It has to be said that psychoanalysis is rather different from other talking therapies.  In fact, strictly speaking it’s not a ‘therapy’ at all, although it can have therapeutic effects.  The term ‘therapy’ has an interesting etymology, and is often defined as ‘healing’.  Psychoanalysis, however, does not aim to heal.  If anything, it can open […]

Whither liberal democracy?

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket attacks in Paris last week, a fierce debate appears to be developing about the precise nature of freedom in a liberal democracy such as France, and, perhaps more importantly, whether there is contradiction at the heart of liberal democratic ideology itself.  For example, in an […]

A new life?

I’ve just been reading a couple of interesting books, both of which are concerned, in their own ways, with ideology.  One is Owen Jones’ excellent study on The Establishment,1 whilst the other is Christian Fuchs’ critique of social media.2  For some strange reason, whilst I was reading Jones’ book I started thinking about Downton Abbey, […]

On being lost for words

For me, this is, ultimately, what brings people to psychoanalysis.  What does this mean, i.e. to be lost for words?  Not being able to speak?  Maybe. Or is it rather a matter of being able to speak almost too well – except that nothing is really said at all? Many people in analysis can speak […]

…..and the pursuit of Happiness

If you were a marketing executive you might seriously struggle to sell psychoanalysis.1 And one reason for this difficulty might be that psychoanalysis has never promised to make anyone happy.  At best, to paraphrase Freud, it can only hope to convert neurotic suffering into everyday misery.2  If anything psychoanalysis is likely to make one less […]

The Real of everyday life

It’s often tempting to think of the Real as something mysterious and esoteric; something that is transcendental or even, in some way, supernatural or occult.  However, I think this is to completely misrecognise the Real.  Or rather, although it’s actually very easy to misrecognise the Real, this is not because it’s hidden away in some […]

Trauma and therapy

As I’ve suggested in a number of posts related to trauma, the aim of therapy in these cases is to help the subject make sense of their traumatic experiences, usually by some form of cognitive or symbolic processing.  So, for example, with cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) the individual’s flashbacks and panic attacks are […]

Trauma without end……?

In my previous post1 I wrote about the importance of (and problems with) boundaries in relation to trauma – both on the individual and social levels.  I argued that without boundaries it becomes very difficult to define the scope of a traumatic experience.  It also becomes difficult, if not impossible, to circumscribe the traumatic event, […]

Schizophrenia and genetics

There was an interesting news item yesterday on the BBC news site about schizophrenia and genetics1.  The story reports on an article published in Nature, which is the write- up of a large research project into the genetic dimension of schizophrenia. According to the story, scientists have found more than 100 genes that make people […]

Historic abuse: the return of the repressed?

The last eighteen months or so has seen tsunami of allegations and court cases against the rich, famous and powerful in relation to alleged and actual sexual abuse. Much of this has involved children, so we are essentially dealing with a wave of paedophilia as well as inappropriate sexual behaviour, assault and rape against adults. […]

The Great War and the lost Arcadia

If the opposite of war is peace, the opposite of experiencing moments of war is proposing moments of peace. Since war takes place outdoors and always within nature, its symbolic status is that of ultimate anti-pastoral…….it belongs to the demonic world, and no one engages in it or contemplates it without implicitly or explicitly bringing […]

Private madness

On Private Madness is a collection of papers by the French psychoanalyst André Green. 1 In his introduction to the book, Green writes: Freud already knew that the boundaries between neurosis and normality are barely discernable.  Following him, we have learned that many persons who are well adapted to social and external reality harbour what I […]

Why psychosis?

