We know that theoretical interest in psychoanalysis goes back a long way in Turkey: Books related to the field have been translated and published, and psychology departments at universities and medical schools include psychoanalytical concepts in their curriculum. There has been considerable interest in psychoanalysis for a long time, almost no psychoanalytical publications have been banned, and even conservative circles have approached psychoanalysis with notable tolerance. Furthermore, we observe that certain psychoanalytical concepts such as “Oedipus complex”, “the unconscious”, “ego” and “superego” are used in daily language. However, we should also note that there has been considerable delay in terms of the institutionalization of psychoanalysis in Turkey.

Istanbul Psychoanalytical Group was founded in 1994, and Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association in 2001. In January 2007, “Turkish Psychoanalytical Study Group” was recognized by International Psychoanalytical Association, and finally in 2012, Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association was recognized as a “provisional society” by the IPA. Yet, one should keep in mind that this progress did not happen at once, and took a long time and considerable effort.

First Psychoanalysis Initiatives in Istanbul

The history of psychoanalysis shows that institutionalization follows more or less the same path in every country. Although the psychoanalytical relation is a personal relation between the analyst and the analysand, psychoanalytical training can only be conducted under the guarantee of an institution. The fact that psychoanalytical training can only be provided in an institutional setting reveals the importance of institutionalization in the transmission of psychoanalysis. This is why institutionalization has been one of the primary objectives since the beginning of the psychoanalytical movement. On the other hand, although Sigmund Freud thought that universities played an important role in the development of psychoanalysis, he recommended that training in psychoanalysis be kept apart from university education. Therefore, although in many countries psychoanalysis gets significant support from universities and other public organizations that provide training, training in psychoanalysis is carried out by independent associations. Freud’s foresight had an impact on the establishment of psychoanalysis internationally, and has naturally left its mark on the establishment of psychoanalysis in Turkey, as well as its relations to universities and public organizations. There are many academics in the psychoanalytical movement, and the movement gets indispensable support from universities and other educational institutions today, just as it did during the initial years. Still, the institutionalization of psychoanalysis takes place under the roof of independent associations.

An initiative that emerged in Istanbul University Medical School at the start of the 1980s definitely has an important place in the history of psychoanalysis in Turkey. A group of twenty people, among them students, assistants and chief assistants at Istanbul University Medical School, came together during the oppressive and violent years that followed the military coup, which did not allow any independent and unfamiliar initiatives, and agreed to present and discuss the works of prominent names in the history of psychoanalysis in public meetings. It is important to note that these meetings led by the chief assistants and assistants of the clinic were also attended by psychologists and psychology students. This determined and enthusiastic group was divided into subgroups to work thoroughly on Freud, Jung, Adler and Lacan. They then presented their reports to the larger group in 1983-1984. These presentations took place first in the library of the psychiatry clinic, and then in the meeting rooms of the psychotherapy department, and saw active participation. However, as the clinic administration, bothered by this independent and creative activity, started to introduce obstacles, the meetings continued in members’ houses. This group work automatically came to an end as members graduated and most left for compulsory service.

These intensive and extensive efforts led to increased interest in psychoanalysis at Istanbul University Medical School. As a result, seven young psychiatry assistants started personal psychoanalysis sessions with Ulviye Etaner, a professor at the Department of Child Psychiatry, also organizing clinical supervision sessions and seminars. This work culminated in the foundation of “M. Şefik Etaner Foundation for Psychotherapy Training” (MEPEV) in 1992. Seminars organized by this foundation played a crucial role in the transmission of the basic concepts of psychoanalytical theory to young colleagues, and served as a bridge between the initial movement in Çapa that started in the 1980s and the people that followed it, including the Istanbul Psychoanalytical Group.

Talat Parman, a member of the 1980s “Çapa movement”, after four years of compulsory service and military service, went to Paris in 1988 to receive training in psychoanalysis. He continued his education to become a psychiatrist in René Descartes (Paris V) University on the one hand, and also started his personal analysis on the other. Upon returning to Istanbul in 1994, he started his psychoanalytical training with Paris Psychoanalytic Society (SPP).

