Summary Report: Training models and the needs of the candidates
Anna Potamianou (Paris Society & Hellenic Provisional Society)
1999-04-07 EPF Bulletin nr.52]
As so much has been said during these days about the development of
autonomy, I suggest we apply it to this meeting too. So while I speak, I will ask
you to prolong what I say in your thoughts, to complete it with what you have
heard in your own group, to imagine how much more than what I can tell you
has been presented and elaborated in the groups in which you did not
participate, and also to come back, during the general discussion that will
follow, with additions, clarifications and further ideas. Because, as you will
notice, I have inevitably had to be selective due to time limitations, and
perhaps also due to my inability to do justice to the richness of your
contributions. But then, we analysts have assumed - or are supposed to have
assumed - that we are in "elipsis" which is the Greek word for accepting the
fact that something will always be missing.
I know that by admitting my own ellipsis in being able to repeat all that has
been said, I am also imposing it on you. For that you will have to accept my
I come now to the theme of the conference: "How far do our training models
meet the needs of the candidates of today?". We all know that it stemmed
from: (a) serious concern over the discontent expressed by many analysts in
numerous conferences, regarding the training models we use; (b) the interest
of training analysts in the efficacy of their work and their wish to evaluate this
work by taking into account firstly the relationship which is the centre of our
activities - that is to say the analyst-analysand couple, and its analogies with
the analyst-candidate teaching couple - and secondly the demands for reforms
and innovations in the teaching situation.
We are all truly indebted to our two main speakers for the subtlety of their
approach to the theme of this Conference and for the straightforward way in
which they presented their ideas.
Prof. Szecsödy has thoughtfully and with great clarity focused his presentation
on three problems: (i) selection of candidates; (ii) supervision; and (iii) the
relationship between Institutes and Societies.
Concerning the first problem, he stressed the differences in our selection
procedures, emphasizing that no training committee is prepared to abandon
selection, but that many feel the criteria used should be re-examined and
defined and that the procedure must be clear. The problem of selection and
especially of pre-selection is one that has attracted much attention during
According to Prof. Szecsödy, the divergent views between those in favour of
the personal analysis being separated from training and those supporting
didactic analysis, remain as strong as ever, with some Societies emphasizing
the need to leave training analysis in the hands of those analysts who have
been nominated as training analysts, because they have the experience and the
understanding of the complexities presented by the delicate task of analyzing
potential future colleagues. Other Societies wish to abolish the difference
between didactic and therapeutic analysis, as well as the title of training
As regards supervision, the ambiguities of the situation were mentioned (the
wish to learn and to change as opposed to the fear of the unknown and the
desire to stay with the accustomed).
Prof. Szecsödy emphasized the need to increase the competence of the
analyst-supervisor and to diminish institutional power and secrecy which
discourage the sense of responsibility and creativity of candidates.
He also referred to the drastic consequences of isolation between Institutes
and Societies. The Institutes' dedication to training favours intense hierarchism
and power-concentration. Following Calef he called for a more active
participation by candidates in the training organization of the programme and
in assessing their own performance.
Finally, the author spoke of the variety of other demands made on analysts
nowadays (research, contributions to allied fields, etc.) and adhered to the
view that we are actually balancing on a slippery slope and have to prepare
ourselves to meet a variety of challenges as innovatively as possible,
welcoming and encouraging new experiences.
Sylvie Faure-Pragier presented the French model of training, which favours: (a)
the non-differentiation of therapeutic and didactic analysis; (b) the absence of
pre-selection and the abstinence of the analyst from involvement in any of the
training evaluation procedures; (c) a selection procedure that takes into
account the quality of the previous analytic work and uses as a criterion the
capacity of the candidate to speak about analysis, about the transference
experience and about the understanding of his/her motives in the desire to
become an analyst.
Faure-Pragier referred to the disadvantages of what she called a "bad passing
through" and mentioned the difficulty, for the analyst involved in the selection,
of having the "function of judging" while being accustomed to analytic hearing
and understanding. She also spoke of the difficulties of a minority of
candidates who present themselves after they have had analysis with an
analyst who was still in training, so that their analysis cannot be recognized.
