Letter From Dr. Paola Mieli to Her Colleagues in the USA (1)

2 ..8

Psychoanalysts are rightfully concerned about the importance of transmitting psychoanalysis in the best possible way, guaranteeing the professional quality of psychoanalytic practice. They have an ethical duty in this regard: first, in relation to the individuals they prepare for the profession; second, in relation to their present and future patients; and third, in relation to the practice and dissemination of the analytic discourse itself. In this respect, psychoanalysts have every reason to claim their authority to establish the regulations of the very profession they practice, since no one outside the profession could fully grasp its complexity and particularity. Indeed, psychoanalysts have a duty to respond to the social reality in which they practice, and must themselves vouch for professional quality and ethical performance.

Over the years, psychoanalytic associations and institutions have fulfilled the task of providing analytic education, functioning from the first as an interface between individual training and social requirements. It is not clear why a single body responsible for the accreditation of training institutes according to the Consortium’s specific standards would now promote better training and provide guarantees of performance. Some colleagues may claim that standards of training in different institutes are too unequal and that certain institutes do not even apply what many consider to be basic requirements. If this preoccupation is truly central to the Consortium’s proposal, it would behoove us to examine the Consortium document more closely and reflect upon the standards it contains, as well as upon how those standards purport to improve the quality of analytic education.


Many comments could, of course, be made regarding the Consortium proposal. We will confine ourselves to just a few basic questions.

Any psychoanalyst belonging to the Freudian tradition cannot help but notice that the very requirement the creator of psychoanalysis considered to be the fundamental condition – the conditio sine qua non — for any possible approach to the formation of the analyst, is put in a secondary place by the Consortium, which gives priority to such issues as the “selection of candidates” and their “eligibility” (3) and “suitability for psychoanalytic education and training” (4). Only after discussing why and how a candidate is selected for training does the Consortium document mention “Psychoanalysis of candidates,” recommending a personal analysis “characterized by depth and intensity.” This order of things may indicate some of the reasons why psychoanalysts are so often dissatisfied with the outcome of the analytic standards they themselves have advocated.