COWAP April Newsletter


Honouring Alcira Mariam Alizade
After the COWAP panel (report below) at the EPF conference, an hour was dedicated to honouring Marion Alizade. The speech that she wrote to be read at the Xth COWAP dialogue in Mexico, written two days before her death, was read as well as all the tributes received, which were forwarded to her family. These are given in an attachment. There are plans to dedicate conferences and a book to her.

Click Here To Read:  Remembering and Honoring  Alcira Mariam Alizade.

Joan Raphael-Leff, Foundational Chair of COWAP writes:

When Otto Kernberg and Joe Sandler asked me to set up a Committee for Women and Psychoanalysis in 1998, determined to have democratic representation, my first task was to write round to each of the regional organizations asking them to appoint a representative. Alcira Mariam Alizade was recommended for Latin America. During that early period when there were only four of us – myself as overall Chair, Helen Meyers as the American Chair, and Monique Cournut for Europe, and Alcira (as she was called then) took a crucial position as we formulated our goals and the best way to achieve them. We were much aided by Bob Tyson who gave us a great deal of practical and sound political advice.

From the very beginning, Mariam was totally devoted to her role as Latin American Chair. Despite the geographical distance and time discrepancies, we were in daily contact by email and telephone, worked very hard and had fun together when we met, whenever one of us was travelling. She was the most active of all the representatives and even as a candidate had shown a talent for ‘networking’ in her position as a council member of IPSO, making many contacts at conferences. She now knew exactly who she could call upon. Utilizing her organizational skills and great capacity for delegation she immediately began planning and holding small and large local conferences all over her region.

Within a very short time, at the IPA congress in Chile, COWAP was proclaimed as the most active and fruitful of all the IPA Committees.

We had created a network of active liaisons in many countries across the globe. The appointment of Beth Selig as North American co-Chair and later, Irene Matthis of Sweden as Chair of the Scandinavian bloc led to two very successful conferences and the first COWAP books and Frances Thomson-Salo soon began her COWAP role in Australasia.

Meanwhile, as different regions began to highlight their own specific needs, it became clear that each society should follow local conditions rather than a global policy. However, the basic principles of COWAP were retained throughout – namely our aim to raise awareness among non-psychoanalysts as well as IPA members and to provoke candid discussion of contemporary issues, and similarities/divergences within gendered experience.

Mariam always had a diplomatic approach, and when she took over from me as Overall Chair, she found ways to anticipate dissent and to smooth ruffled feathers, paving the path to further achievements. We remained close during her own ‘presidentship’ (as Mariam called the position) and she in turn fostered the next overall chair, Giovanna Ambrosia, who passed the torch on to Frances Thomson-Salo.
COWAP has continued to flourish and grow under this succession of leaders each of whom has nourished its development in her own way. It is gratifying that despite its burgeoning size, COWAP’s many members still display the original qualities of dedication, warmth, seriousness and a sense of fun. Mariam was vital in spreading this family atmosphere, and it is so characteristic of her generosity that even a few days before her death she was concerned to convey her good wishes and judicious thoughts to the conference she could not attend. In her demise COWAP has lost a great mother figure, a model of tact, beauty, courage and feminine wisdom. Her unique presence is sorely missed but her legacy remains alive in COWAP.

Report of COWAP panel at EFP Conference, Basel, 23.3.13

Prof Paul Denis – Gender as the first qualitative differentiation
The notion of sex is an anatomical datum. The sex is a fact, a reality. The notion of gender, the difference between masculine or feminine, is a qualitative notion. It is quite impossible to be both male and female, but it is possible to be simultaneously masculine and feminine in different ways: walking, style, and some behaviour. Adjectives like masculine and feminine are also submitted to social culture, they are also definitely subjective. Sex is objective, gender is subjective. Before recognizing anatomical difference between the sexes, the infant experiences an inform interpersonal sexuality in which differences between men and women, between mother and father, are qualitative. They have not the same smell, the same way to pick the infant up in their arms; the cheeks of one are soft, the other’s are stinging and so on. The gender difference is the first one, preceding the awareness of sexual anatomy. The formlessness of sexuality of the beginning is differentiating first in a qualitative way and afterwards become more assenting with the knowledge of the anatomical difference between the two sexes. The mother is only a woman in the aftermath of that knowledge. The building of sexual fantasies, and of primal scene are consequently flourishing. To be homosexual is not a gender but an object choice which is not neglecting anatomical difference between both sexes. To build an identity on “gender” is a way to maintain the first qualitative differentiation between men and women. It is a way to avoid some aspects of fantasy life and especially primal scene. Gender theory is foremost an anti-sexual infantile theory.

