The Buenos Aires Workshop, 2017


At a subsequent workshop in Buenos Aires in July 2017 a total of 52 component and provisional societies heard a welcome address by Dr Stefano Bolognini.  Following this, Dr Timothy Keogh presented an introduction to the Scientific Chairs’ meeting and a summary of the progress with the ‘Scientific Life Project’.  This was followed by two presentations by Dr Nicole Ropert and Dr Linda Greenberg, respectively, which had a common theme of the challenge of increasing participation in ‘out-reach’ and 'in-reach' scientific activities.  Following this, small group discussions focused on issues arising from the two presentations.  The groups also considered the role of scientific chairs and the function of the Pre-Congress meetings.  Out of these discussions the groups then made recommendations to the large group through their group reporters (David Simpson [UK] and Nicole Ropert [Chile]).  The large group discussion and recommendations highlighted the pivotal role of scientific chairs, especially their role in facilitating out-reach and in-reach activities which promote psychoanalysis in the broader community, as well as increasing participation by society members.  Their potential to ensure a contemporary focus in psychoanalytic practice was also noted.  The value of the ‘Scientific Life’ webpage, as a means of interregional cooperation and sharing of initiatives, was also underlined in the discussion.  Ultimately, the large group formulated a number of key recommendations for consideration by the IPA Executive.   

In welcoming participants Dr. Bolognini (the outgoing IPA President) highlighted the importance of the scientific activities of the societies to the vitality and contemporary relevance of the IPA.  In particular, he noted that the meetings allowed for an important opportunity to review and monitor scientific activities and gauge the extent to which members participate in their own societies, as well as the extent to which societies provide outreach to other mental health professionals and the wider community.  He referred to this participation as a fourth pillar of the IPA.  He noted that the scientific chairs are, in terms of their role in encouraging participation, the “real operators.”  He also acknowledged Timothy Keogh’s “IPA mentality” and work in forming and developing the group to this point and wished the group well in their work during the meeting.

The Spanish-speaking group, whose reporter was Nicole Ropert, suggested that in order to improve in-reach and out-reach:

  1. There could be more attempts to provide a consultation service to schools;
  2. That societies could think about offering supervision and consultation to psychotherapists and mental health professionals in hospital settings;
  3. That there should be an annual compilation of activities (an initiative of the first meeting in Boston) that would allow for societies to review and gain ideas about what each is doing;
  4. That questionnaires could be derived to evaluate outreach activities (as in the Contemporary Freudian Society); and  
  5. That there need to be scientific meetings where confidentiality has to be central and other meetings which can be more open, for example, by including candidates.

David Simpson, who was representing the Scientific Chair from the British Psychoanalytical Association (Debbie Bellman), reported for the second (English-speaking) group.  He commented that there were similarities in the discussion of both groups.  He said that some of the ideas that had emerged about addressing internal and out-reach activities included:

  1. That there was a need for societies to have both scientific meetings for analysts to develop theoretical and clinical ideas and out-reach meetings to connect with other professionals, including those from other disciplines, such as history, science/medicine, philosophy, law etc.
  2. That the group thought that there was a need to articulate to the outside world what psychoanalysts do, including what sort of research we do.
  3. That psychoanalysis needs to be promoted as a contemporary discipline and that socially relevant issues need to be a focus in outreach activities.  He referred to an activity relating to gun use that had been reported by an American colleague in the group as an example.
  4. That innovative modes of outreach such as the idea of ‘Psychoanalytic Freud/Bars’ in order to reach younger people need to be further developed.
  5. The need to develop special interest groups for both internal and outreach activities.
    Other issues noted in discussion included the value of outside speakers, even though cost was an issue.  Further, the need to protect confidentiality was a big focus of discussion, especially how this is managed when it comes to outreach.  It was noted that the confidentiality issue could be researched and that perhaps it might be useful to have this as one of the topic for discussion at the next meeting.
    The problem of how to address internal society political divisions as described in the Chilean Society was not directly addressed, although a focus on member continuous professional development, it was noted, has been a helpful intervention.
    Out of the two reports and the general discussion that it generated came a number of recommendations that the meeting wanted to put to the IPA Executive.
    Recommendations from the meeting to the IPA Executive
    1. To continue the meetings of scientific chairs and in particular to approve a meeting for the London Congress;
    2. To approve the further use of the scientific life interactive webpage as a means of continuing the dialogue between meetings;
    3. That the IPA use the (scientific chairs) group as a consultative group in its planning of congresses and issues to do with training, including candidates’ awareness of research issues;
    4. That the Executive endorse the compilation of an annual snapshot (by the Scientific Life Project Coordinator).  This would consist of a one-page report, from each scientific chair, of out-reach and in-reach initiatives to facilitate the sharing of ideas and possibly resources across regions and across the society; and
    5. To derive a consensus position statement for the position of Scientific Chair, as a strategy to promote in-reach and out-reach in societies and provisional societies and to support incoming chairs.  (A draft has now been circulated to Scientific Chairs for comment.)
      (Recommendations 1, 2 4 and 5 were subsequently accepted by the IPA Executive.)

Notwithstanding the issue of language, the meeting was very productive and resulted in a good deal of informal networking and sharing of ideas.  There was strong support for the idea of the continuation of scientific chairs having a voice in the IPA in this way, especially given their central role in generating many of the activities of their societies and in promoting psychoanalysis in their countries and regions. 

It is further suggested that the following topics arising out of the workshops to date will provide the basis of the online discussion which will inform a further workshop at the London Congress in 2019. As such the proposed questions for online discussion are:

  • What are some of the most effective ways of promoting psychoanalysis as a contemporary discipline?
  • How can we best link psychoanalysis to current and relevant social issues?
  • What are examples of sharing resources within and across regions to promote the scientific life of societies and new groups?
  • What are some of the best ways to evaluate the effectiveness of scientific activities?

Other discussion posts can develop from these initial posts.
Timothy Keogh
Coordinator, Scientific Life Project 
March 2018