The Political Mind: The role of the unconscious in political and social life

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The Institute of Psychoanalysis, Centre for the Advancement of Psychoanalytic Studies are to host a series of 10 seminars on psychoanalysis and politics in the 2015 summer term at the The British Psychoanalytical Society.  

The workshop series The Political Mind: The role of the unconscious in political and social life will take place from 12th May 2015 - 13th July 2015.

To register for any of the workshops or to find more information about this series, please contact Dr David Morgan.

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 16th - 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 30th - Ruth McCall: "The Psychoanalysis of Exclusion."

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

July 13th - 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 ; 2012-3 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 Psychoanalyst -

Fellow 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 - 
Fellow BPAS BPA. 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 & Maudsley NHS 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?

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