College of Psychoanalysts – uk international Conference, University of Manchester, 26-27 June 2017

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College of Psychoanalysts – UK

International Conference, University of Manchester, 26-27 June 2017




What Does a Muslim Woman Want?

Author(s): Nadezhda Almqvist

Institutional affiliation (if any):

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Keywords: Study case, Subjectivity, Fundamental Fantasy, Desire

Abstract: Since Edward Said it has become commonplace to note that Islam is popularly understood, not in terms of its rich history and huge diversity of practices and people, but as a kind of anti-west. Despite this tacit acknowledgement, the tendency continues to use the terms Islam and Muslim as if they refereed to something concrete, separate from the complex lives of the people themselves. My presentation will tackle this particularity by focusing on a case study. Sara, born in Africa, was raised in the Middle East. Now she lives in the West. After taking medication for a number of years, see finally decided to speak to a therapist about her depression. Her childhood and adult life were lived between different cultural practices and countries and often she and her family found themselves at the fringes with little perspective for higher education and ‘integration’. During the treatment Sara often questioned and disagreed with some of the practices and traditions she experienced over these years. In Sara’s case the West was the land of her dreams, a dream now being fulfilled with rapid speed. When the dream comes true, what is left? In this presentation I'll explore how Lacan’s distinction between need, demand and desire help throw light on Sara’s case. How does Sara experience herself as a desiring subject? Examining moments of Sara’s treatment I'll explore some of the paradoxes of desire where the archaeology of this desire is never easy to grasp.

Author Bio: Nadezhda Almqvist is a psychoanalytic therapist based in Dublin. She holds a BA in social work from the University of Sofia (Bulgaria), an MPhil in psychoanalytic studies from Trinity College Dublin and an MA in psychoanalytic psychotherapy from Independent Colleges, Dublin. In 2013 she was awarded Independent Colleges “President’s Award” for outstanding academic achievements, clinical expertise, and thesis. A registered practitioner member of the APPI, she currently works on their Scientific committee. She is also a member of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy, and a founding member of the Dublin Lacan Study Group. She has presented her work at various seminars, congresses and workshops. 


Islam: a manifest or latent content?

Link for draft paper

Author(s): Maryam Asl Zaker, Edrissi Forough

Institutional affiliation (if any): Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Email address: ,

Keywords: Islam, psychoanalysis, culture

Abstract: Just as a Christian's actions are not necessarily based on Christian principles, a Muslim's actions similarly could not be solely judged in account of Islamic principles. Each religion takes a certain form in any culture. Each country with its unique culture shapes and modifies particular narrations of religion like Islam in its own specific ways. As a result, not might be seen as a way of practicing Islam but more to do with the culture of that specific country than Islam itself. We think religion and culture in a dialectical relationship, religion transform culture and culture transform religion. There seems to be a general supposition that psychoanalysis concepts cannot go together with the essential ideas of Islam. A glance at the history, reveals that those Christianity and Judaism had their own struggles with fanaticism, Islam as a new recurrent religion seems to be struggling with the same problems at through other religion have mostly but not entirely overcome. It seems to us at the manifest content, Islam is considered to be a religion that inherently contradicts psychoanalytic principle but we believe the latent content is about how the current political culture transforming Islam. In other words, could Islam act as day residues of cultural and political issues or it represents a latent content? Whose associations are important for interpreting dreams of Islam, Islamophobia and culture of Muslims? With this regard the present study tries to investigate the interaction and dialogue between psychoanalysis and Islam in Iran as an Islamic country with its various subcultures.

Author Bio: Maryam Asl Zaker: I was born in Tabriz, Iran on 14 January 1982. I graduated from Tabriz University with a Bachelor of Arts in Clinical Psychology in 2005. I studied master and PhD in clinical psychology at University of social welfare & rehabilitation sciences (Tehran). I graduated in September 2016. Now I'm assistant professor of Clinical Psychology in Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences (SBUM) of Tehran in Iran. I have been studying extensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy for 10 years I have participated in educational group of Dr. Babak Roshanaei-Moghaddam who is an Adult Psychoanalyst graduated from Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (SPSI). I've translated "The patient and the analyst" (Sandler) in Persian.

