A two day online conference organised by David Morgan and Kurt Jacobsen of Free Associations Journal in partnership with the Freud Museum, 24 September, 12:30 pm – 25 September, 6:00 pm

Link to the conference on the Freud Museum’s website


Who or what decides who we reckon we (and others) are? Are we the architects of our own identities or else the pliable outcomes of internal and external forces, both conscious and unconscious? How should we navigate the wide medley of rival theories between those two stark positions? Psychology revolves around these core questions for which the repertoire of answers has never been entirely value-free, satisfactory or settled.

Freudian psychoanalysis posits a primal ingredient of autonomy in the newborn as an inherently unruly creature, and later some autonomy is gained insofar as a person works through their acquired demons and delusions. For Erikson, identity is a ‘fundamental organizing principle which develops throughout a life span’ and consists of experiences, relationships, values, beliefs, memories, that make up a person’s subjective sense of self, which can remain stable even as new aspects of self are added. For Lacanians, by contrast, identity appears to be the ultimate objet petit a. In any case, the way one conceives of identity, and its (de)formation, has consequences for how one views the wider world and its varied occupants. Modern identity politics, whatever its merits may be, seems geared to drown out issues of class and of economic advantage.

This online conference examines these questions in several interrelated arenas, (1) in the realm of theory, (2) in the treatment room and group, and (3) in the public sphere, where “identity politics” is prominent and often operates as a divisive instrument socially.



Saturday 24th September (12.30pm – 6.00pm)

1. Getting IDed: Who Decides Who We Are? (Eli Zaretsky, Phil Stokoe, Susie Orbach, Lisa Appignanesi) Chair: David Morgan
2. Identity and Class: Complementary or Antagonistic? (David Pilgrim, Lauren Langman, Ian Parker, Sally Sales) Chair: Agnieszka Piotrowska
3. Identity as Concept and Tool (Barry Richards, Karl Figlio, David Bell, Lene Auestad) Chair: Ruth McCall

Sunday 25th September (12.30pm – 6.00pm)

4. Race, Ethnicity and Identity (Carlton Jama Adams, Sharon Numa, Narendra Keval, Maxine Dennis) Chair: Fakhry Davids
5. Ukraine and Israel/Palestine: Is Identity the Difference? (Gabrielle Rifkind, Sabby Sagall, Neil McLaughin) Chair: Kurt Jacobsen
6. Protean Man and Neoliberal Society: Roundtable Discussion (Lynn Layton, Samir Gandesha, Marilyn Charles, Rye Holmboe, Michael Rustin) Chair: Ken Fuchsman


Speakers’ Biographies

Carlton Jama Adams is chair and Associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. His research interests include masculinities, fatherhood and black identity in the age of cultural ambiguity. His expertise lies in organizational issues in social service agencies, parenting, and black thought in an era of cultural ambiguity.

Lisa Appignanesi is Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, former President of English PEN and former Chair of the Freud Museum. Her many books include Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors and Losing the Dead. Her most recent book is Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love. She has written for the New York Review of Books, the New York Times and The Guardian, as well as made radio and TV programmes, several on Freud.

Lene Auestad holds a PhD in Philosophy from the Ethics Programme, University of Oslo. She writes and lectures internationally on ethics, critical theory and psychoanalysis, with a particular focus on prejudice, racism, discrimination, trauma and nationalism. She is an Associate Member of the Norwegian Psychoanalytical Society and founder of the international and interdisciplinary conference series Psychoanalysis and Politics (www.psa-pol.org).

David Bell is a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society where he served as President (2010-2012). He is a Consultant Psychiatrist in the Adult Department at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust where he leads a specialist service, The Fitzjohns Unit, for the more complex/severe disorders. He has edited four books: Reason and Passion: A Celebration of the Work of Hanna Segal (1997), Psychoanalysis and Culture: A Kleinian Perspective (1999), Living on the Border (2013) and Turning the Tide (2018) on the work of the Fitzjohns Unit. He has also written a short book ‘Paranoia’. He has published extensively on the relationship between psychoanalysis, literature, philosophy, culture and socio-political issues. He is one of the leading psychiatric experts on issues of asylum and immigration.

Marilyn Charles is a psychologist and psychoanalyst at the Austen Riggs Center and in private practice in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. She is also affiliated with Harvard Medical School, the University of Monterrey (UDEM), the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, and the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis. Research interests include creativity, resilience, reflective function, personality disorders, and psychosis. Her current projects include studies on changes in reflective function over time in the context of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and edited volumes on women and psychosis and on psychoanalytic, attachment, developmental perspectives on play in early childhood education. She continues to devote time to teaching and mentoring future generations of psychoanalytic clinicians. She is the author, among other works, of Working with Trauma: Lessons from Lacan and Bion and The Stories We Live: Life, Literature and Psychoanalysis.

