In August many of us enjoy our summer vacations, and then we begin to anticipate the start of the new academic year. Our children return to school one grade older. We and our patients resume our more regular rhythms and schedules. And our own educational efforts resume.

At NCSPP, this means the beginning of the new Intensive Study Group year, kicked off by the Introductory Event. These study groups tend to take on cutting edge or innovative subjects that have often not before been taken up in depth in the Bay Area.

This year's San Francisco/East Bay ISG, true to its legacy, invites us to take a deep look at gender and sexuality, complex issues about which the psychoanalytic community holds many differing and sometimes disparate views. Looking at gender and sexuality opens up questions such as how the individual subject's gender is formed and defined and what lies beyond the limits of traditional binary theoretical notions of masculine and feminine psychology. How do we think about such fundamental theories as the Oedipus complex in light of all that we've learned since Freud about the psychic formation of gender identity? 

This topic, perhaps more than any other in psychoanalysis, compels us to think about the individual's psyche within a context of culture and history. The aim of this year's ISG is to engage us, with an outstanding roster of Bay Area analysts, in the play of vital and varied ideas (in the spirit of Winnicott's idea of the freedom to play) about how sexuality and gender are at play in the psyche.

The South Bay is presenting a year-long intensive study program entitled Transforming Bion: The Bionian Development. Among topics studied will be Bion's transformations of Freudian and Kleinian concepts; transformations of his own concepts within his prolific career; descriptions of transformations within the complex process between the patient and analyst; and a positing of the Bionian Development. The class will look at Bion influences on Meltzer, Ogden's influence regarding the alpha function, as well as the function of the analyst as an auxiliary dreamer.

Both study groups seek to broaden our ability to use our mental and emotional capacities to think, dream and play -- with our patients and in our own thinking. I think these study groups embody the best of what our psychoanalytic community has to offer: an alive and creative place to gather with colleagues to study, learn and grow. I really look forward to following the progress of these programs as the year progresses.

The deadlines for registration for the Intensive Study Groups are August 8th (South Bay) and September 8th (East Bay/San Francisco).

Beth Steinberg, Ph.D.
President, NCSPP