My IPA – Abel Fainstein

Having been trained in the Angel Garma Institute, I have been a full member of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association for more than forty years and have served as one of its former presidents. I am therefore closely linked to its condition as a component society of the IPA.

Convinced that dialogue between colleagues from different cultures and theoretical perspectives contributes to the ongoing training of analysts, I was interested in forming part of an international community of colleagues who practise psychoanalysis. I agree with Bolognini that dialogue is the fourth pillar of training, keeping our practice alive.  As Pontalis writes, psychoanalysis is an "essentially migratory discipline, migrating from one dialect or language to another, from one knowledge to another and from one culture to another. It is in this migratory capacity, in the tolerance to encounter the other, in the doubt and in the uncertainty that the heart of the analytical experience lies. To learn to migrate, to experience it, stimulates reflection as well as learning while in training."

The beginning of my institutional activity was what allowed me closer contact with what this implies. After having integrated different commissions within my society, including the Community Orientation Centre clinic, the Journal of Psychoanalysis and the Institutional Planning Commission, as well as having served as President of the Directive Commission from 2000 to 2004, I was elected President of the Latin American Federation. In each of these roles, I was favoured from the exchange with colleagues from different parts of the world which, in some cases, led to warm and friendly relationships that have continued over the years, and that have allowed me to be part of many international projects inside and outside the IPA.

Being invited to participate on panels in international congresses,  contributing to book compilations with colleagues from different parts of the world and presenting my ideas in different societies are the result of this sustained and pleasurable international work. I am especially grateful to Daniel Widlocher, Claudio Eizirik, Stefano Bolognini, Virginia Ungar and today Harriet Wolfe, as well as Mónica Siedmann Armesto, Sergio Nick and Adriana Prengler for allowing me to freely carry out this work.
The experiences of having been Co-Chair for Latin America of the Scientific Programme Committee of the Rio de Janeiro Congress in 2005, and Chair of the Chicago Congress in 2009, were the product of my extensive clinical, theoretical and institutional work, resulting in some of the most beneficial activities of all those I was able to carry out. Mapping the interests of a community of approximately ten thousand people during those years, planning the necessarily limited number of activities of the congress, including highly demanded themes, as well as introducing ones which we wanted to develop, was an exciting task. I developed this work with colleagues with whom I had accompanied and who had accompanied me in each opportunity. The joint work with IPSO, which brings together colleagues in training, was especially fruitful during each of these opportunities. 

To the above mentioned experiences, I should add my work over the years in the House of Delegates, in CAPSA, on the Research Committee, on the Institutional Issues Committee, on the IPA-APSA Relations Task Force, as well as my endeavours as the Latin American Representative on the Board and on the Executive Committee of the IPA, and currently as an Advisor for the Interregional Encyclopedic Dictionary, IRED. In each of these positions, I have learned from my colleagues and have achieved a deeper knowledge of the international psychoanalytic movement, which I believe has contributed to my work in the clinic, based on stimulating an open mind toward diversity. 

Developing what Bolognini calls the "IPA mentality" requires elaborative work that instrumentally leaves aside the societal belonging and the psychoanalytic culture in which one was trained. Crossing these identifications is part of one's analytical work, and the stimulus offered by the IPA favours this crossing. Paradoxically, some institutes limit this openness, thus undermining the training they offer. I have been writing about this for the last decade. The combination of knowledge and institutional power favours the harmful effects of mass psychology, especially in small institutional groups. It is the task of the new generations to be aware of this possible future and to work on avoiding it.

As a Latin American, however, I have to say that overcoming the language barrier is a challenge. English is the working language, though there are four official languages. I think that new generations generally have a better command of that language, but I consider it very important to encourage younger colleagues to train in using English if they are interested in international work.

Furthermore, international membership is usually onerous for most colleagues in our region due to the differences in monetary exchange rates. This requires permanent work to stimulate and sustain for those of us who occupy leadership roles, which is something I have worked for in each of the positions I have held in the different organisations.

Currently, the Interregional Encyclopedic Dictionary is my focus of interest, collaborating with the successive regional co-chairs for its edition and greater knowledge in the region. I think that only the IPA is able to carry out a project of this magnitude, since being interregional makes it unique. Each of the entries is edited by colleagues from Europe, Latin America and North America. And, because it is free and has open access, it democratises the knowledge of our discipline and facilitates its use in undergraduate and graduate university programmes. Activities planned jointly with different regional societies have led to an enormous growth in Latin American readership and have made it possible to present different contributions for each of the entries. All this brings us great satisfaction.

Institutional work takes care of our institutions and in the case of the IPA and in our need for the transmission of psychoanalysis. Being a psychoanalyst presupposes affiliation and active membership in the IPA, created by Sigmund Freud's initiative in 1910 allowing us to do so on condition that we can go through the imaginary identification that it supposes. It is analytical work for each analyst and doing so with an analyst from another institution may favour it.

Finally, and for all that has been said, I recommend, especially to the new generations of colleagues, active membership in the IPA.  The virtuality that we have learned to manage during this pandemic, enormously facilitates and favours training and exchange among colleagues.

Abel Fainstein