Seminars

Psychoanalysis, Critical Theory and the Psychosocial

A discussion based seminar series by Psychoanalysis and Politics at the Marx House, London.

 

OCT 26TH – MILENA STATEVA / MANNIE SHER Pedalling swans: trace, love and reflexivity in the containment of contemporary care provision – between inherited challenges and new dilemmas

NOV 16TH – LENE AUESTAD Violence and the Social Unconscious: Overcoming or not Overcoming the Individual/Social Distinction

NOV 30TH – VERONCA DIESEN Immaterial labour and its nonsense: Challenging the artificial division of mental and manual labour and its forms of alienation
DEC 14TH – R.D. HINSHELWOOD / KALINA STAMENOVA Can a psychoanalytical method be a political one?

 

Tickets are available from Eventbrite. General Admission £ 30. This event is for OCT 26TH, NOV 16TH, NOV 30TH and DEC 14TH 2015. The ticket is valid for all these dates. Please note that the ticket is non-refundable. Link to get tickets

Conscious-Unconscious-Mind

OCT 26TH MILENA STATEVA, PhD / MANNIE SHER, PhD, (The Tavistock Institute) Pedalling swans: trace, love and reflexivity in the containment of contemporary care provision – between inherited challenges and new dilemmas

What I propose, therefore, is very simple: it is nothing more than to think what we are doing. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

Delivery of care today is shared between statutory agencies and non-governmental organisations, and by high-cost private companies. This paper looks at the current state of the not-for-profit providers; how institutional dynamics affects their staff and what new issues are facing the workforce. In Western societies, and in the UK in particular, those who care for the most vulnerable, experience suffering and difficulties that mirror the experience of their clients and are sometimes amplified by organisational pressures. Recent reviews highlight the ways in which these pressures from ‘above’ and ‘below’ can be detrimental to the task of caring and can undermine the wellbeing of the workforce and by extension the value and future of welfare services. This paper describes alternatives to perpetual re-designs, re-structuring and austerity measures by relatively inexpensive but powerful action learning interventions. For purposes of brevity we call the intervention reflective spaces that apply philosophy, group relations, psychoanalysis, organisational development and critical theory. As reflective spaces, these groups contain, hold and work through everyday care experiences and inform meaningful action by mobilising the practitioners’ capacities to love, learn and think.

The paper draws from the domains of group relations, the British School of Psychoanalysis, organisational development and critical theory which make up the emerging methodology of reflective spaces. The paper makes a contribution to practice by proposing a tested model of reflective spaces. The talk will be therefore suitable for group facilitators as well as those interested in meta-analytic developments across these domains.

Contribution to theory and concept development: reflection, reflexivity and other modalities of thinking and states of mind and how these can impact and are impacted upon by ontology, policy and more widely what Derrida calls traces or gramme.

Keywords: Groups, love, thinking, reflection/reflexivity, gramme

Recommended reading

Punday, D. (2000) Derrida in the World: Space and Post-Deconstructive Textual Analysis, in Postmodern Culture, Volume 11, Number 1 (available on-line at: https://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/pmc/v011/11.1punday.html , l.a. Oct 2015)

Sher, M. (2013) In search of „the structure that reflects“: promoting organisational reflection practices in a UK health authority, in Sher, M. The Dynamics of Change: Tavistock Approaches to Improving Social Systems, London: Karnac Books (to be attached)

Turner, B. and S. Wainwright (2003) Corps de Ballet: the case of the injured ballet dancer, in Sociology of Health & Illness Vol. 25 No. 4 2003 ISSN 0141–9889, pp. 269–288 (to be attached)

 

NOV 16TH LENE AUESTAD, PhD – Violence and the Social Unconscious: Overcoming or not Overcoming the Individual/Social Distinction

 It has been argued that psychosocial studies refutes the separation of the psychic and social and rejects the idea that inner and outer worlds are empirically or theoretically separable. By contrast, critical theory emphasises how false theoretical standards are true in the sense of reflecting social reality: “False consciousness is also true: inner and outer life are torn apart (Adorno 1967). Thus false beliefs are materially realised in a wrong reality. This paper questions how the claim of a non-separation of psychic and social reality is to be understood and how it may be reconciled with a critique of violence, a project that appears to demand that these concepts must be and cannot be held together. I shall outline some premises for an asymmetrical understanding of the social unconscious.

