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 at least annually to explore the dynamics of societal conflict.

Our Vision

We believe that solutions to entrenched large group conflict come about through sustained personal engagement of the people from those cultures.  The IDI’s dialogue efforts therefore include all perspectives in an effort to grasp the psychological, historical and psycho-political dynamics that underlay misperception, overreaction and polarization.  A forum for discussion, reflection and insight, the IDI tries to identify “entry points” for intervention toward the goal of taming enemy images, clarifying irrational thinking, initiating empathy between opposing groups, and bridging severe splits.

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Our Mission

IDI’s mission is to understand the contribution of past trauma and current large group identity anxieties to disturbed relationships between communities and nations.  The IDI also develops interventions aimed toward facilitating deeper discussion between representatives from various cultures, toward the goal of learning about, and peaceful resolution of, emotionally-charged group differences.

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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, historically-based antagonisms contribute to conflict between communities and nations. Despite the real differences that exist between such large groups, psychologically informed dialogue can open the possibility for understanding and overcoming potential distortions and stereotyped reactions.

The International Dialogue Initiative examines large group differences in an attempt to understand the psychological perspectives, obstacles and dynamics — for example, the effects of past trauma on present international relations — that make realistic peacemaking discussions difficult.  It 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.

Our Most Recent Meeting

Berlin, Germany - December 02 2016 - December 04 2016


The Fourteenth Meeting of the International Dialogue Initiative (IDI) was held in Berlin from December 2 to December 4, 2016.  The IDI was hosted in the Kreuzberg neighbourhood by BAU International Berlin, a campus of the Bahçeşehir University Global Network.  The IDI has previously been hosted at Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul.  This was the IDI’s … Read More

Leadership

Vamık D. Volkan

Vamık D. Volkan, M. D., DLFAPA, FACPsa, is the founder and President Emeritus 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 … Read More

Gerard Fromm

Gerard Fromm, Ph.D., President of the IDI, is a Senior Consultant to the Erikson Institute for Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center.  Formerly he was the Institute’s first Evelyn Stefansson Nef Director as well as the Director of the Center’s therapeutic community program.  He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale Child Study Center. Dr. … 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

Lord John Alderdice

John Alderdice, Vice-President of IDI (with Robi Friedman), played a significant role in the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. At that time he had been Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland for some 11 years and after the elections to the new Northern Ireland Assembly he stepped down … Read More

IDI Works Globally

IDI members typically carry out projects independently, sometimes in consultation with other members or organizations.

Tbilisi

In October 2014, IDI Members Dr. Frank Ochberg and Dr. Coline Covington presented at the Global Initiative on Psychiatry in Tbilisi, Georgia. Read more in our blog.

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Oxford

IDI Vice President Lord John Alderdice establishes the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Harris Manchester College. Read more in the 11th Meeting Report.

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Sarajevo

In May 2014, IDI Member Dr. Regine Sholz presented at the Trauma and Group Identity Conference in Sarajevo. Read more in our blog.

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Corrymeela

In June 2013 a subgroup of IDI members consulted with representatives of Northern Ireland society, including politicians, clergy, police and civic leaders in an effort to discover and frame the emotional obstacles in the way of better cooperation toward the overall good of the people of Northern Ireland. Read more in the 10th Meeting Report.

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Georgetown

IDI members Vamik Volkan and Gerard Fromm authored an article on dialogue in conflict resolution for the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Read more in our blog.

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Boston

IDI members presented at the International Psychoanalytic Association Annual Meeting in Boston, MA in 2015. Read more in our blog.

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Sofia

IDI President Emeritus Vamik Volkan presented on psychopolitical issues in Sofia, Bulgaria in November 2014. Read more in our blog.

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Los Angeles

IDI Fellow Senem Cevik became the UCLA campus representative of the Olive Tree Initiative, a university-based organization that promotes conflict analysis and resolution through rigorous academic preparation, experiential education and leadership development.

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Israel

Robi Friedman and others participated in a series of interventions in Israel in Summer 2016, including at a school and a kibbutz, and before applying the intervention model to an emerging political movement comprised of both Israeli Arabs and Jews.

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Washington, D.C.

IDI President Gerard Fromm will present at the Listening to Trauma Conference in Washington D.C. in October 2016.  Please see our blog for more details.

