psychoanalyst author editor
Psychoanalysis and Politics
Increasingly my psychoanalytic understanding merged with my interest in the social forms of care, and seemed useful in understanding their dynamics. I had, in 1976, finished my training as a psychoanalyst, and in the same year became a Consultant Psychotherapist (St Bernard’s Hospital, in West London). I had time and increasingly a position where I could feel I had some authority when I wrote. Indeed an authority when I spoke; I went on my first lecture tour to New York and Canada, in 1984. In that year, I founded another Journal, the British Journal of Psychotherapy, bringing together successfully a number of hitherto rivalrous independent psychotherapy organisations. At the same time, as the world at large moved towards liberal democracy, I seemed to become more fascinated with radical alternatives. Under the influence of Bob Young and the Free Associations group, I could begin to blend psychoanalysis with the social science of care, and with a Marxist understanding of those cultural movements.
1983 Projective identification and Marx’s concept of man.
International Review of Psycho-Analysis 16: 221-226
Marx wrote about alienation in his early work, describing a form of self-alienation, which appeared to me remarkably similar to the process described by Melanie Klein as projective identification.
1985 Projective identification, alienation and society.
Group-Analysis 18: 241-251
And this was a follow-up paper to the previous one where I tried to expand the ideas on the features of society in general.
2000 Alienation: Social relations and therapeutic relations.
Psychoanalytic Studies 2: 21-30.
This paper goes back to those in the 1980s about alienation, but also follows on the last paper on the alienation of certain psychiatric patients from the attitudes and culture of scientific psychiatry.
1987 Between the devil and the deep blue sea – Relations with the dominant class.
In Emilio Modena (ed) Between the devil and the deep blue sea- Psychoanalyse im Netz(Freiburg: Kore)
The political thrusts of 20 years before had, due to a demoralising lack of success, led many to psychoanalysis as a means of understanding the apparent obtuseness of the human spirit to liberate itself. The British branch of this was the Free Association group. For several years, this group linked up with similar continental groups to hold joint conferences. This was a paper I was invited to give. I detailed some of the psychoanalytic views of social phenomena and forces that have interested me, and have been based on my therapeutic community experience blended with the Tavistock Group Relation approach to organisations.
1986 Psychological defence and nuclear war.
Medicine and War 2: 29-38. Republished in Covington, Coline, Wiiliams, Paul, Arundale, Jean and Knox, Jean (eds) 2002 London:
Having way back in my student years been very worried about the necessity to ‘ban the bomb’, I returned to a quasi-political theme, by trying to link the notion of nuclear war with the very deeply buried primitive anxiety of annihilation carried in everyone, according to a Kleinian point of view
1987 Large group dynamics and nuclear war.
Group-Analysis 20: 137-146
Whilst the 1986 paper (in the section on politics) was for a readership not versed in psychoanalytic ideas, this paper addresses more technical group issues that may operate in public attitudes to nuclear war. Much of the psychoanalytic concern about the psychology underpinning nuclear war, appears to speak as if society, and large social groups, can be interpreted as individuals operating individual dynamics. This reductionism is difficult to avoid but should be supplemented by a more sophisticated understanding of group dynamics.
1996 Convergences with psycho-analysis.
In Ian Parker and Russell Spiers (eds) Psychology and Marxism (London: Pluto Press) pp. 93-104.
Invited to contribute to this interesting project around the time of the collapse of the failed Soviet Marxism, I was interested in thinking about the enduring and unresolved Freudo-Marxist project of linking up the internal dynamics of the individual with the independent social process and forces which clearly must mould, but also depended on that internal world.
2017 Reflection or Action: And Never the Twain Shall Meet.
Psychotherapy and Politics International 15: 67-74.
Τhis paper started as a talk given under the auspices of the Institute of Psychoanalysis in London, part of a series organised by David Morgan. It represented a development of the earlier work, since the paper in 1983 on alienation. It attempts to show that the labour process (as emphasised by Braverman) leads to stable cycles of defences and alienation.