Our History

In ascending order of complexity and difficulty, the formation of psychoanalytic study groups, societies and training institutes within non-medical professions has been an arduous and even rancorous undertaking. In October of 1985, the Board of Division 39 approved the Section of Local Chapters (Section IV). This action gave the fledgling local chapter movement an important political and philosophical base within the Division and facilitated the growth and development of chapters throughout the country, thus helping increase the availability of various forms of psychoanalytical training. These local societies helped galvanize enthusiasm and interest in psychoanalysis as a research tool, a depth theory of personality, and a form of psychotherapeutic treatment. That such interest was already quite alive, healthy, and kicking is evident from early local chapter Senate Minutes, which indicate that chapters from Colorado, Boston, Chicago, Washington, Dallas, New York, Michigan, the Potomac Region, San Francisco, Connecticut, and Vermont were represented. It would only follow then, that these societies would function as springboards for more formalized training in psychoanalysis proper, within psychology's own house. The importance for psychoanalytically oriented psychologists not residing in New York or Los Angeles who had long-hoped to become psychologist-psychoanalysts cannot be over-stated. However, such development was not without its difficulties.

Most of these difficulties originated in the medical psychoanalytic ranks. ApsaA had long opposed the psychoanalytic training and accreditation of non-medical professionals. However, a significant degree of internecine Sturm und Drang further complicated the early years of the Division, its Sections, and its Local Chapters. The development of the Chicago Open Chapter for the Study of Psychoanalysis, then, represents a not-atypical coming of age, although in some respects, its history is rather unique.

Chicago has long enjoyed the distinction of being a center for innovation and change within the psychoanalytic movement. Scholarly activity and praxis here has led to the expansion of the parameters of what constitutes psychoanalysis and, in the process, to the extension of this form of treatment to populations once thought to be unanalyzable. The early years following the approval of the formation of the Division were marked by an aura of great optimism. However, as Murray Meisels and others have pointed out, adherents of more-or-less traditional notions soon began to clash on the question of who could be properly called a psychoanalyst and what could be properly called psychoanalysis. Schisms necessarily developed in the course of these conflicts, and as the lines of battle were drawn it was feared the Division itself might split. Yet, the ultimate recognition of the legitimacy and strength of diversity encouraged the accommodations necessary to keep these diverse constituencies within the Division.

Such was the case, to an extent, in Chicago, where two Local Chapters emerged, and continue to thrive. The Chicago Open Chapter came into existence after the Chicago Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology (CAPP), though it was officially recognized and incorporated into Division 39 before CAPP, in May of 1986. The Chicago Open Chapter, the predecessor of the Chicago Open Chapter for the Study of Psychoanalysis (Called the Open Chapter for short), was formed in June, 1985, in the wake of the Ann Arbor, Michigan, Conference of Division 39, largely through the organizational efforts of David Berndt. Berndt would subsequently go on to become the Chicago Open Chapter's first Division 39 representative, to sit as one of the Founding Senators of the Board of Section IV, and to be elected as the second Secretary within the Section. The first officers of the Chapter at the time, in addition to Berndt, were David Hartman, President; James McGinnis, Secretary; and Christine Kieffer, Treasurer. As the Open Chapter made explicit, one of the center-pieces of its mission, indeed, its entire raison d'etre was to actively encourage participation, dialogue, and engagement with members of all the health-service professions and social sciences. Thus, the Open Chapter maintained a very inclusionary stance, with only one type of membership, open to practitioners and theorists from different disciplines, promulgating greater diversity within the ranks. This policy helped the freer (and therefore perhaps much more heated!) exchange of ideas, as well as a questioning and objective stance toward things theoretical and clinical -- a stance that discourages polemics and the dogmatic adherence to "-isms." Such a democratic and questioning ambiance can hardly be expected to reduce tensions. Indeed, the erratic waxing and waning of the Chapter's vitality and cohesiveness in these formative years is probably testimony to its achieving its aims.

Unfortunately, attempts at rapprochement between the two local Chicago Chapters proved to be a far more elusive goal. Thus, whereas it is against current Section policy to give its imprimatur to more than one chapter in any one locale, the divergences between the Open Chapter and CAPP were deemed to be of sufficient degree to render one Chicago chapter unfeasible.

The Open Chapter prospered. Membership grew, such that in 1986, the year of its being officially incorporated into Section IV, it had 39 Division members. Chapter dues were kept at a nominal $10 per year, again in the service of making it accessible to many, including students with limited budgets.

In 1987, with the departure of Berndt from the Chicago area, the Open Chapter languished. In January, 1989, Lucia Villela-Minnerly began to contact former members and recruit new ones. Initially, this had the flavor of a grass roots campaign, but tapping the enthusiasm of the membership led, rather rapidly, to the development of ad hoc committees on membership, outreach, education, and business. Administrative help was secured so that a concerted and coordinated series of mailings publicizing the renaissance and activities could be effected.

These early gatherings furthermore proposed a change in the name of the chapter. "The Chicago Open Chapter for the Study of Psychoanalysis" made explicit the unique philosophical bent of the chapter. The first formal meeting of the newly reconstituted Open Chapter was held on June 9, 1989. The first elections further reflect the chapter's traditional commitment to diversity: Charles E. Turk, President; David L. Downing, Secretary; Gertrude Pollitt, Treasurer; Lucia Villela-Minnerly, Section IV Representative. The Members-at-Large on the Board consisted of: Lanny Johnson, Mary Hollis Johnston, and Anne Newman. Board members function as faculty at Chicago-area universities, professional schools, and the Center for Psychoanalytic Study; and/or are employed in private practice, and in hospital or out-patient settings.

The new bylaws formally adopted on June 9, 1989, reaffirm our origins and speak to our new agenda, an agenda that can now benefit from energies formerly committed to fighting for the legitimacy of multidisciplinary training in psychoanalysis and the early organization issues discussed above. The purposes of the Chicago Open Chapter for the Study of Psychoanalysis were defined as (a) to promote the study of psychoanalytic theories of the mind, and of psychoanalytic theories and techniques of treatment; (b) to provide educational opportunities in the Chicago area through the sponsoring of conferences and/or small group meetings; (c) to serve as a clearing house for the formation of special interest study groups, such as those devoted to the study of specific theories, the scientific method in general, and film and cultural issues. It was decided that membership should be open to all members of the Division, as well as to other licensed or registered professionals from psychology, psychiatry, social work, nursing, and pastoral counseling with a genuine interest in psychoanalysis. Membership shall also be open to clinicians from other disciplines (such as philosophy, anthropology, and literature) who have had training in psychoanalysis, and to non-clinicians from these disciplines who are interested in the philosophical, theoretical, or applied aspects of psychoanalysis (such as psycho-history, the analysis of films and literature, etc.). Graduate students from all of these disciplines would also be eligible. That is, we only have one type of membership and it applies to all who wish to join.