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Athens

IDI Fellow Regine Scholz organized the Third Annual International Summer School in Group Analysis, held in Athens, Greece in July 2016.  Please see the attached flyer for more information.

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Tbilisi

In October 2014, IDI Members Dr. Frank Ochberg and Dr. Coline Covington presented at the Global Initiative on Psychiatry in Tbilisi, Georgia. Read more in our blog.

View Project

Oxford

IDI Vice President Lord John Alderdice establishes the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Harris Manchester College. Read more in the 11th Meeting Report.

View Project

Sarajevo

In May 2014, IDI Member Dr. Regine Sholz presented at the Trauma and Group Identity Conference in Sarajevo. Read more in our blog.

View Project

Corrymeela

In June 2013 a subgroup of IDI members consulted with representatives of Northern Ireland society, including politicians, clergy, police and civic leaders in an effort to discover and frame the emotional obstacles in the way of better cooperation toward the overall good of the people of Northern Ireland. Read more in the 10th Meeting Report.

View Project

Georgetown

IDI members Vamik Volkan and Gerard Fromm authored an article on dialogue in conflict resolution for the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Read more in our blog.

View Project

Boston

IDI members presented at the International Psychoanalytic Association Annual Meeting in Boston, MA in 2015. Read more in our blog.

View Project

Sofia

IDI President Emeritus Vamik Volkan presented on psychopolitical issues in Sofia, Bulgaria in November 2014. Read more in our blog.

View Project

Los Angeles

IDI Fellow Senem Cevik became the UCLA campus representative of the Olive Tree Initiative, a university-based organization that promotes conflict analysis and resolution through rigorous academic preparation, experiential education and leadership development.

View Project

Israel

Robi Friedman and others participated in a series of interventions in Israel in Summer 2016, including at a school and a kibbutz, and before applying the intervention model to an emerging political movement comprised of both Israeli Arabs and Jews.

View Project

Washington, D.C.

IDI President Gerard Fromm will present at the Listening to Trauma Conference in Washington D.C. in October 2016.  Please see our blog for more details.

View Project

Athens

IDI Fellow Regine Scholz organized the Third Annual International Summer School in Group Analysis, held in Athens, Greece in July 2016.  Please see the attached flyer for more information.

View Project
LATEST BLOG POST

Drs. Vamik Volkan and Gerard Fromm present IDI work at the International Psychoanalytic University in Berlin

By David Fromm

On Monday, Dec. 5, following the 14th Annual Meeting of the International Dialogue Initiative, Drs. Vamik Volkan and Gerard Fromm made presentations to staff and students at the International Psychoanalytic University in Berlin, Germany.  The only university of its kind to receive International Psychoanalytic Association approval, IPU’s program prepares students at Bachelor’s and Graduate levels for a rigorous understanding of psychoanalytic theory, clinical practice and research. At the invitation of Prof. Dr. Martin Teising, President of IPU, and Prof. Dr. Andreas Hamburger, IDI leadership organized a program called Crucial Dialogues.  It began with a presentation by current IDI President Gerard Fromm on the history, makeup and tasks of the IDI.  He followed that with a description of an IDI intervention with political and civic leaders in Northern Ireland.  He described the major themes that emerged in the increasingly personal discussion and some of the major process moments.  He also described what looked like progressive movement in this at times stuck and conflictual group, and how one thinks about such movement from a psychoanalytic perspective. IDI President Emeritus Vamik Volkan then gave a presentation on the current difficult situation in Turkey and its historical background.  He discussed the long reign ofKeep Reading →

PREVIOUS BLOG POSTS

Vamik’s Room Wins Gradiva Award

By David Fromm

Vamik's Room, a cinematic masterwork by psychoanalyst and filmmaker Dr. Molly Castelloe which examines IDI Founder Vamik Volkan's central psychoanalytic ideas and theories on conflict resolution, has won the 2016 Gradiva Award for film.  Congratulations to Dr. Castelloe and all involvedKeep Reading →

IDI President Emeritus Vamik Volkan in Suomen Kuvalehti

By David Fromm

Journalist Katri Merikallio's interview with IDI President Emeritus Vamik Volkan about his psychopolitical views of present world affairs appeared in the October 21, 2016 issue of the Finnish journal Suomen Kuvalehti. Interested readers may read the entire article (in Finnish)Keep Reading →