History of the EPF

Psychoanalysis in Europe

Since the function of the Bulletin, Psychoanalysis in Europe, is to offer insight into the activities of the EPF, it can only be treated as an intrinsic part of the Federation and its history and not as a separate entity. I would therefore like to begin with some information on the history of the Federation.

Long before the Federation’s foundation, several European psychoanalysts had considered forming a kind of Association of European Psychoanalytical Societies. One of the most enthusiastic promotors of such a project was the Swiss psychoanalyst, Raymond de Saussure. In the end, the idea of forming a European Federation was conceived at the European Conference on Training, a meeting that had already been taking place on a biennial basis since 1960, where the necessity to discuss „desirable rules“ for European psychoanalytic training was recognized. Initially, this unity of European psychoanalysts was to be organized in a similar way to the American Psychoanalytical Association (APA) with its unified training policy. The foundation of a European organisation was also the concern of the President of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) at the time, Van der Leeuw (1965-1969), since Europe’s psychoanalysts, with their diverse cultures and, above all, languages, appeared to be isolated, requiring a unification of this sort to be able to stand up to the IPA. However, as the European Societies were concerned for their autonomy and particularly the independence of their training systems, they chose to form a federation. The main aim of the EPF, as agreed at the foundation of the European Federation, was, in short, to maintain and promote Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. As this involved objectives of a decidedly non-political and non-legislative nature, by contrast with those of the IPA, it was decided that the EPF would serve as a forum for the mutual scientific exchange of Europe’s psychoanalysts.

Despite many difficulties, the EPF was finally established, although there is some controversy as to the exact date of its foundation. In 1967, the German psychoanalytical journal ‘Psyche’, informed its readers in issue 21 under ‘Announcements’, that the European Psychoanalytical Federation had been founded on 2 and 3 October, 1966, in Paris. Dr. Anna Freud was named Honorary President. Records show, however, that the official foundation of the EPF was formally ratified in 1969 at the Administrative Assembly of the IPA at the Rome Congress. The EPF has meanwhile celebrated its 30th anniversary.

As the EPF had great difficulty at first in finding an identity, Joseph Sandler, President of the EPF from 1975 to 1979, not only instigated a reform of the Constitution but also initiated a meeting of the Executive Committee and the Presidents of all Societies (Council) which has taken place twice a year since 1975. It was at these meetings that a new Constitution, defining the present work and structure of the EPF, was finally approved. Since then, the EPF has been directed by a Council, consisting of the Presidents of all Societies, which elects an Executive Committee incorporating one President, two Vice-Presidents, one Secretary, one Treasurer and, from a later date, the Editor of the EPF-Bulletin.


The Presidents of the EPF since its foundation were:

  • Raymond de Saussure (1966-1971)
  • Wilhelm Solms (1971-1975)
  • Joseph Sandler (1975-1979)
  • Daniel Widlöcher (1979-1983)
  • Anne-Marie Sandler (1983-1987)
  • Han Groen-Prakken (1987-1991)
  • Terttu Eskelinen de Folch (1991-1995)
  • Alain Gibeault (1995-1999)
  • David Tuckett (1999-2004)
  • Evelyne Sechaud (2004-2008)
  • Peter Wegner (2008-2012)
  • Serge Frisch (2012 - 2016)
  • Jorge Canestri (2016 - 2020  )
  • Heribert Blass (2020 -       )


The EPF organized a conference every two years, later once a year:

1976 01-Aix en Provence

[Different papers]


1978 02-Estoril

The Narcissism of the Psychoanalyst


1979 03-Wembley

Negative therapeutic reaction


1981 04-Rome

Defence mechanisms and phantasy in the psychoanalytical process


1983 05-Jerusalem

The Psychoanalytic Encounter


1985 06-The Hague

Interpretation - of the Past or the Present?


1987 07-Barcelona

Understanding and Interpretation of the negative Transference


1989 08-Heidelberg

Working through in Psychoanalysis


1991 09-Stockholm

Beyond words. The significance of non-verbal communication in the psychoanalytical process


1993 10-Vienna

Hearing and experiencing. The unfolding of the analytical dialogue


1995 11-Nice



1997 12-Geneve

Borderline and Hysteria. Metapsychological…


1999 13-Berlin

Love, Hate and Violence: A challenge to contemporary psychoanalysis


2001 14-Madrid

Idols and Ideals. The Super-Ego and Ego Ideal in a world of turmoil


2002 15-Prague

The influence of external reality on the clinical setting.


