Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society

APS History

This article originally appeared in A History of the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association, edited by Robert C. Lane and Murray Meisels, published at Hillsdale, NJ by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers, in 1994 and is reprinted with permission.

East Tennessee, as it turns out, has a relative abundance of psychoanalytically oriented mental health practitioners. This is due in part to the presence at the University of Tennessee of a psychology department where psychoanalytic theory and treatment techniques have been taught for a long time. Several generations of psychologists who were trained there elected to remain in the area to practice, and others committed to psychoanalytic thinking have been attracted here because an accepting milieu had developed. 

Nevertheless, the call from Division 39 for the establishment of local chapters went unheeded here for several years despite the pool of potentially interested members. Members of Section IV, eager to get the ball rolling in unrepresented areas, encountered Stephen Friedlander by chance at the 1988 APA convention in Atlanta and urged him to organize a chapter. He discussed the matter with several influential psychologists in Knoxville, who acknowledged the desirability of having a local chapter, but declined, or at least demurred for the time being, to take any role in organizing it. By coincidence, Paul Lerner, who completed his training and taught for several years at the Toronto Psychoanalytic Institute, moved to Ashville, NC, at about the same time. Lerner initiated inquiries on his own about starting a local chapter. Because Ashville and Knoxville were close, Lerner and Friedlander agreed to work together on starting it. A committee was formed to arrange an initial meeting at which interests and commitment to a local chapter would be assessed. Besides Lerner and Friedlander, the organizing committee consisted of Jeffrey L. Binder, Eugene L. J. Cord, and James F. Murray. 

The first meeting of this committee took place on February 25, 1989, at the home of Eugene Cord. The committee, recognizing that people might have quite different visions of the desirable aims and operations of a local chapter, encouraged openness to divergent visions. Invitations to the initial meeting went to a large audience so that all those wishing to participate and have influence could be heard. As nearly as we could determine at the time, everyone from Ashville, North Carolina, to Nashville, Tennessee (a distance of over 300 miles), who might be interested was contacted by mail or in person. The first meeting of what came to be known as the Appalachian Psychoanalytic Society (APS) was held at the Holiday Inn World's Fair in Knoxville on May 20, 1989. Section IV partially funded our start-up costs with a grant, and Jonathan Slavin, President of Section 17V at that time, was our first guest speaker. He presented a paper entitled, "On Making Rules: Towards a Reformulation of the Dynamics of Transference and Influence in Psychoanalytic Treatment. " He also shared his experience with beginning a local chapter in Massachusetts and his knowledge of how the task had been accomplished in other areas. 

Twenty-two people attended the first meeting, coming from Nashville, Johnson City, and Ashville as well as Knoxville and its suburbs. Persons unable to attend but wishing to be involved were encouraged to say so. Those attending varied in depth of training and involvement in psychoanalytic work, but any interest in the discipline was welcome. There was agreement on the desirability of forming a local chapter of Division 39, and those present took action on a number of important matters. They selected a name, adopted a tentative membership policy, which would continue to be broadly inclusive, set dues for the first year, and formed committees to attend to bylaws, elections, and similar matters. Dues were collected on the spot from most of those present, including our guest from Massachusetts, Jonathan Slavin. APS was a reality! 

Some conspicuous absences from the first meeting served to remind us that the formation of a local chapter was taking place in a political climate resembling that of Division 39 and APA as a whole. We proceeded with our intention to encourage wide participation and free discussion of all the relevant issues, and a steady increase in membership since our opening meeting would seem to con- firm the utility of this approach. Lerner was the first President of APS, and other officers in the first slate included Cord (President-Elect), Murray (Secretary), and Binder (Treasurer). Other members of the original Executive Board were Friedlander, Larry Brown, Kenneth Carico, and Tommie Sue Slaydon. The Board's principal concern in the beginning was to obtain official status as a local chapter of Division 39. A Bylaws Committee chaired by Carrico drafted a preliminary version of bylaws, which were officially adopted by the membership after review and revision by the Board. 

Friedlander headed a delegation, which included Murray and Joshua Williams, to present our application for official recognition as a local chapter to the Division at the 1989 meeting of APA in New Orleans. Following a brief oral history of the chapter and presentation of the bylaws, the board of Section IV recommended APS to the board of Division 39 as a local chapter representing the region of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. We were duly accepted and proudly took our place as the 22nd local chapter. 

Since its formation, APS meetings have been scheduled approximately every quarter. At least one a year is held in Nashville in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Tennessee Psychological Association. Our meetings typically consist of a prepared talk or case presentation followed by discussion. Guest speakers have included Sidney Blatt, Bemard Green, and Fonya Helm. APS members who made formal presentations include Hans Strupp, Jeffrey Binder, Eugene Cord, Stephen Friedlander, James Murray, Paul Lerner, Jerry Embry, Tommie Sue Slaydon, and Bruce Seidner. The primary concern and activity besides clinical and scientific discussion has been to expand opportunities for psychoanalytic education. APS began sponsoring courses in the winter of 1991, which are open to all professionals in the area. Paul Lerner and James Gomey, both certified analysts and members of APS, conducted the first two courses, which were devoted to transference and the elements of technique common to practitioners of varying theoretical orientations, respectively. In response to suggestions from Cord regarding the distinction between education and training, we embarked on different paths to these objectives. Given the limited number of graduate analysts in the area, and other obstacles, we do not anticipate organizing an institute locally at this time. However, representatives from well-known institutes in other areas have indicated a desire to discuss training practitioners here. A committee is pursuing this project quite actively. Within 2 years, APS membership had surpassed 50. Our members have been publishing and presenting at local, state, and national meetings. A major problem for us has been and continues to be the wide geographical distribution of our membership. At the time of this writing, Cord was President and Murray was President-Elect. Despite the difficulties mentioned earlier, there are indications for a bright future.

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