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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Jerry Fromm, September 2013

Dear ISPSO members,

For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, the first days of September always feel like turning a corner - saying goodbye to summer's warm relaxing days and returning to work with, we hope, renewed energy. Perhaps our colleagues in the Southern hemisphere will let us know what the feeling of these days is for you. With September's arrival, I wanted to write you in my new role as President and let you know something about the Board's upcoming work. But before doing so, on behalf of all of us, let me again offer our congratulations and thanks to Judith Bell and her team for such a wonderful Annual Meeting in Oxford. It was intellectually stimulating, creative, warm (in many ways), and full of energetic "open space" work. As noted below, I think it helped us evolve as an organization. AM Follow-up and the Board's Current Work: As you will recall, there has been concern among the membership about the fact that we have had only one candidate for the president role in the last three elections. In response, the Board authorized a small Election Commission to study this problem and whatever other problems regarding elections and governance that might arise in their deliberations. Brigid Nossal has graciously taken up the chairing of this group; she will be in touch with the membership as needed and plans to report to the Board by our December meeting. As part of governance issues (and in the context of Ernest's finishing his term as Executive Director), the Board is clarifying amongst itself both the role of the Executive Director and of the Executive Committee of the Board. Basically, the latter role is operational; the EC carries out Board actions and manages between Board meetings. It does not direct the Board; rather vice versa. But these discussions have highlighted the concentration of management activities in the EC, leaving primarily policy-making activity to the full Board. The "open space" discussions at the AM as well as Board members wishes to have more specific briefs may be changing this configuration a bit. It seems to us that a number of member interests arose - some with surprising vigor and wide participation - at the AM and that a number of potential Board roles might need to evolve in response.

While - given our limited time to meet following the AM - the Board needs further discussion about this, some of the needs we heard as emerging from various AM discussions included Member Liaison, Academic Liaison, and something that would continue the very lively conversation about "joint ventures." There is some overlap here to be sure. For example, our 2014 AM is, in a very limited "hosting" sense, a joint venture with the University of Chile. So, the shadings within this category and the complications of the term "joint venture" need considerable sorting out. There is also a need in the membership that we hope will be met by an incoming Chair of the E-SubCommittee. This would be a "phase 2" role, taking up the social/cultural task of educating and helping our members in their efforts to learn to use the various communication possibilities available to us through Philip Boxer's (and his group's) excellent "phase 1" work in building the platform for this technology. This new role would, as one member put it in Oxford, provide "generosity toward our incompetence," and, as another noted, might also invite some research on the effects of these new forms of communication. With regard to one aspect of this communication - our LinkedIn group - earlier this year there was an unfortunate misunderstanding of the uses of that site. Because that group is open to non-members, the Board wanted the site to be non-promotional - from our members to non-members and vice versa. We now have the capacity to use the Promotions tab on LinkedIn for those purposes, and our members are welcome to use the listserve to promote their activities as well. The Board recently reviewed the guidelines for LinkedIn and I have attached them below.

The Board also upgraded the authorization of the Library Committee (re-named from the Library Review Committee) in the recognition that, with the flexibility provided to us by the new platform, the library should become even more central to the scholarship task of the Society and will need ongoing oversight. We continue to invite members to contribute their writings to the library. Also at our Oxford meeting, the Board unanimously re-appointed Mike Faris for a second term as Secretary Treasurer and formally recognized Mike's incredible devotion and excellent performance in role. As you could tell from his Oxford report, Mike brings enthusiasm, transparency and initiative to his role. He is a major reason the Society is in such excellent financial shape. Future Events: In 2014, the Board will continue to support, and refine policy about, Local and Regional Activities. Carole Eigen has carried this priority of the Society forward with extraordinary diligence over the last several years. Her newly formed Sub-Committee (LARA!) should be a steady resource to whoever takes over from Carole in this role. As you can tell, the Board is trying to discern the important differences between really local ISPSO activity and regional activity, which currently is located exclusively in Europe. This year's European Regional Meeting will be held this spring in Milan. Details to follow. Also, this spring, we will have an important election. As mentioned above, we will have received the report from the Election Commission, with whatever implications it carries for the process, and we will very likely be inviting members to run for a number of specific roles. We very much hope that the energy of this last AM carries through to the election, both in terms of candidates and other forms of participation.

And, in June, we will hold the first AM ever on the continent of South America. Matias Sanfuentes and Eduardo Acuna are leading this project and are putting together an excellent program on a critical current issue: trust in contemporary organizations. I imagine that this will not only be a fertile theme for thinking about our work but also a challenging one at the intersection of the organizational and the political. Matias, Eduardo and the Board are doing what we can to make this meeting as affordable as possible to the range of our membership. It's an important meeting and we hope you will join us for it. The Board and I are very interested in hearing from you, including about anything in this note. Please feel free to contact me directly or any other Board member as needed. In the meantime, let me pass along a good read by Shmuel Erlich, a psychoanalyst and group relations leader, in which he attempts to grapple with many of the dilemmas in the overlap of our internal and external worlds: The Couch in the Marketplace: Psychoanalysis and Social Reality (http//

All the best,