AAP Spring 2017 Lecture

Whither Psychiatry - David Bell

All cultures develop their own modes of self explanation, but such explanations, somewhat like symptoms, inevitably conceal as much as they reveal.

In this sense psychoanalysis may be well placed to enter into a critical relationship with the forms of consciousness that characterise our age. The ideology of the market has so penetrated into social consciousness that it appears as "normality", but this normality can be problematic.

The presentation will, then, fall into two parts. In the first some broad socio-cultural considerations will be offered as regards our contemporary world with an emphasis on its impact upon mental health.

Special reference will then be made to the work of the Fitzjohn's Unit, a specialist service based within the Adult Department of the Tavistock Clinic, that provides a unique psychotherapeutic treatment for patients enduring severe psychiatric disorders. The lecture will then focus on the deterioration in psychiatric care. This deterioration creates an environment which is increasingly hostile to the kind of thinking that psychoanalysis represents. This latter part should hopefully be understood in the context of the former exploration.

Dr. David Bell is past President of the British Psychoanalytic Society.

He is a Consultant psychiatrist at the Tavistock where he directs a Specialist Unit (the Fitzjohn’s Unit) for serious/enduring complex disorders. In 2012-2013 he was Visiting Professorial Fellow at Birkbeck College, London. His writing and lecturing interests include the development of psychoanalytic concepts, psychosis and borderlines states. Throughout his professional career he has been deeply involved in the relation between psychoanalysis and other disciplines: literature, philosophy, culture and socio-political issues and has published extensively in these areas. His publications include: “Paranoia, psychoanalysis and Culture”, “Reason and Passion”, “Living on the Border”. He is one of the UK’s leading psychiatric experts in asylum and human rights.

Dr David Bell has also written about the deterioration in the care of the mentally ill (PDF available here).

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