An End-of-the-Year Review from Society President, Jim Anderson
We had one of the most outstanding years in the storied 87-year history of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society.
Our main offering, our series of talks, was rich and exciting. Usually we have four featured speakers from out of town, the number that our budget can support. The four chosen under this policy did not disappoint. Jessica Benjamin, one of the most influential of psychoanalytic writers, applied her unique perspective to the current political scene. Jill Gentile, a sparking thinker and speaker, considered the complications of free speech. Deborah Luepnitz, author of what I consider to be the best modern book of case studies, shared with us an unpublished case of her therapy of a homeless person. Aleksandar Dimitrijevic, from Berlin, a dynamic speaker, asked and answered, why devote your life to being a psychotherapist?
We were also able to hear three other speakers from out of town without exceeding our budget, because we managed to schedule each of them during times when they were in Chicago for other reasons. Steven Stern, from Maine, talked about the ideas in his influential new book that in essence combines self psychology and relational analysis. Paulo Sandler, from Brazil, presented on the topic on which he is a world authority, the work of Wilfred Bion. And Margaret Spelman from Ireland, whose mastery of Winnicott’s work is equivalent to Sandler’s mastery of Bion’s work, spoke about the parallel Winnicott makes between the mother-baby relationship and the therapist-patient relationship. Spelman’s talk was a special addition that we had not planned on in advance, as we were able to capitalize on her having a vacation in the Windy City.
Our local speakers did not let us down and illustrated the variety of talent that there is in the Chicago area. William Mazzarella of the University of Chicago took on the daunting question of Trump’s appeal to his followers. Christine Sterkel of our Society shared with us her own struggles to make sense of the new world of a non-binary approach to gender. Christine Kieffer, also of our Society, looked at the ever-challenging endeavor of psychotherapy with adolescents.
And I could also go into raptures in describing the contributions of the discussants, but, if I did so I’d go way beyond my word limit; so I must content myself with listing their names: Colin Pereira-Webber, Celia Brickman, Frank Summers, Kate Schechter, Molly Witten, Jonathan Lear, Gabriel Ruiz, William Borden, and David Terman.
We held some meetings at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, our sister organization, and we appreciate their help, but our main venue was the congenial auditorium at Robert Morris University, and we thank the Institute for Clinical Social Work for collaborating with us on those programs and for granting us the use of the auditorium.
Deep gratitude goes to the Program Committee: chair Norman Kohn, Lucy Freund, Christine Kieffer, Flora Lazar, Caryle Pearlman, Suzanne Rosenfeld, Jeffrey Stern, Hannah Weiss, and Katherine Williams.
One innovation this year is that we made videos of two of the talks, those of Jessica Benjamin and Jill Gentile. Jessica’s talk is available here.
And Gentile’s soon will be.
While our main endeavor is our series of talks, we had major accomplishments in other areas.
In discussing our steps forward, I would like to underscore what an indispensable role Hannah Weiss, our administrator, has played. She not only redesigned the website so that it is usable and attractive, but she also took the lead in developing a find a psychoanalytic therapist section that has already produced referrals. (All members are encouraged to join; if you haven’t done so yet, you are welcome to sign up.) With Hannah as membership coordinator, we have dramatically expanded our membership, in part because we have been so welcoming to affiliate members.
The newsletter is also a major new initiative, and for it we owe thanks to Flora Lazar, who proposed the newsletter and edits it (with assistance from the ever-present Hannah).
Katherine Williams, who has a real talent for such things, was the best Treasurer one could ask for, and Gavin Mullen shows similar skill in her role as Secretary. We also received invaluable guidance from the other members of the Executive Committee: Jeffrey Stern, past president; Ellen Rosenberg, Councilor to the American Psychoanalytic Association; and Dennis Shelby, liaison the Institute.
We are well along in developing our program of talks for next year, and, unbelievably, it is looking to be comparable to this year’s program. We will announce the year’s program shortly after Labor Day.