The Political Self explores how our social and economic contexts profoundly affect our mental health and well-being, and how modern neuroscientific and psychodynamic research can both contribute to and enrich our understanding of these wider discussions. It therefore looks both inside and outside—indeed one of the main themes of the book is that the conceptually discrete categories of “inner” and “outer” in reality constantly interact, shape, and inform each other. Severing these two worlds, it suggests, has led both to a devitalised and dissociated form of politics, and to a disengaged and disempowering form of therapy and analysis.
What do we mean by “unrepressed unconscious”? Are there differences between the so-called “unrepressed unconscious” identified by some authors, and the “repressed unconscious”, which has generally been the object of the psychoanalytical investigations of theoreticians and clinicians, starting with Freud himself? How do we understand the relationship of this “unrepressed unconscious” with the modes of implicit memory? What is the role of the unrepressed unconscious in the most recent clinical work? These are some of the questions the contributors to this volume have tried to debate and exemplify.
My book The Wisdom of Lived Experience explores various aspects of the nature of reality and more specifically that of lived experience. In recent years I have become aware that my efforts to learn from theory and from noted colleagues have often meant closing down my experiencing mind and focussing upon the intellectual and the theoretical, rather that upon the more three-dimensional lived experience with my patients and within myself.
My book The Psychomatrix began with just a shadow of an idea that had haunted me for many years.
Freud’s ideas about the mind, evolution, and culture were revolutionary. Psychoanalytic theory was brought into service to treat mental illness because it was developed in a medical context. But the methods of psychoanalytic investigation, especially ‘free association’ and dream analysis, were most suited for learning about the mind, not ‘fixing’ the mind. The theory involved thinking objectively and scientifically about normal and pathological subjective experiences such as ‘feeling anxious’ and ‘feeling depressed’. Psychoanalytic ‘therapy’ involves largely telling a patient “this is how your mind works” and “this is why it works this way”.
‘I hadn’t started out per se to ‘study’ serial murderers, now many years ago. I was doing neurological research on the NASA Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Increasingly I was becoming interested in neuropathology of primitive personalities. In biochemistry we go to the molecular structure of a compound to see what its chemical signature is composed of. What then was the signature of what may be the most primitive form of man; who represented man at his serially worst: A murderer who killed for seemingly pleasurable gain and who used power, control and dominance, as a way of torturing his victims before he murdered them. In those days the term ‘serial killer’ was not yet in the public sector as it resides today nor did the idea of a serial killer carry the current voyeuristic allure.
Co-editor of Practical Neuropsychological Rehabilitation in Acquired Brain Injury: A Guide for Working Clinicians.