2003 16-Sorrento

The person of the analyst in the psychoanalytic cure: The Intrapsychic Paradox in Different Psychoanalytical Traditions


2004 17-Helsinki

Present-Day Experience and Use of the Unconscious - or: Which Unconscious? And for Which Psychoanalysis?


2005 18-Vilamoura

Interpretation and Construction in Psychoanalysis


2006 19-Athens

Psychic transformations in the psychoanalytic process


2007 20-Barcelona

Time, timelesness


2008 21-Vienna

The shadow of heritage


2009 22-Brussels

Different Forms of Unconscious Communication


2010 23-London

Passion, Love and Sexuality in Psychoanalysis


2011 24-Kopenhagen

Anxieties and Method in Psychoanalysis


2012 25-Paris

The Initial Psychoanalytic Interview and the Treatment Process


2013 26-Basel

Formlessness: Deformation, Transformation


2014 27-Turin

2015 28-Stockholm

2016 29-Berlin

2017 30-The Hague

2018 31-Warsaw/Poland

2019 32-Madrid/Spain

2020 33-Vienna/Austria (cancelled)

2021 34-Online Conference

Implementation of its Objectives

Meanwhile, the EPF has grown to become a large organization of around 3,900 members, from 20 European Societies, two Provisional Societies and four Study Groups. To promote scientific exchange in Europe, the EPF organizes many scientific conferences on varied subjects, that are either open to a wide circle of colleagues (conferences) or to which the Societies each send two delegates (colloquia). Unfortunately, due to the growth in the number of members, some conferences have been forced to forego their private and confidential character.

This can be seen in particular at the EPF Main Conference which takes place every two years. The last conference was held in March 1999 in Berlin on the subject: "Love, Hate and Violence: A Challenge to Contemporary Psychoanalysis" at which, for the first time, the unusually large number of 720 psychoanalysts from 26 countries met. For those interested, the themes of all the Main Conferences since 1983, and their main speakers, are listed below. A study of the various themes gives an insight into the changes that have taken place, as the subject areas have always been chosen for their topicality. All of the Main Conference presentations have been published in the EPF Bulletin.

The Scientific Symposium, also a biennial conference, alternates with the Main Conference. Its objective is to provide the basis for high-level scientific discussion on important and controversial psychoanalytical concepts. The following subjects have been dealt with: "The Death Instinct", "Drives and Affects", "Construction and Reconstruction“, "What is an Object?", "The Role of the Dream in Present-Day Psychoanalytic Practice“, "The Different Levels of Interpretation", "Psychoanalysts Speaking to Psychoanalysts" and in the forthcoming year 2000: "Language Communication: Meeting-Place of Drive and Object". Each Society is invited to send two members who have specialized in the chosen theme of the symposium.

Colloquium and Conference

Colloquium and Conference on Training

The Conference on Training was, to a certain degree, the cradle of the EPF. Originally, it took place each autumn in London. Since only two members from each Society were able to participate in this annual event, it was decided in the eighties to offer an additional conference, open to all European training analysts. In 1994, the Council of the EPF agreed to organize two alternating conferences on training - the original Standing Conference on Training was renamed the „Colloquium on Training“, to which each Society sends two delegates, alternating with the „Conference of Training Analysts“ to which all European training analysts are invited. However, as the number of participants is steadily declining, it is at present uncertain as to whether this conference will continue.

Colloquium and Conference on Child and Adolescent Analysis

At the Council Meeting in 1985, the suggestion put forward by Victor Smirnoff for a Standing Conference on Child Analysis was accepted and, at the request of Moses Laufer, adolescent analysis was also included. In time, the need for an alternating annual colloquium as well as a conference once again became apparent. A cause of much reflection is the issue of whether child and adolescent analysis should be thematically separated, and whether subjects on the treatment of children and adolescents should perhaps once again be offered at the Main Conferences.

