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Waning, A.v. (1995). Vamik Volkan talks to Adeline van Waning. Free Associations, 5(3):261-274.

(1995). Free Associations, 5(3):261-274


Vamik Volkan talks to Adeline van Waning

Adeline van Waning

Vamik Volkan, a psychoanalyst, is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia, and Director of its Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction. Born of Turkish parents on the island of Cyprus, Dr. Volkan has long since become an American citizen. He has been actively interested for some time in the possibilities of unofficial diplomacy in international affairs. The faculty of the Center, which focuses on the conscious and unconscious interplay between man's internal and external worlds, is multidisciplinary and includes retired diplomats, political scientists, historians, psychologists, and psychoanalysts. Together they analyze current and historical events from a psychoanalytic frame of reference.

In July 1993, Doctor Volkan gave a paper on nationalism at the International Psychoanalytical Congress in Amsterdam. During this time, Adeline van Waning, a Dutch psychoanalyst greatly impressed with his work, took the opportunity to interview him. Their exchange, which follows, was recorded in Amsterdam on July 28, 1993.

Adeline van Waning (AvW): I greatly appreciate your coming here and giving me this opportunity to meet you. I am interested in learning what led you to work in the field of political psychology, and how you established your Center. Secondly, what special contribution can psychoanalysts make to psychopolitics—and can you give examples from your recent experience? Thirdly, I am greatly intrigued by the ways in which a nonmalignant political large-group process becomes malignant and maladaptive.

Vamik (VV): I'll start with your first question, which is personal and perhaps the more difficult but at the same time easier. I come from a family of teachers, so I was naturally drawn to academic medicine with its opportunities for investigation and research rather than to private practice.

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