Analytic Library of PLACE

Analytic Archives: What happens when executives and technocrats put themselves between the psychoanalytic literature and an audience ?

Currently, we are updating and cataloging the reference library at PLACE. It is free and open to anyone who makes themselves known to PLACE. For a preview of the lender library go to: http://connect.collectorz.com/users/placelibrary/view

During this process, we inquired about the possibility of receiving digital contributions from various archives and libraries. One such archive we addressed was Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, or PEP web, a digital library containing both new and old works of psychoanalysis.  In reading the Pep-Web site you are informed that they have sole rights of the analytic literature on their site even though much of it – at least the good stuff – was written not only more than 75 years ago, but by analysts who did not write to make a profit or keep it out of the hands of the public.  This much said, this does not seem to be the position of PEP-web who not only would not donate a subscription to help make available psychoanalytic literature to  low-income families and teenagers, but who wrote us explicitly to say that psychoanalytic works are not destined to the general community or teenagers, but groups of specialists. But their position contradicts the very goals and aims that psychoanalysis has set for itself for the last 100 years.  Writing on the anniversary of the 100 year of the publication of the American Imago, the  editor Louise Rose [Imago/2012] states the aims of the journal: “Throughout its 100 years, the journal has published the work of analysts and authors across the fields of the humanities, arts, and social sciences. It has also published across boundaries determined by war and exile, demonstrating a recurring awareness of the crisis conditions in which it was born and had to exist, and keeping a steady focus on the future of the psychoanalytic movement”. She then goes on to recognize that the Journal Imago was created both, ” To forge new links between the world of the university and the world of psychoanalytic institutes and programs remains a crucial part of that mission” and ” Further, the journal as a bridge encourages writers and researchers to seek in the work of psychoanalysis new scientific and social visions that can comprehend and respond to the current needs of both the individual and society“. We applaud the position of the editors of the American Imago and can only publish the exchange between PLACE and Pep Web here to allow the reader to get a sense of what is at stake and what is avoided in the current commercialization of analytic literature.

The two letters below are:

(1) My request to make the Pep-Web archive available at no charge for low-income families and teenagers was denied in the first letter.

(2) I respond in the second letter asking for their motivations and disagreeing with their position.

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(1) Dear Robert,

The directors have reviewed your request and we are sorry to inform you that PEP cannot offer PLACE a grant in order to make the PEP Archive freely available to the children between 10-18 years old and their parents in your program.

The PEP Archive is a large database of literature containing very technical, academic and clinical papers and books for mental health students, practitioners, and research and scholars who provide the mental health care or for academics researching the issue. The literature is written for the mental health professional community and not generally targeted for the audience of the general community.

The Freud Standard Edition is quite available at most public libraries. And as we understand, many of the LA psychoanalytic Institute Libraries are open to the public, perhaps by appointment.

We wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

Kind Regards,
Ms. A

PEP

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Dear Ms. A (and Directors),

Thank you for your consideration and getting my email to your directors; though we strongly and respectfully disagree about the opinions put forth on the function and aims of psychoanalytic literature.  

Though psychoanalytic literature may be directed to certain idealized groups, it may be read and used by whomever. Indeed, it is our conviction that the literature should, in the interest of extending its practice and theory,  not be restricted to idealized groups of experts who would try to segregate and capitalize on its knowledge. Much of the psychoanalytic literature was written by authors neither concerned with making a profit for their writings nor restraining the scope of its audience to technicians and scholars. In fact, following Ferenzi’s second fundamental rule of analytic transmission, many ‘patients’ become just as, if not more, proficient in the assumption of the literature of psychoanalysis than the average academic or technician.

Besides profit and commerce, what motives would anyone have to restrict the audience of the psychoanalytic literature?

Imagine if a mathematics or scientific archive would claim to be so concerned with an ideal audience of technicians and scholars that its knowledge would not be made available to bright teenagers and the general community. Surely mathematics and science would suffer just as some of the most able minded teenagers would be turned away and get the wrong impression that such disciplines were made for veterans in a retirement home. Fortunately this does not happen in mathematics and the sciences: we should hope that one day analysis will be in as good as shape to gage its audience on their merit and not the professional obligations of mental health practicioners.

In any case, we are sorry that the PEP Archive would not accept our invitation to join us in a new movement that is rethinking how analysis is both taught and approached in the 21st century.

Best of luck, sincerely,

Robert Groome