P r e l i m i n a r y   P r o g r a m


Homosexuality: the practice of psychoanalytical societies in Europe and the experience of psychoanalysts in their daily practice

organized by the EPF ad hoc group on homosexuality

March 4 and 5, 2017,

EPF House, rue Gérard 35, 1040 Brussels


Friday March 3   

18:00 – 19:00                                        Registration

19:00 – 20:00                                        Welcome drinks


Saturday March 4

09:00 – 09:30                                        Opening remarks by the organizers

09:30 – 10:30                                        1st Plenary lecture: Evelyne Séchaud, Paris (APF)

                                                               “Homosexuality: a history, questions from the floor

10:30 – 10:45                                         Coffee break

10:45 – 11:45                                         2nd Plenary lecture: Ilka Quindeau, Frankfurt (DPV)

                                                                “Homosexualities - what makes it an issue

                                                                 in psychoanalysis? questions from the floor

11:45 – 12:45                                           Discussion with the floor

12:45 – 14:15                                           Lunch (free)

14:15 – 15:45                                           Parallel small groups

                                                                  (on clinical issues and selection issues)

15:45 – 16:15                                           Tee break          

16:15 – 17:45                                            Parallel small groups continue

19:45                                                         Dinner in a restaurant in central Brussels

                                                                   (separate booking: see registration form)


Sunday March 5 (subject to modifications)

09:00 – 10:30                                             Parallel small groups

                                                                     (on clinical issues and selection issues)

10:30 – 10:45                                             Coffee break

10:45 – 12:30                                             General discussion and

                                                                     concluding remarks by the organizers


A r g u m e n t

The primary aim of the Symposium is to initiate and open up a dialogue between psychoanalysts of different European countries and Societies.

At our EPF Conferences we have until now addressed the issue of homosexuality in our clinical work with patients. We think that it is time to start discussing the issue of homosexuality in relation to psychoanalysts and candidates. We also think it is time to reflect on what is really going on within our Societies with respect to this issue.

The Executive of the European Psychoanalytic Federation acknowledging the importance, enduring actuality but also controversy surrounding the issue of homosexuality, decided in July 2013 to launch an ad hoc group on the issue.[1] The aim of the group was to study how far it is possible to work out psychoanalytical theoretical views on homosexuality which might help the “European psychoanalysis” to address this issue on a grounded and coherent way.

The first objective of the group was to clarify what Freud did say and didn’t say about homosexuality. Thereupon the group tried to capture the variety of views Freud put forward which seemed to shift, according to his preoccupations and insights. Specific attention was given to the constancies and the contradictions which Freud put forward, not always attempting to come to a resolution.[2]

An interesting finding of the investigation, which is relevant to the aim of the present Symposium, was that Freud offered neither an unambiguous view nor any firm position about the normality or pathology of homosexuality. Many questions remain open. In our understanding Freud has been from the beginnings of psychoanalysis open-minded regarding the implications of homosexuality. He seems to have been more progressive than his contemporaries, and even of many of his successors. The circular letters of the Secret Committee (1921/22), concerning the subject of homosexuality, reveal that Freud far more than other members advised against a general rule of declining homosexuals as members of the psychoanalytical community.[3] Freud further suggested, as he also implies in his numerous writings, that it is more appropriate to consider homosexuality as a matter of “homosexualities” underlining the existing differences between different types of homosexuality.

The IPA Board lastly amended the IPA policy on Non-Discrimination in January 2014. It now reads: On the basis of its commitment to ethical and humanistic values, the IPA opposes all unlawful or unjustifiable discrimination of any kind. The IPA is committed to a policy of equality, including in employment, on all the grounds laid down in relevant UK legislation including age, disability, gender or gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, and sexual orientation. Selection of candidates for psychoanalytic training is to be made only on the basis of qualities directly concerned with the ability to learn and to function as a psychoanalyst. This same standard will be used in the appointment and promotion of members of educational faculties, including training and supervising analysts.” [4]

Can we go beyond this “politically correct” assertion, and discuss the issues more openly, even explore the unconscious states of mind that remain more or less dormant in individuals and societies and can lead to silent traditions? Can we take up the issue that since the time of the secret committee’s circular letters the topic has seldom been openly addressed?

This is but one of the many topics we hope to discuss in the open during the Symposium. Beyond the personal view and attitude of each psychoanalyst on the subject and its clinical implications for his/her clinical work, the policy of the psychoanalytic society to which he/she belongs is of great relevance. The ethical rules and regulations of each Society explicitly or implicitly refer to the attitude towards homosexual candidates, trainees and members and are influenced by traditions, law and sociocultural environment. We consider it as very useful that all of us learn more about the day to day practices within the European societies. Moreover, this exchange of experiences and the following discussions might resonate in the life of each EPF Society.  

This is the challenge of the Symposium to be held on March 4th and 5th in Brussels in the EPF House, with one plenary on Saturday morning, small group discussion on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, and a closing plenary on Sunday late morning.

The invited speakers to the Saturday morning plenary are Evelyne Séchaud (Paris, APF) and Ilka Quindeau (Frankfurt, DPV). The respective titles of their lectures are: “Homosexuality: a history” and “Homosexualities – what makes it an issue in psychoanalysis?” Some of the following small groups shall focus on selection issues and be restricted to members of admission committees, whereas other groups will discuss how psychoanalysts approach the specific issue of homosexuality in their clinical work with patients, and also in their societies.


[1] The members of this ad hoc group consist of analysts from different psychoanalytical Societies: Anders Carlberg (Swedish Assoc.), Sara Flanders (British Soc.), Petra Heymanns (German Assoc.), François Ladame (Swiss Soc.), Despina Naziri (Belgian Soc.), and Denny Panitz (Hellenic Soc.); it is chaired by François Ladame.

[2] For a more complete picture of the work done by the group, you may refer to the EPF web site (panel presentation at the Stockholm Conference in 2015) or to the IJPA (vol. 97, issue 3, pages 933-950, 2016).

[3] These letters have been published in German in „Die Rundbriefe des geheimen Komitees“, Wittenberger G, Trögl C (Eds.) Vol 2 and 3, Tübingen, Edition Discord, 2001 (Vol 2), 2003 (Vol 3).

[4] On the IPA web site → IPA → Rules and Procedures → Procedural Code → No 13: Non-Discrimination Policy.


R e g i s t r a t i o n

Click here to download the registration form. It will be downloaded to your computer as a WORD document.