Object Relations – A Podcast on Politics and the Psyche

Samuel Kelly introduces a new four-week podcast series on the relationship between politics and the psyche. Listen to episode one, on Institutional Psychotherapy in post-war France, below.

Object Relations is a series of discussions about the relationship between politics and the psyche. This podcast series is produced in collaboration with Red Medicine and The Polyphony. Episodes will be published here every Friday for the next four weeks.

Taking its name from the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein’s theory of how psyches develop in relationship to one another, this series will explore some questions about the politics of psychotherapy, psychiatry and psychoanalysis.

Image credit: Ava Gardner

The series begins with author and academic Camile Robcis on Institutional Psychotherapy in post-war France, including a reflection on the work of François Tosquelles at Saint-Alban, the anti-fascist politics running through French psychiatry and the different conceptions of madness that formed in the aftermath of the second world war.

In this conversation she explores the experiences of fascism and ‘concentrationism’ that produced the conditions for Institutional Psychotherapy to emerge and how it relates to a broader history of psychiatry. She also reflects on what this movement offers us in understanding questions of the political, the personal and the psychic.

Camille Robcis is a professor of French and history at Columbia University and the author of Disalienation: Politics, Philosophy, and Radical Psychiatry in Postwar France, which was recently published by the University of Chicago press.

Next week’s episode is a conversation with the historian John Foot who will explain the role of Franco Basaglia in the Italian Radical Psychiatry movement, paying particular attention to the movement’s relationship to the volatile political climate of Italy throughout the 60s and 70s.

In the third episode, scholar Hannah Zeavin reflects on how notions of neutrality shape the psychoanalytic encounter and what role psychoanalytic discourse might play in contemporary political struggles.

Finally, the philosopher Lewis R. Gordon will be discussing his work on Frantz Fanon and how it relates to Black Consciousness and the struggle against white supremacy.

If you would like to keep up to date with these conversations you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. You can also follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram.

The soundtrack to these discussions has been provided by Mark Pilkington and the artwork that accompanies these episodes was produced by Ava Gardner.

Samuel Kelly is a writer and editor based in London researching the history and politics of medicine. 

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