Psychoanalysis: Its Place in CultureSaturday, 15 January, 2005
- Michael Brearley, British Psychoanalytical Society: `What do psychoanalysts do?'
- John Cottingham, Department of Philosophy, University of Reading: `A Triangle of Hostility? Psychoanalysis, Philosophy and Religion'
- Ritchie Robertson, St John's College: `Freud as a Romantic: his place in the history of ideas'
Institute of Psychoanalysis Introductory Lectures on DVDAcademic year 2007-08
- MT: The Oedipus Complex (Angela ? ) and Playing (Jenny Stoker); discussion led by Richard Rusbridger
- HT: 'The Paranoid-Schizoid position' and 'the Depressive position' (Betty Joseph); discussion led by Denise Cullington.
- 'Defences' (Catia Galariotou) and 'The Unconscious' (Susan Budd); discussion led by Eleanor Nowers
- TT: 24th May: 'Psychoanalysis and Society' (David Bell) and 'Psychoanalysis and Literature' (Marie Bridge); Marie Bridge also led discussion.
- 14th June: 'Dreams' (Sara Flanders) and 'Mourning and Melancholia' (Rosemary Davies). Both analysts present.
Psychoanalysis and the Work of Melanie KleinSaturday, 25 April, 2009
(with the Melanie Klein Trust)
Speakers (all Fellows of the British Psychoanalytical Society)
- Priscilla Roth. 'Using Projective Identification'
- Ronald Britton. 'Is the truth therapeutic?'
- Betty Joseph. 'Uses of the past in the psychoanalytic process'
Conveners: Dr Louise Braddock, Dr Michael Lacewing, and Professor Paul Tod
Hilary Term 2005
- 16 Feb: Dr Susan Budd, British Psychoanalytical Society, 'Recent developments in the theory of dreams'
- 23 Feb: Professor Michael Rustin, University of East London, 'How do psychoanalysts know what they know?'
- 9 Mar: Dr Edward Harcourt, University of Kent, 'Psychological maturation and learning to be good'
Trinity Term 2005
- 4 May: Dr J Fletcher, University of Warwick, 4 May, 'Seduction and the vicissitudes of translation: the recent work of Jean Laplanche'
- 12 May: Professor D Tuckett, University College London, 'Civilisation and its discontents: some reflections on the usefulness of Freud's thesis today'
- 18 May: Clare Connors, Queens College, Oxford, 'Force and figuration in Freud'
- 1 Jun: Richard Rusbridger, British Psycho-Analytical Society, 'The Oedipus Complex'
- 9 Jun: Suzanne Dow, St John's College, Oxford, 'A Kofmanian reading of Marie Cardinal's Les Mots pour le dire'
- 15 Jun: Dr Louise Braddock, Girton College, Cambridge, 'Was Freud a scientist?'
Academic Year 2005-6
- [no seminars this year]
- 18 Oct: Dr Jessica Evans, Open University, 'Vigilance and vigilantes: thinking psychoanalytically about anti-paedophile action'
- 25 Oct: Dr Alejandra Perez, University College, London, 'Controversies surrounding psychoanalytic research: a brief look at attachment theory'
- 1 Nov: Dr Michael Lacewing, Heythrop College, London, 'Searle on the impossibility of unconscious mental states'
- 15 Nov: Dr Dawn Phillips, 'What can Wittgenstein and psychoanalysis teach us about the problems of philosophy?'
