in the Community

Section Editor: Georg Bruns

We carry the community in our internal worlds. We all feel a sense of identity and belonging to different groups, and our identifications, conscious or unconscious, affect how the outer world becomes internal. As psychoanalysts working with individuals or with wider groups and organisations, we are challenged to think about how our psychic realities (our communities within) and our external social realities (our communities without) shape each other. Since the boundary between the internal psyche and the external world is porous, and since our clinical work is affected by wider society, can we say that psychoanalysis is hermetically sealed from the outside world? How far is the outside community active and alive within the analytic frame?

In recent times, the twin pandemics of Covid-19 and systemic racism have forced psychoanalysts to take a second look at the complex social field in which we are embedded. The interaction between our inner objects and constellations and the community outside has become ever more manifest. Psychoanalysis can provide important insights into issues like racism, othering, gender identities, and exile. It has been used in community work like mental health centres and prisons. For those psychoanalysts working within community or social organisations, how effective and collaborative is this relationship? What are the obstacles to working psychoanalytically in community-based projects? How far should psychoanalytic technique and setting adapt to external factors? For some members of the community, face-to-face interactions with psychoanalysts can enhance awareness of what psychoanalysis has to offer outside the consulting room, dispelling negative stereotypes and helping to create a social world in which psychoanalysis can flourish.

Submission Guidelines

Papers are not limited to but may include the following areas:  

  • How external realities inform our internal worlds, as in:
    • racism and racialization in its various forms
    • poverty
    • othering
    • gender identity and sexual preference
    • unconscious transgenerational transmission
    • war trauma
    • exile and forced displacement
  • Exploration of community-based organizations in which psychoanalysts have multiple roles, as in:
    • hospitals and clinics
    • community mental health centers serving marginalized patient populations
    • foundations and think tanks
    • police departments, prisons, and courts
    • sports teams, arts, media, and entertainment
    • educational institutions at all levels