Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism

Horkheimer and Adorno (Wikipedia Commons)
Horkheimer and Adorno (Wikipedia Commons)

Location: Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, 183 Euston Road, London

This two-day conference, supported by the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism (Birkbeck, University of London), Birkbeck College, University of London, and the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies of the University of Essex, will bring together historians, social theorists and psychoanalysts to explore the impact of the Second World War and totalitarianism on psychoanalysis, and of psychoanalysis on the understanding of the war and totalitarian systems.

Topics include:

  • the role of psychoanalysis in the war effort, military intelligence and in postwar reconstruction
  • the crisis of psychoanalysis in Central Europe
  • the work of Hannah Arendt and other theorists of totalitarianism
  • cultural anthropology, fascism and the Cold War
  • visions of the child and the creation of the War Nurseries
  • the psychoanalytic sociology of the Frankfurt School
  • war and the origins of group therapy
  • neo-Freudianism
  • the psychoanalytic theorization of anti-Semitism
  • mourning, memory and trans-generational trauma
  • Winnicott and the social democratic vision.

Presentations will be 20-minutes arranged in panels, followed by discussion, all in a plenary format. Confirmed speakers include Sally Alexander (Goldsmith’s College), David Armstrong (Tavistock Consultancy Service), David Bell (British Psychoanalytical Society)m Ronald Britton (British Psychoanalytical Society), José Brunner (Tel Aviv University), Matt Ffytche (Essex), John Forrester (Cambridge University), Stephen Frosh (Birkbeck College), Peter Mandler (Cambridge University), Knuth Müller (Free University, Berlin), Daniel Pick (Birkbeck and BPAS), Michael Roper (Essex), Michael Rustin (Tavistock/UEL), Michal Shapira (New York University), Lyndsey Stonebridge (University of East Anglia) and Eli Zaretsky (New School for Social Research, New York).

4 thoughts on “Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism

  1. clarespark says:

    This conference covers all my research interests. For a sample, see,, and Critical theorists will be most interested in this material.
    I do question the term totalitarian, since it is historically incorrect to conflate Soviet communism with the variants of fascism and Nazism in Europe, though all were statist in structure.

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