Bulletin of the Psychoanalytic Research Society, Volume I, Number 1, Spring, 1992

The President's Message

Harold Cook, Ph.D.
Teachers College, Columbia University

"Knowledge is of two kinds: We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it."
--Samuel Johnson

I am happy to write this column for the first publication of our newsletter. The Bulletin will hopefully fill the need for an informative and stimulating forum for members of the Psychoanalytic Research Society and for a wider audience. In this first issue, I briefly review the history of how we emerged as a section, and note upcoming events.

Shortly after the Division of Psychoanalysis was formed in 1979, Gordon Derner, the President of the Division, proposed a standing research committee. Derner appointed Joseph Masling as the first chair and he served in this capacity until 1985. His successors were Howard Shevrin, James Eyman and finally, myself and Joseph Turkel as co-chairs.

Throughout the formative years of the Division, the Research Committee attempted to draw attention to the scientific aspects of psychoanalysis, organizing research panels and papers for presentation at divisional meetings and initiating research awards. The tireless efforts of the chairpersons and members of the Research Committee to sustain a research presence during those early years, occurred in an atmosphere of polite skepticism toward empirical research on the part of the overwhelming majority of the practitioner members of the Division.

In 1989, Turkel and I formed a committee to propose and organize a new section of the Division. We were encouraged by the large number of members (over 400) who signed a petition in support. In the Fall of 1989, the petition was presented to the Board of the Division. With apparent pleasure and enthusiasm, the Board of the Division approved the establishment and the by-laws of Section V1 - The Psychoanalytic Research Society. The newly-formed section initiated a membership campaign. Within six months of its establishment, we had 252 dues-paying members from throughout the Americas and abroad. We now have 325 members!

The Research Society, firmly established, began to actively participate on the Board of the Division. It organized its first panel at the Division's Spring 1990 Meeting-"Psychoanalysis as a General Psychology: Theoretical and Empirical Issues." The Society was influential in the Board's decision to recommend that the Research Section appoint a representative to future Divisional Program committees. In addition, it conducted an evaluation of the Division's Spring 1990 Meeting and reported the results to the Board. As a result of our efforts, the Board recommended that all future divisional meetings include a means by which they can be empirically evaluated. We also supported a request for funds from the Division to jointly sponsor, with the American Psychoanalytic Association, a conference - "Psychoanalytic Research: Education for Research Careers in Psychoanalysis-Dream or Reality?" This event, known as the Bethesda Conference, was attended by a small group of scientists as well as several members of the Division.

In June, 1991, more than fifty percent of the members voted in the first contested elections of officers of the Society. The new officers appointed a number of standing committees, established a format for this newsletter, and carefully considered a proposal for The Division and the American Psychoanalytic Association to fund a Joint Board for Psychoanalytic Research Training. Since the proposal was not sufficiently specific, nor did it appear to be in the best interests of the Division or the Society to move ahead with funding this type of joint activity at this time, we recommended to the Board of the Division that they delay support of such a collaborative effort.

Now, I would like to draw your attention to three upcoming events that I strongly encourage you to attend. First is the panel we planned for this Spring's Divisional meeting in Philadelphia. Jay Greenberg will present an evocative paper, "Psychoanalytic Research: A Clinician's View," which will be discussed by Lester Luborsky. Second, the section will sponsor its first scientific meeting in New York. Norbert Freedman and his colleagues will present a symposium, "Some Difficult Moments in Difficult Sessions with Difficult Patients," with Jean Schimek as discussant. The meeting will be held on Friday, May 8 at 7:30 PM at the Academy of Medicine, 2 East 103 Street, New York City. Third, we have a panel scheduled for the August APA meeting in Washington, D.C. Morris Eagle and his colleagues will present "Implications of Recent Research on Bowlby's Attachment Theory for Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice." We look forward to seeing you at all three exciting events.

The Board of the Section is also in the process of exploring the feasibility of establishing a Psychoanalytic Research Fund. We believe that such a fund could serve an important function by providing some support for doctoral dissertations and research projects. We are eager to have your participation (money, ideas, knowledge and expertise) in the establishment and functioning of such a fund.

Together, with your help, I expect that the Psychoanalytic Research Society will play an increasingly important role in invigorating psychoanalysis as a scientific, as well as a clinical endeavor. Inspiring the Division's membership to value, support, conduct and critically examine research is an objective that should evoke the imagination and energetic participation of all of us who view psychoanalysis as a vibrant, intellectually stimulating and developing theory and technique of treatment. I would like to hear from you if you would like to participate more fully in any of our activities.

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