Fakhry Davids is a training analyst of the British Psychoanalytic Society, a Fellow of The Institute of Psychoanalysis and a member of the Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists. He trained as a clinical psychologist in South Africa and has an active interest in the psychology of racism.  He is in full-time clinical practice and teaches, supervises and lectures widely. He is a founding board member of Partners in Confronting Collective Atrocities (PCCA), which adapts the group relations method to process the aftermath of events such as the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba. He has published many articles and his books include the co- edited Authenticity in The Psychoanalytic Encounter (2018) and his Internal Racism: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Race and Difference (2011).

Maxine Dennis is a psychoanalyst and a member of the Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists and the co-author most recently of Invisible Trauma: Women, Difference and the Criminal Justice System.

Karl Figlio is a Senior Member of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association and a Clinical Associate of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He was founding Director of the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies (now the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies) at the University of Essex and for several years Managing Editor of Free Associations. Recent publications include Remembering as Reparation: Psychoanalysis and Historical Memory (Palgrave 2017), in Steffen Krüger, Karl Figlio, and Barry Richards, (eds) Fomenting Political Violence: Fantasy, Language, Media, Action (Palgrave, 2018), and “On the Roots of Absolutism,” Free Associations December 2018.

Ken Fuchsman is an American scholar, professor emeritus in the anthropology department at the University of Connecticut, where he taught American history and interdisciplinary studies. From 2016 to 2020 he was president of the International Psychohistorical Association. He has written on US presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Samir Gandesha is Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University. He is the author of numerous refereed articles in top-tier journals, chapters in edited volumes, and encyclopaedia entries. He is also co-editor, with Lars Rensmann, of Arendt and Adorno: Political and Philosophical Investigations (Stanford, 2012) and co-editor (with Johan Hartle) of Spell of Capital: Reification and Spectacle (University of Amsterdam Press, 2017) and Aesthetic Marx (Bloomsbury Press, 2017), also with Johan Hartle. He also edited Spectres of Fascism: Historical, Theoretical and International Perspectives (Pluto, 2020), and co-edited (with Peyman Vahabzadeh) Crossing Borders: Essays in Honour of Ian H. Angus, Beyond Phenomenology and Critique (Arbeiter Ring, 2020).

Rye Dag Holmboe is a writer and academic. He is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at UEA, where his research examines the relationship between creative process and psychoanalysis. He completed his PhD at UCL in 2015 where he was an AHRC Doctoral Scholar and later a Teaching Fellow. Holmboe has published books on several contemporary artists as well as essays and articles on art, literature and theory in journals including Angelaki, Art History, October, Third Text and The White Review. His book on the Conceptual artist Sol LeWitt was published by MIT Press in 2021, and a co-edited volume, On Boredom: Essays in Art and Writing, was published by UCL Press the same year. Holmboe is currently writing a monograph on the painter Howard Hodgkin, which is supported by the Howard Hodgkin Legacy Trust. He is also in the third year of a training at the British Psychoanalytic Association.

Kurt Jacobsen is co-editor of Free Associations and research associate in political science at the University of Chicago. He is author of Freud’s Foes: Psychoanalysis, Science and Resistance; International Politics and Inner Worlds: Masks of Reason Under Scrutiny, Pacification and Its Discontents; co-editor (with R.D. Hinshelwood) of the forthcoming Psychoanalysis, Science and Power: Essays in Honour of Robert Maxwell Young and of seven other books. His articles have appeared in dozens of journals in the social sciences. He has contributed widely to popular outlets, ranging from The Guardian to The Irish Times to The Statesman in India. He has been a visiting scholar at the London School of Economics and a Teaching Fellow at the Centre for the Study of History of Science, Medicine and Technology then at Imperial College, now at Kings College London. He is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker and is book review editor for Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture.