 Recommended reading

Adorno, T.W. (1967) Sociology and Psychology, part 1, New Left Review 1/46. (to be attached)

Hopper, E./Weinberg, H. (2011) Introduction in The Social Unconscious in Persons, Groups and Societies. Vol.1 Mainly Theory. London: Karnac.

Kaes, R. (2007) The Unconscious in Common and Shared Psychic Spaces in Calich/Hinz eds. The Unconscious: Further Reflections. IPA.

Layton, L. (2007) What Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society Means to Me. Mens Sana.

 

NOV 30th VERONICA DIESEN – Immaterial labour and its nonsense: Challenging the artificial division of mental and manual labour and its forms of alienation

A little background information:
On the 15th of September this year, I organised a symposium at Karl Marx Memorial Library with the title  Playbour: On art and immaterial labour. (For further information, please see www.dognmuseum.org)  The symposium was a follow-up from another seminar I held at a public library in Bergen, Norway with the same title.

My presentation dealt with a critical dissemination of the understanding of immaterial labour as it is derived from Hardt and Negri. One of the main arguments in my presentation is that the notion of immaterial labour has had an undeserved, putative hegemony in particularly the wider cultural and academic circles that needs to be challenged. By contesting the notion of immaterial labour, I am automatically also disputing what can be described as the ‘artificial division between mental and manual labour’ that I argue, forms the most destructive, reified abstraction in the continuation of capital’s exploitation and its division of labour.

From a psycho-social perspective, this division has far -reaching implications in  the way a capitalist society conditions and condemns a steadily increasing number of its citiziens (turned denizens) to a life with no job security and no promises of pay for work being done. The types of concrete insecurities that is being imposed on each individual thus condemns them to an alienating, precarious existence that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to make plans for the future.  Consequently, a present without any future expectations turns the notion of a future futile,   that may lead an individual to a sense of despair, anxiety and depression.  Depression caused by an objective, rational concern for ones ability to function in both present and future is not something that just originates in the mind of a particular individual, nor, do I argue,  should it be explained away by the use of a postivitistic, medical and pathological vocabulary.
From a Marxist material point of view, a potential challenge for practicing psychologists, would be to look into how one can form a clearer understanding on the way objective, material conditions in society forms and shapes the mental states of its individuals.

Recommended reading

W.F. Haug (2009) Immaterial Labour in Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism. Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden. 17. 177-185

DEC 14th R. D. HINSHELWOOD / KALINA STAMENOVA – Can a psychoanalytical method be a political one?

People and social groups sometimes tacitly support seemingly disastrous policies and there is a need to understand the psychological aspect of such social phenomena. How does the psychoanalytic unconscious of the individual interact with the social and political issues?  The paper will explore cycles of intrapsychic processes from a more fragmented paranoid schizoid position towards more mature and integrated depressive position and the related anxieties. It will develop a model based on the view that groups and communities develop defensiveness against common anxieties in a collective way, and moreover unconsciously.  Defences are not always adaptive to the reality, and short-circuit the more proper resolution of anxiety and conflict.

Developing policies and political strategies may therefore be interfered with by this level of individual and collective defensiveness.  It is important to find a method to distinguish the influence of unconscious defensiveness, and then what to do about it.

Recommended reading

Britton, R. (2010) Developmental Uncertainty versus Paranoid Regression. Psychoanalytic Review, 97:195-206

Hinshelwood, R. D. (2008) Social Science and Psychoanalysis: Marriage or Infection? Organisational & Social Dynamics 8(2) 115–137