With the approach of the still referred to Vancouver Congress and the last newsletter from the IPA in which Virginia Ungar says that it was her last message as President before the Congress, I found myself reflecting on the meaning of being head of the administration of the IPA at times like these ones we are traversing in the middle of an unprecedented crisis.
I think that we would all agree that these last two years have been one of the most difficult and unexpected times humanity has shared. Of course we know that there are so many other dangers to our life on earth: climate changes that will influence the lives of generations to come, more and more unequal and unjust social conditions suffered by a majority of people. Even if we do not deny these realities, we can live, work and enjoy our lives without having to be constantly aware of them. This pandemic, on the other hand, made us all not only very aware of our fragility, but imposed changes in our way of life that were unthought of.
I went to look at the history of the IPA, trying to see how the psychoanalytic community had responded to other times of crisis. I found a paper by A. Limentani, “The psychoanalytic movement during the years of the war” (1989). The paper consists of an overview of the activities and developments within the twelve component Societies of the International Psychoanalytic Association from the outbreak of the Second World War to its end in 1945. The author describes how the war had deeply affected the activities of the societies within Europe, as compared with other parts of the world. While some societies in Europe had been decimated by the Nazi regime and by the war, in other places of the world, and even in some European countries, psychoanalysis continued to be vey alive and active. Nevertheless, there were conflicts within the societies which led Limentani to say that more than a world war was needed to stop psychoanalysts from quarrelling; to realise this, helped him to have a more benevolent look at the problems of the psychoanalytic societies.
Very soon after the outbreak of the pandemic, the IPA presided by Virginia Ungar with Sergio Nick as Vice-President and Henk Dalewijk as Treasurer responded to the emergency not only immediately but also showing the capacity to keep a balanced view in a middle of a storm. They were capable of responding to and anticipating the more pressing needs of the members in the crisis. I am not going to enumerate all the programmes they put in motion because I don´t want to miss any but the response was so that it was as if they had prepared themselves to face an adversity of these dimensions. Each of us will stress one or the other activity or attitude, but keeping the whole psychoanalytic community in contact and making it possible to keep feeling part of a community was one of enormous importance to me.
The pandemic has created bewilderment and fear, with the risk of loss of belonging and continuity, at times making more evident long standing conflicts, as has been the case in all communities. This Administration has been able to manage these feelings with great wisdom, holding the wheel and maintaining a sense of belonging.
I admire their stamina and their commitment and deeply thank them for their effort, time and concern.
With my best wishes,
LA Chair, Congress Programme Committee 2021