Understanding The Other Through Psychologically-Informed Dialogue

The International Dialogue Initiative (IDI) aims to facilitate dialogue between representatives from various large groups, states and cultures for the purpose of learning about differences in perspective and finding peaceful solutions to intergroup relationship problems.

Who We Are

The International Dialogue Initiative is a private, international, multidisciplinary group comprised of psychoanalysts, academics, diplomats, and other professionals who meet on a biannual basis to examine large group differences, and the emotionally charged perception of those differences, for the purpose of understanding the effect of past trauma on present concerns and the contribution of large group identity anxieties to divisiveness and conflict.

Our Vision

The IDI is aimed at facilitating a process of deepening discussion between representatives from various cultures, with particular focus on the cultures and conflicts of the Middle East, for the purpose of learning together about these differences in perspective….

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Our Mission

Any proposed global solutions to entrenched large group conflict that bypass the careful and detailed engagement of people from different cultures will be ultimately unworkable. The IDI’s dialogue efforts therefore include all perspectives in an effort to grasp the psychological…

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What We Do

In the 21st Century, understanding the “other” presents itself as perhaps the major difficulty in the field of diplomacy and international relations. Misunderstanding, polarizing language and reflexive, often historical, antagonisms contribute to conflict between communities and nations. Although real differences exist between such large groups, psychologically informed dialogue opens the possibility for understanding and overcoming potential distortions and stereotyped reactions. The International Dialogue Initiative examines large group differences in an attempt to understand psychological perspectives, obstacles and dynamics — for example, the effects of past trauma on present international relations — that make realistic peacemaking discussions difficult. The Initiative aims to facilitate dialogue between representatives from various large groups, states and cultures for the purpose of learning about differences in perspective and finding peaceful solutions to intergroup relationship problems.

what we do in IDI what we do in IDI

Our Next Meeting

Oxford, United Kingdom - September 30 2015 - October 02 2015

The 13th Annual Meeting of the International Dialogue Initiative will take place from 30 September – 2 October 2015 at Harris Manchester College, Oxford University (UK).


Vamık D. Volkan

Vamık D. Volkan, M. D., DLFAPA, FACPsa, is the founder and President of the International Dialogue Initiative.  He was born to Turkish parents in Cyprus. Before coming to the United States in 1957 he received his medical education at the School of Medicine, University of Ankara, Turkey. He is an Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at … Read More

Lord John Alderdice

John Alderdice, Vice President of the IDI (with Robi Friedman), was born in Northern Ireland in 1955. He qualified in medicine at Queen’s University, Belfast in 1978 and specialised in psychiatry becoming a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRCPsych) in 1983, FRCPsych in 1997 and Hon FRCPsych in 2001. He joined Northern Ireland’s Alliance … Read More

Robi Friedman

Robi Friedman, PhD. Clinical Psychologist and Group Analyst, President of the Group Analytic Society (International), is Vice President of the IDI (with Lord John Alderdice).  He is a co–founder of the Israeli Institute of Group Analysis and its current President; Past-President of the Israeli Association for Group Psychotherapy. He writes on dreamtelling and relational disorders, works … Read More

IDI Works Globally

IDI members engage on conflict resolution issues around the world


IDI Panel To Present At Upcoming IPA Congress (Boston, July 2015)

By David Fromm

The International Psychoanalytic Association’s 49th Congress, entitled Changing World: The Shape and Use of Psychoanalytic Tools Today, will take place at the World Trade Center in Boston, Massachusetts from July 22 to 25, 2015.  As part of the 49th Congress, four IDI members -- Vamık Volkan, Gerard Fromm, Edward Shapiro and Ford Rowan -- will make a panel presentation about the International Dialogue Initiative, discussing the IDI's methodology, findings and interventions.  The panel will discuss IDI observations about the contribution of large group identity anxieties to divisiveness and conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere, about understanding the effect of past trauma on present concerns, and about what developed when IDI members met with different political party officials and others for a dialogue in Northern Ireland. The panel will focus on how psychoanalysts can collaborate effectively with others from different professions and cultures and contribute to diplomacy and world affairs. Finally, the panel will discuss how world affairs can be studied from a psychoanalytic angle in a multidisciplinary, multicultural and multireligious setting and how such studies can be utilized for understanding and reducing the obstacles to peaceful solutions to societal conflict.  Learn more about the IPA's 49th Congress here. Unless otherwise noted, IDI Blog Posts represent theKeep Reading →


IDI President Dr. Vamik Volkan Presents in Washington, D.C. on the Psychology of Terrorism

By David Fromm

On January 13, 2015, Dr. Volkan gave a presentation at the Department of Energy in Washington, DC on the psychology of terrorism and terrorists. Dr. Volkan's presentation used many concepts from large-group psychology, such as chosen trauma, chosen glory, entitlement ideology, and theKeep Reading →

IDI President Vamik Volkan Presents on Psychopolitical Issues in Sofia, Bulgaria

By David Fromm

On November 20, 2014, IDI President Dr. Vamik Volkan was the guest of the Bulgarian Diplomatic Academy at the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry in Sofia, Bulgaria. He spoke about the importance of psychoanalytic political psychology in expanding the horizons of diplomaticKeep Reading →