Why This Election of the American Psychoanalytic Association is so Critical

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am writing to all members of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I’m writing to those of you tempted not to vote because you believe that ApsaA is not about you—your practice and experience as committed psychoanalysts.  Many of you have withdrawn, understandably feeling that APsaA belongs to a small number of members whose concerns are not yours.

APsaA belongs not to any group, but to you, its members. But only your vote can insure this, and with your support we can do this together.

If elected, I will work with the Executive Council, our Board of Directors, to represent all of our members. Working with one member of the Council at a time if necessary, I will make certain that members’ concerns are addressed with transparency and accountability.  Those who have known me during my more than 20 years in APsaA will attest that I build relationships in my office, in the community, with donors, and with fellow members, including those with whom I may have differences. In all cases, I am committed to our mission of treatment, education, service, and research.

All of us members are concerned for the future of psychoanalysis, but we have different ways of focusing our concerns. Some of us concentrate on the need to make significant changes in the way we interface with the rest of the world, lest we find that the best days of psychoanalysis are behind us. Others concentrate on protecting the educational procedures and standards of our glory days.  But preoccupation with one or the other of these poles can only leave APsaA further behind as opportunities for psychotherapy treatment and training continue to expand. We must concentrate on both — public awareness, and professional excellence.

We need to speak in one voice to the public’s interest in humane and meaningful psychotherapy, and to challenge the current reliance on (and disappointment with) “quick fixes” with our long track record of success. I have worked in public information efforts for most of my psychoanalytic career. I look forward to rejuvenating the private discourse among psychoanalysts about how to ensure the future of our field, and to create a new kind of discourse with the public about the value of what psychoanalysis has to offer.

Our candidates are worrying about their futures, and whether their training is worth the time, energy and cost.  I will propose that we take a more generative position toward them by establishing candidate voting representation on the Executive Committee and Council.  We can work together to make our curriculum more reflective of practice today, including excellence in psychotherapy.  That is the best way to “protect” our candidates and their future, and the future of our field.

Many analysts, especially those who choose not to become TA’s under our current system—feel marginalized in our association.  Yet these members make significant contributions to psychoanalysis in many areas, including research, community and hospital work, in academia, and more).  We need to take a more generative stance toward these full-fledged members as well.  After too many years of little appreciation, their contributions must finally be recognized. I will speak for them.

We can develop fruitful relationships with academic and with graduate and residency programs only if our institutes are open to new ideas—in science, philosophy, and research as well as psychoanalysis.  An attitudinal change is required.  I want to work with the BOPS to facilitate that new attitude and consensus about how best to implement it.

As Director of the Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation, I proved my skills as a fundraiser for research. I will make APsaA an essential resource for local groups to strengthening development.  Creating programs that appeal to prospective individual donors and foundations is essential.  However, I also am convinced we can raise funds to support the high cost of training for candidates struggling to afford it.

In our lobbying efforts in Washington D.C., we must protect privacy and inclusion in health care systems, but move far beyond self interest.  Racism, homophobia, sexism, and bullying outside and within APsaA will continue to be addressed.

I will also support the Pyles-Perlman proposal regarding objective TA requirements. I feel that this is in the best interests of moving all of us forward, locally and nationally.    Objective criteria—number of years post graduation, realistic immersion requirements, coursework, and good ethical standing—could finally put an end to this historical source of divisiveness.  It would provide an even greater generative change for all members and especially newer and middle career members.

With your support, we can accomplish this transformation.  For more information (CV, position statement, media work, etc), please visit my website at http://www.markdsmaller.com ,write (marksmaller@gmail.com), or call me (312.447.0605).

You must vote for us to move forward.  Our future is in your hands.

With best regards, Mark

Mark D. Smaller, Ph.D.; Nominee for President, American Psychoanalytic Association

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