- 22 Nov: Dr Liz Allison, University College, London, 'Mourning and melancholia in Freud and Hamlet'
Hilary Term 2007
- 24 Jan: Dr Susan Davison, Maudsley Hospital, London and Dr Louise Braddock, Girton College, Cambridge, 'Transference and counter-transference in theory and clinical practice'
- 7 Feb: Richard Rusbridger, British Psychoanalytical Society, 'The internal world of Don Giovanni'
- 21 Feb: Professor Michael Rustin, University of East London and Tavistock Clinic, 'Revisiting the Kleinian theory of art'
- 7 Mar: Dr Jim Hopkins, King's College, London, 'Superego, projection and war'
Trinity Term 2007
- 23 May: Dr Armand D'Angour, Jesus College, Oxford, 'Two types of innovation'
- 30 May: Dr Edward Harcourt, University of Oxford, 'What has love to do with rationality? An answer from psychoanalysis'
- 6 Jun: Dr Michael Lacewing, Heythrop College, University of London, 'What reason can't do'
Michaelmas Term 2007
- 15 Oct: Dr Louise Braddock, Cambridge, 'Identification and identity'
- 29 Oct: Dr Lamprini Psychogiou, Department of Psychology, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, and David Simpson, Tavistock Clinic, London, 'Parenting and child and maternal ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder): clinical research and psychoanalytic response'
- 12 Nov: Dr Ken Gemes, Birkbeck, London, 12 Nov, 'Freud and Nietzsche on repression and sublimation'
- 26 Nov: Dr Derek Matravers, Open University, 'Richard Wollheim on psychoanalysis and aesthetics'
Hilary Term 2008
- Jan: Dr Richard Gipps, Philosopher and Psychologist, 'Identification: an existential understanding'
- Dr Barry Richards, Bournemouth University, 'Humiliation in Politics'
- David Simpson, Tavistock Clinic. 'The Wrong Child'; Dr Edward Harcourt, Philosophy Faculty, Oxford: Commentary.
Trinity Term 2008
- 28 Apr: Jean Knox, Society of Analytical Psychology, 'Who owns the unconscious?'
- 5 May: Richard Mizen, Society of Analytical Psychology, 'Some incomplete reflections upon aggression & violence'
- Warren Colman, Society of Analytical Psychology, 'Dream Interpretation and the Creation of Symbolic Meaning'
- 9 Jun: Sonu Shamdasani, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, UCL, 'Psychology as a Science of Subjectivity: Jung and the "personal equation"'
Academic Year 2008-9
Michaelmas Term 2008
- 20 Oct: Dr Louise Braddock, Girton College, Cambridge, 'Is Psychoanalysis an academic discipline? Should it be one?'
- 3 Nov: Professor John Cottingham, University of Reading, 'Happiness, Temporality, Meaning'
- 17 Nov: Dr Michael Lacewing, Heythrop College, London, 'The Psychology of Evil'
- 1 Dec: Denise Cullington, British Psychoanalytical Society, London, 'The Psychoanalyst at Work'
Hilary Term 2009
- 26 Jan: Professor Naomi Segal, Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study, London, 'To love and be loved: Sartre, Anzieu and the theories of the caress'
- 9 Feb: Professor Jane Rendell, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, 'Site-Writing: Critical Spatial Practice'
- 23 Feb: Dr Brian Garvey, University of Lancaster, 'Evo-Devo: Freud and the prospect of an evolutionary developmental psychology'
- 9 Mar: Dr David Armstrong, Principal Consultant, Tavistock Consultancy Service, 'What is the proper object of psychoanalytic consultation?'
Academic Year 2009-10Michaelmas Term 2009
- 19 Oct: Dr Olivier Tonneau, Homerton College, Cambridge, 'Death at work: Original sin and Thanatos'
- 2 Nov: Professor Tom Burns, Warneford Hospital, Oxford and Dr Jonathan Garabette, St George's, University of London, 'The interaction of attachment and coercion in mental health: a proposed study'
- 16 Nov: Dr Michael Lacewing, Heythrop College, London, 'Grunbaum's challenge to causal inference in psychoanalysis: 25 years on'
- 30 Nov: Dr Jessica Kirker, British Psychoanalytical Society, 'Holding Together: A psychoanalytic contribution to work with a borderline patient'
Hilary Term 2010
- 25 Jan: Dr Louise Braddock, Girton College, Cambridge, 'What philosophers think and what psychoanalysts do'
- 8 Feb: Irene Freeden, British Psychoanalytic Association, 'From Hades to Oedipus: from psychotic to erotic transference and beyond'
- 22 Feb: Dr Jim Hopkins, University College, London, 'Darwin, Freud, Conflict and aggression'
- 8 Mar: Martin Golding, Peterhouse, Cambridge, 'Silence as communication: psychoanalysis and the photograph'
Michaelmas Term 2010
- 18 Oct: Lyndal Roper, Balliol College, 'Luther and Psychology'. The German Reformation hero Martin Luther has been the subject of many psychoanalytically influenced biographies, most famously those by Erik Erikson and Erich Fromm. These tell us a good deal about the strengths and problems of psycho-biography as it developed after the second world war. But they were not the first to analyze Luther's psychology. In the sixteenth century, Luther's enemies also provided biographical portraits of the reformer which were psychological studies. Johannes Cochlaeus devoted his life to refuting Luther, writing a biography and even a play. In this talk I want to consider why Luther's personality elicited such an interest.