Concerning the decision of the Paris Society to accept applicants who had had
an analysis with a non-training-analyst, Sylvie Faure-Pragier thought it was
interesting to note that after this decision was taken, there was no increase in
the number of applicants who had an analysis with a non-training analyst. The
number remained the same as before, but what changed was that candidates
could now be evaluated for what they were and not for the title of their
One interesting point was relevant to supervision. Before being accepted in
supervision, the candidates sit as auditors in a group supervision, thus
becoming familiar with the situation, and with the supervisor-supervisee
relationship and work. Also interesting is the implementation of discussions
between supervisors and supervisees who have not worked together, but who,
in what she called the "sup-sup" (supervisor-supervisee) situation have the
advantage of interesting exchanges concerning the supervision process.
During supervision, the expectations are not therapeutic, as they seem to be in
some other Societies. Given the absence of pre-selection, the attitude of
supervisors is based on the fact that the analysis of the supervisees is already
advanced. What is evaluated is the understanding of unconscious processes and
the transference modalities. Except for that, the supervisees are granted
considerable freedom in handling their cases, in accordance with their wish
that the supervisor should maintain a certain distance. This distance permits a
degree of frustration necessary to the introjection and personal appropriation
of the analytic function, while at the same time introducing a mutative third
element in the relationship each analysand has with his/her supervisor-analyst,
be it in individual or group supervision.
Group supervision is appreciated by candidates and completes what individual
supervision seeks to achieve. But this type of supervision is far from being a
French specialty, as Faure-Pragier seemed to believe.
Furthermore, free supervisions, which have nothing to do with the curriculum
requirements, are sought for often and appreciated by the candidates.
Sylvie Faure-Pragier stressed the positive effects of the ideology of "autonomy"
that presides over the training offered by the Paris Institute. Such an ideology
tends to avoid submission and dependency traits that can emerge among the
candidates. They are not "taken in charge".
On the other hand, the situation often leaves them with uncertainties and gaps
in knowledge and experience. Consequently, many express the wish for a more
organized and diversified programme of seminars on theory and on technique,
and are in favour of more active participation in the elaboration of the training
programme, as well as in the process of affiliation, which is specific to the
On the level of the performance of supervisors, certain failings were noted and
the Paris Society is actually trying to improve communication and exchanges
between the supervisors. The difficulty in saying "no" to a candidate was
pointed out. Also, some failings of case follow-up.
Sylvie Pragier did not hesitate to conclude with the idea that although the
general organization of the training tends to guarantee the richness of the
given analytic education, one may question the over-importance attributed to
attitudes of neutrality and analytic receptivity.
In the discussions during our meetings, critical remarks, as well as some
concrete proposals, have echoed ideas and anxieties expressed in the latest
report of the House of Delegates concerning what is called the crisis in
We all share these concerns and are aware of the fact that in order to keep
psychoanalysis a "living" theory and praxis, we have constantly to question,
reflect, and accordingly transform, whenever necessary, our ways of
transmitting analytic knowledge.
Many issues were tackled which I will try to summarize, adding some points of
First of all, the theme of this conference raised many questions - at least in
one of the groups - concerning the way we see our analytic function in training.
Are we there to help and support the candidates, trying to detect what their
conscious and unconscious needs are, or is our role to accompany them in their
analytic adventure, which aims to make them able to recognize their own
psychic movements, as well as to take in charge their own desires? The groups
also discussed (a) the difficulties of candidates in assuming a multifaceted
identity: personal, professional and that of identification with their Institute
and their Society; (b) the need to respect the rhythm of evolution and the
desires of the candidates. Some require more time than others before they are
able to follow their own psychic processes, as well as those processes in
another person. This for me is the main criterion for deciding if a candidate is
ready to function as an analyst.
Other candidates may reach the point of deciding that they do not wish to take
part in the life of a Society, or submit to the stress, to the anxieties, and I
would add, to the pleasures of their own mental functioning. Such decisions
have to be respected too.
