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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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 Next Meeting

- January 01 1970 - January 01 1970


The Fifteenth Meeting of the International Dialogue Initiative will take place in Vienna, Austria, between 8-10 December 2017.

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.

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

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

Making Us Great Again? IDI Fellow Dr. Coline Covington Speaks in NYC on October 24 as Part of “A Psychoanalytic Discussion on Populism”

By David Fromm

Dr. Colin Covington, a longtime member of the International Dialogue Initiative, is scheduled to speak as part of a psychoanalytic discussion of populism on October 24, 2017 in New York City.  The New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, which is hosting the event, describes it as follows: The presenters will discuss the political dynamics of populism from a psychoanalytic perspective. They will stress the group's sense of vulnerability and fear and the powerful role the populist leader plays for the group within this psychological state. A charismatic leader is chosen who promises to make the group powerful, perverting the truth by promoting "alt-facts" which fit into the fantasy life of the leader and group. Two approaches are discussed: (1) understanding how vulnerable groups attempt to deal with traumatic experiences by utilizing maladaptive defense mechanisms, such as denial and projection, in order to protect themselves from unbearable negative emotions and (2) understanding that when a large group's survival and identity are under threat, individual mindfulness is dissolved in the service of defending against the experience of loss and trying to restore a sense of potency within the group.  Please note: the presenters will allow ample time for discussion with each other andKeep Reading →

PREVIOUS BLOG POSTS

Lord John Alderdice on Process, Purpose and “Being in the World.”

By David Fromm

From the personal website of IDI Vice President Lord John Alderdice: Why has this generation dropped the baton…..? On the long and winding road of the Northern Ireland Peace Process the most important lesson we learned was that such intractable, violent,Keep Reading →

Vamik’s Room: Documentary Film Trailer Available for View

By David Fromm

A new trailer for Vamik's Room, the 2016 Gradiva Award-winning documentary from filmmaker Molly Castelloe, is now available for view here.  The IDI sends congratulations to all involved in this important film.