René Major, Paris.
If the twentieth century has been an era of anxiety and destruction, it has also been an age of liberation from numerous prejudices. Psychoanalysis has contributed to this liberation not only through its clinical practice but also through its influence in various cultural fields. It has opened news avenues in the arts and the sciences, in literature and literary criticism, in philosophy, history and sociology - as Freud himself had predicted.
Nonetheless, despite the strength and vitality so clearly confirmed over one hundred years of experience, the nature of psychoanalysis and the power of unconscious always provoke resistances. Nothing escapes this rule. And psychoanalytic institutions themselves, created to preserve the Freudian inheritance and to promote psychoanalytic research, have inevitably at times developed rigidities, which stand in the way of the aims they pursue. An analytic establishment is necessarily called upon to be conservative since its tasks are to protect basic principles and to establish standards of excellence for teaching and practice, while analytic procedure is called upon to be innovative, and even subversive, always working in inquiry for new and original understandings and insights. A balance between these tendencies, and the inevitable tensions they engender, is required. Lately, that balance has appeared seriously threatened. The power that develops within establishments is too often based on a lack of resolution of transference and on allegiance to a dominant ideology and its linguistic codes, serving more to preserve and strengthen social and bureaucratic control, rather than open new frontiers of research and to extend knowledge. When organisations do take action to correct such imbalances, the action too often remains in the service of the institutions.
On the brink of the twenty-first century, there is a clear and urgent need for an open discussion on the present state of psychoanalysis, a debate which should be conducted by the largest possible group of psychoanalysts. The convocation of the Estates-General will create an opportunity with the intention that all and every question may be re-examined and discussed, whether its concerns theory, training, education or the organisations of psychoanalysis.
This call is addressed to all psychoanalysts, whether they are affiliated to an institution or have preferred not to tie themselves in any way, and to all those who wish, whatever their beliefs, to engage with this reflection.
The Estates General will take place in the year 2000 in Paris, at the Sorbonne, from the 8th to the 11th of July. Groups are being formed in different countries, which are working to produce the results of their research for this discussion. This is to include as much as possible proposals from both individuals and from existing institutions.
The program of the meetings will be decided on the basis of those topics which the temporary organising committees from the various countries responsible for contributing towards the Days feel based on the most representative or incisive suggestions and questions raised. The list of those responsible is communicated herewith.
A preparatory committee necessarily had to be put into place, but like this call it will last only as long as necessary to translate a concern and a preoccupation which we believe to be widely shared, and already to have been manifested as such. These Estates General and the import of the event have meaning only on the condition that they belong to no particular individual or collective entity, and that they cannot be claimed by any already constituted group or any self-defined bloc. The Estates General must be able to hold their own debates about their own legitimacy. This is an indispensable rule. With an attitude of openness for all who care about psychoanalytic knowledge and progress, the broad range of participants will have full and independent say about any conclusions they draw in open meetings.
If the call has adopted the name of "Estates General " in order to consider what has been done today and will be done tomorrow in the name of psychoanalysis or under that name, it is precisely what one might anticipate in the light of historical reference that that name signifies, in that we shall inaugurate a new beginning which has nothing to do with preordained systems but issues from the desire and the decision of the participants.