Other participants in the groups were much more inclined to think in terms of
what would help candidates to move ahead and to join the group of the
analysts in Societies. But then the question I asked in my address to you at the
beginning of this Conference - what is the real aim of trying to expand and to
have our Societies grow rapidly? - popped up again, this time in the form of
very serious preoccupations regarding what is attempted by some Societies -
often prompted by the IPA - in Eastern countries. What started as a wish to
present the analytic ideas and knowledge, developed, under certain pressures
(the expansion of Lacanism being one of them), into projects of training, even
under circumstances where the minimum conditions for developing such
projects were absent.
In addition to attempting shuttle analyses, condensed analyses, video and fax
supervisions, membership was considered - and sometimes granted - for
persons whose preparation was clearly not sufficient. Of course, the actual
needs of these persons were considered too. Yet the question of "what is
behind all this?" was formulated. Is it the eagerness to help people in demand
of psychoanalytic training that prompts such actions, or do we have to deal
with ideals of institutional strength and power-seeking?
If it is a case of the latter, maybe we should then examine the price we pay for
the strategies of quick integration of candidates in our Institutes; for pre-
selection procedures that inevitably mobilize on the reality level - and not only
on the fantasy level - the dialectic of "being" and of "having". We may discover
that the price is finally too high, because restrictions in the training time may
hinder the introjection of the analytic function.
Another important area of the discussions centred on the question: "What is at
stake during training?" Some participants thought that we try to evaluate our
training models by using the criterion: Are they close or far from the
characteristics of the analytic situation? How far? How close? And what are the
effects of closeness or distancing? Mirroring situations were mentioned on the
one hand; on the other, abandoning analytic neutrality by creating conditions
where the Institutes try to provide patients for the candidates (through working
with groups in the communities, organizing clinics, etc.).
The needs of candidates were considered in all groups, going from the more
concrete to the more complex in terms of metapsychological understanding. To
take some examples: how do we introduce the couch in a therapeutic
relationship? Or the fact that in certain countries candidates cannot be paid for
doing analyses; or questions concerning the inhibiting effects of the
institutional superego, etc.
Central to our reflections was a consideration of the factors that can help avoid
extremes of dependence or of destructive passivity. Given that on the level of
training we have to take into account the interferences of the State, of
Institutes and of socio-economic realities, we have to find ways to preserve a
space for free association and "play" in the Winnicottian sense, so as to ensure
the space for psychic growth. At this point let me remind you of what Freud
said in writing on lay analysis. Referring to the essence of analytic knowledge,
he said that in our theory of mental life, where resistance and repetition
compulsions are unavoidable, we nevertheless provide the thing that really
matters: the possibility for internal development. It may be, that wanting to do
as much as possible for our candidates, like good parents, is not the best way
to avoid their "infantilization", to allow the distancing from identification, so as
to open the way for the introjection of the psychoanalytic functions.
Other issues that were tackled had to do with including special sections for
psychotherapy training in the Institutes; including baby observations, which
were felt to be helpful in refining our understanding of psychoanalytic concepts
like projective identification; favouring research - but that topic of course led
to such questions as "what type of research, what methodology, what analytic
concepts, should be employed?"
Nowadays, when philosophers and scientists like Kuhn, Prigogine, Atlan and
others base their theory-making on such concepts as serendipity, dissipative
activity in structure, strange attractors, and admit of the possibility of auto-
organization (i.e. come close to using analytic conceptualization), we analysts
can certainly not insist on building our research on ideas of determinism or
employ the old language of statistics in order to "prove" that psychoanalysis is a
What is certain is that the question of what is best for the candidates cannot
easily be answered, especially if we think of how much our analytic Societies
differ in what they expect of their candidates and given the variety of models
We know that when candidates come to us, their needs - and, I would add, ours
too, to a certain extent - are tainted by idealization, rationalization,
intellectualization, phallic-power illusions, and mostly by the non-expressed,
perhaps even unrecognized, desire to be accepted, loved, and narcissistically
As far as their participation in the educational setting is concerned, candidates
are not foreign to calming excitation by hyperactivity or, on the contrary, to
keeping down their involvement in the educational process. The same applies
to the teaching analysts. We certainly have to pay special attention to wishes
and needs, but our main task lies in understanding the unconscious motivations
behind the expression of needs.
