Association Psychanalytique de France

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The Association psychanalytique de France (APF) was created in 1964 as a result of dissension within the Société française de psychanalyse (SFP) over the training of future psychoanalysts and the recognition of the APF by the International Psychoanalytic Association. Two factions evolved within the association. One of them, which became a majority in the SFP in November 1963, was led by Daniel Lagache, Juliette and Georges Favez, Wladimir Granoff, Didier Anzieu, and René Pujol, along with the five sponsors of the July 1963 motion (Jean-Louis Lang, Jean Laplanche, Jean-Bertrand Pontalis, Victor Smirnoff, and Daniel Widlöcher). The group was recognized by the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) as the only "French Study Group." On June 9, 1964, the association filed its bylaws, and was, after the dissolution of the SFP in January 1965, recognized as a member society of the IPA. It then had ten accredited members, 18 associates, and about 30 students. In December 1999, in addition to a guest member and eleven honorary members, there were 34 accredited members, 27 members, and more than 180 trainee analysts, including ten who would soon be eligible for membership.

The association's general orientation was described in two talks given by Daniel Lagache in 1964 and 1965, and again by Victor Smirnoff in 1977. The association's objectives can be found in the policy statements published each year in Documents et Débats, the association's journal. These can be summarized as: freedom of expression in scientific discourse without concern for any narrowly construed form of orthodoxy, a rejection of dogmatism or any "overarching" authority; a heterodox approach to theoretical sources, leading to the coexistence of several trends in clinical psychology, dynamic psychology, Lacanian thought (exclusive of training), philosophy, and the work of Freud; the periodic revision of "classical" positions in psychoanalysis, even those not deeply rooted in psychoanalysis, especially through a rereading of Freud in the light of current understanding; an openness toward other disciplines and especially toward the various branches of the humanities; and periodic consideration of the relations of the institution to its various categories of members, including trainee analysts.

APF training is one of the most important features of the association. The reasons for the split were obviously not restricted to the questionable practices of certain members or a leadership dispute, and fundamental modifications concerning recruitment and training turned out to be essential. These issues have been an ongoing element within the APF since its inception and were concretized in the reforms of 1969-1971, which were finally completed in 1978. They can be summarized as follows: elimination of the training analyst under institutional control and elimination of the group of training analysts, and complete separation between institutional bodies and personal analysis. Regardless of where the original analysis occurred, this separation was appreciated by the members of the training committee before whom candidates for admission appeared as trainee analysts; once accepted, they were allowed to participate from the outset in scientific and teaching activities. The approval of controlled analyses was a joint effort of the members of the training committee, since they alone were authorized to do so, acceptance into the program (including participation in classes) being the responsibility of the members' council. The candidate was then asked to present a paper before being accepted as a member, which was submitted to a vote by the members.

This system, which did not comply with the customary practices issued by the IPA (in the "French" system, members alone are responsible for training), has always been a topic of discussion and is currently oriented toward the conditions of supervision and the paper. It should also be pointed out that trainee analysts participate at every level of the life of the institution and are represented, separately and independently of the training committee, on all the committees, and even participate in the association's administrative affairs. There is also a welcoming and study group for new candidates.

Teaching, which is under the supervision of an ad hoc committee, is not separate from the association's scientific and research activities. It consists primarily in conferences and discussions, group activities, periodic meetings to discuss clinical issues or technique, and research groups. It is not mandatory and is not subject to individual control. Members can participate in these activities as soon as they are accepted into the program. In 1999 there were 32 groups or seminars open to trainee analysts; a number of full members were participants as well.

Scientific activities, also under committee control, consist (in addition to the research groups mentioned above) in monthly meetings often focused on an annual topic, two annual colloquia (the "Entretiens," formerly the "Entretiens de Vaucresson"), and two annual days reserved for active members and also involving a specific subject. There are also a number of Open Sessions, such as the current "Soirées de l'APF" (three per year), and APF participation in a number of French, European, and International colloquia, two of which, the Congress of French Languages and the Journées Occitanes, are organized with the assistance of the APF.

Five issues of the Bulletin intérieur de l'A.P.F. were published between 1964 and 1969. This was followed by Documents et Débats, which ran from October 1970 to December 1999, that is, 52 issues. A periodical newsletter and annual report on the activities of the association are also published. The APF has no journal of its own but its members are active participants in the publication of several specialized journals: the Nouvelle revue de psychanalyse, created in 1970 by Jean-Bertrand Pontalis, Psychanalyseà l'université, created in 1975 by Jean Laplanche, L'Écrit du temps, and L'Inactuel by Marie Moscovici, Le fait de l'analyste by Michel Gribinski. In addition to reprinting Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis's The Language of Psycho-Analysis, the association supervised the translation of the complete works of Sigmund Freud, published by Presses Universitaires de France (PUF) under the direction of Jean Laplanche and André Bourguignon, with the collaboration of Pierre Cotet and François Robert (in progress; the final work will comprise 21 volumes). Member publications appear in collections edited by a member of the APF in the following series: Bibliothèque de Psychanalyse, published by PUF under the direction of Jean Laplanche; Connaissance de l'Inconscient, published by Gallimard under the direction of Jean-Bertrand Pontalis; and Psychismes and Inconscient et Culture, published by Dunod under the direction of Didier Anzieu.

Although relatively small in size and with little desire for expansion or control, the APF remains ambitious in its goals and open to new ideas. Its headquarters and secretariat are located at 24 Place Dauphine in Paris. It is here that the association's councils and committees meet and where the association's library, containing some four thousand volumes and documents, is housed.

Jean-Louis Lang


Arfouilloux, Jean-Claude. (1989). La formation dans la S.F.P. et dans l'A.P.F. Malaise dans la culture analytique. Revue internationale d'histoire de la psychanalyse, 2,343-368.

Lagache, Daniel. (1986). Adresses présidentielles. In Oeuvres (Vol. VI. La folle du logis, la psychanalyse comme science exacte, pp. 149-158). Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Mijolla, Alain de. (1995). Splits in the French psychoanalytic movement between 1953 and 1964. In R. Steiner and J. Johns (Eds.), Within time and beyond time (pp. 1-24). London: Karnac, 2001.

Smirnoff, Victor. (1977, April). Intervention. Documents et Débats, 13, 17-22.

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