25 March 2021

With a world caught in the cross-currents of bigotry, dissonance and a raging pandemic, this issue takes a look at the role of psychoanalysis in the community at large. In this introduction, our editors capture the spectrum of the crises that face both individuals and societies – the interconnected internal and external turmoil – and the role of psychoanalysis in helping communities cope. 
Many of our cultural beliefs are threatened at this particular historical moment. As Maria Pia Costa says in ‘Crossing Walls: Psychoanalysis in the Community’, it is not possible to think of the subject separately from the culture if we consider that internal and external spaces are in a continuous flow, in that at some moment, both are undifferentiated. We are also constituted into our culture, as much as we constitute it. It is essential that psychoanalysis, from its perspective, thinks about the subject in the community and the community in the subject. (Maria Cristina Vasconcellos, FEPAL)

Gertraud Schlesinger-Kipp reports on psychiatric-psychotherapeutic care in initial reception facilities as well as on consultation hours in a psychosocial center for refugees that she and her colleagues co-founded in and around Kassel. She allows us to participate in her work – which needs to stay in our minds – through a vivid case presentation in words and pictures.

At the time of the pandemic, it is a major task for the European countries in or outside the EU to maintain arcs of tension among themselves as well as among their own populations and to counter divisive tendencies. Questions of justice and solidarity have to be answered and there is a risk of losing connections. In both virtual and real treatment rooms it is necessary to find and create connections and memories of holding relationships. (Andrea Rutsch, EPF)

Following Joseph Dodds’ model, I think of 3 interlocking ecologies: the mental, the environmental and the social. Our situation (the United States) is simultaneously a crisis of the environment that threatens everyone and a social crisis that leaves some people vulnerable and damaged and protects and privileges others. Not surprisingly, these differences are shaped by class and race. Tragically, often the most vulnerable of our citizens have no faith in our government or citizens with power and privilege and they remain, often with disastrous medical consequences, deeply at risk.

In a more specific look at a recently published book, Max Belkin highlights the need for synergy between psychoanalytic approaches that can provide deeper insights into the links between gender, sexuality and race. (Adrienne Harris, APsaA)
Psychoanalysis shares several resources to help not only through the pandemic situation but in various community themes. In her paper titled ‘It’s the Psychoanalysis, Stupid’  inspired by a famous phrase by James Carville: ‘It’s the economy, stupid!  Laura Orsi invites us to reflect on the diverse forms through which it is possible to theorize by using psychoanalysis as a thinking tool. Orsi proposes to think about the influence of social problems on the cultural life of individuals, groups and of society as a whole. (Liliana PedrĂ³n, IPA)
Catherine Herbert invites us to reflect upon the consequences – from a societal and human point of view – of the disappearance of psychoanalysis in the mental health institutions in France. (Chantal Duchene, EPF)
And perhaps as a counterpoint to this thought, Noa Haas from Jerusalem describes how a psychoanalytically oriented approach works successfully at a residential treatment centre for severely disturbed children. (Gouri Salvi, IPA)
The central purpose of psychoanalyst and nephrologist Gavril Hercz’ hemodialysis unit is nurturing his patients’ humanity. His pictorial essay in this issue reveals the paradox of the COVID-19 pandemic: his patients require dialysis to live, yet the exposure to others may result in their death. It is a balance we all face; how much risk is necessary for survival? (Chris Heath, NAPsaC)
In his article, Oswaldo Ferreira Leite Netto stresses that the great challenge for psychoanalysts is in the borders: in the possibility of accepting otherness and through listening, creating narratives in the face of unspeakable and traumatic pains. At the moment, in Brazil, in the face of a denialist government,  uncontrolled spread of coronavirus and spiralling deaths, psychoanalysts are being called upon to act outside their borders and create bridges that can withstand this dehumanizing catastrophe. (Marina Bilenky, FePAL)
As is evident through the articles in this issue, now more than ever before, we face the challenge of using psychoanalytic tools to understand not only the Individual Unconscious but the Collective Unconscious as well, and to examine how deeply they each impact the other. 

Compiled by Gouri Salvi