Hilary Term 2019
- Monday 21st January
My main focus will be justified doubts about the premature resort to the explanation of an individual subject's mind attacking itself. While according to psychoanalysis this can occur, there are many other routes leading to the same mental outcome. I will give a perspective on what I have observed as a psychoanalytic clinician.Louise Braddock, Philosophy Faculty, Oxford: Annihilation Anxiety and Bion’s Theory of Thinking: What we (don’t) need the Death Drive for.
In post-Kleinian thought a ‘deathly state of mind’, one depicting a state or enactment of mindlessness, is commonly interpreted in terms of the activity of the Death Drive where a (primary) destructive force is directed at the thinking capacities of the mind. I critically consider the theoretical basis for this interpretation in Bion’s theory of thinking, and suggest another explanation.
- Monday Feb 4th
Michael Rustin, University of East London: What is Psychoanalytic Sociology?
What is ‘psychoanalytic sociology’? Does it exist as a recognised field of study, either as a sub- field of sociology, or as a sub-field of psychoanalysis? Despite the undoubted importance of Freud for some major figures and schools of thought in sociology, the place of psychoanalysis in the sociological field seems nevertheless to be an elusive and tenuous one. From time to time, there have indeed been fruitful interactions between these two powerful paradigms, describing and explaining phenomena that neither could fully grasp alone. But then, each of these ‘fields’ has largely withdrawn to its own primary area of study, avoiding the other as beyond its grasp and concern. In this paper I will seek to explain how this situation has come about, and ask what might have to happen for this situation to change, and for psychoanalytic sociology to become established on a more resilient basis.
- Monday Feb 18th
Sandor Ivady, Vienna Psychoanalytic Association: From Fading to Fading: On following the subject in analysis
People who see a psychoanalyst are prompted to speak in the first place. The analyst, on his part, listens and follows this discourse unfolding, in which he engages in various ways. But while this discourse implies the place of the analyst, it doesn't determine the place of the speaking subject in the same way.
At the conscious level the person speaking refers to itself by the personal pronoun of «I». Whereas at the level of the unconscious there is nothing which allows the subject to identify as author of its own discourse. Instead — where such self-reference is called upon — the subject grasps at nothing and fades: The subject fades either in the mode of regression or fantasy.
Reading Freud «in psychoanalysis nothing occurs but the interchange of words», Lacan adds, that «something is lacking at the level of the [O]ther which permits the subject to identify himself there as precisely the subject of this discourse that he is holding» and that «the subject disappears in it as such in so far as this discourse is the discourse of the unconscious.» Therefore, the analyst follows the subject from fading to fading. Spotting this fading in the material of the session becomes crucial in terms of clinical technique.
Alongside clinical vignettes I will refer to the fairy tale «The frog king or Iron Henry» to develop novel ideas on Lacan's «graph of desire», helping analysts to better orientate themselves in the transferential material.
- Monday Mar 4th
Ellie Roberts, Psychotherapist in private practice: The Mine/d Field of the Internal World: The importance of the setting in work with borderline patients
The consideration of the setting is paramount in any context in which analytic psychotherapy is practised. When working with patients seen as traumatised and borderline personalities, however, the setting is often the site of contention. One might consider the setting to be constituted by a variety of conditions: the building in which the treatment takes place, the actual therapeutic room and its furniture, the temporal arrangements, even the demeanour of the analyst, but it also includes the type of work that the therapist does and the boundaries around the work that restrict contact with the patient to the analytic time and maintain the confidentiality of the patient’s material.
For all patients, and in particular traumatised patients, the setting can become a facsimile of their internal world. The therapeutic setting they encounter can be filled by the patient with unconscious projections from their wounded past. When the patient perceives the object – that is, encounters the therapist – within the setting, the latter can quickly be imbued with terrifying imagoes. As J. Baldwin (1940), in ‘Many Thousand Gone’, writes, ‘It is not a question of memory. Oedipus did not remember the thongs that bound his feet; nevertheless, the marks they left testified to that doom toward which his feet were leading him. The man does not remember the hand that struck him, the darkness that frightened him, as a child; nevertheless, the hand and the darkness remain with him, indivisible from himself forever, part of the passion that drives him wherever he thinks to take flight.’