Cartagena Congress Reflection

It was a great pleasure for us to have had the opportunity to be with you all in person and virtually during the 53rd IPA Congress in Cartagena, Colombia.

So much has happened in psychoanalysis, and in the world, since the last time we met in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic, the wars, racial turmoil, rising environmental concerns, the emergence of authoritarian trends in governments all around the world, mass emigrations, and so much more. We have dealt with the intrapsychic consequences of world crises and felt pressed to respond not just as psychoanalysts but as citizens.  Participants from 50 countries met during the four-day congress, to explore the Mind in the Line of Fire, examining many of the critical issues that affect our minds in relation to our environment, our societies, and our collective wellbeing. 

The Programme Committee was made up of Adrienne Harris as chair, Ruggero Levy from Latin America, Harvey Schwartz from North America, Claudia Spadazzi from Europe and Florencia Biotti representing IPSO. 

Our main speaker, Lord John Alderdice, talked about resolution strategies for high conflict polarisations including the importance of understanding the perspective of the other and entertaining creative ideas from unexpected sources.  

We had four keynote speakers: Jorge Bruce from Latin America, Steve Marans from North America,  Sverre Varvin from Europe, and Jhuma Basak from the Asia-Pacific region.

We had simultaneous translations to English, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese. All attendees have now been emailed with information about how they can access the hybrid sessions until the end of September via our online streaming platform. If you have trouble logging into the platform, please email [email protected].  

In addition to the keynote lectures, we listened to individual papers, panel discussions, small discussion groups, film discussions and individual meetings that provided practical tools for our clinical work and engagement with the world. 

Our programme with more than 195 sessions addressed many topics including gender and sexuality, psychoanalytic views on the use of psychedelics, crisis intervention in manmade and natural disasters, emigration, racism, the pandemic, the interface between psyche and society, psychoanalytic institutions, and so much more. 

We also initiated a new activity with 10 luncheon-discussion groups to deliberate on topics in relation to our congress theme, while having lunch with colleagues. 

Being together has been fundamental to psychoanalytic thinking, clinical work, and the professional interchange of ideas. The Cartagena Congress gave us the opportunity to listen to our colleagues, friends, and mentors presenting their new ideas and research findings. It gave us the space to engage in scientific dialogue with colleagues from different countries and cultures. And it allowed us to meet old friends and make new ones in the presentation rooms, hallways, during coffee breaks, virtual rooms, and during the social activities. 

Along with our President, Harriet Wolfe, and our new Treasurer, Adela Escardo, I would like to thank all of those who have helped to bring this wonderful congress to fruition. For more than 2 years, a large number of dedicated people have worked tirelessly to plan this event, through challenging times, and with the uncertainty of the feasibility of meeting in person. We thank everyone that has travelled to Cartagena, many of whom have travelled thousands of miles to be there, as well as those who have joined us virtually. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience and for making the 53rd IPA Congress such a success!   

Adriana Prengler
IPA Vice-President