APsaA Calls for Moral Leadership

APsaA Calls for Moral Leadership

New York, NY – October 13, 2020 – With a critical election weeks away, the American
Psychoanalytic Association is calling on its members to vote for candidates who uphold
psychoanalytic values and demonstrate moral leadership. The Association’s President and
President-elect have issued the following statement to its 3,000 members:

There has never been a more critical time in modern American history that calls for
psychoanalysts to stand up for their values. We are a professional association with a proud
history of public statements and activism on the most pressing issues of the day. Today, that
issue is one in which psychoanalysts have deep expertise: character.

Character means a combination of qualities of mind and behavior that involve a capacity to
listen carefully and with an open mind, to empathize and show compassion for those less
fortunate, to take action based on reflection, and to exercise sound judgment in the face of
external and internal pressures. And to do all of this with a moral core, informed by a sense of
humane purpose.

Psychoanalysts study character, and try to live up to these ideals in their work and in their lives.
We value telling the truth – even when it is hard to bear – and acknowledging how the painful
truths of the past always inform the present.

Psychoanalysts understand the importance of social as well as personal trauma, including the
traumatic effects of repeatedly being told falsehoods cloaked as reality, especially by authority
figures upon whom we all depend. We have seen the devastating effects of such “gaslighting”
on our patients and on society.

Psychoanalysts are scientists of the mind, and science itself is currently under assault by those
leaders who attack or deny scientific evidence, and who politicize medical and scientific
knowledge. Denial of the risks of the coronavirus, of racial and gender inequity, of extremes of

inequality, of climate change, endangers us all. Assaults on truth and science deprive us of a
basic human right – the right to health, including mental health.

Psychoanalysts value caring for the emotional well-being of our patients and the public, and so
we are alarmed by the burgeoning mental health crisis in America, and the stoking of fear and
anger that have been fueled by a catastrophically cruel and incompetent response both to the
Covid-19 pandemic and to the persistence of systemic racism and injustice.

When political leaders fail society in such a profound way, we have an obligation to speak out.
No leader is perfect, and there is room for a wide range of views and approaches to addressing
the challenges we face. But one thing is clear: we need moral leaders at all levels of
government who are emotionally stable, who tell the truth, who place the public good over self-
interest, who are healers of division rather than polarizers and spreaders of hate, and who are –
in sum – of sound character.

There is a dearth of moral leadership at the highest levels of government. We urge our
psychoanalytic colleagues – and all citizens – to vote on November 3rd for those candidates who
they believe consistently uphold humanistic, psychoanalytic values and demonstrate moral
leadership. Character matters.


William Glover, Ph.D
Kerry Sulkowicz, MD

Opening Our Doors

The executive council of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society is pleased to announce our expanded membership categories. The society strives to be a home for all interested and deeply involved in psychoanalysis. All graduates of any psychoanalytic institute are now eligible for full membership. All candidates of any psychoanalytic institute are eligible for candidate membership.  We look forward to welcoming any and all who wish to join us.

Click here to join or renew membership.

2020-2021 Year

From the President

As the pandemic continues, the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society will be offering our fall monthly lectures online. Our first effort at virtual lectures in May was felt by all to be a success. Many members and visitors were surprised by the intimacy of the post-lecture discussions. We cannot go silent in these unsettled times. Many health experts are predicting a dark and challenging fall and winter. Covid is more present in our country than during the nationwide shut down. As clinicians, our main task is to keep our minds together, so we are able to help our patients through the ups and downs of day to day, week to week life in a pandemic.

A medical colleague whose specialties led to his overseeing a local hospital’s Covid preparations often turns to literature to help him make sense of human suffering he encounters on a day-to-day basis. One of his first responses as the hospital prepared for a wave of cases was to reread Camus’ The Plague. He found these sentences immensely helpful: “…there’s no question of heroism in all this. It’s a matter of common decency. That’s an idea which may make some people smile, but the only means of fighting a plague is – common decency.”  While stockpiling personal protective equipment and creating COVID wards, he held onto the words of Camus. Many an anxious and potentially explosive situation was calmed by keeping in mind the phrase common decency.

As we move into the fall with so many tensions, so many unknowns, so many potentially explosive situations, let us all be guided by a principle of common decency. 

-Dennis Shelby, MSW, PhD