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Barrett, J. (2008). Introduction to Papers from the Conference ‘Succeeding Laius: Intergenerational Difficulties in Psychotherapy Organisations’. J. Anal. Psychol., 53(5):615-617.

(2008). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53(5):615-617

Introduction to Papers from the Conference ‘Succeeding Laius: Intergenerational Difficulties in Psychotherapy Organisations’

James Barrett

This conference, held in London by the Confederation for Analytical Psychology on 10 March 2007, had various roots. The conference was part of an attempt by the Confederation to reflect on turbulence in the organization associated with a transition in leadership from a founder member to a second generation. But, of course, our experiences were not unique; transitions in leadership in psychotherapy organizations, particularly from founder members to the next generation often generate strong anxieties in all involved, who seem to fear some kind of psychic annihilation. This is resonant with one of our founding mythologies: Freud's fearfulness regarding his successor and Jung's breakdown following the ending of his relationship with Freud.

While one narrative of our experiences in the Confederation could be made in terms of the personalities involved, another could be made in terms of what Singer (2002) and Kimbles (2000) have called a cultural complex by which we in the Confederation were gripped at that time.

When these complexes are triggered all of the emotion of the personal and archetypal realm gets channelled through group life and its experience. ‘Cultural complexes’ are lived out in group life and they are internalized in the psyche of individuals.

(Singer 2004, p. 20)

What we may think of as a Laius complex haunts our profession. It seems a bald fact that every substantial new growth in psychoanalytic theory has been attended by such fear that the new progeny has only been able to thrive by calling it another family name, be it analytical psychology, middle group, independent, archetypal, developmental, and so on. Indeed, the speakers at this conference included a psychoanalyst, a psychoanalytical psychotherapist, two analytical psychologists, and, as chair, a Jungian analytical psychotherapist.

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