The American Psychoanalytic Foundation Needs You

Selma Duckler

Selma Duckler is a founder and supporter of the American Psychoanalytic Foundation.


Selma Duckler

In 1995 some APsaA analysts expressed interest in getting out of their offices and into the community. They saw that psychoanalytic views could be an enormous benefit to not only psychological but societal problems. By the mid-nineties, time had come for psychoanalysts to work in the schools, help in difficult neighborhoods, advise early childhood centers and more. Gone were the days of analysts only helping the wealthy. The mature field of psychoanalysis needed to accept responsibilities in the larger world in which we live. A resolute, devoted psychoanalytic outreach began in many areas with fervor, intensity, and success.

To help facilitate this transformation, APsaA launched the American Psychoanalytic Foundation (APF) as an independent 501(c)(3) organization. Committed APF founders met at Sander and Carol Abend’s home to celebrate the start of this new enterprise. I was one of them and a member of the first board. We did our own fundraising, presenting well attended, fun, elegant, and stimulating events at every meeting. The board met from 9 to 5 with a full agenda. Marvin Margolis was president of APSaA at that time, and Harvey Rich was the first president of the new foundation. Nadine Levinson was our treasurer. Well-known analysts such as Robert Wallerstein and Don Meyer were on the board.

The Foundation received a great diversity of proposals that illustrated how invaluable analytic perspectives were for helping repair society’s ills. The projects proposed reminded me of the Hebrew phrase, tikkun olam, roughly translated as “to repair the world.” These projects didn’t hold that people served had to undergo a complete change. Instead, they brought a gift of analytic insight and humility toward a different kind of understanding of individual and socio-cultural conflicts. Something profound happened when the analysts brought their knowledge to these problems or shared their ideas and history through publications and programs. Often a new idea, a fresh view, a different attitude took form, and a slow process of understanding or development would start to happen.

In 2003, in response to changes in nonprofit organization tax laws and to reduce administrative costs, the Foundation became a committee of 25APsaA. As an APsaA committee, APF has been able to devote full attention to the proposals we encourage and receive and not spend our time fundraisng.

The interest and involvement of the analysts and community volunteers who have served as members of the Foundation board or APF Committee have been gratifying. They have, through their thoughtful review and counsel, helped to support projects that enriched analytic education and strengthened the ability of communities to help a wider spectrum of people. Grant recipients have demonstrated that appropriate psychoanalytic understanding and practical application can add value to a variety of projects and programs in meaningful and dramatic ways. The need continues.

In the past year, given APsaA’s need to manage resources during a challenging revenue climate, the APF Committee has funded most proposals only partially. The committee has greatly appreciated the member donations that have allowed us to support outstanding projects, albeit with greater restraint than we would wish.

These are among some of the proposals the APF Committee has recently supported:

Inward proposals focused on the profession, to enrich it through increasing clinician and public knowledge and helping to develop more stimulating and inclusive analytic learning environments.

We helped to support:

An online journal, free and open to all by subscription, that will present controversial subjects to be considered and discussed by eminent, celebrated analysts

A book on Grant Wood focusing on analytic observations illuminating his life and work

An online magazine titled “Damage,” for The Society for Psychoanalytic Inquiry will feature articles by varied authors related to psychoanalytic questions and problems

PEPWEB will feature the publication of Joseph Reppen’s journals from the years he was editor (in process)

Travel expenses for a traveling child analyst to lecture in communities that have no child analysts

A book of poetry on the migrant/immigrant experience, to include poems written by immigrants and others to enrich diversity programs happening in institutes and analytic communities

Activities related to launching a psychoanalytic study group in Hawaii, which now has only one psychoanalyst and no analytic community

Outreach projects have included:

Partial funding of an extraordinary bilingual collaborative clinical program in St. Louis, which can become a model for other organizations.

An excellent youth psychotherapy program, in Philadelphia, that provides services to disadvantaged high school kids who have problems such as multi-pregnancies or past gang involvement.

We are encouraged by the proposals we have the privilege of reviewing, but saddened that we often are able to offer only partial money. However, the benefit of our acknowledgement can serve to help our grantees in securing other support.

Michigan psychoanalyst Julie Nagel, a past APF grant recipient, wrote: “APF has supported my creative interdisciplinary work in outreach activities between musicians and psychoanalysts. This support has enabled me to take psychoanalysis outside the consulting room.”

Harvey Rich, offers these reflections: “Psychoanalysis, in my opinion, is an essential discipline in the armamentarium of mental health treatments. But it has been and always will be on fragile footing because it remains somewhat ‘non-scientific.’ That can now be argued by the wonderful research coming from neuroscience. We must find ways to integrate our metapsychology and our treatment modalities to these new discoveries.”

Some of the projects APF has supported are clearly demonstrating how these new discoveries, and the capacity of analytically informed people in our communities to apply them creatively, can have meaningful clinical and social impact.

We are asking you to help keep your extraordinary outreach/inreach psychoanalytic programs vibrant, strong, and alive. The annual APsaA dues statement provides an opportunity for you to make a donation to the humanity supported by the APF Committee. Please give as generously as you can. You can be confident the administrative costs to support the committee’s work are minimal. Your contributions ensure that we can continue to make meaningful grants, even in challenging financial times. A donation to APF in honor of an event, or in memory of someone, can provide both needed resources and an opportunity to honor someone who has valued psychoanalysis as a unique profession, a vehicle for concern for humanity, and a way of acknowledging respect for each unique individual. APF reflects the soul of the analytic profession as it extends and enriches your good work.

The APF Committee thanks you as clinicians and contributors.