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A BRIEF HISTORY
by Marvin Hyman, Ph.D. & Gale Swan, Ph.D.
The Michigan Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology was organized in 1980 by a group of psychologists active in Division 39. It is an interdisciplinary society comprised of professionals, students and others interested in psychoanalysis. Psychologists had long been active in the local community but had never before created a society of their own.
In the 1940s and the early 50s psychoanalytic activities in the Detroit area were dominated by the Detroit Psychoanalytic Society (the Detroit), at that time an affiliate of the American Psychoanalytic Association, and a split in that group eventually occurred over the issue of non-medical analysis. Dr. Richard Sterba, then a senior member of the Society, was charged with conducting training analyses and/or providing supervision outside of the institute and, as a consequence, the Detroit was disaccredited. Dr. Sterba was prepared to bring suit against the American but was persuaded by Anna Freud that such action might be detrimental to psychoanalysis in this country. The Detroit split into several factions.
Drs. Richard and Editha Sterba (a psychologist) continued practicing independently and developed the Michigan Association of Psychoanalysis (MAP). A second group retained the designation as the Detroit and affiliated with the American Academy of Psychoanalysis. This group had difficulty recruiting physicians, experienced a new edition of the conflict over training and has not taken new candidates in years. A third group, the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society (the Michigan), became the new affiliate of the American in 1958. While many psychologists in the area have been analyzed and supervised by members of the Michigan, only a small number were formally institute-trained under the admissions policies of the American prior to the successful prosecution of the GAPPP lawsuit. Non-physicians in the area formed the Friends of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society in the 70s; the "Friends" was subsequently renamed the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis and continues as an active organization. A majority of the psychologist candidates and graduates of the Michigan have not joined MSPP, Division 39 or Section I.
Psychologists who had arranged their own analyses, supervision, seminars and study groups in a program of self-directed training, and who were competent and experienced practitioners, were not recognized as psychoanalysts by members of the Michigan and, with few exceptions, were reluctant to refer to themselves as such.
The creation of the local chapter of Division 39, the Michigan Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology, provided psychoanalytic psychologists in Michigan with a professional home of their own. It was an exciting time, with a sense of camaraderie and adventure, tolerance for differences and a determination to work through obstacles. Colleagues no longer had to be just "Friends" of the Michigan or "guests from related disciplines" at meetings of a medically-dominated group. MSPP met important needs and grew rapidly; the current membership is approximately 155, about half of whom are doctoral-level psychologists. The group disavows any orthodoxy and welcomes all significant viewpoints within psychoanalysis.
From the beginning the Society functioned as an interest group and there was lively interest in developing study groups, teaching, training and identifying qualified psychoanalysts within our ranks. In addition to holding monthly scientific meetings, one of the first activities of the Society was to form a Practitionersí Seminar in which senior members defining themselves as psychologist-psychoanalyst practitioners would meet to present case material to each other. The task we set ourselves was to talk about what characterized the work as psychoanalytic, and how we knew a transference neurosis when we saw one. There was also an early study group on countertransference, and one on object relations. Later a technical seminar was organized as a more open version of the practitionersí group, to which all were invited. Technical issues were studied in the context of case presentations, often with process material, and secondarily through the literature.
The Society began offering courses in 1982 and in June, 1986, established the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies. The purpose of the Center was to provide educational experiences in an organized but not formalized course of study for self-motivated individuals. The intent was to make available the opportunity to study respected theoretical positions and obtain technical training for those interested in the study of psychoanalysis as a body of knowledge and/or with the intention of achieving practitioner status. One aim was to offer sufficient course work to enable an individual to apply for Psychologist-Psychoanalyst Practitioner status with Division 39, Section I, or to be eligible for the planned ABPP exam in psychoanalysis.
MSPP accepted the Divisionís and Section Iís standards as its criteria for identifying qualified psychoanalysts. In fact, early debate over the issue of standards was resolved with the formation of Section I. It was thought that the local organization would not need to become embroiled in the controversy over qualifications since psychologist members could apply for membership in Section I. The issue would be referred to the national organization. A number of our members were accepted into Section I and were regarded as the original cadre of psychologist-psychoanalyst practitioners. However, other members of MSPP were concerned with the training and credentialing of persons not eligible for Division 39 or Section I membership, and controversy grew over the question of whether MSPP would offer training leading to a certificate in psychoanalysis.
Interestingly, the matter of standards was not the issue which led to so much dissension within the local organization. Many of the senior members of MSPP had been analyzed on a four or five times weekly basis. Adoption of the Divisionís three times per week standard accommodated others, and the problem of "numbers" which has so plagued the Division and the efforts to establish an ABPP exam was never a source of divisiveness here. Rather, it was the matter of whether the local organization should certify qualified psychoanalysts and offer a training program which would lead to the granting of a certificate.
By 1985 there was growing pressure to offer formal training and to certify, and the membership began to divide more sharply. On February 1, 1986, an open forum was held to consider the issues. The Divisionís and Section Iís concerns with the possibility of lawsuits over certification and the controversy over standards which led to the eventual formation of Section V brought matters once again into focus for the local chapter. Some then regarded the ABPP exam as a viable long-range solution until efforts to develop criteria for the exam bogged down, again over matters of numbers. Within our own organization there were essentially three positions represented.
