Interdisciplinary Psychoanalytic Thought

Directory of IPT Members

The Interdisciplinary Psychoanalytic Thought (IPT) research network was founded at the start of the 2020/21 academic year, to set up and pursue dialogues between psychoanalysis and the social sciences and humanities. The project is a collaborative one between all members of the network, in which we aim to identify and understand disciplines’ often doctrinaire mutual resistances, while remaining attentive to their discrete critical metalanguages and methodologies. Working under the broad rubric ‘Transmission and Trauma’, we explore conceptions of the nature of social meaning and of its mechanisms of transmission, as these engage with the individual both as agent and as experiencing subject. We bring different disciplines together by applying both analytic and critical methodologies to interdisciplinary understandings of concepts and their connections.

After an initial exploratory phase we  moved to an in-depth analytic interrogation of Raymond Williams’s well-known but loosely defined methodological concept of a ‘structure of feeling’, which tries to account for the emergence, reification and dissolution of dominant cultural forms and values over time. Williams’s model, however, lacks any kind of psychological component, and part of our first year’s work was to set his thinking in a dialogue with forms of psychoanalysis which his peremptory rejection of Freud may have led him to overlook. In a second, critical phase, we look at re-framing the idea of a structure of feeling as an ‘unthought known’ of Williams’s work seen as self-exploration, to which he persistently returns, repeating but not working through the conundrum it presents him with.    

Alongside this focused work, the ‘Transmission and Trauma’ theme has allowed the network to range widely into other disciplines, incorporating, for example, seminars on film noir, affect theory in literary criticism, artistic genre as containment and the Milgram Experiments re-appraised. All of these seminars have retained an interest in forms of transmission which are not available to consciousness in any straightforward sense, but have pursued this interest according to diverse disciplinary frameworks and modes.

The network’s members come from a range of disciplines including classics, history of ideas, history of medicine, film and literary studies, philosophy, political theory, psychoanalysis and psychology, and several are also psychodynamic or psychoanalytic clinicians.  

Our meetings mainly take place over Zoom, which enables us to include members from Europe and other continents. Twice-termly we hold plenary video-discussions, and also smaller themed ‘research conversations’, in which members of the network share and discuss their ongoing work. Occasional workshops with both in-person and online attendance are held in the UK, with events this academic year on Raymond Williams’s structures of feeling, and on Richard Wollheim’s work in psychoanalysis, aesthetics and philosophy, with (forthcoming in July 2022) a third on intersubjectivity in social science, psychoanalysis and the philosophy of Hegel. The most publicly accessible activity is the series Interdisciplinary Seminars in Psychoanalysis (currently based at St John’s College, Oxford); these are conducted online and may be be viewed on application by clinicians and academic staff and students.

If you would like further information about any aspect of the research network, please get in touch using the ‘Contact’ form on this website.