Creating a Utopia

Making Freud’s Idea of a Psychoanalytic University a Reality with the IPU

More than 90 years have now passed since Freund spoke in The Question of Lay Analysis about the utopia of a psychoanalytic university: "If – which may sound fantastic today – one had to found a college of psycho-analysis, much would have to be taught in it [...]." And with the founding of the IPU Berlin in 2009, Freund’s utopia has been accomplished to a large extent. A piece by the former Vice-President Professor Dr. Lilli Gast has now been published in the International Forum of Psychoanalysis, in which she recounts the history of the IPU, together with its status quo.

In line with Freund’s suggestion, in addition to the more "medical" subjects such as depth-psychology and biology, thematic areas are also taught in the psychology study courses at the IPU that guarantee its graduates an education in the humanities and cultural sciences. In The Question of Lay Analysis, Freud mentioned "[...] the history of civilization, mythology, the psychology of religion and the science of literature" as examples as subjects in which aspiring psychoanalytical academics would require an education. Because: "Unless he is well at home in these subjects, an analyst can make nothing of a large amount of his material."

Over the last nine years, the IPU has achieved consistent growth, with about 600 students now studying there from an initial intake of 75 applicants. Likewise, a BSc Psychology study course was soon added to the MA Psychology study course that the university first taught. With three further study courses having been included since then, intended to be taken parallel to working: Psychoanalytical Cultural Studies, Interdisciplinary Psychosis Therapy and, since 2015, Leadership and Consulting.

The IPU has developed progressively to become the central location in Germany for university-based psychoanalysis and psychoanalytical psychology. And as the number of students have grown, further renowned professors with increasing amounts of research projects have since joined the university. With the IPU playing a key role in psychotherapy research especially by now.

If you would like to learn more about the original idea behind the IPU, as well as its development over the years and the extent to which Freud’s utopia has become a reality today, please read Lilli Gast’s piece in the International Forum of Psychoanalysis.

Lilli Gast (2018) Freud’s Utopia revisited (PDF)