‘Father, don’t you see I’m burning?’

One of the lesser known things about the Real, and its manifestation through trauma, is its appearance in dreams. Of course, Freud himself did not have a concept of the Real, and neither did he have the concepts of Symbolic and Imaginary. Thus it was for Lacan to formalise what was already implicit but not […]

Psychotherapy and the NHS: time for a rethink?

In the early 2000s I spent three years working as an honorary psychoanalytic psychotherapist in an NHS mental health trust as part of my analytic training. Back then, this was the time-honoured route to becoming a psychotherapist. What was particularly interesting about this experience was that I saw my first patient for three years and […]

Imaginary histories?

One of the problems with any form of history, be it personal, social, or political, is how the historical narrative, the story told by the historian, relates to ‘what really happened’.  As the quotation marks suggest, the status of this ‘what really happened’ is itself problematic.  In semiotic terms we could perhaps pose the question […]

Psychosomatics: when the soul meets the body

A while ago I posted a piece on medically unexplained symptoms.1 This was in response to an article by Louise Atkinson in the Daily Mail on chronic back pain and how this might be caused by stress and tension rather than any underlying physical problem.2 One of the reasons I wanted to write this current […]

The riddle of transference

Transference is one of the cornerstones of psychoanalysis, and yet at the same time it always seems to present itself as something of a puzzle, a riddle.1  In the world of ‘pop-psychology’ (and, for that matter, pop-psychoanalysis and psychotherapy) transference is often viewed as the patient/client ‘mistaking’ their therapist or another person in a position […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Ordinary madness

There is a myth within our culture, and within mainstream psychiatry and psychotherapy, that most people are (relatively) ‘normal’.  To be fair, psychoanalysts are more likely to say that most people are ‘neurotic’, or that by ‘normal’ we mean neurotic, but essentially it amounts to the same thing.  To put it another way, the myth […]