Since 1962 17 Countries 1.546 Members
International Society of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology

50 Years of Conferences in Germany

In 2021 the 50th annual conference of the DGPFG, the German Society for Psychosomatic Gynaecology and Obstetrics, the association with the largest number of members in the ISPOG, will take place. An anniversary event was planned in Berlin; that had to be reduced to a 2-day online event due to corona. A small consolation: All DGPFG members have just received the anniversary volume “Traditions and upheavals in psychosomatic gynaecology”, which was prepared for this occasion.

The look back begins in the book at the roots of psychosomatic gynaecology in Germany in the 19th century. The priority is the development of the two psychosomatic-gynaecological associations in divided Germany and the deliberately slow process of unification. Former chairmen and board members from East and West have their contribution, and those from earlier conference proceedings are reprinted, which cover the entire breadth of the discourse.

“50th annual conference of the DGPFG” has to be explained: The first “Psychosomatic training conference for gynaecologists” took place 50 years ago in Giessen, but the DGPFG has only existed under this name for 20 years. It emerged in 2000 from two strong roots: the East Society, founded in 1979 in Magdeburg / GDR (German Democratic Republic) as an interdisciplinary working group for gynaecology and psychotherapy, and the West Society, officially founded in 1980 in Mainz / FRG (Federal Republic Germany) as the German section of the ISPOG.

The two psychosomatic-gynaecological associations that were developing in parallel in East and West Germany had only a limited exchange for years, due to the political reality of the “Iron Curtain”. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, people met with a mixture of curiosity and respect. As shown in detail in the anniversary book, many possibilities for the merger were discussed for a long time until an acceptable solution was found after 10 years: Formal dissolution of both associations and subsequent merger into a new company with a new name and a new logo.

Back to the beginnings: In West Germany, the seminar meetings took place annually, initially in Mainz, from 1982 onwards the multi-day event toured different cities. The structure is characteristic and has been retained to this day because of its success: thematically-centred lecture blocks alternate with work in small groups. The confrontation with gynaecology under National Socialism accompanied the conferences for many years. The interest in psychosomatics was immense: 700 participants were welcomed at the conference in Munich in 1990, and more than 1000 members had joined the association within 10 years.

The nucleus of the East German Association were seven dedicated gynaecologists. The board of directors of the Society for Gynaecology and Obstetrics of the GDR initially did not want to accept this establishment of a new working group “from below”; but it was recognised as an AG by the Society for Medical Psychotherapy. The slowly and steadily growing group was concerned with scientific and practical exchange. A training curriculum for psychosomatic gynaecology was developed early on, and it met with great interest. From 1984 onwards, regular conferences took place at which controversial topics were taken up at an early stage, such as 1992 “Violence in the family.” The tradition of opening the conference with a keynote lecture by a writer, begun in 1984 with the invitation of Christa Wolf, was maintained with great success.

In 2000, the “Unification Conference” took place in Dresden, at which the joint general meeting approved the prepared “merger agreement”. The DGPFG can look back on an eventful history, as I have found time and again when collecting the texts for the anniversary volume. The DGPFG can look back on an eventful history, as I have found time and again when collecting the texts for the anniversary volume. In the meantime, the trend towards psychosomatics subsided somewhat, but we have been welcoming more younger colleagues again in recent years. And we are pleased that interested parties from other professional groups – psychological psychotherapists, midwives, sex therapists, physiotherapists – appreciate the bio-psycho-social approach and take part in our conferences.

In Memoriam Eylard van Hall

Barcelona 26 Aug 1934 – Noordwijk 10 Dec 2020

The year 2020 will be remembered because of the COVID19 pandemic of which we are suffering the third wave now, but for us, the POG family, it will be the year of the farewell to a man to remember, one of the ISPOG founding fathers, our dear Eylard V. Van Hall.

ISPOG would not be what it is without his outstanding participation. I am sure many of us have received his generous leadership, his legacy, his love for life and for our profession.

As a sample I ‘ll summarise my own experience with him, I was born in Argentina and received most of my medical training in Buenos Aires 1969-77. Freud disciples had  emigrated there during the Nazi persecution and penetrated the medical education.

So I had learned to value the importance of psychosocial in Ob Gyn assistance when a cruel dictatorship coupled with economic difficulties, plus the presence of relatives in Alicante made me come to Spain in 1977 in order to learn Ultrasound and obtain the specialist degree.

I felt lonely and “different” from my colleagues, until in 1982 I went to Granada’s Clinical Hospital to meet Prof Vicente Salvatierra who was the only respected and experienced professor in Spain interested in POG. In the library, the sky opened up as I found the first editions of JPOG, my feeling of isolation turned into joy, thanks to Eylard, the Editor of the Journal and President of ISPOG and the colleagues who published the kind of papers I was desperately needing to understand I was not a strange and excentric specialist.

So as soon as I could, in 1985 I went to visit Eylard in Leyden, and new discoveries appeared before me. Eylard was born In Barcelona, lived there until his adolescence, spoke fluent Spanish and was willing to help the foundation of POG Societies in Spain and Argentina, both happened with his presence. In 1986, in Spain, lead by Prof Salvatierra and in 1992 in Argentina, lead by Prof. Carlos Gurucharri, ISPOG president 2000-03.

The door of Eylard´s office had a notice: “When god created man she was only joking” (I only knew male chauvinist Chief professors until then). Eylard had very clear ideas about why ISPOG and the JPOG were needed by Ob Gyn education globally. He had a strong appeal for open-minded colleagues and tremendous ambassadorial skills which guided me so much afterwards.

I recommend you read his thoughts in his own words. (References 1 to 3)

Eylard was always sensitive to art, willing to listen, a warm host successful in making you feel at home, also a very wise adviser. I will never forget my visit to his Dutch home, preparing raw fresh herrings we had bought on the way from the station, well accompanied by a soft Dutch Gin. And his catalán stone house in the Ampurdan where his gifted wife painted, sculpted and taught. 

Dear Maia, please receive our condolences and gratitude.

I was so happy to embrace him (and Manfred Stauber of course) in Berlin at the beginning of my term as ISPOG president. Sadly, this was our last hug.

Goodbye dear Eylard.

Thank you so much for enlightening and leading all of us.

Carlos Damonte Khoury
Alicante, Spain, December 2020


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