During discussions at a workshop for members of The College, on matters relating to state-regulation, we focused upon issues that currently face psychoanalysis and its practitioners. We also had an eye towards the international conference planned for 31st March and felt it useful to revisit the historical issue of the relationship between psychoanalysis and the state in different parts of the world, including our own. Whilst not directly focussing upon state regulation, as the conference does, we did not doubt that this issue would become the major theme of the debate: a debate that took place on many levels, as reflected by the presentations by Darian Leader and Ian Parker (the text of both of which is set out hereafter) as well as by Sian Ellis, all three members of the Board of Governors. They give a picture of the current interaction between the state and the profession, as we move toward regulation with a proposed date of 2008.

This, then, is an 'interesting time', full of difficulty and complexity, much as the Chinese curse implies. I think the views expressed on that occasion, illustrate well the current picture and open the ground for debate that will lead us into the international public conference on this topic and, hopefully, inform the process of regulation by the state, which now appears to be advancing towards implementation. The pieces cover the difficulties with regulating psychoanalysis, as opposed to other more 'objective' psychotherapies, which may not take the same philosophical views as psychoanalysis. There are also issues about the general philosophical and ethical context within which this pressing question is located and the practicalities of professional regulation post the mapping exercise and pre the Foster review. Darian Leader's article explores the notion of state regulation of psychoanalysis and the conflicts that arise for the project, when examined more than superficially. Ian Parker outlines an argument for ethics from a psychoanalytic perspective which rejects, as a betrayal, a rigid and dogmatic bureaucratic framework for regulation of psychoanalytic practice, as seen from the perspective of Alain Badiou. Sian Ellis presented the political scene as it stood on the 12th of November 2005 which is fully set out elsewhere in Latest News on this website.

From my perspective, there was in the room much of the indignation and weariness that has been my own experience of this process towards regulation for the few years that I have been involved with it. It has been a process full of naked and not so naked power struggles, born out of the profession's formalisation and its associated fears. For me, it is not without note that this particular process is set in the context of the regulation and power struggles right across the healthcare field, from complementary therapy practice to reformation of the GMC. My view is that psychoanalysis holds a particularly interesting and insightful position in this general discourse, especially if one were to take the view that what differentiates psychoanalysis from psychotherapy is an intent to analyse and come to know the nature of human experience and suffering. Therefore, this intent is not to focus upon cure of symptoms but on the underlying causes of symptoms. This is a perspective which both Ian Parker and Darian Leader take and this would lead to a view of psychoanalysis, not as a healthcare product but as a method of enquiry; a means of understanding our experiences such as, for instance, the on-going one of professional regulation and its turf wars. I fear, however, as with all political endeavours, the creativity of this voice might be lost under the dogma of allegiance, splitting and politicking.

Whilst no doubt becoming a player in this political dance, The College has offered the opportunity for this voice to be heard more clearly. On the pages of this website, as in the debate of our recent workshops, we can see the discussions about these issues from many perspectives; not only political but also philosophical.

I hope the following pieces will provoke interest and I urge those so stimulated to explore elsewhere in this website: to become informed in the debate, particularly via Latest News. I would also draw the attention of members of The College to Members' Colloquium which is shortly to offer them the opportunity for the debate to be carried on in a live web-based format. Members will then be able to post their own views for discussion there. Non-members, like members, can nevertheless submit their own views for publication in Professional Forum. It is hoped that these two facilities will prove to be valuable tools in facilitating this debate, as well as many others in the field of psychoanalysis.

Jason Wright

Member of the Board of Governors

To access the PRESENTATION BY DARIAN LEADER, please click here.

To access the PRESENTATION BY IAN PARKER, please click here.



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