Psychoanalytic training has its own specificities, which cannot be ignored. We
have to defend these and, at the same time, think seriously about what we can
do to keep analysts aware of the fact that in the setting of our Institutes we
can teach modalities adapted to the needs of the so-called difficult cases
without following the path of a separate psychotherapeutic training. We also
have to think seriously about the consequences of what we do. For example, it
was reported that there are Institutes which accept a candidate's presenting
the same case to four or five supervisors.
Last but not least: how do we deal with the paradox that analysis is private and
has some obscure aspects, whilst at the same time being the object of a desire
for transmission, for diffusion?
Allow me now to conclude with a few personal remarks.
Our models of training are containers of affects and of memory traces. For
me, the role of our Institutes is to be vigilant so that the affects do not induce
an explosion of the container, and the container does not prove suffocating for
the contained. Therefore, what seems the most important point for us to
consider is whether primarily a training curriculum meets the needs of the
analytic logos. Of course, we must also take account of the needs of the
students and the needs of training analysts; both are to be considered with
respect because they are the agents through which analytic ideas are spread
But primarily, it is the needs of the analytic logos we have to consider. For me,
those needs have to do with our understanding of the distance between psychic
reality and outer reality, but also with the fact that psychoanalytic institutions
participate in both. Institutes and Societies have their specific socio-economic
reality, but they also possess an economic and a symbolic value for the psychic
apparatus of teachers and trainees at the various levels of the organization of
this apparatus. Therefore, I believe it necessary for psychoanalysts and
especially those in charge of training institutions, not to become estranged
from metapsychological concepts.
If we link institutions and organizational framework with metapsychological
concepts, we may get a clearer idea of the functioning of institutions within
and outside us. This linking with the concepts of metapsychology is, I believe,
necessary for teachers and candidates, if the spread of the Freudian logos is to
remain the aim of a desire which never ceases to be questioned. The concepts
used by Freud as a means of addressing the inner/outer problematic, can be
used to bring about the emergence of channels of communication between
psychoanalytic thinking, psychoanalytic institutions, and the personal needs
which each analyst, or future analyst, carries inside him or her. I think that
concepts such as those of setting, container, shield against excitations, lines of
countercathexes, mediating third element; dependency and rejection, quest
for authority, coercion, domination, repetition compulsion, register the
intermediates as well as the impasses of psychoanalytic thinking which always
oscillates between desire and reality-testing.
Certainly, the concept of an "ideal" programme represents a utopia. It is clear
that no model can be perfect, nor can it be the result of a final and irrevocable
choice. But I believe it is a moral obligation for each analyst to "question" any
proposal for change put forward, so that decisions are taken in full awareness
of their consequences. I would add that this is particularly true when decisions
have a bearing on the beginning of the journey towards self-knowledge.
Speaking about decisions, I will here open a parenthesis which concerns a
decision we have to consider for the theme of the next conference. The
subjects suggested are the following:
"How do we deal with difficult candidates?"
"Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis"
"How do we train training analysts and how do we enrich their training
And to conclude:
I know that most of us think of candidates as future colleagues. They are not
ordinary students. When they come to us, most of them are professionals in
their own fields. Therefore, although we should remain open to their ideas,
requests, suggestions etc., our task is mainly to discuss and consider with them
how "some proposals" may affect analytic processing (theory and praxis); also
to help them in opening up to a way of "being" that acknowledges
uncertainties, ambiguities, oppositions, amphisemies and accepts variations of
perspective. Of course, if this is true for the psychic reality of candidates, it
also stands true for the psychic reality of teaching analysts.
Learning to accept the fact of being surprised by alterity and to welcome the
limitless development of "meaning" are, to my understanding, the best we have
to offer our candidates. That, plus - and I quote now from Plato's The Laws -
"...our availability; being ready to play the game...consenting to take the
chances and risks..." that are always involved in training, the fruits of which, as
Socrates says in Theaetetus, we have accepted giving birth to.