A message from the president

Current president Dr. Shaw, discusses the upcoming changes in the Section IX leadership, and speaks about the continuing efforts to strengthen our sense of community by inspiring others and participating in section projects

By Alice Lowe Shaw, PhD

My two year term as President of Section IX is drawing to a close. Our section is fortunate that Nancy Hollander will bring her passion, intelligence and scholarship to the leadership of Psychoanalysis for Social Responsibility as she assumes the role of President on January 1, 2012.

Several of our section members are stepping into new roles. Past-President, Frank Summers will become the President- Elect of Division 39 this coming January 1st, and will assume the role of President of the division the following January. Another Past President, Arlene Lu Steinberg, will become Division 39 Treasurer this coming January 1. Section member Steven Reisner is running for President of the APA. Visit his website.

Our section will welcome 6 new board members: Susan Bodnar, Sue Grand, Jane Hassinger, Elizabeth Hegeman, David Lichtenstein, and Leahn Nguyen. I’m personally quite excited to work more closely with these individuals given all they have to contribute.

In order to strengthen our sense of community, become more aware of the activities of our members and to inspire initiative in the application of psychoanalytic thought to social, cultural and political issues, we have started a four month open blog through our listserv. Susan Bodnar, Co-Chair of our Education Committee, is moderating this project. As we know, there is always a gap between the writing of an article and its release. At the time I’m writing this column the blog has been open for a week. The only person who has written to us is Susan, who initiated the project. Over the period I’ve served as president of the section observable participation in Section IX projects has wavered. Although our board has been active, in planning events and panels, in continuing the small group discussion of the Israel-Palestine conflict, in initiating the Women’s Committee of Section IX; although our publication, The Psychoanalytic-Activist continues to be a rich contribution; although individuals have been active in their own ways, something is missing in terms of the potential we have to generate discourse and action.

During the Division 39 Spring Meeting last April in New York, The Women’s Committee sponsored a rally addressing the threat to women’s reproductive rights and health care. The rally was very poorly attended. There has been a lot of speculation about why this was so; a Field Note in the next issue of the APCS (Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society) The Journal: Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, will discuss the possible meanings of this disappointing turnout.

Worries about the state of our society have only deepened in the last two years. Our hopes for a truly progressive U.S. president have been tarnished. Unemployment hovers above 9% nationally, a rate projected to continue through 2012. A recent report stated that the adjusted salary of middle income American workers has not increased in 40 years. Women’s rights and the security of immigrants are declining, poverty increases; a social net for those in need is frayed and threatened. Wars continue. Debt increases. Congress resists raising taxes on the wealthiest in this country as one means to increase revenues. Higher education costs exclude more citizens … and so on and so on.

Our Section IX panel for the 2012 Division 39 Spring Meeting will contribute to the analysis of public reaction and response during our times. We’re excited to present our panelists: Bryant Welch JD, PhD; Ruth Fallenbaum, PhD, and Leahn Nguyen, PhD, whose perspectives will provide us with an original and inspiring experience. Our reception will feature an art installation and will be co-hosted by some of our early career members.

I’ve been struggling with a poem that has been pushing into my awareness: W.B. Yeat’s desolate poem, “The Second Coming.” Many of you know the line: “The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” This line is clearly problematic in the polarization and judgment expressed. Yet, I’m moved by the line and it strikes me now. We’re all stretched very thin. The work we do in our offices and classrooms is certainly sufficient to satisfy a high standard of moral calculus. Nevertheless, we can also gain sustenance while we contribute significantly by taking advantage of the opportunities that our community of socially responsible psychoanalytically oriented professionals offers. I hope our membership grows and thrives.

Contact the author: Alice Lowe Shaw, PhD