It is a true honor for me to enter my term as the executive director when the institute is a robust and vibrant community—which is not a small thing, given the general zeitgeist around psychoanalysis. Against the current that predicts psychoanalysis’ death, our institute continues to thrive, gradually incorporating new ideas and new directions. In recent years psychoanalysis has been confronted with many challenges from within our disciplines and from outside, ultimately threatening our survival as a psychoanalytic community. Psychoanalysis was kicked out of academic institutions because it is considered “not scientific enough.” And there are many attempts to kick it out of clinical practice as well because psychoanalytic treatment takes too long; its goals are too vague, if achievable at all; and it’s too expensive, making it accessible only for the elite and affluent. In this atmosphere, as psychoanalysts practicing in the solitude of our offices, it is hard to hold onto a sense of competence and efficacy, and it is easy to lose sight of the fact that what we do is important and effective work that can benefit everyone, not only the rich and high-functioning. In the midst of our epic battle for recognition and legitimacy, a supportive and rigorously reflective community that affirms our professional identity and boosts our ability to articulate what we do is more important than ever before.
As the challenges of our profession are unique and complex, I am acutely aware that a vigorous psychoanalytic institute like SIPP is crucial in providing both a holding and facilitating environment to mental health practitioners who are deeply committed to providing high-quality care. There is no other profession where a practicing expert is required to go through extensive training and at the end be advised to “not know.” No other skilled practitioner is being directed to enter a professional consultation without knowledge or desire, or to be emotionally present while bracketing his or her own subjectivity. No other specialist is required on one hand to draw from his or her executive resources and initiative to open and maintain a thriving practice, but at the same time value a professional stance of being rather than doing, and holding rather than fixing. All this for the sole purpose of providing the optimal therapeutic environment that facilitates our patients’ growth and development. It is not surprising that psychoanalysis was labeled the “impossible profession.” As psychoanalysts we need to constantly navigate these confusing and contradictory demands and tolerate the tension inherit in existing in this twilight, transitional space. This delicate way of working can only be achieved through an ongoing learning and self-reflection, which SIPP has been nurturing throughout the years.
SIPP has been deeply committed to these important undertakings and continues to build on the foundations that were set by our founding professionals while remaining loyal to the town- hall nature of our community. I look forward to the productive and enriching years which lie ahead and encourage all mental health professionals to participate in the diverse educational and collegial programs that SIPP offers.
With great appreciation,
Dr. Amira Simha-Alpern