Welcome to the 2022-2023 academic year. This begins my third and final year as your President. It is an opportune time when we as a community take stock. We have grown so quickly both in membership and in the programs that we offer that it is time for us to prepare for the next phase of our development. I therefore have asked the Board to evaluate our structure, programs, and needs. This process will be ongoing for the year. I want to thank the Board for their continued support and hard work to make CCP what it is, and to lead us forward
We as a community are proud of who we are and what we are becoming. CCP has launched new study groups, expanded our Psychoanalytic Explorations program, increased the number of students in our two-year program in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and increased the number of candidates in our psychoanalytic training program. The quality of our programs uniformly is excellent, and they have generated interest and members nationally and internationally. We have begun a serious and arduous process to determine how we can become more inclusive, reach out to others in the professional community, and more broadly, to be a clear and progressive voice for psychoanalysis. This year, our Hedda Bolgar Lecture series will focus on psychoanalytic perspectives on and work with immigrants, migrants, and refugees. We are developing new programs designed to appeal to all mental health professionals, especially those who practice in clinics and agencies. All of this would not be possible without your dedication, support, and membership. Thank you for being part of such a vital and engaged community.
To continue to be a center for progressive psychoanalytic training and thought, we must remain alert to and be cognizant of the contexts in which we live. We are living in a very difficult and turbulent era. Sigmund Freud himself grappled with how we as human beings reconcile our nature with the demands that are placed upon us by society. He attempted to explain the tensions engendered by the death and destruction that he witnessed during his lifetime with the need for connection and the aliveness inherent in us. Lately it seems that hatred, death, and destructiveness are pervasive, while compassion and care for others are scarce. In our country and in much of the world, we are witnessing polarization and the ensuing violence against others and against our planet. It seems that there is a backlash against concern for others, and the need for progressive changes. Difference is vilified by those who cleave to the politics of grievance. The struggle for a more humane world is under attack from forces that not only seek to maintain the status quo, but to roll back basic human rights and democracy itself.
These regressive and destructive elements aim to foster inequalities and the marginalization of those of us who already are in precarious social and psychological positions. There have been attempts to minimize the magnitude of these destructive changes so that they are more palatable to people. For example, framing the recent Dobbs decision on abortion has been cast as though it pertains simply to one medical procedure, and as expanding democracy by returning authority to states. This decision ignores the role of the Federal government in ensuring basic human rights and protecting the common good. It is blind to how the Dobbs decision constitutes a direct violation of women’s bodies by a minority of elites who are in control the state. It opens the floodgates for attacks against women, Queer people, and against religious, racial, and ethnic minorities by those who aggrandize, fetishize, and seek to impose White, Western ethnic hegemony, bolstered by very particular interpretations of Christian chauvinism upon us all. Indeed, it is a naked imposition of the religious values of some upon us all.
Psychoanalysis has rightly been criticized over the years for failing to understand the nature of genders, especially of those assigned as female at birth and those who do not fit prescribed notions of the gender binary. Although orthodox psychoanalysis was not entirely homophobic and left open important questions about genders and sexualities, it did objectify, biologize, and conflate them. Moreover, past generations of the psychoanalytic establishment codified and supported the subjugation of women, the pathologizing of Queer folks, and other minorities. It thereby fostered great harm to our fellow human beings and to society at large. Fortunately, psychoanalysis has changed as a theory and as a practice. It now emphasizes the importance of having one’s own mind. It examines psychological and social impingements critically, and it embraces the complexity of human experience. Psychoanalysis is a light that shines through the tendency to impose simplistic solutions to the complex problems that permeate our society.
CCP exemplifies our commitment to justice in our work with our patients and in our broad capacity as psychoanalytic clinicians, educators, and scholars. It is our duty, as members of this psychoanalytic community, to speak out and resist these attacks upon our fundamental rights. There are many allied organizations that are dedicated to protecting these rights. We need to add our voices individually and collectively to theirs, just as we need to continue to fight for the rights of marginalized, oppressed, and powerless people. CCP offers what D.W. Winnicott referred to as potential space. We are a center that provides opportunities to engage one another creatively, to move ahead together, to dream of a better future, and to help make the world more humane.
At every turn and in every generation, people of good will must act to preserve and expand freedom. D.H. Lawrence once stated: “Do not allow to slip away from you freedoms the people who came before you won with such hard knocks.” I might add, let us be sure to expand the cause of freedom. After all, as Toni Morrison once said: “The function of freedom is to free someone else.” This is OUR time. This is the psychoanalytic promise. And this is the aim of CCP. I wish you all vibrancy, growth, health, and happiness this year.
Alan J. Levy, PhD
President, The Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis