Centre de recherches francophones belges

CONFERENCE - Narratives of the Therapeutic Encounter: Psychoanalysis, Talking Therapies and Creative Practice

The aim of the conference is to explore the ways in which talking therapies have been depicted in 20th century and contemporary creative outputs in French, and other languages (in life-writings, fiction, film, TV series, art installations). What can these narratives tell us about the therapeutic endeavour which finds its roots in Freud in the late-19th century, and has seen a flourishing of interventions and treatment modes over the last century, and which continues to provoke interest and debate into the 21st century? What do different depictions tell us about the particular culture and history in which they are written, and the controversies and debates they have engendered? Might such artistic endeavours enable us to trace the history of mental health treatment, via depictions of psychological, psychoanalytical and psychiatric practices? Furthermore, following on from Lacan’s view (via Duras), do we find in literature and the arts the foundations of the theories yet to be expressed?

If Freud argued that literature would help the practitioner of therapy as much, if not more than, the medical textbook, what are we to take from autobiographical and fictional depictions of the therapeutic encounter? Indeed, his own practice bore witness to his use of myth and literature to illustrate psychological processes. What can we learn from the patient’s experience as depicted in autobiographical and fictional writings? Freud described the practitioner’s case study as a ‘theory fiction’ ; we would now like to shift the focus to the patient’s words and experience, following up a suggestion by French author Serge Doubrovsky, who wrote in an article on autobiography and psychoanalysis  in 1993, that this could be a worthwhile investigation: ‘[… the narration of analysis, detailed log-book, or posthumous reconstitution by the patient has become almost a literary genre, which, incidentally, it would be interesting to study in parallel with the clinical narratives that originate from the other side of the couch’ (‘Autobiography/Truth/Psychoanalysis’, Genre(Spring, 1993), 27-42 (p. 33). 


Registration for the event is now open. Tickets can be ordered through the University of Edinburgh's online store, ePay:

Book tickets for the event

Invited Plenary Speakers

  • Liz Allison (Psychoanalyst; UCL Psychoanalysis Unit, London, U.K.)
  • Marie Darrieussecq (Author and Psychoanalyst, France)
  • Jean-Pierre Lebrun (Psychoanalyst, Belgium)
  • Nicole Malinconi (Author, works include Séparation and Hôpital silence, Belgium)


Thursday 7th December 2017

Time Title
8.45-9.15am Registration and coffee
9.15-9.30am Welcome
9.30-10.50am Panel sessions A
Creative clinical encounters (1): Talking, playing and creating (Eng)

Analyse littéraire : subversion et/ou sublimation ? (Fr)

10.50-11.10am Tea/coffee
11.10-12.30pm Panel sessions B
Narratives of the Therapeutic Encounter in Literature (1): On the writing cure (Eng)
Trouver les mots pour le dire: mémoires et souffrance (Fr)
12.30-2.00pm Lunch (sandwich lunch available, 50 George Square)
2.00-3.20pm Panel sessions C
Creative clinical encounters (2): Personal imaginaries and dialogues (Eng)
Aventures poétiques et relations intersubjectives (Fr/Eng)
3.20-3.40pm Tea/coffee
3.40-4.40pm Plenary (1) Dr Liz Alison: ‘The nature of the subject’: Reflections on storytelling and subjectivity in psychoanalysis’
5pm Film Screening: Un conte de Noël/A Christmas Tale, dir. Arnaud Desplechin (2008)

Friday 8th December 2017

Time Title
8.45-9.10am Registration
9.10-9.30am Virtual Welcome: Marie Darrieussecq
9.30-10.50am Panel sessions D
Rencontres thérapeutiques dans la clinique: Récits et réparation (Fr)
Narratives of the Therapeutic Encounter in Literature (2): Remembering and Forgetting (Eng)
10.50-11.10am Tea/coffee
11.10-12.30pm Plenary (2) Mme Nicole Malinconi et M. Jean-Pierre Lebrun (Fr)
12.30-2.00pm Lunch (sandwich lunch available, 50 George Square)
2.00-3.20pm Panel sessions E
Narratives of the Therapeutic Encounter in Film: Contexts, codes and conventions (Fr/Eng)
Creative clinical encounters (3): Language, and the stories we tell (Eng)
Déplacement et travail de deuil : les mots et le malheur (Fr)
3.20-3.40pm Tea/coffee
3.40-5.00pm Panel sessions F
  Narratives of the Therapeutic Encounter in Literature (3): Writing, Mourning and Loss (Eng)
  L’enfant qui nous habite : récits et refoulements (Fr)
5.00-5.30pm Closing comments – discussion of ongoing research network

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, University of Edinburgh, and Wallonie Bruxelles International.

Event image courtesy of the Freud Museum London.

Courtesy of the Freud Museum London

CONFERENCE - Narratives of the Therapeutic Encounter: Psychoanalysis, Talking Therapies and Creative Practice

This interdisciplinary project seeks to explore the role that the creative arts (literature, film, media, art) have played in offering representations and explorations of minds, and relationships, therapies and mental health, and more pressingly, ill-health. (Event image courtesy of the Freud Museum London)

50 George Square