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Levine, H.B. Reed, G.S. (2004). Epilogue. Psychoanal. Inq., 24(1):139.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 24(1):139


Howard B. Levine, M.D. and Gail S. Reed, Ph.D.

The papers in this issue of psychoanalytic inquiry collectively remind us of the many ways in which our psychoanalytic political institutions can be and have been infiltrated by unconscious motives. Our organizational structures, even when created with the best of intentions for the benefit of the field, inevitably if unwittingly function to our detriment—reinforcing authoritarian trends, imposing hegemony, and stifling creativity. These papers also teach us that, in the face of the enormous complexity involved in understanding the human mind, it is almost impossible to bring any definition, organization, or regulation to our field without creating conditions for misuse of the instruments of regulation and definition.

The clearest lesson, then, is that our institutions and organizational structures cannot be viewed in isolation. It is never a question of the problems of the training analysis alone, for example. Rather, the training analysis must also be viewed in the context of its use by those entrusted with administering it and, on a higher level, by the institutions that nominate them. Political institutions form part of larger political structures. Whether those structures are used to maintain a status quo or to encourage free inquiry must always be the question.

It follows that new organizational structures, by themselves, will not rid us of the problems of the unfair or abusive exercise of power. We must always look with a good deal of skepticism to the unconscious dynamics that an institution encourages and is being used to promote. This is the oldest lesson in psychoanalysis. It is also still the most important.

We hope that our readers will consider these issues and contribute to an ongoing discussion that is much needed and long overdue.

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