After his return, Parman got into contact with people interested in the field, to found an institution of psychoanalysis in Turkey. This is how the Istanbul Psychoanalytical Group came together for its first meeting on 27 September 1994, in Abide-i Hürriyet Street, Ortaklar Apt No. 102-104. The first meeting was attended by Talat Parman, Stella Ovadia, Bella Habip, Nesim Bitran, Tevfika Tunaboylu İkiz, and Saffet Murat Tura who later left the group. The first objectives were defined as pioneering psychoanalysis in Turkey to be practiced in accordance with the framework established by the psychoanalytical tradition; institutionalizing psychoanalysis in Turkey on a solid basis; and ensuring that psychoanalytical training is practiced in accordance with the standards of the institution founded by Freud. From this, the following concrete objective emerged: to found a psychoanalytical association that would participate in the International Psychoanalytical Association founded by Sigmund Freud. Later Levent Kayaalp, Ayça Gürdal and Elda Abrevaya joined the group.

Members of Istanbul Psychoanalytical Group chose Paris Psychoanalytic Society for their psychoanalytical training. They also organized activities to introduce psychoanalysis in Turkey. The first of these was hosted by Istanbul Psychoanalytical Group on 20 April 1995, in cooperation with Paris Psychoanalytical Association and French Embassy Cultural Services Department, also with the support of Turkish Neuropsychiatry Association. A series of twenty-nine conferences by psychoanalysts at the Paris Psychoanalytic Society started, an activity that would last until 2001. These conferences were hosted by Istanbul University Medical School Psychiatry Clinic, the “Pink House” of the same university’s psychology department, and French Cultural Centre. The conference series played a crucial role in promoting young colleagues’ interest in psychoanalysis, and later their decision to receive psychoanalytical training.

Bernard Penot, a member of Paris Psychoanalytic Society, gave his first seminar on 14 March 1996, making a significant contribution first to Istanbul Psychoanalytical Group and later to Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association, by coming to Istanbul more than fifty times. Members of Istanbul Psychoanalytical Group pioneered a large number of meetings and publications. The ninth issue of Yapı Kredi Publications’ journal “Cogito” was published in September 1996 under the heading “Psychoanalysis of the century”, with contributions by group members. The first “International Psychoanalytical Meetings of Istanbul” were organized on 12-13 November 1999. Bağlam Publications published the first book of the “Düş/Düşün” series in May 2000 under the editorship of Ayça Gürdal Küey. It was the October of the same year when the first issue of “Psychoanalytical Writings” (a series of “Baharlık” books) was published.

From Istanbul Psychoanalytical Group to Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association

A further step towards institutionalization was taken in December 2000, when an association was founded to give the group an official identity. However, this initiative caused a split of opinion among the members, and some preferred to leave the group. On 30 October 2001, Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association was founded to become the first psychoanalytical association of Turkey. Its founding members were Talat Parman, Tevfika Tunaboylu İkiz, Levent Kayaalp, Elda Abrevaya and Ayça Gürdal Küey from Istanbul Psychoanalytical Group, and Raşit Tükel and Başak Yücel from MEPEV. The association announced in its charter that it aimed to support the development and institutionalization of psychoanalysis in Turkey and work in cooperation with national and international organizations. The prerequisite for membership was to have gone through psychoanalysis and plan to receiving psychoanalytical training.

This new phase necessitated the initiation of psychoanalytical training for the association’s members. At the beginning of 2003, the board of Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association wrote a letter to IPA President Prof. Daniel Widlöcher, asking for support regarding the psychoanalytical training of its members. The board of IPA evaluated this request and decided to constitute a provisional supervisory committee for Turkey. International Psychoanalytical Association’s supervisory committee for Turkey came to Istanbul in February 2004. The first steps to guarantee psychoanalytical training in accordance with IPA standards were thus taken.

