Introduction: En Route to the Edge

Beverley Zabriskie
(Congress Program Chair)
New York, USA
Jungian Psychoanalytic Associaton

Every three years, the membership of the IAAP gathers for its international forum. For this Sixteenth IAAP congress, seven hundred twenty interested professionals have come to Barcelona from more than forty countries for a week of conversation, exchange of ideas, and the pleasure of collegial company.

We last convened in Cambridge in August of 2001. The theme of that Congress was, as you remember, “2001.” It was informed by our hopes that humanity might make a turn into a more progressive century and millennium.

The 2004 Program Committee first met to discuss this week’s event on the last day in Cambridge. Just three weeks later, our world was wakened to new awareness of a violent edge on September 11, 2001. By the time the Program Committee met in Barcelona in February of 2002, only six months later, August 2001 seemed a moment of naive optimism. We had the shock of the synchronous, when Pere Segura, chair of the Organizing Committee, led us to the flame of Barcelona’s central memorial, commemorating this city’s historical defeat nearly three hundred years ago, on September 11, 1714.

As we considered this Congress in the world context, it was apparent that in the name of power and protest, the use of force and violence were hardening the lines and sharpening the edges between nations, cultures and belief systems. In the absence of self–reflection and empathy in our national and tribal collectives, we remarked on the denial of the psyche as an experiential fact, a projective field, and an agent of reality.

As Jungian analysts, depth psychoanalysts, and as citizens of the world, the realities of humankind’s countless crises and continual travesties informed our thoughts as we considered our Congress theme. We spoke of memory, in the consulting room, in relationships, in international affairs: how memory of the past can either prevent, or justify, further ill; how memory is essential to avoid reflexive reactions and painful repetitions, but also, how memory can rigidify in obsession and the compulsion to revenge.

We spoke of emergence as a progressive frontier, a sought value and pursued goal, and as possible new syntheses that could transcend the sum of all kinds of old opposites. We imagined emergent phenomena in the field between analyst and analysand, in the coagulation of professional theories and collegial relationships, in international prospects. We mourned that impasse among nations was being reinforced and idealized. We mused that from an emergent perspective, edges are to be acknowledged, approached, crossed, and transcended for the sake of contact, exchange, and expansion.

How many analysts, you might ask, are required to choose a Congress theme? In our case, it took thirteen: Ann Casement from England, Danila Crespi, in the United States via Italy and Venezuela, Bob Hinshaw from Switzerland, Toshio Kawai from Japan, Kirstin-Oldfelt Ekeus from Sweden, Jorge Rasche from Germany, Marta Tibaldi from Italy, and Pere Segura of Spain who also chaired the local organizing committee that has made our presence here possible. We were joined by the IAAP officers, Christian Gaillard from France, Hester Solomon from England, Denise Ramos from Brazil, and Joseph Cambray from the United States, with Murray Stein ex officio.

In the IAAP Newsletter, its dedicated editor Jan Marlan revealed that these thirteen analysts from ten countries discussed a possible theme for an entire morning before agreeing on an English Congress title. We then had to make sense of the title “Edges of Experience: Memory and Emergence” in the five official Congress languages for our call for papers.

As we drew closer to the time of our meeting, the invasion of Iraq and deathly bombings in Madrid testified to the absence of international dialogue, empathy, and reflective memory. The seeming failure of moral imagination from all directions brought more of the world more to an edge.

The chosen theme struck a nerve. In the summer of 2002, we received 250 responses to our call for papers, fifty percent more than for previous congresses. We are especially grateful to all who submitted proposals. During the panel on “Perspectives and Prospectives,” I will review the current emphases and interests of Analytical Psychology as seen in these 250 submissions.

Having already translated the many letters and announcements you received from us as Committee members, our spectacular IAAP Secretary, Ursula Egli, and friends like Eva Pattis, then translated the proposals for those of us who suffer severe language deficits.

During a November, 2002, weekend in New York, we discussed and took as many presentations as fit into the time and space available. Since January of 2003, the program has been in formation. We thank those who have since spent so many months preparing for their part in the program.

Professional conferences provide expansive contact at the edges – between persons, energies, ideas, thoughts, and modes of practice. Exposure of one’s limits, the relativising of one’s authority, and the embrace of alternatives is seen as opportunity. Presenters and participants are willing to share first hand experience, the courage of convictions, and the doubts which lead to new information and innovation.

An International Congress introduces colleagues from many countries and cultures, who engage with patients in different tongues. Here in Barcelona, we have five official languages, but we come from 40 different countries. For the sake of more collegial exchange among presenters and members from the floor, we have no assigned respondents.

We do share a professional language, and also an engagement with the multi-valenced language of psychic dialogue across the moving edge between the conscious and unconscious. Our professional tongues are often difficult to translate.

For this Congress, special effort and attention has been given to providing excellent translations. We owe a worthy debt to Danila Crespi for reviewing the papers to be translated, and translating our profession’s terminology for the interpreters. This allows exchange among colleagues about the work as it is pursued in other countries.

We are focusing on other edges – between body and psyche, between image and word – thanks to the efforts of others. Joan Chodorow co-ordinated the pre Congress workshop and the Thursday afternoon event, “The Moving Imagination.” Curators Ami Rommberg and Patricia Sohl of ARAS, the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbols, have mounted an exhibition of images from its symbolic dictionary project. ARAS has also arranged for a demonstration of its digital project by ARAS Board member Jeff Lewinsky throughout the Congress.

The special program, “In the Footsteps of Eranos,” honors the other dialogue which meant much to Jung, the fertilizing edge of exchange between Jungian analysts and scholars at the Eranos Roundtable in Ascona. We will revive the Eranos tradition with some of the scholars who presented at Eranos – Hayao Kawai from Japan, David Miller from the United States, and Giles Quispel from the Netherlands, after a slide presentation from Paul Kugler.

For our evening programs, we welcome director Elisabeth Márton and her film, Ich hiess Sabina Spielrein. We are also pleased to present the historian Sonu Shamdasani, General Editor of the Philemon Foundation, who will speak of its project to publish Jung’s unpublished works in the context of his lecture, “Jung in History.”

Every endeavor has a secret alchemical glue. Our fabric has been held together by the IAAP Secretary Ursula Egli, to whom we owe and happily give our most appreciative thanks. We all are grateful to Don Williams, our stalwart IAAP Webmaster, who keeps us informed and connected as an international community between our Congresses.

You may remember we ended in Cambridge with the splendid diagnosis of that Congress by Roberto Gambini of Brazil. Roberto will open the scientific program of this Congress, with his introduction of our keynote speaker, James Hillman. So, now, with appreciation and thanks to all, let the IAAP Sixteenth Congress begin.