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 Next Meeting

Berlin, Germany - December 02 2016 - December 04 2016


The 14th Meeting of the International Dialogue Initiative will be held in Berlin, Germany on December 2-4, 2016.  The IDI will be hosted at the Berlin Campus of Bahcesehir University.  For more information, please contact the IDI via this website.

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.

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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.

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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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Understanding the Other Through Psychologically-Informed Dialogue

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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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
IMG_06001

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
DSC_91151_345x245_acf_cropped

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
IMG_0197

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
FullSizeRender

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
IMG_3851

Boston

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

View Project
Understanding the Other Through Psychologically-Informed Dialogue

Sofia

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

View Project
LATEST BLOG POST

IDI Board Meets in Stockbridge

By David Fromm

On February 22 and 23, 2016, the IDI Board met at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts to take up several issues relating to the group's work and future. IDI President Vamik Volkan began the meeting by announcing his intention to step down as President, and nominating Gerard Fromm to take his place.  Dr. Fromm accepted the nomination and the Board voted unanimously to confirm him.  The Board also voted to appoint Dr. Volkan as President Emeritus in recognition of his founding of, and ongoing contributions to, the IDI. The Board then presented the IDI and its work to the new CEO of the Austen Riggs Center, Dr. Andrew Gerber, and his staff, including Dr. Jane Tillman, Director of the Erikson Institute, and Dr. Donna Elmendorf, Erikson Institute liaison to the IDI.  The purpose of the presentation was to explore the ongoing relationship between the IDI, now a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and the Austen Riggs Center, particularly the Erikson Institute.  While by mutual agreement the IDI is no longer a formal project of the Erikson Institute, both groups felt a relationship between the mission of the IDI and the application task of the Erikson Institute.  The groups discussed how the IDIKeep Reading →

PREVIOUS BLOG POSTS

Lord Alderdice Reflects on Dialogue Parallels Between the Northern Ireland Peace Process and Israel/Palestine

By David Fromm

From Lord Alderdice’s personal blog dated August 2, 2014: “… It has been clear to me for some years that there was no prospect of an end to violence between Israel and the Palestinians without Israel talking to both FatahKeep Reading →

IDI Co-Chair Dr. Robi Friedman Reports on Group Relations Work “Applying a Model of Conflict Relations on a Village”

By David Fromm

IDI Co-Chair Dr. Robi Friedman offers a report on a project he and colleagues undertook recently in a community in the North of Israel, which is on the verge of violence over a conflict. From Dr. Friedman: As we encounteredKeep Reading →