Often psychoanalysts cluster locally around leaders and schools of thought. Too often also, local situations can trap creativity by being closed political hothouses. Changes of psychoanalytic technique, such as the move from relative informality through to the ‘blank screen’ developed in relation to specific conditions in New York and the USA. Ultimately, a field can grow from an open system in which individuals from a rich diversity of backgrounds and cultures carry out the work, and who are not stymied through parochial domination, but encouraged in their creativity. This implies fostering local and national flourishing in both the new and established territories of psychoanalysis.
There has been a major tension in psychoanalysis from its beginnings between the top-down imposition of authority and rigidly orthodox ‘standards’ in the psychoanalytic field and the creative individual and group endeavours at a local level. The International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) was tasked with determining what was and was not psychoanalysis, and who was and who was not a ‘real’ psychoanalyst. The method of transmission is through the power of the caste of those vested with the right to train. Inevitably, politics seizes a large part of the place of science when such issues are decided by fiat. Authoritarianism, even colonialism, plays its part in the spread of psychoanalytic ideas between and across countries. Yet the dissemination, development and work of psychoanalysis as both theory and practice takes place at a local level. This varies from country to country, from city to city, even from institute to institute. The history and development of psychoanalysis must be understood in its admixture of personalities and ideas. Many developments are culturally influenced, bearing the stamp of their time and place. Schools of psychoanalysis developed in different countries in different contexts: ego psychology in New York, self psychology in Chicago, the ‘Middle School’ and Klein in Britain, Lacan in France, etc.
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