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Pickles, P. (2011). Endnotes. J. Anal. Psychol., 56(5):708-711.

(2011). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 56(5):708-711


Penny Pickles

What follows is a personal perspective on the JAP conference in St. Petersburg. Ancestors can be a mixed blessing. They can hold us back, even paralyse us or, to quote from Robert Graves on the conference programme,

Blow on a dead man's embers

And a live flame will start.

We can be paralysed by the traumas of our ancestors and, to be free or at least to gain a sense of understanding, part of our own work as analysts involves struggling with those traumas and complexes that our ancestors have bequeathed us. Only then can we start to live our own lives in a fulfilled way and thus enable the work with our patients. Whether we attribute this work to archetypal or Oedipal issues, for instance, depends on our theoretical point of view. But right from the start of this conference I have been struck by our ability to hold differing views, theories and ideas and by the respect we have accorded each other in doing so.

Many delegates came early to the conference for the opportunity to get to know something of St. Petersburg and the Russian culture of which it holds so much. St Petersburg is a beautiful city and those who went on the boat trip on the Friday evening will have particularly enjoyed seeing it from the perspective of the river. Yet, behind the facades will often be found unexpectedly dilapidated buildings impoverished by years of wear and tear without repair. This is a testament to the trauma that the city and Russia as a whole have suffered over generations, which is one of the themes of the conference. Being immersed in the ‘Russianness’ of the conference has been an important part of the experience.

To open the conference, Warren Colman gave us three reasons for holding it on ancestors in this city: the anniversary of Jung's death 50 years ago this year, the transgenerational trauma of the Russian people in this country and the very recent ending of the British analysts' router programme to Russia with the IAAP.

It is not possible, unfortunately, in the time available to go into details of the parallel sessions so my remarks will be limited to the plenary sessions. In his introduction to the conference, Murray Stein's paper on The Red Book was, as his views always are, erudite and accompanied with a deep spiritual element.

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