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Leaders aren’t born, they’re made

Michael B. Donner, PhD

For the last year, the Nominations and Governance Committee of SFCP has been looking for a candidate to serve as president-elect. Despite having any number of very qualified members who could serve, so far, no one has agreed to run. Although obviously quite troubling, this is not a new phenomenon, and is not limited to the role of the SFCP President. Division chairs are struggling to find replacements as they are completing their terms, and committees are finding it difficult to replace members.

It is not for lack of interest or engagement in psychoanalysis that we are struggling to find new leadership. In some ways, SFCP is a victim of its own success. Our Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training Programs (PPTP) in San Francisco and Palo Alto have been wildly successful, with close to 80 participants annually. These programs are in addition to our year-long programs and psychoanalytic training programs. The interest generated by our PPTP program bodes well for the future of psychoanalysis and we have already seen interest from PPTP graduates in entering psychoanalytic training.

Dear Reader,

The question of the month for December and January was about another kind of beginning.  How did you become involved with SFCP/SFPI&S?  What were your first contacts like?

Next month we are inaugurating a new column, entitled Voices From The Past.  We are hoping this will contain memories of what the previous generation of SFCP analysts told us about history, including what it was like in Europe, and about analysis.  If you have any reactions to the content of this Newsletter, please send them in.  We welcome your voices! Please contribute your memories to Cathy Witzling and Aaron Chow by February 22.

Thank you,

Cathy Witzling, PhD LCSW

Harriet Wolfe, MD, trained here between 1986 and 1994, and served as president elect from 1998-2000, and as president between 2000-2003.  In that role, she influenced and presided over many of the changes we take for granted today.  She is currently serving as the President of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA).

CW: You’ll have to pardon me; I’m going to ask some generic questions, but I think you have a unique perspective on SFCP/SFPI&S…

HW: I was surprised when we spoke on the phone to think about all the different changes I was around for.

CW: Exactly.  So when was it that you trained?

HW: I graduated in ‘94, and I moved here in ’85. I think I started the actual classes in ‘86.

The election and its aftermath were a time of stress and distress for many at SFCP, both personally and in the consulting room. Visiting Professor Week, which occurred shortly after the election, was a time when our members spoke to issues raised by the event.  Michael Donner and Beth Steinberg also convened a well-attended special meeting on December 4th.

PLEASE NOTE:  We welcome viewpoints from ALL our members.  If you have a different perspective, please send it in (to [email protected]) and we will print it.


The following are the remarks made by Maureen Katz, MD, when she was discussant at the Scientific Meeting on December 14, 2016, during Visiting Professor Week.  The paper presented was “The Working Through of Death in Suicidal Psychoses,” by Dr. Riccardo Lombardi.

I am aware of my task tonight to discuss Dr. Lombardi’s thoughtful contribution to our understanding of working with patients who have suicidal psychosis. But, to attend to that task, I have to take a moment first to speak to ourselves as political subjects at this traumatic moment.

In anticipation of our 75th Gala next October, 7, 2017, our editor, Cathy Witzling, comes up with a question each month for us to reflect upon and talk about with colleagues.  This month’s question is: “How did you get interested in SFCP?’  My answer is found in the Question of the Month Column of this Newsletter.  I hope if you are interested you will send in more stories.

At this time of the year we get swept up with the holidays, families and friends. There have been many commentators on NPR suggesting different ways to engage over meals, given the election of Trump and the range of political persuasions in any group. The commentary is how to finesse the conversations so that the coherence of the family/friend group remains intact—not easy given the powerful feelings this election has unleased.  Never has an election confronted us with the range of emotions as we and our patients struggle to talk about the chaotic nature of the election and the feelings it has unleased. Our community came together to discuss these issues on Sunday, December 4th from 10-1. It is an opportunity to give voice to what each of us feels and what each of us has to carry for our patients. There will be a follow-up in 2017; stay tuned for the date and time.

Mali Mann, MD contributes this report on a new IPA committee on child abuse:

Report on the Committee on Child Abuse "Inter-Committee Project on Child Abuse"

This is a new Committee that started in conjunction with six other conjoint committees at the IPA meeting in Boston, 2015.

