Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing

Speakers from Psychoanalysis, Philosophy, Psychosocial Studies, Art and Classics come together on St Valentine's Day to discuss Freud’s revolutionary ideas on Eros, and the ever intriguing and complex emotion of love.

Part 1:

Lisa Appignanesi (Writer and researcher)“All About Love” Revisited

An instinct, an imaginative elaboration of physical functions, a set of malign or fanciful distortions that bring psychic illness in train, a force that fires attentiveness and cure, love is central to the entire Freudian project, as it is, of course, to life. In her introduction to the conference, the author and former Chair of the Freud Museum, Lisa Appignanesi, explores some of the many faces the unruly emotion wears from cradle to grave.

Lisa Appignanesi OBE has written many prize-winning books including the loose trio Mad, Bad and Sad, All About Love, and Trials of Passion. She is the author of Freud’s Women, with John Forrester, ten novels, and the family memoir, Losing the Dead. She is Visiting Professor in Literature and the Medical Humanities at King’s College London, and a former President of English PEN.

Miriam Leonard and Daniel Orrells (Classicists) “Freud and Greek Love”

Eros was one of the central preoccupations of ancient Greek literature, philosophy and art. We will start by introducing some of its divergent manifestations in Greek culture and everyday life, then go on to explore its impact on Freud’s writing. The Oedipus complex is the most famous instance of Freud turning to the archive of Greek love to explain modern psychic and sexual dispositions. We will examine the depth of Freud’s immersion in Greek erotics and explore some of its enduring paradoxes.

Miriam Leonard is Professor of Greek Literature and its Reception at University College London. Her research explores the intellectual history of classics in modern European thought from the eighteenth century to the present. She is author of Athens in Paris: Ancient Greece and the Political in Post-War French Thought (OUP, 2005), How to Read Ancient Philosophy (Granta, 2008) and Socrates and the Jews: Hellenism and Hebraism from Moses Mendelssohn to Sigmund Freud (University of Chicago Press, 2012). Her latest book Tragic Modernities is forthcoming with Harvard University Press.

Part 2:

Jane O’Grady (Philosopher) “From Courtly to Romantic: The Ambivalences of Love”

The poems, sagas and disquisitions of Courtly Love engendered (and were engendered by) a vast sea-change in attitudes to sex, love and women in the early Middle Ages. Via Chaucer, Spenser and Shakespeare, and, later, Rousseau and the Romantics, Courtly Love transmuted into the sort of romantic love that Westerners worship today. But Courtly Love is riddled with irony and ambivalence, as are its later incarnations.

Jane O’Grady, is a philosopher who co-edited Blackwell’s Dictionary of Philosophical Quotations with A. J. Ayer, and writes philosophers’ obituaries for The Guardian, as well as reviews and articles for various papers and journals. She has been a Visiting Lecturer at City University for the last twelve years, and is one of the seven founders of the London School of Philosophy.

Candida Yates (Psychosocial Studies) “Masculinity and the Dilemmas of Love: Lust and Longing in Contemporary Cinema”

This paper explores the psycho-cultural dynamics of love, lust and longing in cinema by focusing on the complexities of the relationship between masculinity and the ambiguities of flirtatious desire. Drawing on examples taken from films such as The Talented Mr Ripley (Anthony Minghella, 1999), Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011) and Her (Spike Jonze, 2013), the paper examines the complex play of lust, loss and frustrated desire on screen and the implication of such complexity for fantasies of masculinity and spectatorship today. Alongside the pleasures of flirtatious encounters, the paper discusses the defences that may be deployed as a way to control the other in order to manage anxieties about attachment, engulfment and the narcissistic wounds of loss in the late modern age.

Candida Yates is Professor in Communications, Bournemouth University, and is a Director of the AHRC Media and the Inner World research network (MiW). She has published widely on the themes of popular culture, psychoanalysis and identity. She is Co-editor of the journal, Free Associations; Consulting Editor of Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society; and Joint-Editor of the Karnac Book Series: Psychoanalysis and Popular Culture. Her publications include: Masculine Jealousy and Contemporary Cinema (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2007); Culture and The Unconscious (co-edited, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Emotion: New Psychosocial Perspectives (co-edited, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); Television and Psychoanalysis: Psycho-Cultural Approaches (co-edited, Karnac Books, 2014) Media and the Inner World: Psycho-Cultural Approaches to Emotion, Media and Popular Culture (co-edited, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); and The Play of Political Culture, Emotion and Identity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

Part 3:

Gigliola Fornari Spoto (Psychoanalyst)- “Some Thoughts on Pleasure in the Analytical Session”

Freud (1924) described how the pleasure principle could be considered the “.. watchman over our life , rather than merely our own mental life.” Masochism and the Death Instinct, add complexity to his early formulations on pleasure. The role of object relations and phantasy occupy a central position in the psychoanalytic understanding of pleasure.