- 1 Nov: Elisa Galgut, University of Cape Town, 'Narrative Style, Iconic Imagining, and Mentalization'. The concept of "mentalization" has recently provided a fertile resource for thinking about various issues in psychoanalysis, including attachment, children's play, personality disorders, and the work of interpretation within the analytic setting. Mentalization also provides fruitful ways of thinking about how we read. This paper will suggest that book reading is akin to mind reading: engaging with certain literary texts is akin to understanding the minds of others from the subjective perspective required by mentalization. This way of thinking about literature provides a useful way of understanding its value. The paper will focus specifically on the uses of irony and free indirect speech in Jane Austen's novel "Persuasion". Austen's use of literary techniques provides a way of understanding the inner lives of her characters via the ironic voice of the implied author, and requires the reader to engage in the kinds of understanding and insight required for mentalization.
- 15 Nov: Michael Feldman, British Psychoanalytical Society, 'The Illumination of History'. Formulations regarding the patient's history have not only played an important part in understanding the patient, but interpretations explicitly linking the present with the past have been seen as central to the therapeutic process. In this paper the author considers the role of historical reconstruction in bringing about psychic change. He emphasizes the therapeutic value that lies in the exploration of the way the patient's history is embodied in his internal object relationships, becoming manifested in the transference-countertransference relationship. The author presents clinical material which he suggests allowed the analyst to follow the way the patient's internal object relations, coloured by her history, became expressed and played out in the sessions. He suggests that, when these processes can be followed and addressed in the present, this may lead to a diminution in the underlying anxieties. This can thus promote psychic change by freeing the patient's capacity to achieve a sense of connection with her history, and to tolerate the meaning of what emerges, which can illuminate both the present and the past.
- 29 Nov: John Forrester, History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge, 'Psychoanalysis and Cambridge Scientists in the 1920s'. Scientific Cambridge proved to be a surprisingly receptive environment for the reception of Freudian ideas in the 1920s. Botany students received an education in psychoanalysis from Arthur Tansley, founder of ecology, from the 1910s onwards. J.D. Bernal, later the grandfather of DNA, was a fervent believer in the revolutionary implications of Freud's ideas as was the scientific wing of Bloomsbury - Ramsey, Penrose, Keynes. The lecture will explore the sources and implications of this eager receptivity.
