Vitality and Unity in the IPA was the discussion theme for the Society Presidents’ Meeting on July 11. One of the groups reported that they did vitality rather than discuss it: they got to know each other, compared cultural similarities and differences and started a process of relationship building. The psychoanalytic experts on conflict resolution that consult to our Psychoanalysis in the World effort have emphasized that relationship building is essential to conflict resolution.
Many Society presidents reported concern that fewer members of their Societies were motivated to take on the leadership responsibilities of their Society. We need to look more carefully at all the possible causes of declining engagement, including structural issues that make volunteer activities more difficult – like having young children, or making less income than before, or enjoying less prestige in a world that thinks other forms of therapy are quicker and therefore preferable.
I have to say that engagement in the IPA has added immense professional and personal richness to my life. When we are thinking together, or socializing together, we enter a space that is generative and deeply meaningful. I would be remiss if I did not mention, before I conclude, that I appreciate the passion of the other team that ran for office in 2019, Howard Levine and Kerry Kelly Novick, and hope they will continue to offer their energy and wisdom to the IPA.
Too often the administrative work that members undertake goes unrewarded and it results in their being demoralized. In these intensely troubling times psychoanalytic thinking has never been more needed as a tool for understanding, assessing and intervening in conflictual matters. It is also a time when psychoanalysts have never needed one another more. I hope you will join me in valuing the immense opportunity we have as an international collective to make a difference in the world, in our offices, and in our relationships. We are in this together!