Forough Edrissi: I was born in Shiraz, Iran on 10 July 1986. I graduated from High School in June 2004 and from Shiraz University (SU) with a Bachelor of Arts in Clinical Psychology in September 2009. I remained at Shiraz University (SU) to complete my Masters of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology in October 2009 and now I'm a Ph.D. student of Clinical Psychology in Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences (SBUM) of Tehran in Iran. I'm working on my Ph.D. thesis which is titled "Efficacy of Tuning in to Kids Program on parent socialization and Anxiety symptoms in preschool children". I have been studying extensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy for 4 years which is my preferred approach with a focus on Object Relations schools. I have participated in educational group of Dr. Babak Roshanaei-Moghaddam who is an Adult Psychoanalyst graduated from Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (SPSI). I have published 7 articles in Iranian magazines and I've translated 2 books. I was a member of Executive Committee of “Second Congress on Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy" which was held 19-21 November, 2016 in Iran.


Religion and the Social Unconscious: Towards A Conversation Between Psychoanalysis And Islam —A Difficult Conversation Across Difference

Author(s): Dr Claire S Bacha and Zakaria Terry Horne

Link to draft paper

Institutional affiliation (if any): The Institute of Group Analysis

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Keywords: Social Unconscious, Totem, Taboo, Religion

Abstract: At first glance, Islam and Psychoanalysis are very different. Is there a third position from which a dialogue can be pursued enabling a comparison of the two discourses in a way that benefits each, also benefitting discourse in itself? The group analytic concept of the social unconscious may be this third position. Group analysts use the concept to think about is unconsciously shared between members of large natural groups, such as nationalities and ethnicities. What parts of itself does the baby imbibe with its mother’s milk? S.H. Foulkes was the first group analyst as Sigmund Freud was the first psychoanalyst. They shared an Eastern European, Jewish and psychoanalytic background, Foulkes writing about fifty years after Freud. Foulkes rarely mentions religion specifically in his writings. Freud, however, for all his reported dislike of groups, writes constantly and consistently about groups and religions. Freud, however, keeps returning to the idea of Totem and Taboo. The totem is the emblem of the clan, the hunter-gatherer small group within the larger tribe, a precursor of religion and family. The taboo is related to exogamy. ‘You do not eat the totem and you do not have sex with the totem’. Religion thus becomes both identified with the group and also with therapeutic ways of managing anxiety. The concept of the social unconscious, an investigation of the roots of unconscious identity, can help describe, compare, contrast and create dialogue between divergent social and religious discourses.

Author Bios: Claire is a psychotherapist and group analyst working in independent practice in Manchester. She is Trainer Analyst for the Manchester Qualifying Course in Group Analysis. Claire is double registered with the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapy and the British Psychoanalytic Council. She is also a Trainer Analyst for the Tavistock D58 course in the North. Claire has long been interested in religions, from a basis of an understanding of Totem and Taboo, and touching on the history of religions, recently starting to study Islam more seriously.

Zakaria Terry Horne originally qualified as a polymer scientist, now works as a cognitive

neuroscientist, who also trained in computer science and analytic psychotherapy, co-founding the Manchester Training in Group Analysis. Author of 12 books, published by Routledge, Kogan Page, Hodder Education, on applied philosophy, applied thinking, strategic planning, strategic thinking and the management of change. Long retired from Lancaster, where he co-founded the Lancaster School of Management and University of Central Lancashire, where he co-founded Lancashire Business School. He continues to supervise doctoral research. He is school governor of Eldon Primary School (twice winner of Primary School of the Year and other national awards ). Founder Member of Abaseen Foundation, just awarded MBE for voluntary service, running 2 hospitals and 3 schools in Pakistan, where he converted to Islam, in 2004.

Decolonizing Psychoanalysis / Psychoanalyzing Islamophobia

Author(s): Robert K. Beshara

Link to draft paper

Institutional affiliation (if any): University of West Georgia

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Keywords: decoloniality, Islamophobia, transmodernity, Orientalism

Abstract: Instead of othering Islam as a monolithic dispositif, which is the Orientalist tendency in the West, we should emphasize Islam’s heterogeneity. More importantly, instead of engaging with the object of Islamophobia—namely, ‘the conceptual Muslim’—, we should recognize the diversity and intersectionality of Muslim subjects in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class. Having said that, I imagine ‘Islamic psychoanalysis’ to be ‘postcolonial’ or ‘decolonial’ depending on our references (e.g., Said/Spivak/Bhabha vs. Dussel/Mignolo/Quijano). A post-/de-colonial psychoanalysis would draw primarily but not exclusively on the work of critical (non-)European theorists in an effort to decolonize and repurpose psychoanalysis in the struggle against (racial, sexual, class) oppression. In other words, ‘Islamic psychoanalysis’ is a theoretical/practical tool of resistance in the struggle against global capitalism and its discontents (e.g., imperialism/colonialism). The focus of said psychoanalysis then should be less on the beliefs and practices of Muslim analysands per se, and more on the politico-economic and socio-cultural conditions that inform their beliefs and practices as well as the functions that these beliefs and practices have in relation to their symptoms. In conclusion, in order for psychoanalysis to sidestep the Orientalist trap of Islamophobia, Euro-American psychoanalysts must be careful to check their presuppositions about ‘other’ (i.e., non-Western) religions or cultures when dealing with Muslim analysands. What is the transmodern answer to the questions of difference and postsecularism? In other words, just like there is no inherent link between Islam and terrorism, why should psychoanalysis and secularism be conflated? 

