The Freud Museum

Events Archive

8 June 2013
9.30am - 5.00pm - SOLD OUT waiting list available


A multi-disciplinary international conference

Lou Andreas Salomé wrote The Erotic (1911) before she met Freud. The recent English translation of her groundbreaking book encourages us to consider how a century of social change has affected erotic behaviour, and what this may mean for psychoanalysis. In a world of online porn, internet dating and ‘digital emotions’, what are the contours of ‘the erotic’ in the world today?

This interdisciplinary conference explores the significance of contemporary erotic life for human relationships and the questions it poses for psychoanalytic theory and practice.

“The Modern Erotic”
Susie Orbach in conversation with Jane Haberlin (biogs)

Gary Winship (biog)
Introductory Remarks: On the Erotic

Josh Cohen (biog)
Pornography and the Private Life (abstract)

David Bennett (biog)
Pornographic Pedagogy: Ars Erotica or Scientia Sexualis? (Abstract)

Fakhry Davids
Introduction to Gohar Homayounpour

Gohar Homayounpour (biog)
Orientalism and the Modern Erotic

Rountable discussion
Suzi Godson (biog)
David Morgan (biog)
Emma Talbot (biog)

To download a programme, please click here (print and fold)
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Time will be given throughout the day for extended discussion.

Speakers’ Biographies

Susie Orbach is a practising psychoanalyst, writer and an activist. Her interests centre on gender, the body, the erotic and psychoanalysis and the public sphere. In 1976 she co-founded The Women’s Therapy Centre in London and in 1981 The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute in New York. She is the author of many books, including Fat is a Feminist Issue, Hunger Strike, The Impossibility of Sex and Bodies, which was awarded the Distinguished Publication Award by the Association of Women in Psychology in 2010. She recently co-edited Fifty Shades of Feminism. Susie is chair of the Relational School and a co-founder of Antidote (working for emotional literacy) and Counsellors and Psychotherapists for Social Responsibility. She is UK Convenor of - campaigning for body diversity and an end to body hatred here and in global culture.

Jane Haberlin has extensive experience of working in therapeutic communities with adolescents and adults. She trained with the Arbours Association and worked at The Arbours Crisis Centre and The Women’s Therapy Centre. She is a founder member of The Relational School in London and a member of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP). She currently works as a therapist and supervisor in private practice and provides consultancy to organisations.

Gary Winship is an Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Mental Health, Nottingham University. He is a UKCP registered psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and formerly Senior Adult Psychotherapist at Berkshire NHS Trust and Broadmoor & Maudsley Hospitals. Publications include Attachment & New Beginnings in Psychoanalytic Therapy: The collected papers of JR Pedder (ed., Karnac 2010), and the new English Translation of Die Erotik by Lou Andreas-Salomé (editor and introductory essayist). He has worked in the field of substance misuse since 1980 when he began working on the in-patient drug unit at the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital. His abiding interest in talking therapy and understanding why people take drugs is condensed in his recent book: The Spike & the Moon: Addictive Personalities & Why People Take Drugs (Karnacs, 2011). His work has ranged across a number of fields. Described in an article in The Times (2009) as one of the two leading experts in arson in the UK, his website: has received over 2 million hits in the last 6 years.

Josh Cohen is an adult psychoanalyst in private practice and Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths University of London. He is the author of various books and articles on modern literature, aesthetic theory and psychoanalysis, including How to Read Freud (2005). His book The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark, will be published by Granta in October.

David Bennett is a Fellow in the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies at the University of Essex, and Principal Fellow and Associate Professor of Cultural Theory at the University of Melbourne. His recent books include Sounding Postmodernism (2008), Loaded Subjects: Psychoanalysis, Money and the Global Financial Crisis (2012), and the forthcoming The Currency of Desire: Libidinal Economy, Psychoanalysis and Sexual Revolution (Lawrence & Wishart, 2014). His paper for this conference is a savagely abbreviated version of an essay due to be published later this year by Palgrave Macmillan in Pornographic Art and the Aesthetics of Pornography, ed. Hans Maes.