There is a long and somewhat unfortunate tradition within psychoanalysis that appears to ‘downgrade’ psychosis.  In other words, psychosis is seen as something of an aberration in relation to the ‘norm’ of neurosis.   This is not to say that psychoanalysts don’t work with psychotics – far from it- but one often gets the impression when […]

Burnout in the City

The term ‘burnout’ is often linked closely with the term ‘stress’, but they are not in fact synonymous.  Burnout may well be the outcome of prolonged stress, but not necessarily. So what do we mean by ‘burnout’?   There are many approaches to this subject but the one that interests me, because of my Lacanian background, […]

Mental health and the military

Although most people probably associate psychological problems amongst the military with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), those serving in the forces can suffer from a whole range of problems including anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, psychotic illnesses, and relationship problems.  And it is not only about currently serving personnel, but also about service veterans.  […]

Age of jouissance; age of madness

Do we now live in an age of jouissance, an age of enjoyment?  Certainly there appears to a compulsion to enjoy and, linked to this, the drive towards ‘happiness’ and the desire for the ‘good life’.  This can also be linked to the idea of trying to measure happiness,  along with the growth of the […]

Can organisations make people ill?

In my previous post1 I argued that rather than talk about corporate or organisational pathology it might make more sense to speak of corporate pathologisation or the pathological effects of corporate life.  Otherwise we end up treating the organisation itself as the pathological subject, which creates all kinds of conceptual and practical difficulties. However, this […]

Corporate pathology revisited

A while ago I wrote a number of posts relating to what I described as ‘corporate pathology’, and linking this closely with the crisis in the financial industry.  However, as I argued in at least one of these posts1, the concept of a ‘pathological’ corporation or organisation is not without its problems – both conceptually […]

Trauma, PTSD and military veterans

On Monday night the BBC broadcast a Panorama special programme which looked at the growing problem of suicide amongst serving soldiers and ex-soldiers (veterans) in the British military.1 Through its own research the Panorama team established that in 2012 a total of 50 soldiers – 29 of them veterans – had taken their own life. […]

Baby boomers and ageing

There were two interesting articles in The Observer last weekend: one by Tracy McVeigh was about the rise of the ‘silver splitters’ (those couples who divorce in later life); 1 and the other by Yvonne Roberts was about the possibility that the baby boomers, the so-called ‘have-it-all’ generation, may be facing a bleak future of loneliness […]

Bipolar and psychosis

Darian Leader has recently written a book on bipolar1, which is the new name for an old form of psychosis, namely manic-depressive insanity (to use the term adopted by Emil Kraepelin). Leader’s central argument is that manic depression (bipolar) is an attempt to avoid contradiction, because the individual is unable to bear conflicting ideas, e.g. […]

Mental health and the web

It might seem somewhat ironic (and possibly hypocritical) to be posting a piece on the possible downside of the web in relation to mental health.  After all, my hope is that people who are interested in mental health will read it – on the web!  However, life is full of irony, not to say hypocrisy […]

Does mental illness exist?

There is currently an acrimonious spat developing between psychiatry and clinical psychology.  The catalyst for this is the imminent publication of DSM V, but this argument goes back much further and is a lot deeper than simply arguments about what should and should not be classified as a ‘mental illness’.  A series of articles in […]

Is psychoanalysis a science?

I’ve just been re-reading Freud’s An Outline of Psycho-Analysis1 which was his last attempt to give a concise exposition of his ideas and their clinical application.  This paper was written in 1938, very near to the end of Freud’s life.  I think this in itself is significant because by this time psychoanalysis was becoming established, […]

Therapy nation?

A while ago I set up a blog called Therapy Nation, which was intended to look at how talking therapies can both help and hinder an understanding of modern life.  In particular, I wanted to look at how psychoanalysis can shed light on some of the peculiarities and contradictions of life in the early part […]

The promise of a new life?

One of the problems for psychoanalysis, at least in the UK today, is that no-one really wants it.  This is not necessarily to say that they want CBT, person centred therapy, counselling or some other form of talking therapy either.  However, I think there is something especially problematic about psychoanalysis within the context of these […]

The nature of the Real

This probably seems an impossibly ambitious topic for a blog posting (or even a PhD thesis) but then again that’s the whole point: the Real is essentially the impossible (to say).  At least, this is how it’s often presented in Lacanian literature.    The point here, though, is that Lacan’s conception of the Real changed through […]