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Paikin, H. (1998). A Letter from Denmark. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(4):1251-1254.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(4):1251-1254

A Letter from Denmark

Henning Paikin

In order to understand the position of the small Danish Psychoanalytical Society it is necessary to know something about its history. As this has previously been described (1980, 1992), it will be touched on only briefly here.

With only four full members and nine associate members, the Danish Psychoanalytical Society became a component society of the International Psychoanalytical Association at the Paris congress in 1957 and hosted the next IPA congress in Copenhagen in 1959. The congress

Henning Paikin

was a success, and the society hosted a second congress in 1967.

Despite this auspicious beginning, however, the society stagnated, to the point that in the 1970s only two candidates completed training. One explanation was that the society maintained a very restrictive policy regarding the admission of new candidates. A second possible reason was that attempts to integrate psychoanalysis with psychiatry had proven fruitless. Third, it was a setback for the society that it lost the three analysts who had made it possible for us to be accepted by the IPA: one returned to Sweden, one died in 1971, and the third soon lost interest in psychoanalysis and later left the society.

It is also relevant to emphasize that it has never really been possible to make a living as a full-time analyst in Denmark. The country is a so-called welfare state, which means that all medical treatment is free of charge, paid for by high personal income taxes. Because psychoanalysis has no place in the public health care system—to be precise, it has been explicitly excluded from coverage—very few people can afford it.

In various aspects of social and cultural life, as well as in psychology and psychiatry, however, psychoanalysis has had just as great an influence in Denmark as in other Western countries. Nevertheless, psychoanalysis never obtained official status.

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