Letter from Eldad Iddan,
President of IAPSP

by  Eldad Iddan

Dear IAPSP Members,

I wish to begin with expressing my profound appreciation and gratitude to Shelley Doctors, whose term as IAPSP's president can be marked as a very active one of struggling to reach out and attract many new and younger members worldwide, initiating innovative activities, and taking advantage of possibilities offered by the Internet to engage our community in an ongoing, enriching interchange. She succeeded in recruiting gifted and enthusiastic members that are too many to list here, to whom we are all indebted for their time and great work. I think Shelley's has been a term of remarkable forward steps in the mission of disseminating Self Psychology to the professional community all over. I hope to be able to follow her vision and continue her many initiatives.

Wishing to preserve Shelley's initiative of appointing two executive coordinators, to assist the president, I have asked Amy Eldridge from Chicago to serve another term as the North-American executive coordinator, and asked Martin Gossmann from Berlin, to step in as the international coordinator. I thank them both for accepting. I am glad to have them on board with me.

This is my first letter to you as the incoming president of our organization. Personally, of course, I am awed by the honor and moved by the trust expressed by your having elected me for the part. I am grateful for it. Thanks to the international council's decision to hold our annual meetings once every four years outside the U.S, we are looking forward to the ones that will be held in Vienna in 2018, and in Vancouver in 2019. This, along with my being the first non-North-American president, represents IAPSP's ongoing effort to become a truly international organization, which Shelley had surely considered a priority.

With the cause of internationalizing IAPSP in mind, Shelley had advocated increasing the use of our website as a means of reaching out and making wider contact. For a considerable period now, Doris Brothers had spearheaded the eForum, aided by Annette Richard, Carol Mayhew, Eileen Paris, to name a few. Judith Rustin and Brenda Solomon pioneered our web Journal club, a new edition of which is about to take place later this month.

However, I feel there is lot more that can and should be done in this respect. Shelley, George Hagman, chair of the institutes committee, and I, have met with members of a newly forming group from China. We already have several active groups worldwide: in Brazil, Italy, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Japan, South-Africa, Australia, and Israel. These groups had invited distinguished members of our community to teach and lecture in their respective countries. Many of their members had devotedly attended our conferences annually, despite the long travelling distances, and considerable financial effort involved. They have published their work, presented, discussed, and moderated in the conferences.

Yet, we have to realize that we are still an Americano-centric organization, and as an organization we have not done enough to reach out to our international members and groups, making them really feel at home with us; nor have we sufficiently involved them in planning our activities and participating in them more extensively. How should we understand the fact, that U.S. members' attendance in Antalya and Jerusalem was so significantly lower than that in the U.S. conferences? To me it feels as though too many of the Americans are less committed to the internationalization of IAPSP, and are less willing to make the kind of effort, which the Non-American do make, and which seems to be taken for granted.

There do exist initiatives by some of our affiliate groups to cooperate and create ongoing joint seminars, like the one between IPSS in New York and the Vienna circle, or the one between the Vienna circle and the Israel Self Psychology association. There are probably others I am not aware of, but if there are, they are individual ventures, not something that IAPSP as an organization promotes and assists as part of its vision and policy.

It is up to all of us to change this. It is up to us to reach out, develop cooperative initiatives. For one thing, we should see to it that future conferences planning committees comprise of representatives from worldwide groups. From my own experience, I know this is absolutely doable.

There is another crucial point that I would like to raise. Self-Psychology has greatly evolved in many new and fascinating directions. Nowadays it interacts with neighboring perspectives, various disciplines, and is inspired by them. There is a flourishing interest in infant and attachment research, and its implications for clinical practice. The ties with relational psychoanalysis are becoming constantly closer; ideas from complexity theory are being embraced and assimilated into our thought and practice; fascinating developments in neuroscience are being imported into our perspective and attempts are being made to integrate them into our thinking, and use them to "scientifically" validate some of our theoretical cornerstones. This is all very exciting, and in some ways heeds Kohut's plea against dogmatism and in favor of openness to new horizons. After all, he himself tried to understand and explain historical events, personalities of leaders and artists; delved into art, literature and music. But it is my impression that somewhere along the way Kohut seems to have faded somehow. Bruce's wonderful memorial lecture this year was an exception. Where have time honored Self-Psychological concepts such as selfobject experience, selfobject needs, mirroring, idealization gone? A few years ago there even was talk of changing the very name of our organization and dropping the term 'self-psychology' altogether.

Now, let me be very clear about this. I am not at all against new and exciting directions. Nor do I overlook the potential they hold for fertilizing and enriching our paradigm. In short, I am not advocating a conservative-separatist stance per se that is deaf and blind to new forms and discoveries, one that excludes innovative thought and action. I fear, however, that in the effort to accommodate new trends and adjusting our theory to them, we risk diluting its uniqueness and its revolutionary contribution to psychoanalysis. Human psyche is intricate and multifaceted. Self-Psychology cannot, and indeed should not, pretend to address all its versatility and endless hues. At the same time, when one returns to Kohut's papers and books, rediscovers his Chicago lectures, his vast correspondence, one cannot help realizing that we are far from having exhausted all the richness of his pioneering thought, the innovativeness of his oeuvre. It is invaluably unique, and there is still a lot to be learned from it before we leave it behind. Is it not a troubling fact to find that training programs do not have Kohut's own writings in their curriculae, and have books and articles attempting to simplify Kohut's instead. As a saying goes - when one loses touch with one's past, one risks having a rootless future, or having no future at all.

In the fall of 2018 we will convene in Vienna, Kohut's birthplace. I pray that in more than one way this would mark a return to Kohut himself.

In the meantime, please, stay in touch, post and share your work on our website, let us know what you are doing, watch the exciting videos, and take part in the Internet activities and interchanges on the various listservs. We can thus be connected, and keep our organization lively and active all around the year.

With my warmest regards to you all,
Eldad Iddan
IAPSP President



The IAPSP eForum is the online forum of the International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. Edited by Doris Brothers, Ph.D.


Editor's Introduction  

by Doris Brothers

Letter from the President

by Eldad Iddan

Our Creative IAPSP Community

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