The Analytic Observer

Newsletter of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society

Chicago Psychoanalytic Society | December 1998 Newsletter

PR Remarks

by Mark Smaller, Ph.D.


The Institute for Psychoanalysis in Chicago is one of the oldest, largest, and best known Institutes in the country. Known for its innovations in the advancement of psychoanalytic treatment and theory, education of candidates, training programs for therapists, and adult and child clinical services, our Institute has been a model for many younger Institutes across the country. In recent years we have developed better community and public relations, and therefore are on the verge of finally being what we should have been years ago: friendly, usable, and available. Our Institute is finally to be trusted again by the community, by potential mental health professionals seeking our training, by potential patients seeking our clinical services and by potential donors interested in contributing to psychoanalytically informed programs that help people in the community. Yet, with all that we have finally accomplished, we are having problems-- serious problems in the areas of development, internal tensions, and following through in making known to the public who we really are, and what our cause or mission is.

In the area of development, we have a Board made up of thoughtful, successful, and creative people who are committed to psychoanalysis. Yet something interferes with our motivation and ability to raise money, convincing our friends, and others in the community to contribute to our cause. But, what is our cause? What is our mission, individually and as a Board? Why is it that we cannot raise money for our programs that benefit the community and the advancement of psychoanalysis?

We have one of the most creative psychoanalytic faculties in the country. Members of our past and current faculties have made some of the most significant clinical and theoretical contributions in the history of psychoanalysis. Sadly, these days, if we are all in a room together, the tension, if converted to electricity, could light up the city for weeks. What is that tension about? What is the Institute's cause? What is the Institutes mission? We have reporters from the media who are hungry for what we have to say, mental health professionals starving for psychoanalytic knowledge, and cultural institutions which, once opportunities are created to offer psychoanalytic ideas, value our thoughtfulness about art, literature, film, and music. Our clinic has created affordable opportunities for adults and children to be treated and move on toward symptom free and productive lives. Yet, we have faculty members, candidates, graduates of our programs, who themselves publicly and privately devalue what we do. How many of our recent graduates and alumni contribute to our annual campaign? We must ask, again, what is our cause? What is our mission?

We live in one of the most racially and ethnically diverse cities in the world. Have we ever had a program at the DuSable Museum on the South Side? Have we ever had a film program in a South Asian, or Arab/Chaldean community? How many minority candidates have graduated from our Institute since we opened our doors in 1932? Three? Four? How many African American patients, South Asian, or Hispanic patients utilize our clinic services? How many know about them?

Creating a Psychoanalytic Foundation WILL NOT solve these problems. But, it could begin to address some of the serious problems we are having and create an atmosphere fostering an entire attitudinal change needed here at our Institute and Society. When a small group of analysts and community people met to form the Michigan Psychoanalytic Foundation back in 1987, the goal was to create an organization that would provide financial support for the educational, clinical and research programs of the Michigan Institute. The Foundation would be responsible for increasing the community's awareness and appreciation of psychoanalysis. When a similar group met in San Francisco six years ago, the goal was to form a foundation that would have the triadic purpose of Public Service, Public Information, and Fundraising. By isolating the San Francisco Institute and Society's assets (endowment and segregated funds) from liability generating operations of the Institute's and putting those funds into a foundation, this money would be used only for the advancement of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic ideas in the Bay Area. All teaching, training, treatment and clinic, and extension division activities would remain under the auspices of the Institute and its Board, while the Foundation would have its own board. In other words, the training of analysts, the central mission of every Institute in the country becomes separate from the fundraising, outreach programs and the advancement of psychoanalysis in the community. Currently, in Los Angeles, three and possibly four institutes are meeting to see if they can form one foundation rather than forming separate ones, with the goal of advancing psychoanalysis in the community. Each institute will benefit.

The most exciting aspect of a foundation is that community members of the board of the foundation are in charge of activities that most analysts have little interest or time in pursuing. However, this does not suggest that all analysts are not involved. In Michigan, analysts, on the average, donate ten hours a week toward Foundation activities and programs. Ten hours per week--it's expected. But then, the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute has one of the most successful programs in the country, with a community being served by psychoanalytic treatment and programs, and an institute with large classes of candidates, and analysts with full psychoanalytic practices!

To create a Foundation here in Chicago would be revolutionary for the Institute. Aside from the practical aspects of what would need to be done to change to new organizational structures, it would mean creating a whole new attitude. If we value psychoanalysis, if we are committed to its future, we must come to recognize how connected we must be to the community, through our clinic, our programs and our expertise. We must invite the community and other experts to share their expertise in order for us to learn and advance our cause.

I call this "the new psychoanalysis," psychoanalysis that advances by its usefulness to all individuals regardless of race and socioeconomic levels. The new psychoanalysis is one that can be applied to serious social problems in our community; violence, the problems of children and families, and disappointment with leadership. The new psychoanalysis advances theoretically and clinically from these applications. Ironically, this is not new in the history of our psychoanalytic cause. Freud was always interested and committed to the application of psychoanalysis to the problems of the world. His writings on leaders, war, education related to child development, and his ideas about art and literature, are some of his finest. Without a commitment to this new attitude we will be stuck in psychoanalysis of the past and our survival as a profession and Institute will remain uncertain.

Creating a Foundation would allow the Institute to get back on course and focus on its mission: to train analysts and others in psychoanalytic treatment. Public relations, outreach, and fundraising would be the responsibility, cause and mission of the Foundation and its Board. Contributors in the community do not want to contribute to the training of analysts who are charging $150 an hour. People WILL contribute; psychoanalysts WILL contribute, knowing that funds go for a low fee clinic for children and adults, and meaningful outreach programs that speak to critical social issues.

I am not reporting anything new. We have discussed these issues over and over again in our Board and Faculty meetings. I am suggesting a concrete way to achieve our goals, a new means to take us where we need to go, where other Institutes have gone and with great success. We have the leadership-- on the Board, in our new Director, our Society President, on our Faculty, and among our Candidates.

Therefore, I am recommending to the Board that a committee be formed to study this issue of a psychoanalytic foundation, and report back to the Board in the early spring and make a recommendation about the feasibility of such a change. I believe that the Chicago Psychoanalytic Foundation is the way of our future.

Chicago Psychoanalytic Society | December 1998 Newsletter