Aisling Campbell – Conference Report – Report on the International Congress on Freud’s Pre-Analytic Writings, Ghent University, Belgium – 12-15 May 1995

THE LETTER 04 (Summer 1995) pages 148-150

It seems appropriate that a congress on Freud’s Pre-Analytic writings, recognised as crucial to the history of psychoanalysis, should be held in a city that is itself so eminently ‘historic’. A distant view of Ghent is dominated by the spires of St. Baaf’s Cathedral, St. Nicholas’ Church and the Belfry reaching toward Heaven. The streets are cobbled, and the older, inner part of the city is reminiscent of a Breughel painting. Each ancient building is meticulously composed of tiny bricks and slates and seems forever on the verge of toppling into its neighbouring canal. The awe inspired by the height of the Gothic Belfry gives a taste of the sheer terror invoked by a precipitous view from its peak. Some of these sentiments were certainly evoked by the Congress – its breadth and ambition were certainly awesome, and a certain amount of anxiety (if not terror) was detectable in those of use who presented papers.

The Congress was held in Het Pand, a restored Dominican monastery which is now owned by the University of Ghent. About 250 people attended, with participants predominantly from Belgium and France although there were speakers from the United States, England, and of course, five Irish participants. Although the subject of the conference was what might be termed an historical one, it…

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