International Recognition and the Formation of the Turkish Psychoanalytical Study Group

On 9 March 2006, Talat Parman, Tevfika Tunaboylu İkiz, Elda Abrevaya and Levent Kayaalp, four psychoanalysts who were among the founders of Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association and also members of International Psychoanalytical Association, wrote a letter to IPA President Claudio Eizirik to apply for recognition as a “study group”, which is the first step for participation in IPA. This was followed by a committee visit to Istanbul by Gemma Jappe, Dieter Bürgin and Guillelmo Bodner in November 2006, to evaluate the application of Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association and report their observations to the board of IPA. Finally in January 2007, IPA Board accepted the application and officially recognized the Turkish Psychoanalytical Study Group. The first objective put forward in September 1994 during the establishment of Istanbul Psychoanalytical Group had thus been realized, and almost one-hundred years after the establishment of International Psychoanalytical Society, an institution from Turkey had been officially recognized.

Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association undertook the psychoanalytical training of its members from 2007 to 2012, with the help of an IPA sponsoring committee formed by Antonino Ferro, Gemma Jappe and Savvas Savvopoulos. Finally, in April 2012, after the final visit of the sponsoring committee, the association applied to become a “provisional society”, which is the second step for joining the International Psychoanalytical Association. At a July 2012 meeting in Toronto, Canada, the board of International Psychoanalytical Association recognized Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association as a provisional society.

The Association Today / Activities

Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association aims to contribute to the establishment of an institutionalized psychoanalytical tradition, by constantly adding new activities to those it has been organizing since 1994. The association represents a meticulous approach in applying psychoanalysis in a way that complies with the hundred-year-old tradition since Sigmund Freud. It is also committed to ensuring that psychoanalytical training is performed in accordance with international standards. Also aware that psychoanalysis in Turkey should have a color of its own, the association makes a special effort to include original work in its activities and publications.

Activities and Publications to Introduce and Discuss Psychoanalysis

One of the objectives of Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association’s activities is to introduce psychoanalysis in Turkey, and create a platform to discuss fundamental issues in psychoanalytical theory. These activities and publications are open to all colleagues. An important event on the continuously growing list of activities is the “International Psychoanalytical Meetings of Istanbul”, organized every year since 1999. This two-day meeting, which has been inherited from Istanbul Psychoanalytical Group, is known as the annual congress of the association, and takes place every year during the first half of November, offering a platform for theoretical discussions on the special topic of the year, also featuring small workshops to discuss clinical practice. Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association organizes the “Discussions on Youth” event in June, and the “Child Psychoanalysis Days” in March, considering the need for psychoanalytical work with children and adolescents, in addition to adults. These events see discussions on theoretical and clinical differences between age groups.

In 2006, Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association decided to organize activities with prominent psychoanalysts around the world, to discuss their theoretical approach and clinical practice. The first of these, named “One Guest, One Theory”, hosted Antonino Ferro, one of the most prominent representatives of Bionian thought. Two new activities were organized in 2007: “From Screen to Couch: Cinema and Psychoanalysis” discussed possible bridges between psychoanalysis and the seventh art, while the two-part “Seminars for Introduction to Psychoanalysis” aimed to give young colleagues an opportunity to meet major works and concepts in psychoanalysis.

Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association launched the “School and Psychoanalysis” event in 2008 to discuss education and psychoanalysis, and the “Music and Psychoanalysis” event in 2009. It also initiated activities outside Istanbul in 2010, such as the “Bursa Psychoanalysis Days” and the “Kıbrıs Psychoanalysis Days”. The biennial “Meet the Artist” event started in 2012, and the “Psychoanalysis in Search of History” event in 2013.

Since almost all members of Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association are also members of Turkish Neuropsychiatric Society, Psychiatric Association of Turkey and Turkish Psychological Association, they also attend various scientific activities organized by these institutions. Members also actively participate in national and international meetings on psychiatry and clinical psychology, and contribute to psychiatric training at universities as well as training and research hospitals.

Members of Istanbul Psychoanalytical Association are also involved in publication efforts. “Psychoanalytic Writings”, whose editorial and advisory board is composed of association members, is published twice a year. The book series “Dream/Thought”, whose editorial director is Ayça Gürdal Küey, is engaged in publishing original and translated books. In addition, the proceedings of “International Psychoanalytical Meetings of Istanbul” are published under the name “Psychoanalytical Meetings”. In 2004, the association began to grant the “Psychoanalytical Writings Award” to encourage and support psychoanalytical literature in Turkey.