Workshops for Members on State Regulation – An Introduction By Jason Wright

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.