Vamık Volkan

Vamık D. Volkan (born 1932 in Lefkoşa, Cyprus) is a Turkish Cypriot Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, the Senior Erik Erikson Scholar at the Erikson Institute of Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and an Emeritus Training and Supervising Analyst at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, Washington, D.C. He is the President Emeritus of International Dialogue Initiative (IDI).


Vamık D. Volkan, M.D., DFLAPA, FACPsa, is an Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia and an Emeritus Training and Supervising Analyst at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, Washington, DC. During his thirty nine years at the University of Virginia Dr. Volkan was the Medical Director of the University’s Blue Ridge Hospital for eighteen years. A year after his 2002 retirement Dr.Volkan became the Senior Erik Erikson Scholar at the Erikson Institute of the Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, Massachusetts and he has spent three to six months there each year for ten years.

In the early 1980s Dr. Volkan was a member and later the chairman of the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Psychiatry and Foreign Affairs. This committee brought influential Israelis, Egyptians and Palestinians for unofficial negotiations. In 1987, Dr. Volkan established the Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction (CSMHI) at the School of Medicine, University of Virginia. CSMHI applied a growing theoretical and field-proven base of knowledge to issues such as ethnic tension, racism, large-group identity, terrorism, societal trauma, immigration, mourning, transgenerational transmissions, leader-follower relationships, and other aspects of national and international conflict. The CSMHI's faculty included experts in psychoanalysis, psychiatry, psychology, diplomacy, history, political science, and environmental policy. In 1987 the Soviet Duma signed a contract with the CSMHI to examine existing difficulties between the Soviet Union and United States. Later the CSMHI members worked in the Baltic Republics, Kuwait, Albania, former Yugoslavia, Georgia, South Ossetia, Turkey, Greece, and elsewhere. Dr. Volkan founded the CSMHI’s journal, Mind & Human Interaction, which examined the relationship between psychoanalysis and history, political science and other fields.

Dr. Volkan was a member of the International Negotiation Network (INN) under the directorship of the former President Jimmy Carter (1989-2000) and also a member of the Working Group on Terror and Terrorism, International Psychoanalytic Association. He was a Temporary Consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Albania and Macedonia. He had the honor to give the keynote address in Cape Town, South Africa in 2006, celebrating Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s life of peaceful justice and the 10th anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s activities. He also was honored on several occasions by being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Letters of support were sent from 27 countries.

Dr. Volkan holds Honorary Doctorate degrees from Kuopio University (now called the University of Eastern Finland), Finland, from Ankara University, Turkey, and the Eastern European Psychoanalytic Institute, Russia. He was a former President of the Turkish-American Neuropsychiatric Society, the International Society of Political Psychology, the Virginia Psychoanalytic Society, and the American College of Psychoanalysts. He was an Inaugural Yitzak Rabin Fellow, Rabin Center for Israeli Studies, Tel Aviv, Israel; a Visiting Professor of Law, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts; a Visiting Professor of Political Science at the University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria and at Bahceșehir University, Istanbul, Turkey. He worked as a Visiting Professor of Psychiatry at three universities in Turkey. In 2006, he was Fulbright/Sigmund Freud-Privatstiftung Visiting Scholar of Psychoanalysis in Vienna, Austria. In 2015, he became a Visiting Professor at El Bosque University, Bogota, Colombia.

Among many awards he received are Nevitt Sanford Award, Elise M. Hayman Award, L. Bryce Boyer Award, Margaret Mahler Literature Prize, Hans H. Strupp Award, the American College of Psychoanalysts’ Distinguished Officer Award for 2014. He also received the Sigmund Freud Award given by the city of Vienna, Austria, in collaboration with the World Council of Psychotherapy and Mary S. Sigourney Award for 2015. The Sigourney Award was given to him because he was due to his being a seminal contributor “to the application of psychoanalytic thinking to conflicts between countries and cultures,” and because “his clinical thinking about the use of object relations theory in primitive mental states has advanced our understanding of severe personality disorders.”

Dr. Volkan is the author, coauthor, editor or coeditor of over fifty psychoanalytic and psychopolitical books some of which has been translated into Turkish, German, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Greek and Finnish. He has written hundreds of published papers and book chapters. He has served on the editorial boards of sixteen national or international professional journals, including The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Dr. Volkan was the Guest Editor of the Diamond Jubilee Special Issue of The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 2015.

Currently Dr. Volkan is the president emeritus of the International Dialogue Initiative (IDI) which he established in 2007.The IDI members are unofficial representatives from Iran, Israel, Germany, Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the West Bank. They meet twice a year to examine world affairs primarily from a psychopolitical point of view. Dr. Volkan continues to lecture nationally and internationally.


Volkan in 1972 introduced the concept of linking objects, to account for the connections formed by some mourners to certain specific objects – paperweight, towel, photo – which are associated with a loved one's death, and which are both treasured and compulsively avoided as a result:[1] he considered that the mourner saw them as “containing elements of himself and of the person he has lost”.[2]



Articles (Selected)

See also


  1. Darian Leader, The New Black (2009) p. 180 and p. 221
  2. Volkan, quoted in Y. Bilu, Without Bounds (2000) p. 174
  3. "Peaceful Pretenders". The New York Times. November 9, 1997. Retrieved June 29, 2010.

External links

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