Hilary Term 2011
- 24 Jan: Daniel Pick, Birkbeck College, London, 'The Allied struggle, Freudian thought, and the invention of the authoritarian personality'
- 7 Feb: Sally Alexander, Goldsmith's College, London, 'Some uses to which historians have put psychoanalysis'
- 21 Feb: Gary Browning, Oxford Brookes University, 'Collingwood, the historical imagination, and the notion of influence'
- 7 Mar: Mary Target, University College, London, 'Some thoughts on lying and pretending'
Academic Year 2011-12 - Theme: Literature & Anthropology
Michaelmas Term 2011
- 17 Oct: Louise Braddock, Girton College, Cambridge, 'Imagining and identifying: Leonardo and Narcissus'
- 31 Oct: David Bell, British Psychoanalytical Society, 'Hamlet: Shakespeare's meditation on the problem of being'
- 14 Nov: Olivier Tonneau, Homerton College, Cambridge, 'The letter and the spirit: ethics as Kulturarbeit'
- 28 Nov: Holly High, Sydney and Cambridge Universities, 'Desire and the Ethnography of Southeast Asia'
Hilary Term 2012
- 23 Jan: Maja Zvigi Cohen, Counselling Service, Royal College of Art, 'When seasons in the internal landscape don't change: an exploration of the film 'Climates' in light of the theory of projective identification'
- 6 Feb: Richard Rusbridger, British Psychoanalytical Society, 'Projective identification in Othello and Verdi's Otello'
- 20 Feb: Peter Fifield, St John's College, Oxford, 'Beckett and Bion'
- 12 Mar: Ian Donaldson, Melbourne University '"Noli me tangere": Touching and its taboos'. Response: British Psychoanalytic Association member (Oxford)
Academic Year 2012-13Michaelmas Term 2013: Psychoanalysis and Gender
- 15 Oct: Louise Braddock, Girton College Cambridge. 'Feminism and Psychoanalysis'
- 29 Oct: Louise Gyler, Australian Psychoanalytical Society. 'The Gendered Unconscious: Challenges for Psychoanalytic Theorising'
- 12 Nov: Julie Walsh, University of Warwick. 'The Narcissist and the Coquette'
- 3 Dec: Adam Leite, Indiana University. 'Desire and Refusal'
Conveners: Louise Braddock, Richard Gipps, Paul Tod
- 21 Jan: Michael Rustin, UEL, and David Armstrong, Tavistock Consultancy Service. 'Unconscious Defences against Anxiety Revisited'
- 4 Feb: Derek Hook, Birkbeck College. Monday. 'Apartheid's corps morcelé: the fantasmatic body underlying racist discourse'
- 18 Feb: Matt ffytche, Essex. 'The Eclipse of the Father: The Frankfurt School on the Superego in the Age of Totalitarianism'
- 4 Mar: Richard Gipps, Clinical Psychologist, Oxford. 'The Temptations of Narcissism: A Wittgensteinian Investigation'
Academic Year 2013-14Michaelmas Term 2013: The work of Wilfrid Bion
- 21 Oct: Chris Mawson, British Psychoanalytical Society 'Introducing Bion'
- 4 Nov: William Halton, Organisational Consultant 'Bion and groups: the field of organization studies'
- 18 Nov: Denis Flynn, British Psychoanalytical Society 'Bion in clinical work: on the "correlation" and disruption of knowing'
- 2 Dec: Louise Braddock, Girton College, Cambridge 'Bion and Philosophy'
Hilary Term 2014: Psychoanalysis and Psychology
Michaelmas Term 2015
Michaelmas Term 2016
Michaelmas Term 2017
- 27 Jan: Michael Lacewing, Heythrop College, University of London ‘Psychodynamic psychotherapy, insight and therapeutic action’
- 10 Feb: Janet Sayers, University of Kent. ‘Adrian Stokes and the portrait of Melanie Klein’
- 24 Feb: Richard Gipps, University of Oxford, Counseling Service. ‘CBT: a philosophical critique’
Academic Year 2014-15Michaelmas Term 2014
- 29 Sep: Dr Louise Gyler, Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis: Representing the Maternal Function: does it have subversive possibilities? Respondent: Professor Janet Sayers, Professor Emerita, University of Kent
- Elisa Galgut, Capetown: The Marriage of Two Minds: Empathy, Mentalization and the Sonnet
- 3 Nov: Barbara Gold Taylor, Queen Mary, University of London: The Last Asylum
- 17 Nov: Simon May, King's College London: What is Love?
