Sunday, October 30, 2011

Psychoanalytic Psychology and the APA--Part 2

Psychoanalysts in the News
Hedda Bolgar, recent recipient of the Division 39 Leadership Award, has been honored once again, this time for her further contributions late in life with the Outstanding Oldest Worker Award from Washington DC-based organization Experience Counts. Dr. Bolgar remains, at the age of 102, active, engaged and fascinating. Profiled recently in the LATimes, reporter Steve Lopez described her as having a “healthy cynicism and unflagging energy.” She continues to work and teach at the Wright Institute, an organization she co-founded many years ago. I hope she remains a vital presence in the Division for many more years. To read the article, go to,0,5869414.column

And While We are at It

Belated birthday wishes to Sylvia Brody, who turned a mere 98 years of age this month. Dr. Brody, psychologist, psychoanalyst, and developmental researcher, came to prominence with her books documenting her observational, clinical, and theoretical studies on maternal behavior and child development. Among her contributions were Patterns of Mothering (1950), Anxiety and Ego Formation in Infancy (1970), Mothers, Fathers, and Children: Explorations in the Formation of Character in the First Seven Years (1978) and the follow-up study of the sample at eighteen years, Evolution of Character (1992). In 2002, Dr. Brody published The Development of Anorexia Nervosa; a second edition came out in 2007. Her latest book is Beginning to Grow: Five Studies published by International Psychoanalytic Books.

The DSM-V and the ICD-9
There is continuing controversy concerning the development of the revision of the DSM. The APA has been following these developments, although you should be aware that the DSM is a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Psychiatric Association and it is this organization that will decide how and when the revision is published. At a recent discussion during the APA Convention, Ken Levy noted that the Axis II Diagnoses have aroused some controversy and criticism, although in general he felt there was sufficient recognition of the psychodynamic perspective that we could live with this section.

The leadership of Division 32 (Humanistic Psychology) has recently circulated an initiative requesting Divisions to sign an open letter to the DSM Committee to address the problems that may arise if the revisions go forward. In part the letter reads:

“We are concerned about the lowering of diagnostic thresholds for multiple disorder categories, about the introduction of disorders that may lead to inappropriate medical treatment of vulnerable populations, and about specific proposals that appear to lack empirical grounding. In addition, we question proposed changes to the definition(s) of mental disorder that deemphasize sociocultural variation while placing more emphasis on biological theory.”

Division 32 is asking psychologists and others to sign onto this letter and join the British Psychological Society and the American Counseling Association in raising these concerns. The Practice Directorate and APA Board have been promoting the idea of actually replacing the DSM with the new ICD-9, but it is uncertain what impact this would have as long as the DSM reigns supreme in its original purpose to support psychiatrist reimbursement from insurance companies. To read the petition, go to and decide whether or not to support this campaign.

Corporations and Not People
Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) is an independent organization composed of psychologists concerned with social justice issues. Although not formally affiliated with APA, it works closely with other APA Divisions. It has sent around a position statement on corporations and would like psychologists to review this document, which begins:

”In recent years, a groundswell of movement in diverse areas has brought critical attention to the notion of corporate personhood, which bestows upon for-profit corporations the same protections afforded to real people. Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) believes that corporations deserve legal protections, but only as artificial entities—the original designation for corporations, prior to being deemed “persons” by the nation’s courts. PsySR therefore stands alongside the growing number of voices calling for broader action against corporate personhood.”

Go to to review the entire document.

On a More Horrific Note
International psychoanalytic organizations and others are trying to raise concerns about a Syrian psychoanalyst, Rafah Nached, currently being held in solitary confinement in a women’s prison in Damascus. Jacques-Alain Miller of the Association Mondiale de Psychanalyse in Paris, established the Free Rafah Nached campaign to call attention to her plight. She appears to have been arrested solely due to her work as a psychoanalyst. The petition (in French, I couldn’t on in English; but it is easy to figure out) is

Let’s End on Some Good News
This from Nina Levitt, EdD, Associate Director of the Education Directorate: We want to share some good news with you regarding funding for the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program and the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA) Campus Suicide Prevention Program. While work on Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations is far from over in terms of determining the final appropriations levels for these programs and others, positive advancements have been made.

As some of you already know, one of our Champions, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), pushed very hard on behalf of the GPE Program during this appropriations FY 2012 cycle. Not only was he able to protect the program at its currently funded level ($2.927 million), he also personally requested that very strong Report Language be included in support of the program. More specifically, language was included in the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee report to reinstate the geropsychology component, initiate a focus on veterans and help integrate health service psychology trainees at Federally Qualified Health Centers to provide mental and behavioral health services to underserved populations.

Regarding the GLSMA FY 2012 funding, the Campus Suicide Prevention Program received nearly $5 million in funds from the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee and, in addition, will receive $10 million from the Prevention and Public Health fund. This, too, was largely the work of Senator Reed. These competitive funds, administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, are available to centers on college campuses that provide mental and behavioral health services.

On a related note, Senators Jack Reed, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced a strong reauthorization bill for the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act programs (S.740), championing both the authority and the funding for the programs, especially the Campus Suicide Prevention Program. To date, there are a number of additional co-sponsors.

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