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

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Institutions have existed and do exist in the world that have approached analytic education differently than the Consortium’s proposal. Such institutions successfully distinguish psychoanalysis from other professions. They respect the need for the best education while recognizing the uniqueness of analytic formation, making out of it a work in progress, a constant challenge. It would be fruitful for the Consortium to realize that, in the vast universe of psychoanalysis, the standards for training it proposes appear, first and foremost, to be notanalytical.

It is important, therefore, to reflect upon how the idea of a monopoly on the regulation of analytic standards of training could be beneficial and ask if it would not, in fact, lower the quality of training rather than the contrary. At any rate, doesn’t this idea of a monopoly jeopardize the principles of psychoanalysis (and, for that matter, of democracy), grounded as they are on singularity, differences, pluralism? Should we foresee the establishment of an antitrust regulation to protect quality and variety in the field of psychoanalysis?

I will conclude these remarks by recalling Freud’s recommendation: analytic education cannot be limited to the medical domain but must include several humanistic disciplines. As Freud writes to Ferenczi (7), the emphasis on medical training can only be viewed as a mask concealing the most dangerous resistance to psychoanalysis. In addition to regular courses, seminars, workshops and working groups in psychoanalysis, an institute should offer — or request and supervise attendance in — courses not only in psychopathology, differential diagnosis, neurology, pharmacology, but also in linguistics, anthropology, philosophy, literature, art, epistemology, history of religion, law. And it should make sure that participants take an active role and engage in forms of intellectual production, rather than merely play the passive part of students learning their teachers’ words by rote. This broad field of differentiated disciplines will prepare the ground appropriately for the analyst’s listening to the subject’s discourse in all its cultural diversity and become the base for a psychoanalyst’s continuing education. The coming into being of an analyst as the result of an analysis can then be seen as only a first major step into a universe of learning that will accompany him/her throughout life.

In the field of psychoanalysis, theory can only be the outcome of a practice. In turn, theory will inform certain technical approaches that practice may then redefine, producing new theoretical advances, and so on. This loop of experience, of which theory is a consequence, compels the analyst to permanent production, to permanent creation – if s/he really wants to occupy the place s/he claims.

Not an easy choice for a “career”.

Dr. Paola Mieli
109 Third Avenue
New York, NY. 10003

January 2003