Postgraduate Study Programme

Postgraduate Study Programme
to Accompany Individual
Doctoral Dissertations

On September 30, 2020, IPU will end the previous paid form of the PSAID doctoral program. As of October 1, 2020, participants will no longer be required to pay any fees. The concept for the future doctoral program is being worked on.

Head of university secretariat
Katja Thiele
Stromstr. 3b - Haus 3b, Room 1.15
Tel.: +49 30 300 117-520
E-Mail: hochschulsekretariat(at)ipu-berlin.de

Postgraduate Study Programme to Accompany Individual Doctoral Dissertations (PSAID)

The PSAID-programme is conducted in the English Language in order to enable foreign students to participate. Discussions are in English, and dissertations can be written in both languages, English and German.

The newly created Postgraduate Study Programme to accompany individual doctoral dissertations (PSAID) at the IPU is founded on the basic conviction that human action articulates unconscious meaning that is ordinarily out of reach of everyday observation and attendance. To do psychoanalytic research means to develop instruments and methods that enable us to perceive those unconscious meanings. To perceive unconscious meaning, to understand it and, finally, to use understanding for the improvement of treatments using the knowledge gained in this way requires us to be able to know its utterances and their forms. The dissertation projects undertaken alongside this programme shall be oriented towards the expansion of this kind of knowledge in order to gain new horizons of action and treatment in clinical and cultural perspectives. Methods of empirical psychotherapy research that have withstood testing in numerous international studies will be used and applied in the course of the programme. Intervention studies and outcome studies aimed at measuring effectiveness must be linked to studies of the psychotherapeutic process in which what happens is primarily rendered through talk-in-interaction.

How people talk in the consulting room, the forms of their utterances, their use of certain rhetorical forms of speech as well as the multimodal expansion of their conversation through mimic and gesture as understood in process research is given special attention. Methods used are (micro-)analysis of narrative content, especially conversation analysis, the analysis of metaphor, investigation into the influence of the media on self-representation  and the representation of emotion, as well as the analysis of biographical narratives.

These methods, which are traditionally labelled “qualitative”, have immensely refined their methodological approaches. They are not only applied in the analysis of clinical conversation, but also in that of other forms of institutional talk. To investigate unconscious meanings in interactions between doctor and patient, between marital partners or at court, in friendship dialogues, at the office, while gossiping or drinking at the bar – these examples are outlined here in order to stimulate ideas for participants’ projects. Further, think of how to analyze media events, how politicians place their utterances – how, in what metaphors, do politicians explain the “crisis of the Euro”? – dialogues in talk-shows, how laughter is produced or people brought to applaud by appealing to unconscious meanings etc. Psychoanalysis must not be restricted to the treatment room, it can take large steps towards all kinds of human affairs. Clearly, these are cultural topics, too.

Priorities of the Postgraduate Study Programme PSAID

We have selected the following priorities:

1. Attachment and discourse
Babies regulate closeness and distance bodily, adults regulate closeness and distance with words, (and sometimes letters across great distances), with gestures without bodily touching, short glances. Over time, the same individuals have kept the same patterns of attachment stable – according to attachment measures in the preverbal “strange situation” or by the (verbal) Adult Attachment Interview. But how is transition from the preverbal to the verbal accomplished? And vice versa: down into which preverbal areas can a spoken word touch? We know, hardly anything can hurt as seriously as a spoken word, but a word in the right place has healing qualities, too. This is not only clinical, it is ancient cultural knowledge, but hardly researched in details.

2. Telling dreams and dream narratives
When, at which conversational place, are dreams told? Are there narrative formats for the dream narrative? Which mode of “person reference” is employed when a dream is told to somebody else? Are dreams told in a recipient-orientated way? If yes, what consequences would this have for dreaming, dream and dream report? How closely related are dreams with metaphors and other rhetoric formats of figurative talk?

3. The analyst in process
Freud once ruled the psychoanalytic profession to be “impossible”. How do male and female analysts, respectively, cope with their profession? With their everyday life? How do they deal with personal problems (divorce, loss, children etc.)? How do they change? What do they learn from their patients about themselves? What paths of development can be found to achieve the aim of becoming “a good analyst” from different starting points? What does “personal integrity” mean? Are there “types” of analysts and what makes them different? Do they prefer certain patients and are they right in doing this?

4. Counseling by students
IPU-students will gain a practical idea of psychoanalytic competence in cooperation with counseling services in Berlin. Short-time treatments conducted by them will in turn be researched. Which “natural” competences do students have? What kind of patients should be counseled by students? Which processes can be observed?

5. Theoretical psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory of the subject
In this field of work, psychoanalysis is considered from the viewpoint of social and cultural studies, as well as its way of thinking brought to a fruitful dialogue with these neighbouring disciplines. Central topics are the theory of subject and the generation of psychoanalytic research methods. What kind of interfaces exist between psychoanalysis and other contemporary theories of subject and discourse? How to epistemologically determine assumptions for psychoanalytic research? And how to develop on such a reflection psychoanalytic research methods in non-clinic areas?


Participants in the programme meet two or three times per semester over a programme duration of 3 years. IPU-Professors will teach methods of research and will be available for the discussion and presentation of participants' projects. Experts at certain methods will be invited to give participants the opportunity to debate methodological and other relevant questions. At the end of the second year the preparation of a small conference with interested guests is scheduled, at which  participants will be able to present their projects at the stage they are in and at the same time give and receive stimulating advice and exchange ideas.


The overall aim is the production of an academic dissertation in order to attain the degree of a German Dr. phil. As long as the IPU does not yet have the right to award doctoral degrees, cooperations with other universities are established to serve this aim. A cooperation agreement with representatives of the Humboldt-Universität Berlin (HU) is already in place. With other universities, possibilities for dissertations in cooperation are certain (Kassel, Göttingen, Klagenfurt, Innsbruck, Frankfurt). A second aim is to create a body of well trained researchers who can enrich clinical psychology as well as the cultural sciences and to further develop psychoanalytic knowledge on an advanced academic level.


At the beginning of the summer semester 2016, the IPU raises an administrative fee of €700 per semester. Participants are offered the possibility to participate in one further course without additional fees and to participate in all other courses at widely reduced guest fees.