“The past is never dead. It is not even past”
This is a conference that aims to uncover the impact of past traumas on the present with a view toward moving on.
Eighty years after the onset of WWII, the fallout of the Holocaust is still potently afflicting individuals and nations, determining anxieties, modes of coping, national and international dynamics, personal and interpersonal relationships….
As the second, third, and now even fourth generation of perpetrators and victims, we are the objects of the trans-generational transmission of the collective and personal traumas of WWII and the Holocaust, of totalitarian and communist dictatorships and their radioactive fallout.
Jews and Israelis carry the burden of the Holocaust, Germans are burdened by the Nazi inheritance, the inhabitants of the Bloodlands, such as Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, Russia, and others, carry the impact of communism and oppressive cruel regimes.
Twenty-five years ago we launched the first Nazareth Conference: “Germans and Israelis, the Past in the Present.” The relative optimism that prevailed at that time has given way to a world in flux: we are witnessing the disturbing resurgence of neo-Nazism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racial intolerance, Fascism and authoritarianism, of a return to tribalism and a “me -first” mentality. As a result, we are embroiled in seemingly unstoppable cycles of inter-group strife, hatred and violence.
Are we doomed to repeat these destructive patterns endlessly, or is it possible to engage with the legacy of the past in a way that may lead to a better and more hopeful future?
This experiential conference, the twelfth in this series, offers a unique space for exploring this question in relation to our world today through the combined lens of psychoanalytic understanding and the Group Relations approach.
This conference aims to explore the impact of past traumas on the present. It is relevant to anyone afflicted by these past events who recognizes the importance of getting out from under their radioactive influence and of doing it in the presence of the Other.
Major atrocities and other forms of historical trauma can produce profound and deeply lodged effects, such as suspiciousness, hostility, enmity and violence between victims and perpetrators. In turn, these ill feelings are transmitted and may infiltrate the lives of their descendants. They permeate the relationship between the groups involved, laying the foundation for perpetual hostility and repeated conflict. The burden of both victimhood and perpetration, and no less of being a bystander, exercise their destructive influences outside our awareness, and we may find ourselves puzzled, confused and upset by the impact they have on our lives.
This conference is intended for all who suffer from the impact of such enmities, are troubled by them and want to explore and work on their own experience towards understanding – rather than surrendering to – the sinister forces involved. The hope is that this may open the way to moving forward.
Away from the pressures of everyday life, the conference provides a safe setting for such forces to emerge and opportunities to explore and try to understand them. It is also an opportunity to discover whether genuine movement in the real lived relationships between members of such groups may be possible.
Background of PCCA Conferences
This 12th conference continues the exploration of the residual effects and aftermath of horrendous atrocities on the national groups that perpetrated them or were their victims. This series, referred to sometimes as the “Nazareth Conferences”, focused initially on the shadow cast by the Holocaust on Germans and Israelis. It began with the need felt by a group of Israeli and German psychoanalysts to work on the deeply-lodged suspicion, hostility and unbearable guilt which marked the relationship between Germans and Israelis/Jews as a legacy of the Holocaust. The Group Relations approach was chosen as the best suited working method and adapted to this end. Participants who worked on this interface and its effect on their personal and professional life found this work hugely beneficial, and many returned for a further opportunity to deepen their engagement with the process (Erlich, Erlich-Ginor, Beland, 2009, Fed With Tears, Poisoned with Milk).
The Conference starts on Wednesday 11th September 2019 at 13:00 (following 12.00 pm registration and lunch) and ends on Monday 16th September at 13:30 (followed by lunch).
The Primary Task of the conference is pursued through several different group events: Plenaries, Large Study groups, Small Study Groups, a Social Dreaming Matrix, Review and Application Groups, and a Conference Event.
Additional events or modifications of the above events may take place, depending on the conference composition and dynamics.
A detailed description and timetable of the events will be sent to participants before the conference.
The Primary Task
The primary task for which this conference is designed is for participants to explore feelings, fantasies and conflicts about personal and cultural identities related to the past, their impact on relationships within and between individuals and groups in the conference and toward the conference as a whole, and how they affect perceptions of the past, present and future.
PCCA conferences are experiential events, built on Group Relations methodology. Inner thoughts, feelings and fantasies about oneself as a participant and as a member of one (or more) of the groups within the conference are the raw materials that serve the work of the conference. The conference provides a setting in which these can be experienced, explored and worked with in oneself, within groups, between groups, and within the conference as a whole. Much of this work is carried out in the here and now.
Application of Conference experience to members’ personal, professional, political and social context is an important aspect of “moving forward”.
The working language of the conference is English; however, in groups or situations where everyone speaks the same language, that language can serve as the working language.
The staff have an active involvement in the process. They are not merely observers of the process. The key part of the role of the staff is to help participants to reflect about what is going on, to learn from it and to apply it to their personal, professional and social context.