Speech from the 17th International Symposium of the Group Analytic Society International  Berlin, 15- 19 August 2017

As the Editor of the New International Library of Group Analysis (NILGA) I am very pleased to help launch several new books, perhaps especially because I am a co-Editor of one of them and a co-author of chapters in it, and have also been extremely involved in the preparation of the final drafts of the other two books.

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How Group Thinking can help us engage with and resolve individual and social conflict

I was born in a country that experienced many wars and is in a state of protracted conflict with its neighboring countries. The region surrounding my country is torn by conflicts, wars, and atrocities. In other parts of the world, we witness conflicts that result in great human suffering. Within my country, there are also many different cultural groups and subgroups: Arabs and Jews, Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews, immigrants from Europe, Africa, and America, the religious and the secular. There is a continuous tension between these subgroups that sometimes erupts into open hostilities.

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Telling the Story of the Linked Self: A Journey in Psychoanalysis

IPI faculty members presented a number of panels, presentations, and precongress workshops at the International Psychoanalytical Congress in Buenos Aires in July 2017.  At one of those panels, David Scharff and Lea Setton invited Roberto Losso, Juan Tubert-Oklander and Joachim Pichon-Rivière, to join them in presenting the ideas and applications of the late Enrique Pichon-Rivière.  Later they gathered to celebrate the launch of their edited book The Linked Self in Psychoanalysis: The Pioneering Work of Enrique Pichon-Rivière edited by Roberto Losso, Lea Setton, and David Scharff, in English for the first time (London: Karnac 2017). Enrique’s ideas are so original, and his early development so fascinating, that I wanted to share them widely, especially with young people who haven’t a clue about what a therapist or psychoanalyst actually does, or how an analytic approach can help.  So I got the idea of writing the story of Enrique as a story to read to our children and grandchildren.

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How Mind is Embedded in Body which in turn is Embedded in the Interactive Social World

Enrique Pichon Rivière is probably the most important psychoanalyst most of us have never heard of. He wrote little, and all he did publish or that was recorded in the notes of his students and published by them was only – until now – published in Spanish. With the publication of this collection that Roberto Losso of Argentina, Lea Setton of Panama, and I have labored to make available in English, and with the introduction of one of his papers for the first time in English in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis immediately preceding the publication of this book, we hope that Pichon’s prescient and globally influential ideas will be restored to the recognition they so richly deserve.

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The Origins of Permission to Narrate

Vintage microphone

I’d just finished The World Within the Group (2014) and had several lines of research and chapter drafts that did not find a home in that book. So, without too much of a leap, I thought, why not give birth to a new set of essays?  The more I looked over what I had, I saw an emergent theme, that of human narration and voice, both within psychotherapy, and without, in the wider domain of culture. I just love the general idea that human beings are inherently literary creatures, whose motives, passions, and reasons are expressed in wonderful spontaneous metaphors, analogies, speech acts and stories. So, I guess, I granted myself ‘permission to narrate’, to explore such questions.

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How Society Shapes Who We Are


The Political Self explores how our social and economic contexts profoundly affect our mental health and well-being, and how modern neuroscientific and psychodynamic research can both contribute to and enrich our understanding of these wider discussions. It therefore looks both inside and outside—indeed one of the main themes of the book is that the conceptually discrete categories of “inner” and “outer” in reality constantly interact, shape, and inform each other. Severing these two worlds, it suggests, has led both to a devitalised and dissociated form of politics, and to a disengaged and disempowering form of therapy and analysis.

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Group Analysis as Meta-theory, Clinical and Social Practice, and Art

Bauhaus-Kandinskys-Shapes-Triangle circle square by Wassily kandinsky (1)

On Group Analysis and Beyond records my theoretical and clinical investigations in the domain of group analysis over the past two decades. Its chapters fall into four main parts which re-evaluate the theoretical and meta-theoretical foundations of group analysis, and explore specific issues and phenomena as seen in the operation of the group-analytic group. The book also demonstrates how major mental disturbances such as eating disorders and psychosis can be effectively treated through group analysis, and examines the interrelations of group analysis with issues related to the social unconscious as well as with art, more specifically music.

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The Social Nature of Persons: One Person is No Person


By presenting a series of interconnected studies, effort is made to approach timely questions regarding the social nature of human beings. A new part of the structural theory of the personality is presented, called “nos”.  Instead of attempting a definition at the beginning, it is more expressive of our subject if slowly, chapter by chapter some of it emerges, always from a specific viewpoint. Such method may not satisfy some disciplined minds, as it lacks a tightly organised frame in which everything duly falls into its place. I want to introduce the subject not only from an intellectual viewpoint, but allow relevant feelings to come in also. The result awakens not only our logic, but hopefully the whole person.

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