Hilary Term 2015
- 26 Jan: Michael Lacewing, Heythrop College: ‘Gratitude for life: A psychodynamic guide for non-believers’
- 9 Feb: Astrid Gessert, Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research. ‘Hysteria and obsession: a Lacanian perspective’
- 23 Feb: Lucia Corti, Middlesex University; Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research. ‘The Lacanian subject and the field of the Other’
- 2 Mar: Joel Backström, Researcher in Philosophy, University of Helsinki. ‘Love, fear and the mind’s moral dynamics: on how (not) to understand the ‘drives’ and ‘ambivalence’’
- 9 Mar: Lesley Caldwell, British Psychoanalytical Association; University College London. ‘Donald Winnicott, Melanie Klein and the shape of post-war British psychoanalysis’
- 18 May: Alessandra Lemma, UCL; Tavistock & Portman. 'The fate of the body in virtual space'
In this paper the author gives an overview of some of the challenges facing psychoanalytic clinicians working in times of techno-culture. More specifically she argues that in our clinical work we can observe how technological advances and the dominant values of contemporary culture make it possible and acceptable to alter and extend the body and its functions in actuality and in virtual space. This can contribute to a split between the body and the self, leading to a very particular twenty-first century version of embodied subjectivity that encourages a neglect of the body’s unconscious meaning for the individual. Problems arise, from a psychological point of view, when we are no longer thinking in terms of the virtual as augmentation to the so-called real but more along the lines of the virtual as alternative to the real. However the author also discusses a clinical case to illustrate how the use of cyberspace can also be used to support psychic ‘development’ as much as it can be used to foreclose experience. This has technical implications in terms of how the analyst interprets the patient’s use of new technologies to meet the prerogatives of the internal world and of development.Academic Year 2015-16
Michaelmas Term 2015
- 19 Oct: Mark Stein, University of Leicester: 'Leader's revenge and the loss of autonomy'
- 2 Nov: Marianna Fotaki, University of Warwick: 'Against compulsive consumerism and toxic attachments: a proposal for an ethics of relationality and compassionate care'
- 16 Nov: Janet Sayers, University of Kent: 'Chaos Contained: Klein, Stokes, and Bion'
- 7 Dec: Denise Cullington, British Psychoanalytical Society: 'The freedom to know your own mind: the bad and the mad, and the sad, as well as the good and the sane'
Hilary Term 2016
- 25 Jan: Richard Gipps, 'Does Cognitive Therapy Rest on a Mistake?'
- 8 Feb: Matt ffytche, 'Psychoanalytic Sociology and the Traumas of History: Alexander Mitscherlich Between the Disciplines'
- 22 Feb: Maarten Steenhagen, 'Why do we Paint?'
- 7 Mar: Lene Auestad, 'Violence and the Social Unconscious: Overcoming or not Overcoming the Individual /Social Distinction'
- 17 Oct: Louise Gyler, Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis 'The Violence of the Real: Silence and Transformation in the Analysis of an Adolescent’; with response from Irene Freeden
- 31 Oct: Elisa Galgut, University of Cape Town 'Acting on Phantasy, Acting on Desire'
- 14 Nov: Margaret Rustin, Tavistock, London 'Shame in Childhood: Being Ashamed of Oneself, Feeling Shamed, and the Burden of the Shame of Others'
- 28 Nov: Stephen Frosh, Birkbeck, University of London 'Psychoanalysis and Social Violence'
Hilary Term 2017
- 23 Jan: Louise Braddock, Girton College Cambridge 'Imagining Being Someone Else'
- 6 Feb: Maria Balaska, PhD 'The Talking Cure and Meaning What We Say : Cavell and Freud'
- 13 Feb: Sue Gottlieb, Severnside Institute for Psychotherapy 'Shame and Shamelessness'
- 6 Mar: Stephen Groarke, Roehampton University 'Waiting as an Act of Hope'
Four Funerals and a Monument: Established Pathological Mourning and the Politics of Splitting in Collective Memory in Contemporary Hungary
Jeffrey Murer, sociologist (St Andrews)
Collective mourning as a way of working through established pathological mourning. Hungarian direct action groups – ‘self defence patrol’ chanting ‘you are going to die here’ throwing stones and bottles at a Roma community. Image of kingdom of Hungary flying apart. Cultural memory as a form of identity. I make the memory real through expressing and repeating the collective memories. Big break up of larger Hungary. Trauma as unspeakable, so we need to find a way to talk it. Chosen trauma – the ‘true hungarians’ are not winning but they sufer. Trianon Lives – we will not accept Trianon (the larger Hungary). Refusal to accept the loss. Such a ferocious energy required to keep self and abject other apart – betraying their utter similarity. ‘Memorials as established pathological mourning.’ Mourner not able to let go of (kill) the lost object. Trying not to ‘kill’ the symbolic lost Trianon.