Joan Raphael-Leff – Formlessness, deformation and transformation – in maternity
Parenthood is a time of intense provocation. Some primary carers are able to utilise intuitive understanding to fathom the baby’s needs, while others fear getting sucked back and lost in identification with the baby. I argue that continuous exposure to the infant’s raw non-verbal feelings, and close contact with evocative primary substances of baby-care retrigger pre-symbolic infantile schemata in the adult – ‘formless’ emotional experiences, originally encoded in perceptual channels of smell, touch, image, sound and visceral modes of information during the carer’s own preverbal babyhood. Additionally, traumatic bodily experiences during labour coupled with dream-sleep-deprivation, physical exhaustion, uterine contractions and lactation render biological mothers more vulnerable to threat of emotional flooding. When a parent lacks respite from the constant demands of baby-care activity with no time to digest their own heightened turmoil, this ‘contagious arousal’ results in ‘deformation’ of experience. Thus, the baby’s sensitivity to the carer’s incompatible reactions is paralleled by the mother’s hypersensitivity to effects of the baby’s unformulated emotional states and acute distress. Furthermore, I suggest that postnatal disturbance, so rife in westernised societies today is partly due to smaller families. Reduced access to babies while growing up offers few opportunities to work-through pre-symbolic primary experiences, and to transform these into more explicit understanding – before the birth of one’s own baby! Psychoanalytic understanding and ‘mentalization’ of the incomprehensible can lead to transformational states. The needs of infants changed little over millennia, while maternal expectations have altered dramatically in the last few decades. Therapeutic help is invaluable at this point when the bewildered infant is hindered from undisturbed healthy ‘formlessness’, and the previously unsymbolised is contagiously aroused, and available to be articulated by the parents.

Both speakers held the attention of the audience in an engaged way which was very welcomed.

Honorary COWAP photo Archivist
Ingrid Moeslein-Teising has agreed to become the COWAP photo archivist if people would like to send her photographs of COWAP events –

New COWAP representative – welcome
Argentine Psychoanalytic Association: Patricia Alkolombre

Horror in paradise

Arlene Kramer Richards, a COWAP committee member, has forwarded this item for the newsletter.

“It’s hard to believe, but a 15-year-old rape survivor has been sentenced to be whipped 100 times in public! Let’s put an end to this lunacy by hitting the Maldives government where it hurts: the tourism industry. The girl’s stepfather is accused of raping her for years and murdering the baby she bore. Now the court says she must be flogged for “sex outside marriage”! President Waheed of the Maldives is already feeling global pressure on this, and we can force him to save this girl and change the law to spare other victims this cruel fate. This is how we can end the War on Women – by standing up every time an outrage like this happens. Tourism is the big earner for the Maldives elite, including government ministers. Let’s build a million-strong petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law. Sign and forward this email now to get us to two million:
Click Here to Forward the Email
The Maldives is a paradise for tourists. But for women there, it can be hell. Under harsh interpretations of sharia law, women and children are routinely punished with flogging and house arrest if found guilty of extramarital sex or adultery. It’s nearly always the women who get punished, not the perpetrators. A staggering one in three women between ages 15 and 49 have suffered physical or sexual abuse — yet zero rapists were convicted in the past three years.

Winning this battle can help women everywhere, as the Maldives government is right now running for a top UN human rights position – on a platform of women’s rights! Global outrage has already forced President Waheed to appeal the sentence in the 15-year-old’s case. But that’s not enough. Extremists inside the country will force him to abandon further reforms if international attention fades.”

Arlene Kramer Richards also forwarded this.
Honouring brave women
In catastrophic situations, there are many examples of how an integrated attitude towards life and infancy enables women to act on the side of the drive for life – the following is one.


Irena Sendler

Died: May 12, 2008 (aged 98)Warsaw, Poland.
During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist.
She had an ulterior motive. Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried.
She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.
Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.
The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the infants’ and children’s noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 children.

In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected.


April, 2013 10th COWAP dialogue at Ciudad de Mexico, ‘Intolerance of the Feminine’
Bajo el auspicio del Comité de COWAP Latinoamérica, la International Psychoanalitic Association y la Asociación Psicoanalítica Mexicana, se está organizando el X Diálogo latinoamericano intergeneracional entre hombre y mujeres, con el tema de “Inotelerancia a lo femenino” que se llevará a cabo los días 12 y 13 de Abril del 2013, en el WTC de la ciudad de México. El término Intolerancia a lo femenino contiene tanto formas sutiles y a veces implícitas de exclusión, control, acoso ó abuso de poder hacia las mujeres. Desde el punto de vista del psicoanálisis la intolerancia a lo femenino incluye no solamente las relaciones hombre-mujer, sino también las relaciones entre mujeres. Se invita a todos los interesados a participar, se les adjunta la convocatoria donde encontrarán los subtemas y requisitos para la presentación de trabajos. La coordinación del evento corre a cargo de Nohemí Reyes de Polanco

May 2013, COWAP workshop in the CPLF Congress in Paris. Co-Chairs – Nicole Carels and Panos Aloupis, on the theme of “Le paternel”. Prsenters: Antonino Ferro and Catherine Chabert.

