The Freud Museum

Events Archive

6 December 2016
7pm - 8.30pm

And this time it's Personal: Psychocompulsion and Workfare

Film screening and discussion

At the very moment when the Government is reducing the ability of NHS mental health practitioners to serve those who are unwell, they are investing public money in dubious mental health programmes.

Within such programmes, unemployed people will be coerced into participation under threat of benefit sanctions.

The Government is trying to persuade us that unemployment is a mental illness, rather than a result of adverse economic conditions created by Capital.

OpenEye Film explores the underpinnings of the psycho-coercive practices endorsed by the Government with leading academic researchers and the Mental Health Resistance Network.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Lynne FriedliRobert Stearn and Roy Bard, introduced by the film's Producer, Lene Auestad.


Lynne Friedli is a researcher, with a special interest in mental health and social justice. She is part of Hubbub at the Wellcome Collection, exploring the dynamics of rest, noise, tumult, activity and work in modern life, and is currently researching the (mis) use of psychology in workfare and other employment programmes. Lynne is also interested in the politics of strengths based discourse (notably in Scotland), the wider use of positive psychology in the 'reification of 'work' and in the resurgence of new forms of resistance to work.

Robert Stearn is a PhD candidate in English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London, where he is writing a thesis on the idea of skill in 17th and early 18th century Britain. He is also interested in the history of forced labour and training schemes for unemployed people. With Lynne Friedli, he has researched the role played by psychology in contemporary workfare programmes and the expansion of welfare-to-work imperatives into other areas of government policy, especially healthcare.

Roy Bard is an activist and Mental Health Survivor, and is one of the founding members of the Mental Health Resistance Network, which opposes the austerity programme which has seen services and benefits cut, and an alarming number of deaths. An adoptee, born in Apartheid South Africa, Roy has always been troubled by inequality, injustice and otherisation. He is currently engaged in psychotherapy through the Free Psychotherapy Network.

Lene Auestad holds a PhD in Philosophy from The University of Oslo. She is editor of Psychoanalysis and Politics: Exclusion and the Politics of Representation (Karnac, 2012), Nationalism and the Body Politic: Psychoanalysis and the Growth of Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia (Karnac 2013) and a book on Hannah Arendt in Norwegian (Akademika, 2011). Her monograph Respect, Plurality, and Prejudice: A Psychoanalytical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Dynamics of Social Exclusion and Discrimination was published by Karnac in 2015. She founded and runs the international and interdisciplinary conference series Psychoanalysis and Politics.


Film Credits:
Producer: Lene Auestad
Research: Karen Whelan, Lene Auestad
Camera: Julia Brown, Lene Auestad, Paul Barnett
Editor: Paul Barnett
With: Roy Bard, Mental Health Resistance Network; Lynne Friedli, The Hub at Wellcome Collection; Prof. Andrew Samuels, University of Essex; Robert Stearn, Birkbeck, University of London; Philip Thomas, Writer

An OpenEye Film production

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