Experienced leadership, an activist orientation, and a meaningful agenda for action

Position Statement

Robert L. Pyles M.D., F.I.P.A.

Much has been written in the IPA Newsletter about the “Crisis in Psychoanalysis.” That crisis is real and growing. All of North America, Europe, and Latin America are now facing what we experienced earlier in the United States — declining numbers of psychoanalytic patients and candidates, and increasing intrusion by government regulators and third party payers. I believe the IPA can and must play a critical role in addressing this worldwide psychoanalytic crisis.

Certainly, the IPA should continue its excellent work in setting educational standards, in promoting research, and organizing scientific congresses. I bring knowledge and experience to this area, having been on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for 30 years, and having served as chair of the Education Committee at my Institute.

Our Changing Role

Like the IPA, the dual functions of the American Psychoanalytic Association traditionally had been to set educational standards and organize scientific meetings. However, of necessity, because our crisis started earlier, our Association has transformed itself into a body remarkably effective in its outreach to our public and professional communities, and in influencing the political process in Washington, DC.

For four years, as president-elect and then as president of the American Psychoanalytic Association, and now again as president-elect, I helped lead this effort. My special area of expertise has been in helping our Association to become an increasing force in shaping government policy to protect our patients and our profession. As co-chair of NAPsaC, I am continuing this mission with colleagues in CIPS and the Canadian Societies to forge a strong North American alliance and a stronger IPA.

My extensive IPA experience has included two terms on the Board, and many committee assignments, including chair of the Education Work Group, which introduced the “Three Models” concept, creating flexibility in educational practices.

A Meaningful Agenda for Action

I favor an ambitious and progressive organizational agenda for the IPA. This agenda should include ongoing study of our educational practices, expansion of existing scientific and research programs, plus major new initiatives to better promote and protect psychoanalysis in the world at large. In brief, we should:

  • Promote educational policies that balance the values of organizational cohesion, creativity for our Societies, and educational rigor as exemplified in the “Three Models” plan;
  • Work to further representative democracy in IPA governance;
  • Expand collaborative and interregional research projects and programs of clinical study;
  • Expand the IPA's public information and public relations capability by engaging psychoanalytic thinkers and professional public relations experts to develop public information campaigns and materials for use on websites, media relations, and lobbying efforts;
  • Develop vigorous strategies, tailored to each region and country, to protect and promote our profession through coordinated programs of public information, lobbying, and advocacy; and
  • Develop closer relationships with neighboring disciplines and professions, including joint research and educational activities and jointly sponsored journals that bring psychoanalysis to the awareness of other groups.

IPA: House of Delegates, 1994-1998; Consultant, Ad Hoc Committee on Structure and Mission (SAM), 1999-2002; “Three Wise Men” (Group on Governance), 2003; Vice-President, North America, 2001-03; Regional Representative, 2003-2006, Executive Committee, 2003-2006; Chair, Education Work Group, 2003-2005. APsaA: Councilor-At-Large, 1994-96, 2003-2007; President-elect, 1996-98; President, 1998-2000; Chair, Governmental Relations, 2000-2010; President-elect, 2010-12, President-2012-. Psychoanalytic Institute of New England, East: Training and Supervising Analyst, 1987-; Psychoanalytic Society of New England, East: Founding member and first President, 1990-93; Mass. Psychiatric Society: President-2007.

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Robert L. Pyles, MD

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