About The Congress

Facing the Pain: Clinical Experience and the Development of Psychoanalytic Knowledge

As a theme for the Congress the Programme Committee have chosen the deep emotional contact between patient and analyst, with a focus on the pain that our patients live with and that we, as analysts, meet in our patients.

It is a prime task of the psychoanalytic encounter to transform the experience of mental pain and mentally "induced" bodily pain into forms that can be expressed and received by another and met with both empathy and mental representations that may contain the pain and gradually transform an experience of being alone with the pain into an experience of shared suffering and possible growth. This is a level of the psychoanalytic encounter where maybe different schools and technical approaches converge.

The pain of mental suffering exists, however, in a social and cultural context that often is the prime cause of individual suffering. We need therefore also to turn the focus to this broader context and both look on societal conditions that cause the pain but also on the necessary conditions for doing our work in the consulting room. We know for example from traumatised societies that societal silence on massive traumatisation makes it difficult for the individual and the group to experience the necessary recognition of their suffering.

We have thus wished to have this double perspective at the Congress: both outwards towards society and the cultural environment, and inwards to the mind and to how pain is encountered in our consulting rooms. While the clinical focus is primary, we think that we as psychoanalysts also have an important task focusing on that which causes pain.

The Congress will contain important and, we hope, interesting papers and panels that signal developments in our field but we think, in line with the policy of IPA President Charles Hanly, that an equally important arena for development of knowledge and for our own development is the personal encounter and discussions with colleagues. We will therefore offer several possibilities for small-group discussions on different themes both during the pre-Congress and during  the main congress itself with Working Parties and the Work Groups on clinical issues and on conceptual integration.

Prague is a most apt place for developing the themes of the Congress. The city is at the centre of a rich history that has seen the development of cultural achievements that not only represent the basis of European culture in its many forms (literature, music, theatre etc.) but also without which psychoanalysis would not have developed in the way it has. Our partners there, the Local Arrangements Committee, are working hard and will give us insights and experiences that we are sure will enrich us.

That central Europe also has been the scene for human induced sufferings on a mass-scale reminds us of the necessity to take specific historic circumstances into consideration in our work. We cannot avoid Terezin when meeting in this specific European context.

Pain and human suffering are difficult to share. Psychoanalysis may be the one important discipline that can make such sharing possible and alleviate the pain not only for individuals but also for groups and societies. We welcome you to Prague - a place of great historical significance and a space of creativity and achievement unparalleled.