APsaA Position

Nominee for the Office of  President-elect, American Psychoanalytic Association

Mark D. Smaller, Chicago; Douglas, Michigan

Position Statement

IMPASSES, OPPORTUNITES AND A SERIOUS NEW DIRECTION

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  Nelson Mandela

With 100 years behind us, the American Psychoanalytic Association is at a crossroad and needs a serious new direction if not a complete transformation.  Internal arguments can no longer cripple us, leading many members, active or estranged, to believe moving in such a direction is impossible.  I am running for President because I believe that with the will of the membership APsaA can forward.  The majority of members want serious change.

With recommendations from our Strategic Plan in mind, consider the following:

Can we build on our greatest strength—an unwavering commitment to psychoanalysis while focusing on our members’ daily lives, practices, patients and communities?  We must commit in action to fresh ideas about the practice of analysis and psychotherapy; to real flexibility in educating new candidates; and to developing clinical skill based on supervision, personal analysis, curriculum, and the reliable case study method.  We must include newer research in our curricula, from neuropsychoanalysis, follow-up and effectiveness studies, and from other scientific fields.  I believe we can—now more than ever.

This new direction will embrace the application of psychoanalytic ideas in our communities where people are suffering.  Having presented in two Symposia at our June meeting in San Francisco—one on the impact of immigration enforcement on families and children, and the other on bullying,  the success of these programs convinced me that other members recognize that being a psychoanalyst in 2011 includes a commitment to this work outside of our offices.   Participating a week later in a conference, “Reducing Youth Violence,” in Pittsburgh produced similar results.  The needs of children, families, schools, returning veterans and communities continue to grow especially during a depressed economy.

We have a professional, if not moral obligation to contribute toward solutions to these critical issues.  

Our lobbying efforts must move far beyond self interest and practice concerns. Racism, homophobia, sexism, and bullying outside and within APsaA must be more thoughtfully addressed. Violence in our streets or international community must be APsaA’s  concern.  Learning from our community work will strengthen the clinical work we do behind our couches.  More importantly, such a commitment will interfere with our internal organizational preoccupations.  Of this I am absolutely certain.

This new direction must include addressing meaningful collegial connection to each other.   Anonymity promotes splitting and destructive behavior.  Familiarity breeds connection and cooperation.  As President-elect and President, I will make certain that people speak personally with each other—always.  Without this connection, successful meetings, strategic planning, and governance reform will not be enough for real change.   Let’s put to rest the fear of many that psychoanalysis will move forward without APsaA.

How?

With your input and support, I will work with the Executive Committee and Council/ Board of Directors, to move in this new direction.  All decisions will be organized around what will inspire and assist members in regaining enthusiasm and confidence in their psychoanalytic practices, and help institutes (recruitment, education, development) in a new world of practice.  APsaA will become the resource for creative ideas that work and facilitate successful local efforts.

Many new members have no idea that APsaA can be useful to them nor how they can contribute to APsaA.  This new direction moves us out of our current impasse.  

Yes, we are at an impasse.  In February our President Warren Procci reported that 100 members resigned during 2010. More troubling, 30 candidates during 2010 abandoned their training.  130 resignations are about 4 per cent of our voting membership.  Combine that with our aging membership, and without successful recruitment of new candidates, we will soon be out of business.  One midsize institute reported only one new candidate in 5 years.  Other smaller institutes could be forced to close down.  Change at a glacial pace is no longer an option.  

We are falling behind respected institutes outside APsaA.  An outdated TA system and curricula that exclude contemporary approaches to analysis and psychotherapy will be our demise.  It’s no surprise that prospective candidates seek training from other organizations.  We must overcome the perception that we are unwelcoming, old and inflexible regarding practice, education, and research.

After over 20 years working for APsaA chairing committees, co-chairing the former Committee on Foundations for 13 years, and running in two national campaigns, I have visited or been in touch with every local group in the country.  I am convinced that the majority of members wants serious change.  Impasses are opportunities that motivate me to work with others toward creative solutions.

Please join me to get done what many see as impossible.  I pledge that we will work together with thoughtfulness, reflection, transparency, respect and integrity.  Let me know your ideas about how we move forward, together (312.447.0605; marksmaller@gmail.com).  You can review my CV at: www.markdsmaller.com .

Thank you for your nomination.  I am humbled to be considered for a third time for national office, and remain inspired to serve you.  We can all agree—psychoanalysis, now more than ever!

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