Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

On: From Basle to Milan to Zurich: On Psychoanalytic Training

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

On: From Basle to Milan to Zurich: On Psychoanalytic Training

Article excerpt

Dear Editor,

D. Beurourgin's (2012) Letter from Basle contains information on the history of the 'Psychoanalytic Seminar Zurich' (PSZ) - namely on the reason why it became independent from the Swiss Society of Psychoanalysis - that needs to be corrected. But first I have to say few words on my involvement with the PSZ, and in general on my cultural background and professional career both in Italy and in Switzerland. Some biographical information on my part is also important because, as I will explain, I was personally involved with a conflict between the Swiss Society of Psychoanalysis and both the German (DPV) and Vienna (WPV) psychoanalytic associations. In this way I would like to complement Dr Beurourgin's letter with some information so that the readers of this Journal can have a more complete picture of the history of psychoanalytic movement in these countries in the 1960s-70s. At the same time I would like to contribute to the long-standing discussion on controversial aspects of psychoanalytic training.

After medical school in Italy I was trained both in general and experimental psychology in Milan, and in 1957 I moved to Basle to work with Gaetano Benedetti (mentioned by Dr Beurourgin) on his pioneering research in the psychotherapy of psychotic patients. We formed a group of colleagues with heterogeneous orientations. Members of this group were classical analysts, phenomenologists and dasein-analysts, Jungians, and also some pupils of Peter Szondi. I can mention Ludwig Binswanger Jr, Norman Elrod who had a Jungian orientation, Raymond Battegay who would later become an important researcher on group therapy, Leo Wurmser who would move to the US, Allan Johansson and Ajno Keuroarkeuroainen-Kilta from Finland; other Finnish analysts, in close collaboration with Benedetti, were Kauko Kaila and Martti Siirala, who greatly contributed to the study of family therapy in Zurich. From Germany, Walter Breuroautigam was working with us, before going to the University of Heidelberg where he would hold the Chair of Psychiatry, and so on.

This was a university environment with a strong orientation to scientific research and interdisciplinary approach, and relatively uninfluenced by institutional affiliations. When I went back to Milan, I had no difficulty in continuing with such orientation, and in 1960 I founded a centre, directed by Benedetti, and a group called the 'Milan Group for the Advancement of Psychotherapy', made up of colleagues of diverse orientations (Freudians, Jungians, dasein-analysts, family therapists such as Mara Selvini Palazzoli), all expert in severe psychopathology. This group later took the name of Psicoterapia e Scienze Umane [Psychotherapy, Humanities, and Social Sciences], which is also the title of a quarterly psychoanalytic journal I founded in 1967 (I am still editor of this journal together with Marianna Bolko and Paolo Migone - all of us are independent of psychoanalytic associations, and Migone is also co-chair of the Rapaport-Klein Study Group, which is an autonomous group in the US, not affiliated to any institution). Our group is still active today, involved in the psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic training of mental health professionals both in the private and public sectors.

Given this cultural background - that, as I said, was characterized by a scientific approach free from pressures of institutional affiliations and within a interdisciplinary framework - our group in Milan took a specific position on psychoanalytic training characterized by the following three aspects.

Firstly, there was no 'truth' to transmit, but only a method in order to search for that truth.

Secondly, we believed that personal analysis and supervisions were very important aspects of training, as well as participation in small groups where trainees could read and discuss theoretical and clinical issues always with great attention to the historical development of psychoanalytic concepts. …

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