Clinical Seminars are highly valued within the EPF. In 1982, the first exclusively clinical seminar took place, achknowledging for the growing need for a forum of exchange for young European analysts. Each of the two members sent from the various Societies and Study Groups presents a clinical case. Four to five training analysts chair the small discussion groups differently composed each day. For many, these meetings spark a love for supranational, European, psychoanalytic discussion. Contacts that are made across political boundaries sometimes continue for many years in small working groups. Thus, the Seminar for Associate Members continues to grow in popularity, with summaries of the meetings regularly published in the Bulletin.


The EPF/NAIPAG Seminar is also an exclusively clinical meeting. Around 80 analysts, half from Europe and half from North America, meet to discuss clinical case material.


Finally, a mention must be given to the activities of European psychoanalysts in Eastern Europe, connected in particular to the names of Han Groen-Prakken and Eero Rechardt who, in 1987, took into their hands the task of finding a circle of colleagues with whom they would visit various cities and groups, whence it became clear that activities of all sorts were in motion. While the IPA had already formed an East European Committee, this was not taken upby the EPF until 1989, only two weeks before the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the first clinical seminar took place, providing a platform of exchange between East and West. Meanwhile, the East European Committee of the EPF has been formed, working on issues such as the information, transmission and promotion of psychoanalysis in Eastern Europe.

Birth of the EPF Bulletin

What role does the EPF Bulletin play in this brief history of the EPF? It plays a very important part, not only is it a medium of information and scientific exchange, but it also reports on topical developments. Let us return to 1972 when the EPF Bulletin was brought into existence and the Editor was co-opted as the 6th member of the Executive Committee. The first issue of the Bulletin comprised 16 pages in total. It was produced on a typewriter and photocopied, a yellow paper cover was added, and the complete issue was then stapled together. The Editorial Board consisted of Peter Hildebrand (London) as Chief Editor, Michel de M’Uzan (Paris), Samir Stephanos (Germany) and Daniel Widlöcher (Paris). From its onset, the Bulletin was produced in the three official languages of the EPF: English, French and German.

Peter Hildebrand, who held the post of Editor until 1977, outlined the main objectives of the Bulletin as the identification, reporting and creative interpretation of ideas and issues of more than local interest. From 1973 onwards, the Bulletin was published twice a year, the only exceptions being 1975, when only one issue (No. 6) appeared, 1977, when four issues (Nos. 9 - 12) were published and finally 1979 when no Bulletin was produced as there was no Editor at that time.

In the first issues, the main topics were concerned with analytical training, differences in therapeutic and training analysis, opposition to psychoanalysis, and statutory rules for the practice of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, along with reports from various meetings. At that time, the contents of the Bulletin could be chosen quite freely, as it was not yet necessary to adhere strictly to conference presentations. There was once even room for a film review.

From 1976 onwards, the Federation’s logo appeared on the front cover, remaining there until the spring of 1996. Few know that it was designed by Peter Hildebrand’s daughter.

In 1977 (from issue No. 9), the page size of the Bulletin was reduced from A4 to the present format. At the same time, the number of pages began to grow from the initial 16 to an average of 40 pages per issue. In the same year, Daniel Widlöcher became Editor, remaining in office until 1979 when he was elected President. He dissolved the Editorial Board as, in his opinion, the Bulletin was working in the service of all the Societies, and he felt it more appropriate to seek help from the Presidents. He also emphasized that the Bulletin was not a psychoanalytic journal and did not seek to compete with other known scientific publications. The editorial team had always tried to give it an intermediate status between simply an internal Bulletin and a scientific review. First and foremost, it should be a medium for information and exchange amongst the various European Societies. Priority was to be given to topics concerned with the development of psychoanalytic practice in Europe, the problems posed by psychoanalytic practice in the institutional setting and the social conditions of psychoanalytic practice. Its top objective was finally to give an account of the Federation’s conferences and activities. In this respect, the Bulletin is the only official vehicle, accessible to all members, that relates the history of the Federation.