Narendra Keval is a clinical psychologist at the Tavistock Clinic, London. He also worked as a specialist in psychoanalytic psychotherapy in a range of outpatient settings, working in particular with patients suffering from complex personality disorders. He has been a clinical supervisor, trainer, and visiting senior lecturer at various universities and training institutes both in the UK and South Africa, and a consultant to staff teams in a range of organisations in the private and public sector on issues such as trauma and suicidal risk. From 2006-08 he was involved in the psychodynamic teaching on the clinical psychology training program at University of Cape Town and University of Western Cape, South Africa. He has also been a guest member and clinical supervisor in the Cape Town Society for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy; clinical director and consultant psychotherapist on the Doctoral Training Program in Clinical Psychology at the University of East Anglia; and senior lecturer at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies at University of Essex. He is currently in full time private practice in London. He is the author, most recently, of Racist Sates of Mind: Understanding the Perversion of Curiosity and Concern.

Lauren Langman is Professor emeritus of Sociology at Loyola University, Chicago. He received his PhD in Human Development from the University of Chicago. Although he had planned a career in psychology, as a result of participation in civil rights and anti-war movements, his interest shifted to sociology as a way of understanding how social conflict was based on group membership and interests rather than individual personality. As a result, his work as a sociologist has always had an interdisciplinary focus largely concerned with the relations of the historically instantiated social structure and culture to the individual. His books include the forthcoming Twenty First Century Inequality and Capitalism (with David A. Smith), God, Gold, Guns and Glory: American Character and its Discontents (with George Lundskow, 2016), and The Evolution of Alienation: Trauma, Promise and the Millennium (co-edited with Devorah Kalekin-Fishman, 2006).

Lynne Layton is a psychoanalyst and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology, Part-time, Harvard Medical School. Holding a Ph.D. in psychology as well as comparative literature, she has taught courses on gender, popular culture and on culture and psychoanalysis for Harvard’s Committee on Degrees in Women’s Studies and Committee on Degrees in Social Studies. Currently, she teaches and supervises at the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis. She is the author of Who’s That Girl? Who’s That Boy? Clinical Practice Meets Postmodern Gender Theory (Routledge, 2004), co-editor, with Barbara Schapiro, of Narcissism and the Text: Studies in Literature and the Psychology of Self (NYU Press, 1986); co-editor, with Susan Fairfield and Carolyn Stack, of Bringing the Plague. Toward a Postmodern Psychoanalysis (Other Press, 2002), and co-editor, with Nancy Caro Hollander and Susan Gutwill of Psychoanalysis, Class and Politics: Encounters in the Clinical Setting (Routledge, 2006). Her latest book is Toward a Social Psychoanalysis. She is former co-editor of the journal Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, associate editor of Studies in Gender and Sexuality, and co-founder of the Boston Psychosocial Work Group.

Ruth McCall is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society, supervisor and training psychotherapist for several British psychoanalytic psychotherapy trainings and former tutor for MSc in Psychoanalytic Studies, UCL. She has a special interest in hysteria and psychosomatic disorders, and lectures on Freud and Winnicott’s work.

Neil McLaughlin is a Professor of Sociology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He has published widely on the sociological reception of the psychosocial ideas of German critical theorist Erich Fromm in such journals as Sociological Theory, Sociological Forum, The Sociological Quarterly, The Journal for the History of the Behavioral Sciences and The Canadian Journal of Sociology. He recently published Erich Fromm and Global Public Sociology (Bristol: Bristol University Press, 2021) and has written on Noam Chomsky, Edward Said and the general issue of public intellectuals and public sociology. He is researching conspiracy theories against George Soros, the comparative funding of higher education in the United States and Canada and its consequences for politics, and is editing a book on the psychosocial dynamics of authoritarianism, left and right, with Lynn Chancer from the City University of New York.

David Morgan is co-editor of Free Associations and worked as a consultant psychotherapist in the NHS for over 25 years at the Tavistock and Portman Clinic. He is a fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society, a Senior Member of the British Psychoanalytic Association and the British Federation of Psychotherapy. He is chair of the Political Minds Seminars at the Institute of Psychoanalysis. He contributes to the media and lectures nationally and internationally. His research has focused on the psychological implications for whistle- blowers and other political issues. He has also presented a podcast called Frontier Psychoanalyst on Resonance Radio. His latest book is The Unconscious in Social and Political Life (2019) and its sequel ‘A Deeper Cut’ Further Explorations (2020) He also organises the Gavin Macfadyen Memorial Essay. He is a Training Analyst and Supervisor providing clinical supervision and teaching both at a national and international level. He is a member of the IPA group for studying intractable conflict.

Sharon Numa is a Fellow of the Institute of Psychoanalysis who has been working as an analyst in private practice for thirty years. Originally working as a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS, she subsequently trained at the Tavistock Clinic. She is a training supervisor and therapist for psychotherapy associations and teaches clinical and theory seminars both in London and, in the last few years, in Beijing. Her most recent book is On Being Oneself: Clinical Explorations in Identity from John Steiner’s Workshop.

