Executive Summary
Fourth IPA Scientific Chairs Pre-Congress Meeting

The fourth meeting of Scientific Chairs was held online during the Pre-Congress session of the IPA Congress on Saturday, 10th July 2021.  The theme of the meeting was:

The role of the scientific chair in the light of COVID: Challenges in the two years ahead.

The agenda of the meeting consisted of: 

  • A welcome and introduction by Dr Virginia Ungar, former President, IPA
  • An introduction to the session: Dr Timothy Keogh, Chair / IPA Scientific Life Project Coordinator 
  • A presentation on the scientific activities and initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region: Dr Teresa Pai (Taiwan), Chair of the IPA Asia-Pacific Planning Committee (APPC)
  • An explanation of group exercise and formation of break-out groups to discuss the challenges in the next two years in implementing our overarching strategy
  • Conclusions and agreement on recommendations to the IPA Executive

    A total of 45 scientific chairs or their delegates from component and provisional societies were addressed at their Pre-Congress meeting by the outgoing IPA President Dr Virginia Ungar, who spoke about the impressive initiatives of the scientific chairs in achieving one of the key aims of her administration, that of extended outreach activities.  She mentioned the hardship and suffering that COVID has brought and to which chairs have responded with their initiatives, as part of her warm tribute to the progress and contribution of the group.  She also acknowledged the initiative of Dr Timothy Keogh who, with the support of Dr Stefano Bolognini, established the group as part of the IPA Scientific Life Project eight years ago.  Timothy, in thanking Virginia Ungar, expressed his great appreciation on behalf of the group for the support and acknowledgement of her administration, noting Stefano Bolognini’s comment that the scientific life of societies represents the Fourth pillar of the IPA.  
    Following Dr Ungar’s address, Timothy (who spoke in English and provided power point slides in Spanish) introduced the workshop and gave a summary of the progress to date with the Scientific Life Project and the meetings of scientific chairs.  He gave a brief background of the work of the scientific chairs since the establishment of the Scientific Life Project. He noted that the project was approved by IPA Executive in 2014 and that it was to facilitate a coordinated global approach to the scientific life of IPA. It has provided Scientific Chairs with a means of advising the IPA Executive of the scientific activities within their societies. He noted that it has also provided an important forum for the exchange of ideas and initiatives / sharing resources. He indicated that three Pre-Congress meetings have been held to date and an ongoing webpage / interactive blog has been established on the IPA website.

    For the benefit of incoming chairs and delegates he mentioned the key achievements of the group to date. These included: 

  • Establishing a consensus working vision statement
  • Encouraging the sharing of scientific initiatives through a compendium of activities which facilitates the sharing of ideas and resources  
  • Developing a position description for Scientific Chairs
  • Articulating a 10-year vision statement; and  
  • Achieving IPA Executive recognition and approval for ongoing Pre-Congress Scientific Chairs’ meetings during the last eight years. 

    In line with developments in the IPA to work towards the establishment of a fourth region, Timothy next introduced Dr Teresa Pai from Taiwan (who is the chair of the IPA’s Asia-Pacific Planning Committee) to make a presentation entitled: 

    Scientific activities and initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region 

    This highly informative presentation  (click here for PDF) described the large IPA conferences that have been staged in Taiwan and Tokyo and discussed the one that is planned for Delhi in January of 2023.  These conferences attest to the richness of scientific activities in this region. 

    Following this the large group broke into three small groups to discuss (albeit within the constraints of a 90-minute meeting rather than its usual three-hour meeting) the further implementation of our previously agreed upon, overarching strategy.  Emphasis was to be on identifying challenges in the next two years focusing on:
  • The opening up of societies to other disciplines by inviting dialogue and forging linkages at all levels; and 
  • How societies can become more communicative (especially through social media), to their local communities and their associated institutions, to make psychoanalysis more accessible and to help it to influence culture. 

    A summary of the key discussion points is provided below.  The groups all highlighted the value in coming together and sharing ideas, especially during this difficult time of the pandemic, and then noted:  

    In terms of Progress:
  • There had been an increase in scientific meetings and an increase in attendance at meetings facilitated by technology.
  • There had been much use of external resources (e.g., guest speakers from other societies online) resulting in a greater richness of offerings.
  • There had been a considerable number of outreach activities in the context of COVID, including support of medical and allied health staff working with COVID patients, education staff and students.

    In terms of challenges: 
    • The considerable anxiety, stress and fatigue under which Scientific Chairs had been operating was noted.
    • In countries hit hard by the pandemic it was also reported that there have been basic challenges, including deterioration in mental health care staff in different settings, dealing with the stress, violence and hopelessness and emotional deprivation in general. 

    In terms of responses to the challenges, suggestions included:
    • Inserting ourselves in the clinical settings with doctors and patients with COVID-19
    • Getting more involved in community work and projects
    • Initiating and engaging in interdisciplinary responses
    • Addressing the problems associated with COVID-19 that unleash political and social difficulties and
    • Working on the uncertainty that generated by COVID-19.

    Following the meeting and the related discussions the following requests were submitted to the IPA Executive:

    1. That the new IPA administration endorse the continuation of Pre-Congress meetings of Scientific Chairs and the current Scientific Life Project webpage which provides an ongoing forum for the exchange of views and resources
    2. That after eight years in its formation the Scientific Life Project it aims could be consolidated by the formation of a formal IPA Scientific Life Committee and that a Chair be appointed to lead this Committee which would have representatives from all regions and IPSO and would plan intra-regional meetings and Pre-Congress meetings to advance to the scientific life of the IPA; and 
    3. That a Scientific Life Committee Prize be established to acknowledge an outstanding outreach activity in a component or provisional society.

    It is noted that (assuming online meetings) none of these proposals had any significant cost implications but would significantly advance the scientific life of the IPA in many important ways. Whilst it is noted that although a Research Committee and Scientific Social Media Committee exist, neither of these committees have the specific remit of coordinating and maximizing the potential of the activities of scientific chairs and their initiatives in the same way as the proposed Committee. 
    Dr Timothy Keogh 
    Coordinator of the Scientific Life Project (On behalf of the Scientific Chairs)
    September 2021