Message from the President

Gerald P. Perman, MD, DLFAPA
AAPDP President (2018-2020)

Message from the President

Dear Academy Friends,

I welcome this opportunity to share my reflections with you about the American Academy of Psychodynamic Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis. We are in our 63rd year and continue to evolve and keep up with the times. Ours is a unique organization of psychiatrists with a primary interest in psychodynamic psychiatry based on the fundamental discoveries of Sigmund Freud that began over 125 years ago. Whereas many new therapies and treatments for mental illness have since been developed and are more “popular” today than is psychodynamic and psychoanalytic psychiatry, our members remain convinced of the profound importance of recognizing unconscious conflict in our patients, of appreciating the defense mechanisms that our patients use to cope with these conflicts, and of valuing the efficacy of the treatments we provide in many varied settings. In this regard, I want to extend a deeply felt welcome to the former members of the College of American Psychoanalysts who are new members to the Academy.

We live in anxiety-provoking times. How could the cataclysmic threats posed by climate change, the devastating opioid crisis in America, and the lethal domestic violence and mass shootings that are now a routine part of the American scene, not cause anxiety in ourselves, in our society’s children, and in our patients? I hear about these issues frequently in my practice, as I imagine that you do as well. Even though we work at the “micro” level treating one patient at a time, the effect of our treatment is analogous to throwing a stone into the proverbial pond that creates ripples that affect the lives of the many people under our patients’ spheres of influence.

The antidote to anxiety is to turn passive paralysis into assertive action. In our work, we help our patients productively release their energies that are bound up in neurotic conflict to improve their lives and to help those around them as well. This then is our potent professional contribution to some of the important problems that exist in our world. To quote Freud: “The voice of reason is small, but very persistent.”

Most of you are familiar with the Teichner Scholarship Program overseen by Sherry Katz-Bearnot, M.D., and the eponymous Scott Schwartz Award, both of which are described in detail on the Academy website ( I hope to let you know soon about two additional awards that are currently under consideration in the Academy. In addition to these initiatives, I have created a Social Media Task Force to look at potential advantages for the Academy to develop a social media presence on our website – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – to inform the wider public of the Academy’s existence and to share our knowledge and resources with others.

The Academy maintains a strong physician identify and as such is an Affiliate Organization of the American Psychiatric Association. We had been effectively represented in the APA Assembly for a number of years by Eric Plakun, M.D. Eric was recently promoted to become a Trustee of the APA and his role as Assembly Representative has been filled by Barry Fisher, M.D. Barry, a long-time colleague of mine in Washington, D.C., had previously asked how he could become more active in the Academy. When I asked Barry if he would consider taking on the role of Assembly Rep, he enthusiastically accepted and he has already attended his first APA Assembly meeting.

I love my work as a full-time psychodynamic psychiatrist in Washington, D.C.  I have been in practice for almost 40 years and retirement looms sometime in the future. I find it hard to let go of my practice with grateful patients who don’t want to lose me. At the same time, I hold on to the deluded belief that I will live forever, that I will never retire, and that I will just continue to decrease my hours gradually without an endpoint. Like an old general, I will “never die, but just fade away.” We all need to be aware, however, of how long we can safely practice medicine as our powers will most assuredly wane with advancing age. In this regard, Douglas Ingram, M.D.’s critical work with the new Physician Wellbeing Task Force will have much to offer members of the Academy as well as the larger psychiatric community.
I wish to thank our Executive Director, Ms. Jackie Coleman, and Executive Assistant, Ms. Marie Westlake, for working closely with me and providing sage advice through our frequent email correspondence and weekly telephone meetings that keep the Academy running smoothly and effectively. I also extend a heartfelt “thank you” to members of our Board and everyone else who volunteers their time and energy to help maintain our wonderful organization.

I look forward with great anticipation to the May 2019 Academy Annual Meeting in San Francisco co-chaired by Drs. Silvia Olarte and Alicia McGill. I recently reviewed a draft of the program and it looks excellent!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions about the Academy, and about initiatives that you would like to undertake on its behalf. Submit your scholarly contributions to our prestigious journal, Psychodynamic Psychiatry, your opinion pieces and briefer scientific articles to the Academy Forum, and your newsworthy items to our Newsletter. Both Psychodynamic Psychiatry and the Academy Forum welcome your book reviews – please contribute!

I look forward to seeing each of you in San Francisco in May 2019.

Best cordial regards to all,

Gerald P. Perman, M.D.
President, American Academy of Psychodynamic Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis




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