‘Thinking in cases': Meaning and the 'act' of knowing
John Forrester argued that the case represented one of the styles of reasoning. I suggest that the psychoanalytic case differs from other cases (law, medicine) as it recounts the journey of two people, patient and analyst and the nature of their relationship is intrinsic to progress of the journey. The psychoanalyst and patient work together at meaning making with the psychoanalyst interpreting the relationship through the lens of the transference and countertransference encounter and, in doing so, a new object is (mostly) elicited. In the psychoanalytic case, method and the acquisition of knowledge are intimately connected. Using a child psychoanalytic case example, I illustrate not only 'a new way of telling a life', that is one that is individual and particular, as Forrester suggested, but also a telling a life in the making. The case also does conceptual work both in confirming and showing the limitations of existing thinking. The particularity of the case confirms aspects of Bion's of thinking theory as well as presses the need for a more developmentally nuanced understanding of symbolisation.
Leveraging "the Real" in Pharmaceutical Development: Psychodynamic and Semiotic Perspectives on Accountability
In this paper I want to explore how some fundamental psychoanalytic precepts might contribute to our understanding of social phenomena far afield from the domains of their usual application. The precepts I have in mind derive from object relations, and concern the crucial importance of differentiation and relationality as they are understood to be fundamental to healthy human development and psychic well-being. How might relationality and differentiation also underpin particular social institutions and practices, and what is at stake when they are challenged, undermined or collapsed? The specific hunch I want to explore here (albeit in a very preliminary and tentative way) is that certain forms of accountability and evidence are also premised on differentiated states or units held in relation to one another. As applied to the regulation of pharmaceutical products, these relational forms have traditionally performed a vital function in holding the pharmaceutical industry to account for the efficacy of the products it manufactures and the prices it charges for them. How might maneuvers by the industry to elude accountability and maximize profits be understood as attacks on these relational forms – and in some cases on the very conditions of relationality? Suggestively, such challenges to relational forms are often advanced under the rubric of the “Real”: “Real World Evidence” is the attention-grabbing term for newer forms of evidence which proponents advance in the name of pragmatic necessity, and which critics allege fall well short of the standards of scientific rigor to which the industry must be held. With a nod in the direction of Lacan’s Real, I take this descriptor as a point of departure for thinking about analogies between undifferentiated states as understood psychoanalytically, on one hand, and pharmaceutical efforts to elude accountability by collapsing the relational structures on which it has come to be based, on the other. How might psychoanalytically informed insights, especially as leavened with semiotics, enhance our understanding of both the dangers posed by these pharmaceutical moves, as well as the seductive appeal they hold in the public imagination?
Psychoanalysis and the social sciences: possible relations
Thinking about the relationship between the social sciences and psychoanalysis/psychodynamic psychotherapy, the paper proposes to add to the traditional distinction between outcome and process studies the dimension of concerns internal/external to psychoanalysis. It claims that genuine dialogue may only be possible on the boundary of this internal/external, and then proceeds to ask the question of whether such dialogue is in fact possible. To approach this question, the paper considers certain characteristics of the "relational turn" in psychoanalysis and proposes that they may in fact be taken to coincide with concerns arising from a distinct way of inquiry within the social sciences: conversation analysis. And, indeed, conversation analysts are writing papers about therapeutic sessions. But do these papers represent a dialogue between conversation analysis and psychoanalysis? Can there possibly be? The paper ponders these questions with recourse to the case study of a conversation analytic study.
The performative effects of ‘culture’ in contemporary psychotherapy training and practice.