Susie Orbach is a British psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, writer and social critic. Orbach is a co-founder of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility and the founder of the Women’s Therapy Centre of London. She is a former Guardian columnist and visiting professor at the London School of Economics and at the New School for Social Research. Her many books include In Therapy, What Do Women Want, On Eating, Hunger Strike, The Impossibility of Sex, Bodies and Fat is a Feminist Issue.

Ian Parker is secretary of Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix and President of the College of Psychoanalysts – UK. His books include Psychoanalysis, Clinic and Context: Subjectivity, History and Autobiography (Routledge, 2019).

David Pilgrim is Honorary Professor of Health and Social Policy at the University of Liverpool and Visiting Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Southampton. Now semi- retired, he trained and worked in the NHS as a clinical psychologist before completing a PhD in psychology and then a Masters in sociology. With this mixed background, his career was split between clinical work, teaching and mental health policy research. He remains active in the Division of Clinical Psychology and the History and Philosophy Section of the British Psychological Society, and was Chair of the latter between 2015 and 2018. His publications include Understanding Mental Health: A Critical Realist Exploration (Routledge, 2015) and Key Concepts in Mental Health (5th edition, Sage, 2019). Others include A Sociology of Mental Health and Illness (Open University Press, 2005 – winner of the 2006 BMA Medical Book of the Year Award), Mental Health Policy in Britain (Palgrave, 2002) and Mental Health and Inequality (Palgrave, 2003) (all with Anne Rogers). His recent books are Child Sexual Abuse: Moral Panic or State of Denial? (Routledge, 2018), Critical Realism for Psychologists (Routledge, 2020) and Identity Politics: Where Did it All Go Wrong?

Agnieszka Piotrowska is a Professorial Fellow at Oxford Brookes and Professor of Film and Cultural Studies at the Gdansk University, Poland. She is also film editor at Free Associations. She edited the collection Embodied Encounters: New Approaches to Cinema and Psychoanalysis (2015), and co-edited Psychoanalysis and the Unrepresentable (2016) and Femininity and Psychoanalysis (2019). She has also published a collection of essays, Creative Practice Research in the Age of Neoliberal Hopelessness (Edinburgh University Press, 2020).

Barry Richards is Professor of Political Psychology at Bournemouth University, a former editor at Free Associations, and a key originator of the Psychoanalysis and the Public Sphere conferences in the 1980s. His many books include The Psychology of Politics (2019), What Holds Us Together: Popular Culture and Social Cohesion (2017) and Emotional Governance: Politics, Media and Terror (2007).

Gabrielle Rifkind is the Director of Oxford Process. She is a group analyst, specialist in conflict resolution and an accredited mediator. Gabrielle combines in-depth political and psychological expertise with many years’ experience in promoting serious analysis and dialogue. Her focus of work over the past two decades has been the Iran nuclear issue, the proxy wars in Syria and the Palestine-Israel conflict. Committed to trying to understand the mindset of the region, she has both facilitated meetings with and spent time talking to the leadership in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel and ‘Western’ states. She has written for various newspapers, online publications and academic journals, including The Guardian, The Times, Prospect, The Independent, Open Democracy and the New England Journal of Public Policy.

Michael Rustin was a key figure in the founding of the original Psychoanalysis and the Public Sphere Conference in the 1980s, and has written widely on psychoanalysis, society and politics. He is a Professor of Sociology at the University of East London, and a Visiting Professor at the Tavistock Clinic. He is a founding editor of Soundings and author of many books.

Sally Sales is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice, having completed training with the Site for Contemporary Psychoanalysis. Her research focuses on the field of child protection and adoption and the kinds of psychoanalytic theorising that have informed these social work interventions. She is particularly interested in tracing out how certain psychoanalytic concepts have been incorporated into social work practice to establish and normalise certain notions of childhood and identity. She is author of Adoption, Family and the Paradox of Origins: A Foucauldian History.

Sabby Sagall, formerly Senior lecturer in sociology at the University of East London, is the author of Final Solutions: Human Nature, Capitalism and Genocide and of Capitalism and Classical Music.

Phil Stokoe is a psychoanalyst whose latest book is The Curiosity Drive.

Eli Zaretsky is Professor of History at the New School for Social Research. He is the author of Secrets of the Soul, Why America Needs a Left and Political Freud.