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Course: The Political Mind: The role of the unconscious

Institute of Psychoanalysis, Centre for the Advancement of Psychoanalytic Studies

The Political Mind

The role of the unconscious in political and social life.

A series of 10 seminars on psychoanalysis and politics in the summer term at the BPAS. May12th-July13th 2015

There is a cost for these seminars £200

Seminar Leader and Organiser.
David Morgan psychoanalyst

Introduction - Psychoanalysis and Politics

"It would be hard to underestimate the importance of Freud's contribution to political thought. He interrogated the origin and structure of society in "Totem and Taboo" , exposed illusions and dogmas in "The Future of an Illusion"/ "Civilization and its Discontents" and described the foundation of a people in "Moses and Monotheism." Freud challenged "civilised sexual morality" viewing it as the origin of "the nervous and mental illness of modern times." In “ Mass Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego" he brought a radical new understanding to the relationship of leaders to the led, the functioning of crowds and the origins of power. The ‘ superego’ provided the bridging concept necessary for the understanding of the manner in which values, ideals, and the imperatives associated with morality and society are internalised into the psyche. Many central ideas of political philosophy (such as concepts of rationality, human agency, autonomy , the nature of human responsibility, the idea of 'the good society') have a natural intersection with psychoanalytic concepts.
This series of seminar’s aims to provide a forum for continuing this interdisciplinary conversation."


May 12 David Morgan ; "Whistleblowers and Dissent: Moral Good Or Self Interest ? what are the psychological dimensions of defying a perverse or corrupt authority? "

May 19. John Alderdice : "Devoted Actors - the psychology of fundamentalism and terrorism"

May 26 Sally Weintrobe : "Climate change and the culture of uncare"

June 2nd Phil Stokoe : “The Impact of Power on the Mind of the Politician"

June 9th Josh Cohen "Psychoanalysis and the Politics of Idleness."

June 16 . Bob Hinshelwood - "Reflection or action: Never the twain shall meet"

June 23rd David Bell. " All thats solid melts into air: psychoanalytic reflections on the socio-economic crisis"

June 30 Ruth McCall : " The Psychoanalysis of Exclusion."

July 6 Edgard Sanchez : "Power and the manipulation of the masses. Third world perspectives."

July 13 Michael Rustin "The Psychology of Neoliberalism"

(Distinguished Contributors)

Lord John Alderdice

Academic, politician and retired consultant psychiatrist in psychoanalytical psychotherapy, he was also until very recently the Convenor of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords. He has applied his psychological understanding to analyzing and dealing with terrorism and violent political conflict in various parts of the world, but especially in the Middle East and in his native Northern Ireland where he was one of the negotiators of the 1998 Belfast Agreement. Currently he isChairman of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building , based in Belfast, and Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict, and Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. He is a former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, a former Commissioner with the Independent Monitoring Commission (monitoring paramilitary and security force activity in Ireland) and the former President of Liberal International, the global family of some 120 liberal political parties.

David Bell Psychoanalyst

Fellow BPAS
Consultant Psychiatrist ,Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
Former President British Psychoanalytic Society ;[masked] Professorial Fellow, Birkbeck College London
Books: 'Psychoanalysis and Culture: a kleinian perspective' , 'Reason and Passion' ,'Paranoia', 'Living on the Border'
Papers include: "Primitive Mind of State ", (a psychoanalytic critique of the attacks on welfare) "Mental illness and its treatment today", "Is Truth an illusion"
Other contributions on a wide range of subjects including psychoanalytic theory and technique, NHS , socio-political theory , literature.
One of the UKs leading psychiatric experts in Asylum/Human Rights

Prof Josh Cohen Psychoanalyst Fellow BPAS

Professor of Modern Literary Theory, Goldsmiths University of London. Author of many articles and books on psychoanalysis, literature and cultural theory, including How to Read Freud and most recently, " The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark.’

Prof Bob Hinshelwood PsychoanalystFellow BPAS
is Professor in the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex, and previously Director of the Cassel Hospital. He has written extensively on psychoanalytic practice and theory, including A Dictionary of Kleinian Thought (1989), Clinical Klein (1993), and more recently, Research on the Couch (2013), and Bion’s Sources (2013, edited with Nuno Torres). He has also written on the application of psychoanalysis to social science (Observing Organisations, edited with Wilhelm Skogstad 2000); and on racism.

