Thesis title: Changing gender dynamics in society and psychoanalysis
PhD Health in Social Sciences
Year of study: 3
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.
Still anti-oedipus?-Reflections on Deleuze and Guattari
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.
Subversion therapy and the imperialism of everyday life
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.
CAN QUALITATIVE RESEARCH SAVE LIVES? THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF TRAINEE THERAPISTS WORKING WITH SUICIDAL CLIENTS
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