2023-24 Seminar programme

The evening starts promptly at 7pm with an experiential group that runs until 8.15pm. The seminar starts at 8.30pm and finishes at 9.45pm. The venue is Westminster Quakers Meeting House in Covent Garden.

12, 19, 26 October

Reflections of race, identity and power: Peter Nevins

We will be looking specifically at black women writers. Session one will be an experiential exercise; session two on Toni Morrison and three on bell hooks.

2, 9, 16 November

Brexit: what’s psychoanalysis got to do with it? Madhu Nandi

We will consider the quandry of Englishness. What do the cultural outpourings – think Channel 4’s This is England series; the film England, My England; Paxman’s The English. A portrait of a people; DH Lawrence’s England, My England; WE Henley’s England, My England – tell us about this preoccupation with English identity? To a Freudian it seems there is a compulsion, some repetition, at play here. Is this why we voted for Brexit? Would a Freudian examination of English culture permit a different engagement with the colonial myths and fantasies which Englishness evokes?

23, 30 November & 7 December 

Theatres of the Mind: Jim O’Neill

Three lectures exploring psychosomatic pain and illness: When something devastatingly threatening or violent occurs and when it cannot be spoken of or thought about, when the situation does not allow for enunciation, for argument, for sticking up for oneself, for complaint, when there are no allies or parents to call upon, or when it is the parent herself who is causing the hurt, the psyche/mind goes into hiding.

Joyce McDougall coined the phrase ‘normopaths’ (1978) to describe the cloak of normality that so often hides the sufferer, covers over intense feeling and clear thinking and deprives one of understanding. Silent normality defends the self against looming catastrophic breakdown, but what cannot be spoken of will find its own means of expression in physical symptoms, illness and pain.

Christmas break

18, 25 January & 1 February

Are You Out Of Your Mind? Nick Blackburn

Is your mind really your own? Is it possible to lose it, or have it stolen? We will be looking at the kinds of experiences commonly brought about by drugs, hypnosis and things going wrong in the brain. Along the way we also encounter the ways in which such territories have been mapped by Oliver Sacks, R. D. Laing, W. R. Bion and Adam Phillips. 

1. Hallucinations (with Sacks)

2. Groupthink, Wild Thoughts (with Bion, Laing)

3. Conversion Therapy, Dark Arts (with Phillips)

8, 15, 22 February 

Curiosity, depression and the meaning of madness: Luisa Pretolani & Shireen Noor

How do we find the strength to be curious? States of depression are often described as feeling flattened, buried, with no spark, not able to care for ourselves or anyone else. Depression eats away curiosity. How can it be revived? At the same time, what happens when curiosity  becomes a compulsion, a  blind passion, a letting  go of all of that  is  familiar, and sparks fear in those around us. Curiosity makes us afraid of our own desires. It can make us feel ‘mad’ because of the  inability to make  ourselves  heard  and to participate in the reality of those around  us. These seminars will draw on the work of Julia  Kristeva; The  Canterbury Tales: The Miller’s Tale; Freud, Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year-old Boy 

29 February & 7, 14 March

Contemporary Intersubjective and Relational Psychoanalysis:  Anastasios Gaitanidis

These sessions will incorporate ideas from Robert Stolorow’s book Trauma and Human Existence on how to work with emotional trauma and Jessica Benjamin’s notion of ‘mutual recognition’ and the intersubjective ‘third’. 

Spring break

25 April & 2, 9 May

Psychoanalysis – Limits & Liberation: Andie Newman

Ideas around limits, restrictions and constraints are everywhere to be found within psychoanalysis. We will reflect on how limits operate within – and are essential to – the psychoanalytic approach, including thinking about the frame, boundaries and ‘the rules’, and the consequences of limits/restrictions in opening up – or liberating – the space for the work of psychoanalysis to unfold.   

Alongside other texts, we will read some of Freud’s key papers on technique.

16, 23, 30 May

Why Perversion? Rob Weiss 

Why is psychoanalysis interested in talking about perversion? Does it have anything interesting to say? Among others we will be thinking about Krafft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis, Freud and Lacan with Bataille, Sally Rooney and Vladimir Nabokov

6, 13, 20 June

Dreams: Yael Pilowsky Bankirer

What does it mean to dream? Freud called dreams “the royal road” to the unconscious, and said the navel of every dream would always remain elusive. What are the different ways of understanding dreaming and how do they translate into clinical work? We will examine these questions by drawing on a range of psychoanalytic theorists (including Klein, Bion, Lacan, and Meltzer). We will also look at the commonalities and points of departure between Freud and Jung: Freud’s suggestion that the dream is the fulfilment of a wish and Jung’s dream symbolism offer two distinct ways of interpreting and working with dreams. Freud’s dream of Irma’s injection will be analysed as a way to grapple with different layers of dream work and interpretation.

The experiential group starts promptly at 7pm and runs until 8.15pm, followed by a seminar from 8.30 to 9.45pm. The venue is Westminster Quakers Meeting House in Covent Garden.

Weekly experiential group

This group offers an opportunity to reflect on the experience of being in a group.