Stillpoint Zurich Opening Speech

by Stillpoint co-Founder Evangelos Tsempelis

IIt’s a true pleasure to see you all in this special occasion of the opening of Stillpoint Zurich!


For all of us involved in this effort this is another opportunity to reflect on a process that has been in the short span of the last few years a very dense and rich one indeed. As you may have noticed, the name of Christian Herrmann’s blog – whose photographs of Jewish Heritage Sites in Ukraine we are hosting – is “Vanishing Worlds”.


Many people come to analysis in order to address matters of suffering, maters which require an exploration of inner landscapes. By following traces one often discovers the presence of long forgotten and/or unexplored territories. Here in Zurich for more than 50 years people from all around the world have come to engage in an analytic process, to eventually become analysts themselves and to accompany others through their respective process of discovery and reckoning in turn.


That is a journey fraught with many challenges for most, As one reckons with matters and realities hitherto unknown, interiorly, one also has to cope with objective realities – not the least important of which – is making ends meet in one of the most expensive cities in the world.


To engage in this process many have to make sacrifices: sell homes, move families to a foreign country, or remain separated from loved ones while living for many years in anguish and uncertainty. Yet, the stakes and rewards of such a process are so high that people continue to come to Zurich for this purpose There are today Zurich-trained analysts all around the world comprising yet another unexplored and fragmented field. Indeed, this field of rigorous training and serious work – Walter Kaufmann calls psychoanalysis a “poetic science”-has been under multiple pressures, becoming as such increasingly marginalized while access to it – at the same time – has been rendered more and more difficult. A heritage comprising of one hundred (100) years of speculation and clinical practice seems to be gradually slipping into oblivion.


Some years ago some of us shared a terrible moment – a premonition almost. A moment when we felt that we were [becoming] estranged citizens of a vanishing world ourselves.


Stillpoint is the ongoing response that sprang from taking that moment seriously in both its objective and subjective dimensions. We began to ask ourselves what is the value of our work and training and engaged in an effort to translate/ interpret seminal values and ideas from this heritage in a language that could be intelligible to others belonging to different fields. We took the streets in different cities such as: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, New York, London , Paris, Pristina (Kosovo) and Zurich’s infamous Langstrasse in order to engage in conversations with people from all walks of life, all part of an experiment that we called, “Psychoanalysis on the Street”.


In the same spirit, we began to open windows to the digital street, the internet, to connect with colleagues outside of our particular school of training from all around the world. Together we studied what happens when therapeutic work is brought online. We soon discovered that our precious, intimate moment in Zurich was in fact a moment that connected us to people in many distant corners. Individuals, who as practitioners of psychology, or not, were thirsty to explore and share their passion and curiosity, their calling to engage with questions that pertained to matters of healing and meaning as these present themselves in the infinite variety of individual lives.


So, this space where we have gathered today – a former bakery belonging to our hospitable landlord family – is not a Gemeinschaftspraxis (group praxis)! It is rather part of a constellation that is developing in different shapes and forms in different settings as we continue with the endeavor to curve space for psychological work  within, not in retreat from, the vicissitudes of the contemporary world of late modernity


From my limited perspective, the challenge is to seize another moment, that of understanding and responding psychologically to the suffering associated with our times and place.


In this vein, here at Stillpoint Zurich we invite you to engage with us in the work of remembering, exploring and imaging interior landscapes, whether individual or communal.


In addition to offering a space for therapeutic/analytic work one-on-one, or for families and couples, we will also be undertaking various initiatives which will aim to provide opportunities for reflection, conversation, exploration and hopefully intervention at the intersection of the world of psychological interiority and the world of objective affairs and circumstances that shape our reality in the respective confines of our grounded concern.


As I conclude this thoughts the name of a book by the late Greek psychoanalyst, Cornelius Castoriades, comes to mind, “The Imaginary Constitution of Society”. The point  I think is that this word of ours with all its objective structures and strictures is indeed fundamentally an imagined one. To understand how in its multiple and fragmented form it still hangs together and not to forget to imagine it further is still a supreme task/responsibility I think, I feel.


Our hope is that at Stillpoint you may find in community with others in Zurich and beyond a place to engage and to partake in this endeavor as it touches and affects you in the unique singularity and richness of your own person.

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