Société Psychanalytique de Paris SPP

Société Psychanalytique de Recherche et de Formation SPRF

Association Psychanalytique de France APF


23rd IPSO European Meeting

6-7-8 october 2017

“So say whatever goes through your mind. Act as though, for instance, you were a traveller sitting next to the window of a railway carriage and describing to someone inside the carriage the changing views which you see outside. Finally, never forget that you have promised to be absolutely honest, and never leave anything out because, for some reason or other, it is unpleasant to tell it.” (Freud, On beginning the treatment, 1913)

Freud’s train metaphor underscores the many paradoxes of the fundamental rule.

One of Freud’s earliest memories, recounted in a letter to Fliess, is of having seen his “matrem … nudam”, his mother naked while traveling by train at the age of three. Aand as we know, Freud later developed a phobia of trains! While the traveller admires the landscape outside rolling past, on the inside he is filled with excitement, desire, and terror…

We are prisoners of this train, but our minds are free to wander… where to?

The “train of thought”, “free association”, evokes movement and surprise: where are we going? What will this journey bring, a beautiful landscape or a dark tunnel full of scary ghosts and monsters? Freedom is both desirable and terrifying, as our infantile selves tend to equate thoughts with action, freedom with transgression. For the patient, is there anything more destabilizing than such a request: “be honest, what’s on your mind?” When do we feel safe enough to take the risk of going “there”?

Despite appearances, free association is far from “free”… Indeed, associations may be free on the surface, but under the surface they are governed by unconscious desire, by an unknown “other” within us. To discover the hidden purpose, psychoanalysis asks us to forget about apparent purpose. And as the analyst listens to these associations, to the verbal surface, with “evenly suspended attention”, s/he tries to hear the rumblings of what is going on underneath. Through the surface of words, sometimes broken by a slip of the tongue, what reaches us that cannot be said in words?

With this theme, we hope to generate a “free associating” mood among the participants, conducive to discussion and lively debate, and leading to a “co-creation” which may take us by surprise. Perhaps we will discover new ways of seeing, of expressing our experience of psychoanalysis.

The analytic method based on free association was “co-created” by Freud and his patients, the women he treated for hysteria. Free association was first and foremost a method of access to the unconscious, to the interpretation of dreams, and historically it is tied to Freud’s invention of the analytic setting, with the patient lying on the couch and the analyst sitting behind, out of sight.

One hundred years later, now that we travel by TGV and by plane, now that our fear of trains has morphed into fear of flying, what do we — who are still free-associating our way to becoming analysts — have to say about this method?

Can free association, a method devised for neurotic patients, remain our reference when working with “non-neurotic” patients? Today, for various reasons, many analysts choose to work in a face-to-face setting. Is free association possible in this case? Is free association a “dangerous method”?

How do we understand the function of free association, depending on our different theories and practices? Why has free association remained the “fundamental rule” throughout the history of psychoanalysis? Do we still ask our patients to obey the fundamental rule when we begin analytic treatment? Do we feel that as candidates, we are free to think and speak our minds in our respective analytic societies?

France’s motto is “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”, a legacy of the French Revolution. Free association was revolutionary in Freud’s time and remains provocative to this day.

We like to think that free association is rooted in Freud’s deep connection with France and French culture. Freud’s discovery of the unconscious and its strange workings would probably not have happened had he not spent several months in Paris. Here, he discovered the work of Charcot, immersed himself in French culture with its free thinking and libertine heritage, certainly a breather from his tight-laced Viennese life. Freud became friends and corresponded with Yvette Guilbert, a well-known cabaret singer, whose witty songs are full of sexual innuendo.

Paris’s motto is “fluctuat nec mergitur”: “she is tossed about by the waves but does not sink”. Analysts too must let themselves be tossed about; they have no idea where the ship is headed, but their job is to keep the boat afloat until some day, safe land appears on the horizon. An apt metaphor for the analytic ship, navigating the stormy seas of both collective and individual psyches!



On behalf of IPSO and three French psychoanalytic societies, the SPP, SPRF and the APF we would like to welcome you to our European Meeting in Paris this year. We hope this Meeting will bring us together from many different countries and psychoanalytic societies. Our topic “Free association” was chosen for us to speak as freely as possible about how we feel and experience our training and work with our patients. Feel free to contribute your work in panel papers or case presentations. We hope to hear and discuss a variety of psychoanalytic approaches!

We are looking forward to welcoming you in Paris!

Here are some practical guidelines:

Proposals for clinical and theoretical papers should be sent in form of abstract of 250 words written in English by August 15. You will receive notification whether your presentation is accepted or not by September 4. Please provide your full name and contact details. Please mail your abstracts to parisipso2017@gmail.com Once your abstract has been accepted please register and pay the registration fee by September 15, otherwise the paper will be removed from the program.

Please deliver the full text by September 29 and your presentation must not exceed 25 minutes.

For the Weaving Method Peer Group, we are considering recent “verbatim style” accounts of two consecutive sessions with the same patient. The presenter will at first, not give any details about the setting or about the patient’s or the analyst’s personal information besides what is actually said in the two sessions. The withheld information will then be communicated to the group and discussed at the very end of the meeting.



If you have any questions or comments please contact any of the committee members below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Julia Flore Alibert (IPSO Rep SPP),

Monica Fraenkel d’Alançon (IPSO Rep SPRF)

Julia Flore Alibert (IPSO Rep SPP), Monica Fraenkel d’Alançon (IPSO Rep SPRF), Zoe Andreyev, Christiane Biaggi, Fabienne Corlobe, Jean-Baptiste Desveaux, Nathalie Jozefowicz , Benjamin Levy, Antoinette Murzeau, Sébastien Nourry, Nicole Novion, Johanna Velt