An epilogue to the history of psychoanalysis in Hungary

An epilogue to the history of psychoanalysis in Hungary

The situation in and around the new society

 The becoming an IPA component society fell together with the new act which allowed to establish autonomous civil organizations.  Parallel with the foundation of the independent Hungarian Psychoanalytic Society several other psychotherapy organizations were established. (Until that point the different psychotherapies had to work and train inside the Hungarian Psychiatric Association).
It was an exceptional historical period: freedom from the Soviet regime and from centralized governmental control. The new organizations looked for mutual support and founded an umbrella organization, the Psychotherapy Council. The Psychotherapy Council became negotiation partner of the Ministry for Health and of the medical universities which had psychotherapy units. The negotiations led to the recognition of psychotherapy as a second medical specification in 1992. The consensual training consisted of “general” and “method specific” parts – in those methods which were recognized by the Psychotherapy Council. The analytic society also joined. The training requirements for the specification in psychotherapy were set below the analytic training ones. This way, if someone fulfils the level to psychotherapy specification, obtains the license, while the qualification to become and analyst remained at the society/IPA. The system is still basically the same; clinical psychologist can specialise in psychotherapy fulfilling the same requirements since 2003.
In spite of the favourable circumstances, a period of stagnation characterized the internal development of the society. The number of applicants for qualification decreased, and people did not want to accept nomination for offices. Actually, the internal functioning had not changed together with the seminal social-political-economical changes. The society was run by the pioneers of the re-founded study group/society, in a non-transparent way. One example: in 1992, the training committee consisted of the same five analysts who were the “first five” who qualified in 1975, and functioned in that role during the whole period, although the byelaws demanded annual change of one of the training committee members.

Developing into a real organization (the nineties)

The first generation-change started in 1992; the presidents between 1992 and to-day belonged to the second/third generation.
The training committee also gave in: according to the oral history, they drew matches to define the order to leave the committee.
As a new initiative, the society organized a Hungarian speaking conference, which grew into the annual psychoanalytic conference since then. In the first years, presentation was restricted to society members, but also other interested professionals could attend the conference.  
Although the society developed in structure and activity, the number of members stagnated. Conflicts aroused about training in psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy. Some argued that analytic candidates had enough experience to offer training in analytic psychotherapy. This conflict led to secession and the foundation of a society for psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy, which got recognized, as an autonomous method, by the Psychotherapy Council.
Another initiative was to have an own seat, which also contributed to growing cohesion.
Retrospectively, the low level of international contacts, often reduced to 1-3 people is appearing. The general atmosphere was to expect the same support Hungarian analysts got from Western colleagues and organizations during Soviet period.

Evolution into a vivid and expansive analytic community (the two-thousands)

Due to successful conferences, membership donations and a ten years IPA non-interest loan the society bought a four room apartment, together with the Institute of Group Analysis Budapest. This step turned out to be a strong factor in the development of the organization. The activity grew convincingly: differentiation of committees invited more and more members to participate creatively and candidates’ involvement became from exception to the rule.
The annual analytic conference became a leading event of the Hungarian psychotherapy scene, attended by 3-400 colleagues.
The membership started to grow gradually, accompanied by the strengthening voice and forming participation of new generations.
The foundation of an own journal (Lélekelemzés – “Analysis of the psyche”) – thank to the donation of two old members seemed to complete the positive picture. Another good thing has been that more and more from the newer generations become active also internationally.
The professional field has also changed: several analytical private outpatient shared practices have been set up (practically there is no health insurance paid psychotherapy/psychoanalysis available in Hungary).

Extension and outreach (the two-thousand-tens)

Currently, analytic training and the society have high respect in the psychotherapy field. Problem is that all analysts live in Hungary and the society has not yet developed any program to change the situation; and the influence of analytic approach is much higher than the percentage of analysts among psychotherapists.
The Society for Psychoanalytically Oriented Psychotherapy shrewd, and the Hungarian Psychoanalytic Society created a subsection for those who do not run for a full psychoanalytic training, providing this way professional home and co-operation possibility. This solved also the problem of “evergreen” candidates; hides surely future conflicts.
Lately the outreach programs became very successful, like the Freud Café for interested public, the Freud Cacao Bar for interested parents and grand-parents, and lecture series for psychology students, in co-operation with one of the Budapest universities.
The shiny picture must be coloured by the weakness of internal scientific programs, the low interest at visiting foreign lecturers and the prevailing reluctance toward organizing debates on analytic topics.

Gábor Szőnyi