Prof. Dr. Vamik Volkan

Public lecture: Introduction to psychoanalytic political psychology

November 21, 2014, 6:30 pm
New Bulgarian University, Aula

Audio-recording of the lecture (in English and Bulgarian):

0701_feature_volkan_portraitThe Bulgarian Psychoanalytical Society (BPS) has the pleasure to welcome for the first time in Bulgaria the prominent Prof. Dr. Volkan for presenting his achievements in understanding politics and large group conflicts by the means of psychoanalysis.

Dr. Vamik Volkan is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, an Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry of University of Virginia School of Medicine, USA. Dr. Volkan is also an Emeritus Training and Supervising Analyst at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, Washington, DC. He is a Senior Erik Erikson Scholar at the Institute of Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, Massachusetts and a former President of the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP), and the Virginia Psychoanalytic Society. Dr. Volkan was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for four times, supported by letters from 27 countries, for carrying out projects in various troubled spots in the world for 30 years and examining conflicts between opposing large groups, and for developing psychopolitical theories.

He holds Honorary Doctoral Degrees from Kuopio University, Finland and from Ankara University, Turkey. He also received the Sigmund Freud Award given by the city of Vienna, Austria. Dr. Volkan holds the Austrian-American Educational Commission (Fulbright Commission) award. He was listed in Best Doctors in America every year from the late 1980s until his retirement from medical practice in 2002.

While serving as the Medical Director of the University of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Hospital for eighteen years, Dr. Volkan played a key role in Blue Ridge Hospital development, as well as in the development of a several new concepts for working with “difficult patients”.
In 1987 Dr. Volkan created the first of its kind center “The Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction (CSMHI).” The faculty consisted of psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, psychologists, as well as former diplomats, political scientists, historians, who worked together for expanding the concept of “preventive medicine” and developing a mechanism and strategies for the society in coping with such aggressive and violent acts as war. Dr. Volkan had worked at projects in Soviet Union, Baltic Republics, Albania, Kuwait, former Yugoslavia, Georgia, South Ossetia, Turkey, USA and Greece.

Dr. Volkan was a founder of the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP) and served as a member of the Carter Center’s International Negotiation Network (INN) under the direction of former USA President Jimmy Carter. Through his work dedicated to resolving international conflicts through peaceful means, Dr. Volkan brought together political, religious and national leaders for unofficial negotiations. Among them were Mikhail Gorbachov and Yasser Arafat. Dr. Volkan was a chairperson of the Select Advisory Commission of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Critical Incident Response Group that examined the 1993 Waco, Texas incident and a member of Working Group on Terror and Terrorism, International Psychoanalytic Association. He gave the annual Foulkes Lecture for the Group Analytic Society in 2002 on September 11 and Societal Regression.

Dr. Volkan wrote 50 books translated into more than ten languages. References to Dr. Volkan’s work have appeared in publications like: New York Times, Time, Newsweek, Washington Post and others and he was interviewed in numerous foreign televisions and radio. Dr. Volkan and his work have also been featured in three documentaries, one of which is the full-length film by Tolga Örnek “Atatürk” (2000).

It has been said that what makes Dr. Volkan unique is that since Freud his findings are the most significant expansion of psychoanalytic group psychology. He developed new theories about large-group psychology based on understanding that (ethic, national, religious, ideological) groups have their own dynamic in its own right.

Dr. Volkan visits Bulgaria and is a guest of the Bulgarian Psychoanalytical Society with the cooperation of International Psychoanalytic Association. We expect that he once again will extend the field of psychoanalysis and its understanding about conflicts in politics and peaceful coexistence of different communities.

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