Thesis title: Changing gender dynamics in society and psychoanalysis
My PhD research focusses on a sociological analysis of personal and clinical practice of psychotherapy. Considering gender in the present and past, particularly how a phallocentric system has oppressed women or divergent males and where there can be space for this system to be subverted. I also consider psychoanalysis from Freud to the present day analysing concepts and practice with a focus on gender.
Publication date: 4/8/2021
Journal: European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling
This article explores Deleuze and Guattari’s radical political philosophy’s applicability to contemporary psychotherapy in England. Drawing on my experience as a male psychotherapist working with survivors and victims of trauma, I initially critique psychotherapeutic approaches that disavow the social production of emotional distress. To do so, I draw on Deleuze and Guattari’s line of flight from the patriarchal Oedipal regulatory system that Freud identified. I then consider how Deleuze and Guattari are in danger of positing another absolute, a binary between productive desire and patriarchal power. Next, by drawing on Ettinger’s work concerning natality, I attempt to sketch a theory that can support male psychotherapists to hold a space without appropriating femininity. Ettinger considers the past-site accessible to male and female subjects and a future-site accessible to female subjects exclusively through differing relations concerning the natal. I suggest that this path can open up many possibilities when entering into social signifying networks, and is compatible with queer theory while maintaining feminine difference. Finally, I consider how the male psychotherapist can overcome his own phallic limits. This new perspective considers the therapeutic space as a socially produced site of support that accesses the subversive potential of mental health difficulties.
Book chapter: Re-Visioning Existential Therapy
In this chapter, the author explores how our mind can be constrained by a person or system, how our mind itself can be industrialised so it becomes a container that needs filling rather than the substance that fills it, and how a therapy which the author call subversion therapy can unseat these systems and create space for the return of the flesh – the flesh is the finite limit that un-limits. This therapy aims to create a space where new paths of desire can be spontaneously forged – paths of desire potentially relevant to the individual client and relevant to the times we are in. Subversion therapy is inseparable from a wider movement, a forceful call to arms in a war against increasing industrialisation of desire in society, therapeutic models and mental health services. The chapter gives two examples of how subversion therapy works in action; the examples are composites of personal material, real life client material, and fictional characters.
Publication date: July 2019
ECQI 2019 conference proceedings
Publisher: University of Edinburgh
My dissertation uses hermeneutic phenomenology to explore the lived experience of trainee therapists working with suicidal clients. After conducting semi-structured interviews of three trainee therapists, I transcribed the audio recordings and then analysed the texts, drawing out four themes: “thrown in at the deep end: burden of responsibility and inadequacy”; “nauseous and stirred to the core: helplessness and not knowing”; “reaching towards stable ground outside: building inner ground”; and “acceptance of limits: wonder”. I discovered these themes had a temporal flow and began to consider the trainee therapist’s experiences as a journey. I conducted a literature review centering around trainee therapists’ experiences of suicidal clients, looking at phenomenology and studies using other qualitative and quantitative methods, and “mapped the field’. I found similarities and differences between my research and the literature review. My results had more of a phenomenological than psychological feeling, which is consistent with my research method. I found that many of the feelings found in the literature review such as shock, fear of blame, anxiety were consistent with my study. I found that none of my participants mentioned shame and guilt and consider this to be an advantage of a space that provides open and non-judgemental support to therapists. I concluded with an ethic of ambiguity, understanding and care which recommends.
ECQI 2019, University of Edinburgh, Speaker