Ruth McCall Psychoanalyst

Fellow BPAS
Was a producer of television documentaries and she subsequently founded and ran her own film company before training in psychoanalysis. Taught psychoanalytic theory extensively for 10 years with a special interest in Freud, Hysteria, Psychosomatics and psychoanalytic politics at UCL. Her early interest in social disadvantage and feminism now joins with her psychoanalytic perspective.

David Morgan Psychoanalyst

Formerly Consultant Psychotherapist Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. Now in private practice. Consultant in several settings with a political and social remit. Editor and author of a book and papers.

Prof Michael Rustin Hon Member BPAS

Michael Rustin is a Professor of Sociology at the University of East London, a Visiting Professor at the Tavistock Clinic, and an Associate of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He is a founding editor of Soundingsand of the Kilburn Manifesto. His books include The Good Society and the Inner World (1991) , Reason and Unreason: ;Psychoanalysis, Science, Politics (2001) The Inner World of Doctor Who (with Iain MacRury) (2013) , and (forthcoming 2014) Social Defences against Anxiety: Explorations in the Paradigm (co-edited with David Armstrong) .

Dr Edgard Sanchez Psychoanalyst

Fellow BPAS
Consultant Psychiatrist Kings College. London.Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy at Kings College,London/ South London & MaudsleyNHS Foundation Trust
Lecturer at UCL MA Psychoanalytic Studies.

Philip Stokoe Psychoanalyst

Fellow BPAS
Organisational Consultant.
Honorary Visiting Professor, Mental Health at City University.
Ex Consultant Social Worker. Tavistock & Portman NHS and ex-Clinical Director of the Adult Department. Author of many papers on the application of psychoanalysis.

Sally Weintrobe Psychoanalyst Fellow BPAS.

Edited and contributed to "Engaging with Climate Change:" psychoanalytic and interdisciplinary perspectives (Routledge 2012). She has written and lectured widely on climate change, particularly on how to understand current levels of denial. In this seminar she will explore the question how do we express our care about climate change in a culture of uncare?

For more information contact David Morgan at [masked]

Marjory Goodall
Conference and Events Office
112A Shirland Road, London W9 2BT
Email: [masked]

Join or login to comment.

  • David M.

    This course is half price for Freud Bar members

    April 30

  • David M.

    This description can be compared to a definition of conflict:

    'An emotional state characterized by indecision, restlessness, uncertainty and tension resulting from incompatible inner needs or drives of comparable intensity.'
    These two definitions are very similar; the meaning of conflict sounds very negative and hopeless. However, Keats' creative concept seems positive and full of potential by leaving out 'restlessness' by avoiding an 'irritable reaching after fact and reason'

    In order for Keats to be able to create true poetry, and I would say in order to engage with another's unconscious, one has to be able to remain in what may be states of conflict without 'irritably' reaching after facts or reasons. By not imposing one self upon the doubts and uncertainties which make up a conflict, Keats like a good analyst would rather we were open to the Imagination.

    October 30, 2014

    • JOSEPH H.

      Not trying to strangulated your terms David, but some how the term t

      October 30, 2014

    • JOSEPH H.

      Tension seems a better fit.In conflict there is often a subduing of one side or other. Tension seems to have some qualities of allowing the validity of both sides and creating a fresh route

      October 30, 2014

  • David M.

    Psychoanalysis and Keats concept of Negative Capability.

    Some people always imagine psychoanalysis is a closed system it isn't. But it can be a way of exploring the closed systems or defences we all create to manage the uncertainties of life and it's unfortunate corollary death. The analytic attitude is most like this description by Keats of a creative state of mind.

    'The concept of Negative Capability is the ability to contemplate the world without the desire to try and reconcile contradictory aspects or fit it into closed and rational systems.'
    Keats longed to find beauty in a sometimes painful world. In a letter to his brothers, Keats describes 'Negative Capability':

    'At once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously- I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties. Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.'

    This description

    1 · October 30, 2014

  • David M.

    This is probably closest to the analytic approach. Complimentary to Bion's approach

    October 30, 2014

  • David M.

    Yes Jo don't worry it is possible to give up views that seem to explain the world and instead embrace uncertainty in all it's manifestations. I hope like the Americans and Ptomelites it's not to painful for you. :/()

    October 30, 2014


    Foundations are wrong,but gets good outcomes

    October 29, 2014


    The Spanish set sail to discover a new route to India,when they landed in America they called the natives Indians .For thousands of years the Ptolemaic system confirmed sense data and could be reconfigured to accommodate the movements of Planets and stars.Can you have a system thats

    October 29, 2014

  • David M.

    Be aware the course is on Tuesdays for 10 weeks and costs £200

    July 23, 2014

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