31 May- June 1st, 2 day COWAP conference, ‘Homosexualities’, Istanbul. See IPA website

31 July – 3 Aug IPA Congress Prague – at least 4 COWAP contributions
Book launch “The female body: inside and outside”, first editor Ingrid Moeslein-Teising, will be part of the IPA Publications Committee book launch there.

1) COWAP panel: ‘Reflections on the gender of violence: facing the pain when trust is killed’, Presenters Carinne Minne on infanticide, Tim Keogh on perverse sexual behaviour and Gertraud Schlesinger-Kipp on processing World War II childhood trauma.

2) In a panel Teresa Rocha Leite Haudenschild will present “El padre, el dolor psíquico y el desarrollo de la psicosexualidad”, with co-presenter Sergio Nick (Rio de Janeiro) and coordinator Hilda Botero, (Colombia). They will make a short biographical sketch of Mariam Alizade.

3) Ruth Axelrod Praes (COWAP committee member) has organised a panel: “Mas allá del principio del placer en el psicoanálisis de pareja”.

4) Panel Trauma y dolor alrededor de la maternidad (COWAP)
Presenters: Dr. Martín J. Maldonado Durán (University of Missouri Kansas City, USA) ;Kenia Gomez PhD (University of Missouri Kansas City), mail:

3) Dr. Manuel E Morales (Facultad de Psiquiatría UMKC, Instituto de Psicoanálisis Kansas City, USA) mail: manuel.morales@ 4) Dra. Teresa Lartigue (Asociación Psicoanalítica Mexicana, México):
Coordinadora del Panel: Dra. Teresa Lartigue, Moderadora. Dra. Graziella Fava-Vizzielo (Universidad de Padua, Italia): El panel versará sobre los efectos de los traumas sufridos en la infancia en el aparato psíquico de las mujeres que son y/o desean ser madres. Se hace hincapié en el inmenso sufrimiento y dolor psíquico que conlleva el abuso o violencia, el cual ha sido objeto de múltiples investigaciones, mediante las cuales se han podido demostrar las repercusiones en la vida adulta. Ocurren principalmente perturbaciones en el pensamiento, decremento de la capacidad de mentalización, problemas de regulación emocional, patrones de apego desorganizado, así como dificultad en las relaciones intersubjetivas. El impacto es más severo cuando el o los traumas psíquicos se han experimentado de manera crónica (efecto acumulativo) y la violencia ha sido perpetrada en el núcleo familiar por los padres o figuras parentales. Las experiencias traumáticas promueven una multiplicidad de operaciones defensivas entre las que se encuentran: fenómenos disociativos (experiencias de despersonalización –de estar fuera de su cuerpo- amigos imaginarios, ausencia de resonancia emocional y de empatía, así como discontinuidades en la vida mental); otros son identificación con el agresor (conducta violenta, agresión hacia el grupo de pares y los adultos, negatividad, oposicionismo, resentimiento, y rabia y enojo permanentes), al igual que inexplicables estados de intensa ansiedad, tales como ansiedad libre y flotante, ataques de pánico, fobias, e inhibiciones sociales en general.

El primer trabajo de este panel “Consecuencias de los eventos traumáticos sufridos por la madre en la relación con sus hijos” será abordado por Martín J. Maldonado Durán y Kenia Gómez; en éste se aborda la superposición de la crisis psicológica que conlleva cualquier embarazo, con los cambios sufridos en el aparato psíquico al haber sido víctima de violencia intrafamiliar. Se describen las depositaciones proyectivas en la hija o hijo por nacer, tanto durante el embarazo como en los primeros años de vida del infante. Se hace énfasis en las conductas maternales anómalas (ignorar, rechazar, asustar y señales contradictorias) que llevan a efectos negativos en el ajuste del niño/a a corto y largo plazo.
En el segundo trabajo “Maltrato infantil, maternidad y migración” presentado por Manuel E. Morales, se da cuenta de toda la gama de sentimientos, emociones, afectos displacenteros experimentados por madres mexicanas residentes en uno de los estados de la Unión Americana, a través de la aplicación de la Entrevista de Apego Adulta de manera grupal en un servicio de salud mental, al que acudieron por presentar sus hijos/as algún tipo de psicopatología. La entrevista da lugar a intervenciones terapéuticas que se trabajan en el formato grupal.
El tercer trabajo trata de lo contrario, del dolor de no tener hijos vivos: “Sufrimiento materno frente a las pérdidas perinatales”, presentado por Teresa Lartigue, aborda la devastación del aparato psíquico experimentado por las mujeres que han sufrido ya sea un aborto, un óbito o haber dado a luz a un hijo o hija que murió a las pocas horas o días de haber nacido; de ese dolor sin nombre, del desgarro interno y la depresión profunda insondable. Se analizan tres viñetas clínicas desde el binomio transferencia-contratransferencia.

4-5 October 2013, ‘Myths of Mighty Women’ conference, New York
Organised by Arlene Kramer Richards, on psychoanalytic understanding of the fear of, and the identifications with, powerful women, with papers from Germany and Mexico.

Arlene Kramer Richards

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