Committee Members are: Mali Mann, USA, Chair; Gertrude Schlesinger-Kipp, Germany; Joshua Urban, Israel and Most recent member, Elizabeth Tuters (Canada)

Our plan is to meet regularly to facilitate the development of conferences both regionally and internationally. We also plan to create outreach programs and develop educational ideas for psychoanalytic clinicians. The chair of the committee, Mali Mann, MD, had presented a clinical analysis of a child abuse case at the “Abused Child” conference sponsored by COWAP/IPA in Nervi, Genova on September 2, 2016. The conference was attended by the President of IPA Stefano Bolognini. The conference covered a wide range of topic related to clinical and theoretical ideas including a discussion of the role of the judiciary in child abuse. Procedures for the protection of the victims of abuse were also highlighted.

The end of another yet another year has come, with a future that unfortunately looks as if it may pretty hard going with the abrupt change in the government. Even at the SFCP Library, despite continued steady work, the year ends on a somewhat ambiguous note, with our search for a new library assistant still in progress.  There is still much work to be done in the archives.  We have finished pre-processing the 25 linear feet of the Windholz archive and have also pre-processed but not catalogued other archives. Approximately 5.41 linear feet of documents were processed since the beginning of the semester, or just over 1 foot of documents per month.

The attempt to get the audiovisual collection off obsolete media and into a streaming online video library for members has begun at long last. Our audiovisual projects, including a new catalog, carefully compiled over the past year by Miranda Dershimer, and upcoming digitization of tapes from the 1990’s (remember Sutter Street and the SFPI&S?), will start in the new year.

Despite the very serious medical problems I had to face in 2016, I feel that the library and its supporters were able to arrive at workable strategies for running the SFCP Library. I am also very grateful for the kindness and consideration shown to me by all the folks here at SFCP during the acute phase of my illness and after. Due to the dedication of the interim librarian, library workers, interns, and volunteers who played a part in the success of last year’s SFCP Library, we survived in style to the end of the year. At an institution founded by survivors, I can think of nothing that shows more integrity.

And let us not forget to recognize Melissa Cooper’s hard work in the library. She stepped in at a time when I was almost totally incapacitated due to my illness, and served as a superb interim librarian and library assistant.

I hope that the beginning of 2017 sees both continued change and continued progress as the library continues its transition into a true 21st century information resource for those both far and near, and initiates new programs and resources to the extent that staffing and finances allow.

Just a reminder: The new overdue rules begin in December 2016.

Also, to members of the Library Committee: don’t forget to vote on a date for the January meeting.


New Books for December:

  • Akhtar, Salman. (Ed.) (2016). Greed: developmental, cultural and clinical aspects. London: Karnac Books.
  • Busiol, D. (2016). Psychoanalysis in Hong Kong: The absent, the present, and the reinvented. New York: Routledge.
  • Marzi, A.(Ed.) (2016). Psychoanalysis, identity, and the internet: Explorations into cyberspace. London: Karnac Books.
  • Mendes, G. N. (2015). Under the strain of color: Harlem's Lafargue clinic and the promise of an antiracist psychiatry. Ithica, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.
  • Ogden, T. (2016). The hands of gravity and chance: A novel. London: Karnac Books.
  • Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. (Eds.)(2016). Vol. 69.New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

And a warm thanks to Melissa Cooper, Miranda Dershimer and the Library Committee who did much to make the library happen in 2016. Wish everyone a prosperous New Year!

Mardi J. Horowitz, MD

Mardi Horowitz, MD, a distinguished contributor to psychoanalytic literature, has published a new book from Cambridge University Press: Adult Personality Growth in Psychotherapy. In the preface he states:

“This book uses contemporary theories from cognitive and psychodynamic sciences, especially a modern understanding of the operation of schemas and emotional-control processes. Clinicians operating within cognitive-behavioral therapy frameworks, especially, may value this component of complexity in case formulation. Clinicians trained in psychodynamic therapy may value the specific emphasis on techniques to promote present moments of learning.”

The book can be ordered through the SFCP library, from Cambridge U. Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your bookseller.

Michael J. Bader, DMH

Michael Bader, DMH, has recently published “The Breakdown of Empathy and the Political Right in America: What child psychology can teach us about the current GOP” on, 2016.



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