One group regarded credentialing as a vital function of the organization. It was seen as a necessary part of the training process, as a means of recognition and acceptance of oneís achievement by oneís peers, and as an important step leading to integration of oneís self-identity as a psychoanalyst. A second viewpoint saw the designation "qualified psychoanalyst" as a matter of self-definition and informal acceptance by oneís colleagues; any formal process of evaluation was seen as unnecessary or counter to analytic ideals and, thus, counterproductive. Questions were also raised about liability insurance and the possibility of lawsuits should an applicant be denied a credential of the organization. A third viewpoint held that credentialing was desirable but ought to be left to whatever mechanism would eventually emerge from national debate.
Two forums, one on training and one on credentialing, were planned for 1988-1989. However, in the Fall of 1988, Raymond Fowler, then-President of APA, indicated in a letter to Jonathan Slavin of the Massachusetts local chapter that accrediting is the sole province of APA. On December 11, 1988, the MSPP Board voted unanimously to abide by APA policy and not accredit.
However, only eight days earlier, a group of MSPP members, frustrated with the Boardís reluctance to formalize training and credentialing by the local chapter, had voted to organize the Michigan Psychoanalytic Council (MPC) as a separate organization for these purposes. Nine months later the group designated its first group of psychoanalysts according to Division 39 standards and selected five new candidates. MPC is not an arm of the local chapter but an independent nonprofit corporation. The institute continues the MSPP policy of accepting all significant viewpoints in psychoanalysis. MPC also endorses the Federation of Psychoanalytic Training Organizations, as does MSPP.
Meanwhile, MSPP has continued to meet professional and collegial needs of its members by functioning as an interest group. In July, 1991, it amended its by-laws to reflect the current reality and eliminate the issues of formal training and recognition of qualified practitioners from its statement of purpose. Its purposes now include: the study of psychoanalytic psychology and its promotion in the general and professional communities; the promotion and encouragement of the highest standards of practice; the providing of continuing education and professional development opportunities for psychoanalytic practitioners; and the expansion of psychoanalytic psychological services in the community.
Professional meetings are held on a regular basis; members are invited to present papers, and professional development is enhanced through discussion of theoretical and technical ideas. From time to time the Society sponsors meetings with invited speakers. We have also sponsored intensive, day-long workshops for the study of a particular area of interest. From its inception the group has provided an opportunity for colleagues to form study groups and pursue areas of common interest over an extended period of time. MSPP has also held a number of Midwinter and Midsummer Institutes, usually in resort areas, where colleagues could come together for a weekend of professional sharing, discussion and debate, social and recreational activities. An interest group on Womenís Issues shares the purposes of Division 39, Section III, in promoting interest and discussion concerning womenís issues and gender differences, modifying the current public image of psychoanalysis as negative toward women, and encouraging women to participate actively. MSPP also arranges group rates for journal subscriptions and provides an informal network for referral among colleagues. It serves as an avenue of contact with other state organizations and with the Division, and it helps in promoting interest in psychoanalysis among students and training groups.
MSPP has contributed immeasurably to the professional lives of psychologists in Michigan who are interested in the study and practice of psychoanalysis. The excitement which accompanied formation of the original group reflected the end of psychologistsí isolation, and the hope and optimism accompanying creation of opportunities to belong to a real psychoanalytic community. MSPP members are no longer fringe members or outsiders, but full participants in all aspects of a mature and fulfilling professional life. Our development is ongoing and has not been without controversy, dissension, argument and anger. We encountered no major difficulties over differences in theoretical orientation or over criteria for identifying qualified practitioners. However, a crisis arose over the issue of certification and, although APAís prohibition on accrediting marked a critical point in our debate, the fact is that we were unable to resolve differences in a way which preserved our unity while meeting divergent needs. The organization which was enlivened by its variety of viewpoints reached an impasse over the certification issue, and at this point there is a less than desirable overlap in membership between the Divisionís local chapter, MSPP, and the local inter-disciplinary institute, MPC, with a number of psychologist members who are also active in Division 39. Hopefully, as we continue to evolve as a Society, psychologists will benefit from the resources and contributions of all who are active in the local psychoanalytic community, and diversity will again become a source of strength within our group.
The Sterba Fund of MSPP
History and Background
The Sterba Fund was begun in 1983 by a former analysand of the late, eminent psychoanalytic writer and practitioner, Richard F. Sterba, M.D. The analysand was so grateful for the benefits she achieved in her work with Dr. Sterba, that she wanted both to honor him and to make analysis and analytic education more available to others.
With the help of Dr. Sterba and selected individuals who would comprise the original committee to manage The Sterba Fund including Dr. Marvin Hyman, a founding member and Past President of MSPP, the Fund was created to assist in the support of individual psychoanalyses of mental health professionals and pediatricians in the.
The Fund became a Section of MSPP in 1997. By targetingmental health professionals and pediatricians, the donor believed that the analytic experience could most readily benefit broader segments of society. In 2007 the Fund moved to the Psychoanalytic Center.