The 2nd International Summer School in Group Analysis was held in Prague from 15th-19th July 2015 in cooperation with the Group Section of The Czech Society for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (CSPAP). It was a very successful event – overshadowed by the sudden death of its chair – Marie Hoskova – on the 5th of July. Prague Programme The summer school was opened with a commemoration of Marie Hoskova and a minute’s silence in her honour.
The introductory speech was given by GASI’s President Robi Friedman, who spoke on “Thrills and Suspense – the Challenge of Meeting”. The well-received speech was followed by the first large group and then a lovely welcome reception. The next three days saw Small Groups in the morning, three more lectures, each followed by Discussion Groups and lunch, with Supervision Groups and the Large Group in the afternoon. The authors of the three lectures were Marie Hoskova “Why should individual members be afraid to be in a group?” (the paper, which was finished by Marie shortly before her death was read by Ludek Vrba), Tija Despotovic “Are Group Analysts Afraid of Groups” and Helená Klimová “I’m afraid of the Big Bad Group”, which covered a wide range of subjects from clinical issues to questions of the broader society.
The papers provided a very intense input into the small and large groups. Peter Zelakowski will explore the possibility of publishing the papers in a special issue of Contexts. IMO the dynamics of the summer school were deeply influenced by two main factors: 1. Marie’s death – the fact that she was not buried yet contributed to a difficult mourning process; 2. The post-totalitarian situation in our host’s country was felt as a constant question, what could/should be said and what had to remain unspoken. In addition, there was the familiar issue of language, signalled before the event by our Czech colleagues as a source of anxiety to them, present in the school but seldom openly addressed. After a lovely farewell dinner in a restaurant at Karl’s bridge we closed on Sunday – after one more small group and one more large group – with a short closing ceremony at 13.00 h.
The Staff Team met over a final lunch, with a heart-warming exchange of experiences over the long process of preparing and realising the school. The sense of fulfilment, on all sides, was gratifying. Participants In the end 51 persons participated, 37 Internationals and 14 from Czech Republic. 24 persons paid the higher fee of 250€ (20 Internationals, 4 Czechs), 27 paid the lower fee of 130€. Of the original 57 applicants 6 didn’t come for various reasons: one died shortly before the summer school (Cora Dean), 4 cancelled due to illness and one had to cancel due to the political and economic situation in the home country (Greece) and was reimbursed. The range of ages and professional experience was great as was the spread of nationalities: participants held passports from 11 nations: Finland (2), Germany (3), Greece (1), Ireland (2) , Israel (1), Italy (1), New Zealand (2), Russia (1), Serbia (5 – 4 of these were bursaries), Slovenia (5), UK (14). The distribution of passports could mislead – e.g. people from Ireland and New Zealand were London based, whilst a number of people with a UK passport were immigrants and some people held double passports; thus the summer school reflected the current demographic situation in Europe as well as the appeal that group analysis especially holds for migrants. A well-received innovation was the blog initiated by Peter Zelaskowski through which the participants before, during and mainly after the summer school kept contact, exchanging impressions and fotos. Staff The summer school was organised by an international organizing committee (David Glyn, Tija Despotovic and myself) on the one hand and a local organising committee in Prague (Marie Hoskova, Helena Klimova and Ludek Vrba) on the other hand. Marie Hoskova was appointed as Chair of the summer school. After her sudden death, this role was jointly taken by Helena Klimová and Ludek Vrba. All persons mentioned were members of staff in Prague – additionally Sue Einhorn, Peter Zelaskowski and George Youkakis (on the international side) joined our team during the summer school along with Denisa Schückova, Mabel Rodriduez and Eduard Ryss (on the Czech side). The whole team worked excellently together and did a great job – supported from the administrative side by Alice Vesela in Prague and Julia Porturas in London. During the school, Alice addressed and resolved all the practical issues, anticipated and unexpected, that are always thrown up during an event such as this. We thank everybody who contributed to this intense and valuable experience – the participants, the members of staff and the administrators.
Regine Scholz with David Glyn and Tija Despotovic