Greece

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Reference to the history of psychoanalysis in Greece lends itself to reflection along two different lines.

First, there is the history of events—that is, the diachronic line of events that, between 1915 and the 1980s and 1990s, sustained the slow (and somewhat difficult, owing to discontinuities) establishment of a framework for the psychoanalytic movement in Greece, with all of the consequences, both positive and negative, that such a framework entailed for psychoanalytic circles. This chronology shows that, around 1920, a circle of intellectuals and teachers were actively studying the works of Sigmund Freud and publishing on practices in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. However, the official medical community and the broader public remained indifferent or even hostile to these currents of thought.

The active presence of Princess Marie Bonaparte in Athens beginning in 1946 seemed to offer a way of changing things. The interest of academics and doctors was mobilized on the occasion of a visit by Anna Freud, who was invited to Athens in 1949, but this lasted only for the short duration of her stay. Only two psychiatrists, Démétrios Kouretas and Georges Zavitzianos; a poet, Andreas Embirikos; and a physician, Nicolas Dracoulides, were interested in pursuing more in-depth psychoanalytic training. These four men formed a working group, and, supported by Marie Bonaparte, were accepted as members of the Société psychanalytique de Paris (Psychoanalytic Society of Paris) in 1950. However, the group was to be short-lived: It disbanded a year later, the four analysts having chosen to settle in three different countries.

After the end of World War II and the civil war that ravaged Greece, the creation of a few institutional, psychodynamically oriented mental health centers made it feasible to organize lecture series, seminars, and group discussions in Athens; these developments seemed to portend a possible new beginning for analytic work. Colleagues from abroad—Serge Lebovici was the first—were prepared to offer assistance, beginning in 1957. Three Greek analysts working in different areas—Kouretas at the University of Athens, Pangiotis Sakellaropoulos at the Center of Thétokos, and Anna Potamianou at the Center for Mental Health and Research—provided the impetus, as hopes for a new beginning took shape. And once again, the central figures comprised two psychiatrists and one person from outside of that field.

Numerous attempts to ensure sustained and systematic collaboration did not yield results. It was not until 1982, after countless efforts and failures, and with the help of a group of analysts who had trained overseas (Athena Alexandris, Pierre Hartocollis, Stavroula Beratis), that a "Greek psychoanalytic group" gained formal recognition as a study group of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA). This group, which includes four teaching analysts, ten members, eight corresponding members, and twenty-six candidates, was designated by election as an IPA member society in 2001.

Between 1989 and 1995, two groups inspired by the work of Jacques Lacan, the Freudian Praxis, and the Athenian Circle of the European School of Psychoanalysis, as well as another group whose members wished to remain independent of any school, were formed. Still two other groups follow the teachings of Alfred Adler. Thus, the diachronic axis in Greece reveals considerable oscillation between forward movement and movements of regression-repetition, attesting to an unconscious, but definite, fidelity to Freudian thought in connection with the psychic trajectory of individuals and groups.

A second line of reflection brings out even more clearly the similarities between the course of development of psychoanalysis in Greece and the very essence of the Freudian Logos. Marked by a convergence between the Jewish soul and the Hellenistic spirit, Freud's thought engraved a path of complementary opposites and constraints that mirrors the history of psychoanalysis in Greece. That history, it seems, is the fruit of conflicts whose unexpected violence often astonished spectators; it is also the result of harsh schisms and mutilating projections, the revelatory details of which can be found in the writings of those involved in its difficult and laborious gestation.

Opposition and indifference arose within the group; analysts departed to seek training abroad. There were abortive attempts, productive convergences, jolts, and contacts. It is certain that the development of psychoanalysis was not exempt from tumultuous adventures in any country. However, it is equally certain that in this land that engendered what for Freud doubled as the alien element of the unconscious—that is, the discourse and myths of the ancient Greeks—the constraint of rejection and exclusion of analytic thought exerted its influence for too long. There are a variety of reasons for this, and they have been studied and discussed by such authors as Gerosimos Stephanotos, Athanase and Hélène Tzavaras and Anna Potamianou. Currently, this constraint has been eased somewhat. For Freud, the journey leading to Athens was not easy; the price he paid in terms of his autoanalysis was considerable. For Greek analysts today, there is certainly a price to be paid so that analysis may "be" in their country.

With regard to publications in Greek: Kouretas and Zavitzianos published numerous works, mainly concerning clinical practice and applied psychoanalysis. More recently, Greek psychoanalysts have mostly tended to publish in the language in which they received their training (English, French, or German), but numerous articles and several books, including four collaboratively written volumes, have also been written in Greek.

ANNA POTAMIANOU