Guild of Pastoral Psyhcology (Edinburgh Group) public lecture and professional workshop

with Chris Williams

DATES: Friday 20th & Saturday 21st July

PUBLIC LECTURE: Minding the gap: Touching time with Winnicott, Jung and Lacan

This lecture explores the dynamics of presence and absence in the psychotherapeutic experience.For Jung the transcendent informs the ground of our being and he writes of the religious instinct as central to the process of individuation. In his experience the neuroses would always point to spiritual problems both individually and collectively, while Winnicott formulates an intermediate area of experience that he names the transitional. This imaginal space is foundational to the capacity to live a creative life to contribute towards culture and encounter religion. Lacan, however, puts into his psychoanalytic practice an iconoclastic approach that seems akin to that of a Zen Buddhist roshi, intent on exposing our ignorance as a way towards a lived experience of the truth.All three share a passion for the immaterial or rather how material the immaterial is. By focusing on the phenomenon of Time in their work I seek to draw out their different, yet shared preoccupations for the importance of Revelation as they practise within the temenos of the consulting room.

PROFESSIONAL WORKSHOP: Hysteria and Projective Identification: Dionysus in the consulting room

In the pioneering days of the psychoanalytic movement Freud is tracking hysterical symptoms in the young women filling his burgeoning practice. As his ideas develop his orientation changes, moving away from physically based treatment and mechanistic metaphors towards a psychological discourse with its own unique terminology and innovative clinical technique. A crisis of knowledge is taking place both collectively and individually, where the patient is now the expert, hysterical symptoms are 'doing the talking' and the psychoanalytic doctor is being paid to listen. Thus, Freud begins to realise the central significance of the transference; the 'mise en scene' shifts and the 'back then' of the outside world is now replayed in the 'in here' of the consulting room. With Klein there is a further shift, where the body of the therapist now becomes centre stage as a key to understanding the patient's psyche and the various projective mechanisms in operation. Here metaphors are visceral and replete with body part references, while the actual physical mother becomes less important than the phantasies about the therapist. Winnicott develops another path, that of transitional objects and potential space. Now, another crisis of knowledge and treatment is taking place, where the ability to distinguish what is inside and what is outside, are seen as secondary to the establishment of an illusory place that is neither the one nor the other. The infant is now a magician whose secrets need protection Similarly Lacan has little use for so called natural objective reality, something he sees as the domain of biology, he focuses instead on the impact of signifiers and linguistic structures, elaborating an intersubjective symbolic that is transindividual. We can never know the Real.All of these thinkers develop their own somewhat esoteric cosmologies as they grapple with the reality of the psyche. Of course, none more so than Jung, who turns to medieval alchemy as a way of elaborating the intense dynamics of the doctor/patient relationship. Contagion, infection and mutual unconsciousness affecting both participants as they are subjected to the powerful energies evoked within the treatment. From participation mystique to synchronicity, Jung is never far away from Chuang Tzu's conundrum, as to whether he is dreaming that he is a butterfly or whether the butterfly is dreaming him.With the ongoing introduction of new terminology into the analytic lexicon, all of these pioneers have I think been trying to keep the psychoanalytic project alive in their own particular way. We will spend the day navigating the 'body/mind space-time continuum' as we seek to make sense of our experiences in the consulting room. We will take the subject of Hysteria as our starting point as we track the manifestations of psyche, with particular reference to the figure of Dionysus and how the god might be manifesting, both personally and collectively, at any particular time.


Chris Williams is a Jungian psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice in Bath. He has been involved with various counselling and psychotherapy organisations for the last twenty years; teaching, supervising, and as a training therapist . He originally trained with the Westminster Pastoral Foundation and then later with the Association of Jungian Analysts. Over the the years he has been particularly interested in issues concerning both Time and Money in the consulting room. Recently he has given seminars on 'Film and Fairytales', 'Stories to practice by' and 'The truth is out there'. He currently supervises in St. Petersburg, as part of a shuttle programme to help Russian psychotherapists qualify as members of the IAAP.


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