The Climate Emergency: Psychoanalytic Perspectives

Day conference on psychoanalytic perspectives around ecological destruction.

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16 May, 9:30 am - 5:00 pm

£45 - £70

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Eco Anxiety by Jess Rodrigues - The Climate Emergency: Psychoanalytic Perspectives - Freud Museum Conference

Please note: This conference is still going ahead as an online event. More information to follow.

What can psychoanalysis offer to the on-going discussion about the state of the planet?

The Freud Museum held a conference on Ecological Madness in 1992 which was one of the first conferences to bring a psychoanalytic perspective to this global issue. Twenty-eight years later “ecological madness” has become a “climate emergency” and the impact on mental health is a major concern.

We are revisiting this pressing subject by inviting psychoanalysts, activists, authors and young poets to explore the psychological impact of the climate emergency in the consulting room and beyond. Many of us may feel helpless, anxious, guilty, angry, melancholic, and even fatigued from the constant flow of information; more and more people are said to be suffering from “climate anxiety”. In many parts of the world populations are not only suffering anxiety about the future but from the traumatic impact of ongoing environmental catastrophes.

How we process our emotional responses is an important step to understanding the crisis and acting in a determined, effective and creative way. Can psychoanalysis help save the planet?

Programme

David Morgan
Climate Change, Cognitive Dissonance, Human Hope and the Death Instinct

Sally Weintrobe
Working through our feelings about the climate crisis

Renée Lertzman
From Paralysis to Reparation: Accessing our Capacity to Care

Joseph Dodds
Feeling the Heat: Ecopsychoanalysis and Climate Change

Anouchka Grose
To Breed or Not to Breed

Young Poets’ Network: Winners will be announced in April 2020 and winning poems performed at the conference.

 

Abstracts

Sally Weintrobe
Working through our feelings about the climate crisis
The climate bubble is now bursting, leaving many people finding it hard to manage their feelings as they take in the extent of the damage already caused to our climate system. What can help us to recognise and work through our feelings about this threat to survival without resorting to further denial? How can we think proportionately about our responsibility? Sally Weintrobe addresses these questions, bringing in her ideas on Exceptionalism and the culture of un-care it promotes, a culture that alienates us from the part of us that cares about the effects of our actions.

David Morgan
Climate Change, Cognitive Dissonance, Human Hope and the Death Instinct
“Knowledge comes with deaths release“ David Bowie ‘Quicksand’
At an international psychoanalytic conference, I’m aware of the cognitive dissonance that allows delegates to turn a blind eye to air travel whilst simultaneously attending a talk on the Climate Crisis.

I reflect that this is just part of being alive, our narcissism or western colonialism, hardening in the face of a crisis we have been ignoring, whilst increasingly using resources that cause it.

Like Freud when faced with the monstrosity of the World War, do we need his theory of the Death Instinct, with its longing to seek release from the complexities of life through dissolution? I conclude in a more hopeful fashion with some ideas about the post-anthropocene from Alain Badiou.

Anouchka Grose
To Breed or Not to Breed
With only a decade to turn the climate situation around, is it irresponsible to have a baby? And how might it be possible to respond to this question in psychoanalytic sessions? Is it possible to take the multiple threats posed by climate change seriously while still keeping open a space for people to make nuanced, subjective choices about their futures?

Joseph Dodds
Feeling the Heat: Ecopsychoanalysis and Climate Change
What role can psychoanalysis play in understanding the ecological crisis and climate change? In our era of anxiety, denial, paranoia, apathy, guilt, hope, and despair in the face of climate change, climate change forces us to think transversally, about a world of unpredictable, multiple-level, highly complex, nonlinear interlocking systems. How does a fantasy impact on an ecosystem, and vice versa? There is a need for a way of thinking able to integrate the disparate strands of analysis, related to what the psychoanalyst Bion (1984) calls the work of ‘linking’. The philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari (2003) combined with the sciences of complexity and chaos can build on psychoanalytic perspectives to offer a new framework, or rather a ‘meshwork’ (DeLanda 2006), able to integrate Guattari’s (2000) ‘three ecologies’ of mind, nature and society. How can we, as individuals, societies and as a species, bear the anxiety involved with attempting to ask the question, how are we to survive?

Renée Lertzman 
From Paralysis to Reparation: Accessing our Capacity to Care
At this moment, humans are undergoing a collective awakening. The seismic ripples are activating new movements, from XR and young climate strikers, to corporate leadership. We now know enough to grasp the magnitude and scale of our planetary crisis, and the implications for all life, now and deep into the future. And yet, collectively we seem to swing from paralysis to mania. The tenor is either alarm and panic, or cheerleading solutions. None of these are wholly sufficient for a global response. What are the conditions that support our capacities to move into creative, integrative and reparative response? Where we can tolerate the anxiety, fear and shame that this crisis can bring up? We look to insights within psychoanalytic fields and beyond, to surface how we as a community can effectively bring about integrated, sane responses.

A limited number of bursary tickets at £24 are available for young people under the age of 18 and people receiving UK benefits or accessing NHS mental health services. Please contact Ivan Ward to apply for a bursary place.  [email protected]

Details

Date:
16 May
Time:
9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Cost:
£45 - £70
Event Category:

Venue

University College Senior School
Frognal
London, NW3 6XH

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