Politics As Usual?

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Posted November 11, 2007

Dear fellow psychoanalyst,

I do appreciate the effort you are making to read these messages. It’s the primary way you can learn about your future leaders and make your choices. By mutual agreement, your presidential candidates are not traveling around the country, and I can afford only one costly mailing to the entire membership. But the Election List has been a great vehicle for communicating with you openly and fully. I join the other candidate for President-Elect in urging you to cast your vote.

The other candidate has staked his campaign on the certification issue. While I think that issue is important, I firmly believe that there are more serious challenges to psychoanalysis today than certification and TA appointments. I believe you need a president who has that larger view and is not beholden to a vocal group that has fastened on the certification issue.

In that context, consider which of us is less involved in the “politics as usual” of APsaA. I have been a leader for almost 20 years in important committees of APsaA, starting with initiating serious, sustained governmental lobbying and marketing efforts and continuing with work on economic issues, documentation, and advocacy for privacy and confidentiality. However, my main organizational activities in the last fifteen years have been in the American Psychiatric Association. That was because I thought I could get the most traction there in dealing with the problems facing psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. The experience in APA has given me a fresh perspective.

What APA does affects psychoanalytic practice significantly. I gained rich experience in the top leadership of a large, highly influential professional organization, where I focused on restoring psychotherapy to its rightful place in American psychiatry and on establishing partnerships with the business leaders that control half of the health care economy. I have been credited with substantial success in those endeavors. More recently concentrating on APsaA, in ten months of this year I have led the Bylaws Committee in developing a complete set of bylaws amendments to eight articles that will bring us into full compliance with New York law after years of turmoil about that issue. With this background, I am ready to step into APsaA leadership.

In regard to certification, my position throughout has been that we should remove certification from the Bylaws as a requirement for the appointment of training and supervising analysts. I did not support the “Local Option” bylaws amendment because 1) I don’t think that prohibitions such as Local Option’s prohibition (against BOPS’ choosing to require it) belong in the bylaws, and 2) I have serious concerns about removing from the BOPS and APsaA the means to establish and maintain national standards. The institutes, collectively and democratically through their representatives in BOPS, should be free to decide whether or not to use either certification or alternate means as a basis for due diligence in the selection of the analysts who will provide candidates with their analytic experience, the most important part of becoming an analyst.

Psychoanalysis is a highly individualized endeavor. Institutes vary considerably. Peer review by a larger collective of analysts is a meaningful way to maintain a cohesive view of what psychoanalysis is and how best to impart it to future generations. I don’t believe that the APsaA will retain its stature in the public eye without a national perspective of scientific integrity and effective psychoanalytic work. Removing certification from the Bylaws as a requirement for TSA appointments (but not prohibiting it) would allow evolutionary change without sacrificing national coherence. In any case, it would be the essential first step in bringing about change. It would require a process of negotiation and consensus-building in an atmosphere of good will in order to muster the votes to pass a bylaws amendment. Coming from neither of the entrenched, opposing sides, I believe that I am in the best position to foster that process.

Please browse this website for more thoughts on the issues, or call me at home, 216-371-4373, if you’d like to discuss this or any other concern.

Norman A. Clemens, Candidate for President-Elect

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