In this presentation I use examples from the consulting room to describe some of the complexity of the experience of pleasure as it appears in the analytical session.

Gigliola Fornari Spoto trained in Medicine and Psychiatry in Italy and the UK. She is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the BPAS and in full time psychoanalytical practice. She has edited Eric Brenman’s The Recovery of the Lost Good Object.

Luis Rodríguez de la Sierra (Psychoanalyst)- “From the Cradle to the Couch: The Role of Pleasure in Psychic Development”

The concept of pleasure is vast and interesting. One can talk about it from a cultural, literary, religious, moral and psychoanalytic point of view. Beginning with early infantile development, this presentation will address the theory behind the concept of pleasure from a metapsychological and developmental angle. Theoretical points will be illustrated with pertinent clinical examples from child, adolescent and adult analysis.

Luis Rodríguez de la Sierra trained is Medicine and Psychiatry in Barcelona and London, where he also trained as a group psychotherapist. He is a Training and Supervising adult and child Analyst at the BPAS. He worked for many years in the NHS and at the Anna Freud Centre and now works at the London Clinic of Psychoanalysis and in private practice. He has published papers on child analysis and drug addiction and is the editor of Child Analysis Today and the co-author (with Joan Schachter) of The Late Teenage Years. He has an abiding interest in classical ballet, which he has discussed at events with a number of leading dancers.

Part 4:

Emma Talbot-“The Lovers” (on love and intimacy in contemporary art)

Despite being perhaps the most intimate of emotions, representations of love have been idealised, romanticised and formalised as part of artistic tradition over centuries. But how do artists deal with love as a subject today? This talk explores ways in which contemporary artists have used personal subject matter such as desire, physical relationships and longing as material for their work. It will consider different strategies artists have employed and examine how intimacy has been opened out to a wider audience via artworks

Emma Talbot is an artist based in London. Her work is based on attempts to recount real life experiences from memory through direct drawing. Through artwork, she explores the psychology of her own inner world including reflections on personal relationships, sex and love. She co-runs the research project ‘Intimacy Unguarded’ at Central Saint Martins, which investigates the use of autobiography, biography and memoir by contemporary artists and writers via symposia and public talks. Emma has forthcoming solo exhibitions at Petra Rinck Galerie, Dusseldorf, DomoBaal, London and The Freud Museum. Her work is included in the Thames and Hudson book 100 Painters Of Tomorrow and will be featured in a new publication by Roger Malbert for Thames and Hudson called Drawing People.

Emma is a Senior Lecturer at Central Saint Martins. She was selector of the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2010 and was a Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome. Her work is included in Saatchi Collection and David Roberts Collection.

David Morgan (Psychoanalyst)-“Sexual Phantasy, Mourning and Loss”

Sexual phantasy is always on the border between dream and reality. It is desire that has to remain unsatisfied. It is a longing that can never be reached because reality testing leads to its disillusion.Thomas Mann’s Aschenbach character in Death in Venice, says “Nothing is more curious and awkward than the relationship of two people who only know each other with their eyes… Between them there is listlessness and pent-up curiosity, the hysteria of an unsatisfied, unnaturally suppressed need for communion and also a kind of tense respect. Because man loves and honours man as long as he is not able to judge him, and desire is a product of lacking knowledge.”More prosaically, Dudley Moore has been famously quoted as saying “I am always looking for meaningful one night stands.” In this paper I examine the longing for unrequited sexual phantasy that obviates the need for knowledge of the self or the other – or the facts of life in all their temporality.

David Morgan is a consultant psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in the NHS and private practice. He is a training analyst/therapist and supervisor for the British Psychoanalytic Association and British Psychotherapy Foundation, and a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He provides consultation to the public and private sector, including organisations of a political and social nature, and is a regular speaker at conferences.

He has contributed to radio and TV programmes on Whistleblowers, Van Gogh, and Fundamentalism, and has recently lectured at various public venues on Whistleblowing and Dissent, Narcissism, Poetry, Hypnotism and Psychoanalysis, and Perversion. He has recently published an article on political dissent in the New Internationalist, and is co-editor, with Stan Ruszczynski, of Lectures on Violence, Perversion, and Delinquency (Karnac, 2007). He enjoys lecturing and teaching at home and abroad.



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