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McLaughlin, J.T. (1982). Issues Stimulated by the 32nd Congress. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 63:229-240.

(1982). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 63:229-240

Issues Stimulated by the 32nd Congress

James T. McLaughlin

A powerful tradition presses us to address ourselves to important issues raised by our previous Congresses. To a laudable extent we have been able to do so over the years, as past summations attest. Yet these same reviews, as mine today must, point to the serious handicaps we have lived with, coming as we do from different parts of the world and with quite different developmental backgrounds in analysis, as we try to communicate with each other about what we think we do and know.

At this closing of our 32nd Congress, it is for us to scan what we have heard and said to one another, in the spirit of Santayana's urging that we heed our history. Perhaps we are not doomed forever to repeat it, if the atmosphere of open listening and respect for disparate views, pervasive in both our Precongress and the Congress itself, stands as a true harbinger of change.

You will recall from our 1977 Jerusalem Congress that Abrams & Shengold (1978) identified 'the core controversy in psychoanalytic theory—conflicting views about very early psychic development and the possibility of its being explored in the psychoanalytic situation' (p. 401) and saw a quite specific clash over the subject of memories from the earliest months of life. As they put it, 'the issue is not so much of the existence of early affect-laden memory traces, but of their nature and the form of their reproducibility later' (p. 403). One group, which they dub the 'new' analysts, holds that there is direct access to these early experiences in the course of the analytic process.

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