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Young, R.M. (1999). Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy: the grand leading the bland. Free Associations, 7(3):437-458.

(1999). Free Associations, 7(3):437-458

Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy: the grand leading the bland

Robert M. Young

I Went to a Meeting in March 1997, of THERIP, The Higher Education Network for Teaching and Research in Psychoanalysis, on the topic ‘Who Speaks for Psychoanalysis?’, subtitled ‘The UKCP/BCP Debate’ (these initials refer, respectively, to two umbrella organizations representing psychotherapists, the broadly-based United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy, and the British Confederation of Psychotherapists, a smaller organization inspired and dominated by the British Psycho-Analytical Society; I'll say more about these organizations later). One of the speakers was the External Relations Officer of the British Psycho-Analytical Society. He began by saying that he could make short work of the main title: the Institute of Psychoanalysis speaks for psychoanalysis. When challenged, he stood his ground. It was objected that in the UK the Institute may well speak for psychoanalysts, since there is a convention that only its members are called psychoanalysts (a convention not observed by Lacanians in Britain or by anyone in other countries, by the way). However, psychoanalysis is another matter. Psychoanalysis is a discipline, a broad church, and no one institution owns it. There are over 40 psychoanalytic journals in English, and I know of at least three new ones in the pipeline. Only a fraction of them are published by official psychoanalytic organizations. There are about a dozen graduate programmes in Psychoanalytic Studies in Britain and Ireland, only one of which is affiliated with the Institute of Psychoanalysis, and it was a late bloomer.

There are people of considerable psychoanalytic eminence who are not members of the Institute or affiliated with the International Psychoanalytic Association. I have in mind, for example, Anne Alvarez, Margaret Rustin, Gianna Williams and Dorothy Judd at the Tavistock Clinic.

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