The past twenty years have seen the rise of a ‘multi-cultural’ perspective in psychotherapy. In most cases ‘culture’ appears as an additional factor to be added to the therapeutic process, overlooking the obvious, yet important, starting point that the therapeutic relationship, like all relations, is itself an inherently cultural phenomenon. Starting from this perspective, what becomes important is to explore not what ‘culture’ or its lack ‘does’ to therapy, but rather what the work of dividing this cultural process into ‘cultural’ and ‘non-cultural’ components does in terms of drawing the boundaries of normative behaviour and discourse in therapy training and practice. In this paper, I argue that unsophisticated uses of the ‘culture concept’ have the capacity to do as much harm as good. In particular, they fit into a wider trend in psychotherapy training to reinstate models that seek to lessen the importance of the therapist’s personal development of a sensibility designed to make her open to a genuine meeting with the client towards a model that seeks to view therapy as a process in which the therapist’s develop ‘skills’ and ‘competencies’ that can be more easily measured and regulated.
Four Funerals and a Monument: Established Pathological Mourning and the Politics of Splitting in Collective Memory in Contemporary Hungary
In this paper, through an exploration of the imagery and engagement with four monuments and a sequence of political reburials, I suggest that the form of the rhetoric and emotional production from the Hungarian far-right largely resembles what Vamik Volkan has called Established Pathological Mourning. In such circumstances, mourning becomes extended, whereby an individual – or in this case as I extend the analysis to a collective – cannot adaptively work through the loss of a loved one or loved object. Mourning rituals are extended if not incessant, whereby the repetition of mourning is an attempt to "keep alive" the lost object. The mourning rituals appear to be the recognition of loss, but they are not. Rather these complicated mourning rituals in their endless repetition forestalls the work of living on without the lost object. I suggest that similar to the re-grief therapy that Volkan promotes for patients stuck in the mourning process, collective cultural mourning may offer an adaptive way forward in working through the issues of loss and control for a larger segment of a society troubled by traumatic loss.
How Can the Evidence of Random Allocation Controlled Trials of Psychoanalytic Treatments Make a Difference to the Standing of Psychoanalysis?
David TaylorIn relation to treatments for physical illnesses, it is hard to argue against evidence-based medicine. While there may be important issues concerning what precisely is meant by evidence and what is involved in distinguishing good evidence that is well-founded from bad evidence that is not, most would accept that properly conducted random allocation controlled trials are essential when determining the efficacy of treatments. The problem of ascertaining effectiveness gets harder when we consider treatments intended as remedies for mental conditions. The order of difficulty increases with psychological interventions, and in respect of psychoanalytic forms of therapy particularly. It becomes acute when NHS funding is at issue. Funding depends on receiving a governmental as well as a wider social sanction. And in the UK, this currently takes the form of needing a recommendation in the relevant National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidance. A considerable part of the raison d’etre of the Tavistock Adult Depression Study was to produce the RCT evidence that would carry weight with NICE. Their results can have a peculiar authority. Viewed charitably, this idea and the endeavour based on it could be regarded as a fair bet: you do the thing properly and it will be fairly received. However, looked at through a more discerning lens, this seems naïve. It neglects the procedures and biases that are brought to bear. These often seem to be determined by how the approach to which the evidence relates is regarded. Therefore, for many of those who believe in psycho-analysis - and who may have a deep understanding and appreciation of it - the idea of subjecting it to an RCT has been felt as equivalent to Abraham’s surrendering of Isaac bound and gagged in the test that Kierkegaard described in his exegesis of the story: either an act of profound faith or a rash offering up a best-beloved to an arbitrary god, who may well have a lust for blood. In this presentation, I will summarise the findings before detailing how they were treated in the recent Revision of the NICE Depression Guidance. I will suggest that this may point in the direction of the factors that influence the standing of different bodies of thought and knowledge and the varying degrees of credulousness or scepticism with which their particular claims are greeted.
Michaelmas Term 2017
- 30 Oct. Mark Stein, University of Leicester. ‘”Phantasy of Fusion” as a response to trauma: European leaders and the origins of the Eurozone crisis’
- 13 Nov. Janet Sayers, University of Kent. ‘Psychoanalysing social issues: Robert Still and the Imago Group'
- 27 Nov. Ian Klinke, St John's College and University of Oxford. ‘Nuclear war, self-annihilation and West Germany’s compulsion to repeat’