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 of the Ottoman Empire and its eventual fall, both events intertwined in the Turkish psyche as its “chosen glory” and “chosen trauma.” He discussed the singular importance of Kemal Ataturk and his astonishing success in bringing Turkey into the Western world as a secular democracy. He described the re-awakening of strong religious sentiments during the last two decades in this country and provided information about external and internal influences for what is happening. Dr. Volkan explained how religious feelings can be mobilized for political purposes and how historical grievances based on religion can collapse present into past, which is one aspect of what he describes as societal regression.
The presentations were followed by an enthusiastic discussion, which included some comments from audience members who had been participants or observers at the IDI meeting earlier that week. The IDI is very grateful for having been given this opportunity to engage with such a lively psychoanalytic community.