Solidarity with Ukraine and its Psychoanalysts

IPU president Prof. Jan-Hendrik Olbertz would like to express his deep dismay due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As an academic institution, a learning environment, and a place for psychoanalysis, the IPU feels solidarity towards the people of Ukraine, its scholars, students, and especially its psychoanalysts.

The IPU joins in the statement given by the German Rectors’ Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, “HRK”), which gives weight to Russia’s attack and the significance of Ukraine as one of the “most important countries of origin among the international students in Germany”. So too, they support the DAAD’s (German Academic Exchange Service) appeal to maintain academic and non-academic partnerships and relationships with Ukraine.

Connections between the IPU and Ukrainian Psychoanalysis

The war calls up recollections of IPU initiatives towards establishing and fostering psychoanalysis in Ukraine. Among others, the first volume of the Textbook on Psychoanalytic Practice (Part 1 Principles, Part 2 Clinical Studies) from Helmut Thomä and Horst Kächele (professor at IPU from 2009-2020), which, in addition to many other languages, was translated into Ukrainian; the translation of the second volume is still underway. This textbook from 1996 is considered one of the most significant works in modern psychoanalysis.

Horst Kächele also accompanied two DAAD-funded student trips to Ukraine. In 2013, he had an initial visit to Simferopol, and in 2016 he was invited to Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv in cooperation with the Psychoanalytic Institute for Mental Health, which brought about the trip to western Ukraine. While there, they participated in mutual exchange of psychoanalytic knowledge and ideas as well as the history and development of psychoanalysis.

Ukrainian Psychoanalysis’ Young History

Ida di Pietro, widow of renowned Viennese psychoanalyst Harald Leupold-Löwenthal and generous patron of the IPU, reminds us of a psychoanalytic lecture series from 2019 in Lviv (Lemberg), which celebrated the wide spread of psychoanalysis in Ukraine since the mid 1990s. Her text has been made available below.

It is the IPU’s responsibility to follow up on these initiatives, especially in the face of the current state of war, which is accompanied by fear and possible trauma. We maintain hope that peace in and for Ukraine will be reached in the near future.

Back in September 2019, a one-day event was held in Lviv (Lemberg) to mark the 25th anniversary of the launch of psychoanalysis in Ukraine. In the mid-1990s, Harald Leupold-Löwenthal of Vienna and his colleague Prof. Olexander Filtz, founder of the Lviv Psychoanalytic Institute for Mental Health, started a series of seminars, conferences and events with the aim of bringing together psychotherapists and psychiatrists in Ukraine who were interested in psychoanalysis.

The events were held in Lviv, Kyiv, and Odesa in order to provide the whole of Ukraine with several intellectual centers where psychoanalytic discourse was already underway. At the time, they stimulated exciting discussions, questions and answers, and generated great interest throughout the large country.

This series of events was now almost 30 years ago, and psychoanalysis has developed considerable potential in Ukraine. The
Ukrainian Psychoanalytic Association and the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University, which supported the 2019 event, demonstrate a multifaceted commitment to the development of psychoanalysis.

A first generation of psychotherapists, who interacted directly with Harald Leupold-Löwenthal in "terminable and interminable dialogue", can look back today at the beginning of psychoanalysis in Ukraine. The establishment of the Truskavets Project, i.e. the Truskavets School of Psychotherapy was also an important step in the promotion of young psychotherapists in the 1990s.

Some of the young psychotherapists from this school gave lectures at the September 2019 event, with topics ranging from applied research to Adlerian analysis to object relations. At the time, all participants came to the conclusion that this review highlighted both the importance of the therapeutic tradition and the feeling of being part of a community built through the efforts of experienced Ukrainian, Austrian and international psychotherapists.

Ida di Pietro