The Michigan Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology
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From the President
Welcome to the start of another programming year at MSPP. Believe it or not MSPP is entering its 25th year. MSPP was one of the original local chapters in the formation of Division 39. The Division also enters its silver anniversary year.
At the time of the creation of MSPP psychoanalytic psychologists in Michigan (and elsewhere) did not exactly have a home of their own. Psychologists were not routinely admitted to psychoanalytic institutes. Although there were exceptions, the lack of a medical degree impeded many talented psychoanalytic psychologists from becoming psychoanalytic candidates. Many psychoanalytic psychologists understood themselves to be treated as second-class citizens in psychoanalytic communities. Division 39 and local chapters such as MSPP formed a new movement within American psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic psychology was understood to place equal emphasis on both words: psychoanalytic/psychology.
The formation of groups of psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists and others interested in psychoanalytic psychology provided the opportunity for more independent and self directed professional development for the participants and introduced vigor, new research methods, and new ideas into American psychoanalysis. Looking over materials from the founding days of MSPP, I am impressed with the energy, creativity, and thoughtfulness of the participants. As Marv Hyman, Ph.D., and Gale Swan, Ph.D., noted: in the history of MSPP “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.”
In many respects the landscape of American psychoanalysis has changed since 1980. In 1988 the American Psychological Association (APA) won its lawsuit brought against the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) and International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) for their exclusionary practices regarding the training of nonphysicians for psychoanalytic work. As of now not only are psychologists readily admitted to Institutes of APsaA, but many psychoanalysts seem to feel that losing the lawsuit may have been the best thing to happen to APsaA, because so few psychiatrists seem interested or invested in the rigors of psychoanalytic training. The entry of more psychologists into psychoanalytic institutes appears to have led to an even greater dialogue between general psychology and psychoanalysis.
Psychology broke down a barrier to learning, acquisition of a form of psychological expertise, and professional prestige. Now that psychologists are routinely admitted to psychoanalytic institutes, it will be interesting to observe what, if any, effect this may have on Division 39 and local chapters such as MSPP. At present southeast Michigan can boast of many choices and options available for psychoanalytic education. The Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute (APsaA) and the Michigan Psychoanalytic Council (independent) both offer traditional training of candidates as well as a wide variety of psychoanalytically oriented educational programming for professionals and interested people from the community. MSPP continues its offerings of educational programming, although our activities have expanded and shifted since our founding.
MSPP now has two sections not extant in 1980, namely the Academy for the Study of the Psychoanalytic Arts and the Sterba Fund of MSPP. Both of these sections contribute to psychoanalysis in unique ways. The Academy seeks to advance the study of psychoanalytic epistemology, theory, practice, ethics, and education within a psychological framework consisting of philosophy, the arts, and the anthropic sciences as opposed to biology, medicine, and the natural sciences. The Sterba Fund offers the opportunity for beginning professionals, such as pediatricians, teachers, and others to receive financial assistance toward personal psychoanalysis. We have developed other activities for psychoanalytic psychology. In 1991 MSPP began a newsletter that continues to present articles concerning psychoanalysis and issues pertinent to psychoanalytic education as well as presenting the news of our society. In 1980 there was no Internet for the average person. Today MSPP and the Academy both have active websites that offer our members as well as the community of the world wide web an ever growing resource for psychoanalytic psychology.
As local opportunities for psychoanalytic education and formal training have expanded greatly over the past decade, interested professionals have an amazing array of choices in southeast Michigan. MSPP remains active in many ways, although we have experienced a decline in our membership in conjunction with the proliferation of choices in psychoanalytic education and professional development in the local community. Around the country, many local chapters that have active institutes nearby have experienced similar shifts in membership. The choices available are beneficial for psychoanalysis even though they present our organization with challenges.
One of the challenges includes the need for “people” power to assist with tasks of the society. We could use the assistance of any members who are interested in promoting the goals of the society. Toward that end, I ask that any member interested in pitching in to assist MSPP in its activities to contact me by phone (248-203-9662) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Although psychologists succeeded in obtaining access to psychoanalytic institutes, that does not conclude the interesting challenges and questions relevant for psychoanalytic psychology to consider and weigh in on. One thing seems clear. Psychology, as embodied in the APA, has developed an appetite for knocking down barriers. Yet success can be a tempting experience.
The new door upon which the APA is knocking involves prescription privileges. As psychoanalysis was certainly construed to be a form of psychology according to Freud, psychologists and professional psychology were attempting to gain access to a psychological paradigm. In other words psychoanalysis always was and is a psychology. I wonder if the same can be said for prescription privileges. Is prescribing a form of psychology? Is prescribing a paradigm within psychology? If it is, then what is not?
One of the important features to consider in thinking about the implications of prescription privileges for psychologists and psychoanalytic psychology involves a wrestling with many questions such as: what is psychology? Would prescription privileges change the field and in what way? Would allowing prescription privileges for psychology affect those who object or who are not interested in obtaining them? Is live-and-let-live a viable professional attitude to take on this issue? Will it matter one way or the other?
I hope that MSPP members will join us in exploring these kinds of questions on this issue as well as exploring questions on all the other issues of the day in psychoanalytic psychology. I invite members to not only come to meetings, but to also write letters to the editor, book reviews, or articles on this issue or any issue relevant to psychoanalytic psychology. Let your ideas be known.