore be necessary for the regional Chairs and their editorial teams to engage broader working groups, albeit under their direct coordination and with clear methodological guidelines.

We propose, at least on an initial trial basis, a shared leadership among these three regional Chairs, while reserving the option to appoint an Editor-in-Chief only in the event that this initial organization based on co-responsible collaboration should turn out to be ineffective. 

The reasoning behind this choice is intrinsic to the philosophy of this project: it should give rise to a joint venture on a peer basis among the regions, with equal attention paid to all the contributions and to all the schools that enable the IPA to offer such a complete, far-reaching representation of psychoanalysis worldwide.

Our Administration will consult with the regional Chairs to appoint their teams, while the further selection of the working groups will be left up to the Chairs and their editorial boards.

The initial format of the Dictionary will be electronic and it should be published in a special area of the IPA website while it is still a ‘work in progress’, so that suggestions and notes by IPA members can progressively enrich the work.

This is an initial draft, which can be discussed and elaborated upon. However, the fundamentals of this project, which we consider to be irrevocable, are based on the equal representation of the history and wide range of psychoanalytical theories and terms across psychoanalytic culture.

It is important to us to reaffirm that only the IPA is capable of producing this work, thanks to its geographical distribution, scientific tradition and wealth of resources.

The philosophy behind this project is to give rise to a joint venture on a peer basis among the regions, with equal attention paid to all the contributions and to all the schools that enable the IPA to offer such a complete, far-reaching representation of psychoanalysis worldwide.