Each year on the third Saturday of May, in that space between autumn and winter, Melbourne hosts the Freud Conference at the Melbourne Brain Centre in Parkville. It was begunin about 1982 by a group of academics from the University of Melbourne,students of the late Professor Alan Davies. and the founders of the Melbourne Psychosocial Group. Among them were the philosophers, Douglas Kirsner and Ron Gilbert. Together with the political scientist and historian, Judith Brett, the group invited all who were interested to schlepp down to Lorne, a coastal resort a couple of hours south of Melbourne, for a weekend of wining, dining, and talking about Freud.It featured long beach walks, lectures and time for contemplation, and reading in the final days of the indian summer.
When the conference moved to Melbourne in the early 2000s it became a day event but retained its status as an annual ‘must’ on the calendar, for all who wish to explore psychoanalytic thought and its application to society. Its attraction also lies in the fact that anyone with an interest in the subject can attend. It is not open to ‘members only’ to this or that psychoanalytic organisation, It is a space within which to give and receive knowledge, drawing on local and international developments.
Australia is a long way from Europe and the United States. It is not an easy trip but it is one that has been made often. A peek into Australia’s online newspaper archive will show how often a reporter would troop down to the docks to welcome people from their overseas study trips. Or someone would arrive for a lecture tour. The Freud Conference continues that tradition inviting internationally renowned guest speakers to stand alongside local ones. a long Australian tradition of looking outward, and inward, for knowledge development and exchange.
A scroll through the Freud Conference blog hosted by Chris Hill, from the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australia, gives a taste of the event, and access to the papers that have been presented. Maryanne Prodreka representing the Australian Association of Group Psychotherapists, Ros Glickfeld from the Australian Psychoanalytical Society and Chris Hill constitute the organising committee. Gurli Hughes takes care of the admin and organises the conference dinner.
Next year the the conference theme will be ‘Love in a Hostile Environment: Thoughts on the young adult, the couple and the society we live in’.
It is a reason to visit Melbourne too. The conference flier with details about registration etc is here.