Gohar Homayounpour is a practicing psychoanalyst in Tehran. She trains and supervises the psychoanalysts of the Freudian Group of Tehran and is Professor of Psychology at Shahid Besheti University Tehran. Her recent book Doing Psychoanalysis in Tehran was published to great acclaim in the US and UK.

M Fakhry Davids MSc (Clin Psych) F Inst Psychoanal, is a psychoanalyst and adult psychotherapist in full-time clinical practice in London. He is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society, a Member of the Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists, and a founding Board Member of PCCA (Partners in Confronting Collective Atrocities). He has held academic and clinical positions in South Africa and the UK, and is a Visiting Lecturer at the Tavistock Clinic. He has written on a number of psychoanalytic topics, and has a long-standing interest in whether psychoanalysis is able to journey beyond its Western bourgeois birthplace across boundaries of race, class and culture. His book, Internal Racism: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Race and Difference, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011.

Suzi Godson writes a weekly sex and relationship column for The Times Saturday Weekend section. A selection of her best articles was published in the book Sex Counsel (Cassell) in 2011. Suzi is also a columnist with Psychologies magazine and the author of the award-winning The Sex Book (Cassell), which has been translated into 15 languages. Over the years Suzi has amassed a vast archive of her readers’ sexual experiences and problems. In 2011 she set up her website More Sex Daily, a free resource for couples in long-term relationships. The site now carries her ongoing research, which she aims to collate and publish later this year.

David Morgan is a Training analyst and Fellow of the British Psycho-Analytical Society. He was formerly a Consultant Psychotherapist at the Portman Clinic and is Honorary Consultant Psychotherapist for WBUK, a support organisation for Whistleblowers. He is Joint Editor, with Stan Ruszczynsky, of Violence, Perversion and Delinquency (Karnac 2007)

Emma Talbot is an artist based in London. Her work is based on attempts to recount real life experiences from memory through direct drawing. Her recent one person exhibition at Transition Gallery, London ‘Bad Objects, Little Deaths’ explored the psychology of her own inner world and included an installation of drawings called ‘Little Deaths’, multiple drawn scenes based on the narrative of sex fantasies. She recently gave a talk ‘Notes on Self- Reflection’ about themes in her work, in relation to Dorothy Iannone’s show ‘Innocent and Aware’ at Camden Arts Centre. She was included in the exhibition ’The Life of The Mind’ at New Art Gallery Walsall, 2011, ‘Me and My Shadow’ Kate MacGarry, London 2011 and The John Moores Painting Prize 2013.

Emma is a Senior Lecturer at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. 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.


Josh Cohen
The pornographic gaze is animated by the fantasy of being granted a secret window into the walls of the most private and inaccessible region of experience. Drawing on a wide range of sources, from Freud and Laplanche to Milton and Steve McQueen's film Shame, this paper will explore the experience of melancholy disillusion in which this fantasy typically culminates. Despite the drive to ‘see everything’, the culture of pornography, I'll argue, is driven by the impossible wish to externalize what can only remain in darkness.

David Bennett
This paper addresses the presumed differences between the pornographic gaze and the aesthetic gaze. Since the eighteenth century, the aesthetic and the pornographic have been constructed as mutually defining opposites – philosophically, legally, commercially and psychologically. The opposition has traditionally unfolded into such dichotomies as art/commodity, disinterested/interested, self-reflexive/mimetic, intellectual/somatic. Examining how the opposition was first constructed by Enlightenment philosophers, the paper will consider how it was problematised by modernist writers and artists, and how it has now apparently imploded in postmodern cultural practices. Specifically, the paper will consider how recent cultural critics, reacting against what Cindy Patton has called the “erotophobia” of AIDS-era neo-conservativism and anti-porn radical feminism, have accommodated in the university classroom the hardcore heterosexist pornographic commodities demonised by 1980s anti-porn campaigners, teaching their students to re-read such ‘texts’ in the image of the aesthetic as, essentially, stylistically self-reflexive works. It asks whether this tendency amounts to a radical redefinition of the erotic, and whether such pedagogy qualifies as what Foucault called an ars erotica or a scientia sexualis.

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