I am writing my first column as President of NCSPP at a time when we inward-looking psychoanalytic practitioners are surrounded by a highly charged and turbulent exterior environment. We are in the midst of multiple world crises with American leadership that has found it hard to manifest the necessary alpha function required of true authority. Perhaps it is no coincidence that psychoanalytic theory is treated like a Hollywood has-been in the general public, graduate schools and the medical professions. Once fertile fields of deep attention and engagement -- hallmarks of our humanity -- are now littered with oil spills, land mines, cholera and other detritus of perverse structures and manic activity.

The Bay Area remains a large and vibrant psychoanalytically oriented community. This is a geographic anomaly, and we can appreciate our collective ability to value thinking, feeling and the integration of the two. But, we mental health practitioners need to respond, as well, to the diminished position of the heart and the unconscious mind, especially in times of such external strain. One way to do this is by coming together in settings that touch us deeply and help us feel our connection to one another. Isolation in private practice and burying our heads in texts must be complemented, particularly now, with a greater sense of belonging to a community.

We normally see ourselves as a professional community of clinicians. And, we are, of course, a professional group. But, the call I would make is to find our community less in the formally clinical and more in our human connection. What else is our profession about than our striving to become more humanly related? Our dedication to engagement does not have to be restricted to primarily intellectual encounters. Depth of expression and experience can be FELT through music, poetry, food, laughter and debate. If we approach our professional community with a bit of audacity, we just might dig a little deeper into something essentially and vibrantly alive.

We at NCSPP are taking stabs at offering an integration of great intellectual stimulation with more of this Other Thing. In the South Bay and through our Prelicensed Clinicians Committee, we have recently held lively salons, interviews and movie nights. While we plan for these events to be relatively small, the response is loud. This kind of reaching out and shared experience can help buffer us in hard times. Perhaps it can feed our work, so that we can offer our patients just what they need: openhearted, steady attention in times that often strain us all.

Warm regards,

Melissa Holub, Ph.D.
NCSPP President