Psychoanalysis and the Public Sphere: Authoritarianism

A 2 day online conference organised by David Morgan and Kurt Jacobsen of Free Associations Journal in partnership with the Freud Museum

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30 September, 2023, 12:30 pm - 1 October, 2023, 6:00 pm

£55 – £65

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Authoritarianism in all its guises: right, left and centre

Is authoritarianism confined to the right? Stalinism alone refuted that notion. Of late there is also ample evidence of an “extreme centre” in adamant action in advanced industrial democracies. One clearly does not have to be a cartoonish 1930s party liner to be Stalinist in attitude or approach. An authoritarian ‘style’ can appear anywhere on the political scale, though its roots, aims and proportions may differ from one ideological cluster to another, including those who fancy they have no ideology. Should one take at face value, or overlook, projection at work in those who claim they are merely resisting (other) authoritarians? These fraught questions require serious and wide-ranging inquiry.

This year’s conference brings together psychoanalytically informed scholars and clinicians from many fields to re-examine the authoritarian personality literature from Adorno onward, and apply, extend and test it on contemporary manifestations. Among the trickiest but key tasks is to establish criteria to define right, left and centre, apart from popular media images fashioned of them. Perennial questions too recur as to whether democratic ends can be gained through authoritarian means or whether the extremes ironically meet in rigid harmony. The panellists aim to generate at least as much light as inevitable heat in considering these profound but all too topical issues.

How to watch

This event is taking place online only. All registrants will receive a Zoom Link after booking. All registrants will also receive access to the recording afterwards. This event is held as a Zoom Webinar and participants will not be visible.


Saturday 30th September (12:30 – 6:00pm)

Opening Remarks: David Morgan (12:30 – 12:35)

1. Post-Covid Authoritarianism (12:35 – 2:10)
Susie Orbach, Lene Auestad, Jill Gentile, Luke Ali Manzarpour. Chair, David Morgan

Break (2:10 – 2:30)

2. Varieties of Authoritarian Experience (2:30 – 4:05)
Karl Figlio, Barry Richards, Bob Hinshelwood, Carla Penna. Chair, Christina Wieland

Break (4:05 – 4:25)

3. Awakening to Woke? (Roundtable) (4:25 – 6:00)
Samir Gandesha, Don Carveth, Daniel Burston, Lauren Langman. Chair, Ruth McCall


Sunday 1st October (12:30 – 6:00pm)

4. Freud’s The Ego and the Id: 100 Years Later (12:30 – 2:05)
Sabby Sagall, Rye Dag Holmboe, Nini Kerr, John Keene. Chair, Agnieszka Piotrowska

Break (2:05 – 2:25)

5. Authoritarianism at the Centre? (2:25 – 4:00)
Michael Chanan, Hilary Westlake, Sally Sales, Les Levidow, Dick Blackwell. Chair, Kurt Jacobsen

Break (4:00 – 4:20)

6. How to Be Anti-Authoritarian in the 21st Century (Roundtable) (4:20 – 5:55)
Marilyn Charles, Michael Rustin, Neil McLaughlin, Eli Zaretsky. Chair, Lisa Appignanesi

Closing Remarks: Kurt Jacobsen (5:55 – 6:00)


Click here for speakers’ biographies

Click here for conference brochure

Click here for abstracts


Members’ Discount

Freud Museum Members will be able to receive a 20% discount on tickets with a special Members code. Details will be circulated to all Members via email.


A limited number of £20 bursary places will be available for those under financial hardship. Priority will be given to UK unemployed and PIP/ESA claimants.

The purpose of this event is to raise funds for the Freud Museum London, which receives no regular public income.


30 September, 2023, 12:30 pm
1 October, 2023, 6:00 pm
£55 – £65
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