During the early years of the Bulletin’s existence, the Editor was fairly free in determining the contents of each issue, as there were very few conferences at a European level that were financed by the Federation. This began to change in 1976/77. From then on, it became customary to print the main presentations from various conferences in the Bulletin, thereby rendering them accessible to all members. The introduction of the Main Conference, with its various conference titles, finally reflected the growing need for more genuine psychoanalytic themes, as could be seen in the topic of the first EPF Main Conference in Aix-en-Provence: „Technical Problems of Interpretation“ and the second Main Conference on: „Narcissism of the Psychoanalyst“. There were also many reports on the Standing Conferences, along with other European meetings and colloquia, some of which are no longer in existence, such as the Anglo-Israeli and the Anglo-Dutch Colloquia. Book reviews also appeared regularly from 1982 onwards.

In 1980, Terttu Eskelinen de Folch took on the Editorship for the maximum term of office of eight years. She appointed Alex Holder as Associate Editor and once more set in motion the idea of a joint responsibility of the Societies by having each Society appoint a Bulletin Representative whose task it was to act as a contact partner in various matters and to inform the Editor of national news and events. From 1982 onwards, she included reviews of recently published European psychoanalytic literature and, with issue No. 17, she introduced three different cover colours (yellow, brown and light blue) to enable a distinction to be made between the three languages.

There was obviously also a need among the Presidents to discuss topical issues on the promotion of psychoanalysis, and from 1986 onwards - in that year the theme was: „Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy“ - it became customary for the Council of the Federation to meet every two years for one-day discussions on a selected subject area, with summary reports published in the Bulletin.

It is obvious that, with the steady growth of the EPF, its many new activities generated more and more information, exchanges and reports, all of which were to be included in the Bulletin. This expansion also reflected an increase in the number of members. While today’s EPF has almost 4,000 members, there were a mere 60 at its foundation. It goes without saying that the exchange within a small group, with the majority of its members participating in the newly organized conferences, functioned differently, and above all more easily, than today, when we can safely say that, at the most, one third of all members visit conferences, while the remaining, less cosmopolitan analysts rely on the EPF Bulletin as a source of information on European psychoanalysis.

In 1996 (issue No. 46), when I was elected Editor, the Bulletin was given a new look. The white cover now sports a new logo in three colours that separate the three EPF languages from each other: blue for the French, red for the English and green for the German version. Modern computers provide a clearer and much more readable typeface. A new section, entitled: „Information on National Societies Within the EPF“ has been introduced, in which Societies are given the opportunity to inform their European colleagues about themselves, the organisation of psychoanalysis in their country and about any particular problems or activities. The style of the reports themselves has also changed: whereas in the past reports were written from a much more objective viewpoint, they now include the analyst’s personal impressions of a particular conference, or they are written with a certain theoretical perspective in mind, such as Jacqueline Amati Mehler writing on her impressions of the Clinical Seminar for Associate Members from a language communication viewpoint, since this was the theme of the one-day discussion at the Council Meeting. Finally, the Bulletin bears witness to the increasing activities of the EPF in Eastern Europe over the past ten years.

Special Publications

The importance attached to training in Europe is reflected in the fact that in 1983 and again in 1993 two special issues, entitled: „Training in Europe“, were produced in addition to the Bulletin. They offer a comprehensive view into the development of the transmission and the different training models of psychoanalysis in the various European Societies. These monographs, as well as all back copies of the Bulletin, can still be obtained through the EPF’s coordinating secretary in Barcelona, Glòria Estruch.

In 1974, the Editor at the time, Peter Hildebrand, published the glossary: Vocabulaire de la Psychanalyse by Laplanche and Pontalis in several languages, distributing it together with issue No. 5 of the Bulletin. Assuming that most European psychoanalysts are no longer in possession of this old issue, yet the language barrier still presents a communication problem among European analysts, I, too, took up this idea. With the help of many colleagues in Europe, we were able to revise the old glossary and in 1998, with introductions by Jean Laplanche, Jacqueline Amati Mehler and myself, as Editor at the time, the reprint finally appeared, offering psychoanalytical terms in the three official languages of the EPF, with further translations into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. In the glossary, one column has deliberately been left blank, so that those members whose language is not included, have room to insert their own translations. Perhaps one day, we will even succeed in compiling a complete European glossary.

Articles about the history of the EPF

Since the foundation of the EPF the Bulletin "Psychoanalysis in Europe" published from time to time texts about the history of the EPF. If you would like to see the list of theses articles click please on the following link:

Bulletin articles on the history of the EPF