Over the last 50 years there have been enormous social changes in culture, politics, economics, sexual and family life, and, going along with all of this, the uses of language, emotion and attitudes in the public and private spheres. As therapists of individuals who are suffering, we are in the front lines of the effects of these changes; and, as Lacan said, as quoted by Colette Soler in a paper on the changing subjectivity of the times, “Psychoanalysis excludes those who cannot meet the subjectivity of their times.” And, implied by Lacan, “A psychoanalyst who finds nothing else to do than denounce his times would do best to resign his job.” 

In the context of Lacanian psychoanalysis, some of the changes that have been noted are the lack of efficiency of the Symbolic, the privileging of narcissism and emotions, the changes in most frequently presenting symptoms, the increased emphasis on actual trauma, the demands or goals of treatment of patients/clients, and the desire and activities of the psychoanalyst. These can be discussed in the context of the cultural evolution from modernism to post-modernism, the political evolution from 20th century ideologies to 21st century ideologies, from feminism to post-feminism and transgenderism, and most especially, for us, from the earlier to the late Lacan, who seemed to have a premonition of what was to come and how to structure its results. In this presentation, these topics will be illustrated using clinical examples of “contemporary” patients, their presentations and the treatment strategies considered, hoping that this will lead to sharing of observations and discussion.

Faculty: Judith Hamilton
Date and Time: Friday, November 22, 2019, 1:00-4:00pm
Location: CIIS
Fee: $100 with CEU, $40.00 for students

Judith Hamilton is a Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst, trained and working in private practice in Toronto, Canada. After twenty years of study and practice in the “Three Schools” of mainstream American and British psychoanalysis, she began her study of Lacan in 2000, and has concentrated in this area ever since. She has attended many international conferences, is a member of the Stockbridge Lacanian Clinical Forum, has presented and taught extensively a variety of Lacanian topics in Toronto settings, and is a co-founder (since 2012) and Co-ordinator of Lacan Toronto. 

This course is approved by the Medical Board of California to train Research Psychoanalysts and by the California Psychological Association to provide Continuing Education Units for Licensed Psychologists. This course is approved by the Board of Behavioral Sciences to provide Continuing Education Units for Marriage and Family Therapists and Psychiatric Social Workers. LSP maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Tuesday's April 25 - 25 July 2017 - 8.15-9.45pm

Institute of Psychonanalysis, Byron House, 112A Shirland Road, Maida Vale, London W9 2BT

The role of the unconscious in political and social life. In times of political turmoil, where does one turn for insight? "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”?(Yeats). “The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”(Gramsci) “Everything must change so that everything can stay the same." (Tancredi in "The Leopard")

A series of seminars on psychoanalysis and politics.

Although he was never directly involved in politics himself, Sigmund Freud’s contribution to political thinking cannot be overstated.  He was fascinated with the way that our internal conflicts as individuals have outward consequences in the world at large – and many of his ideas laid down the basis of what has become an enormous body of thought on how society works.

He questioned the origin and structure of society in “Totem and Taboo”.  He discussed illusions and dogmas in “The Future of an Illusion” and “Civilization and itsDiscontents”.  He was critical of some aspects of Bolshevism in the “New Introductory Lecture on Psychoanalysis”, and he described the foundation of a people in “Moses and Monotheism”.

In this series of talks with leading psychoanalysts, we invite you to explore these influential theories with us, and discover how they can illuminate our understanding of political and social conflict around the world.

It’s interesting to imagine what Freud would have made of the world today, a time of polarising politics, social shifts and radical movements.

In “Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego” he explored crowd psychology, arguing that becoming a member of a crowd serves to unlock the unconscious mind.  This happens as the super-ego, or moral centre of consciousness, is displaced by the larger crowd and the charisma of leaders.

In the agency of the superego, our conscious moral centre, Freud attributed values, ideals, and imperatives associated with morality and society.  He also analysed the effects of repressed sexuality, naming “civilised sexual morality” as the source of “the nervous illness of modern times.”

Freud argued that a combination of forces in our psyche – the sexual drive, the death drive, and the instinct for mastery – have been inescapable drivers of change throughout humanity’s development.

And they’re especially relevant to a discussion of contemporary issues such as racism, terrorism, totalitarian thinking, NHS, the market economy, gender and sexuality. Scroll down to see the range of subjects we’ll be addressing in our programme.

Many of Freud’s ideas intersect with political thinkers such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Marx, and Weber.  For example, the radical rejection of all forms of illusion, the will to lucidity based on a flexible rationality, the dismantling of connections within communities, the emphasis on the autonomy and responsibility of the individual subject.

Over time, many other psychoanalysts have continued to contribute to political and social theory.  Donald Winnicott argues that the development of our character is based on our environment, particularly our early relationships in life.  That society provides the factors that support or undermine these early relationships – and that pathological or criminal acts can be seen as external manifestations of our internal conflicts.

Melanie Klein reiterated Freud’s belief that the human is riven with conflict, and how aggression and libido play themselves out in the individual, family, society and world politics.  She emphasised the need to recognise guilt and make reparation, and argued that to achieve this there must be a difficult integration of love and hate – a lifelong struggle that has its equivalents in social and political scenarios throughout the world.  

These theories on the mind provide the basis for psychoanalysts to understand political and social conflict that cause such distress and anxiety in our world.  

I hope that you’ll join us for what’s set to be a brilliant set of lectures, discussions and debates about the nature of violence, both in the mind and in wider society.  To book your place, click here.