Author Bio: Robert K. Beshara (ABD) is a doctoral candidate in Consciousness and Society at the University of West Georgia, where he teaches undergraduate psychology courses part-time. He is currently researching Islamophobia in the United States from a critical psychological perspective. He has presented his papers in Atlanta, Vienna, Oxford, and Berkeley. He has published a number of academic articles in peer-reviewed journals on cinema, consciousness, social media, Buddhism, and social constructionsim as well as co-edited a book of conference proceedings. Finally, he has a professional background in theatre, music, and film.

Dreams and Connectedness: exploring the possibilities of dialogue across interpretive traditions.

Author(s): Julia Borossa

Institutional affiliation (if any): Centre for Psychoanalysis, Middlesex University, IGA.

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Keywords: Dreams, Egypt, Groups, Interpretation.

Abstract: This essay examines the question of psychoanalysis’ extensibility as a practice and institution beyond its western roots, the flexibility of its theoretical foundations, and its potentiality as a discourse to address human suffering in non-Eurocentric ways. Dreams, their language, their subjective and social meanings and the politics of their interpretation will provide one of the main prisms through which these wider interrogations will be pursued. Islamic traditions of dream interpretation have a long history going back to the 8th century figure of Ibn Sirin and continue to have a contested but lively place in contemporary Egypt. In addition to drawing on key psychoanalytic, post-colonial, group analytic and anthropological sources (including the work of Amira Mittermaier and Ahlam Rizk), I will recount the experience of conducting two social dreaming groups in a traditional Islamic neighbourhood in Cairo, alongside Shayk Mostafa, a respected dream interpreter and keeper of the shrine of Ibn Sirin. This experiment was an element of a wider collaborative research project on ‘Egypt’s Living Heritage’ that I engaged in during 2016/17 together with British and Egyptian colleagues. Here, I will attempt to explore the possibilities of a potential common ground across Islamic and Freudian understandings of dreams and their interpretation, bearing in mind the differing role and place in the two respective traditions of themes such as ‘the unconscious’ and ‘the sacred’. Moments of impasse and breakthrough experienced during these groups will be used to speculate on the forms that a non-Eurocentric extension of psychoanalysis may take .

Author Bio: Julia Borossa is an Associate Professor, and the Director of the Centre for Psychoanalysis, Middlesex University. She is the author of Hysteria (2001) and the editor of Sandor Ferenczi: Selected Writings (1999) and (with Ivan Ward) of Psychoanalysis, Fascism, Fundamentalism (2009). Her numerous essays on the histories and politics of psychoanalysis have appeared in edited collections and journals including the Journal of European Studies and the Journal of Postcolonial Writing. She is a group analyst and a member of the College of Psychoanalysts-UK.


The Other of the Other: Psychoanalysis Needs Some New Terms!

Authors: Sabah Siddiqui and Karuna Chandrashekar

Institutional affiliation (if any):

Sabah Siddiqui, PhD Education, School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester, UK; and

Karuna Chandrashekar, Psychotherapist, Ashoka University, India

Email address:,

Keywords: Psychoanalysis, cultural theory, identity, Muslims, Hindus, India

Abstract: This paper is being written by two women, a Muslim and a Hindu, about two intersecting trajectories of our lives; first, as Indians within an increasingly divisive political environment where we experienced an identity of being ‘Muslim’ or ‘Hindu’ emerging over time; second, as those who have been trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy wherein we witnessed the attempt to define a culturally sensitive psychoanalysis. Through this paper we will examine the existing tradition in Indian psychoanalysis where the Muslim is posited as the necessary other for conceptualizing what it means to be Hindu. Sudhir Kakar writes that psychoanalytically “Hindus and Muslims need each other as enemies. They are each other’s necessary reservoirs, repositories for hateful feelings for which no clear-cut addressee is available” (Kakar, 2004). Though he uses psychoanalytic jargon language to explicate the presence of communal violence in the country, we believe this is reified in psychoanalytic discourse as an essential truth about the Hindu-Muslim relation. We maintain that psychoanalysis is reconfigured when it comes to India, and that reconfiguration is dynamically affected by how the Hindu-Muslim relation is being understood. However, we believe that the Hindu-Muslim dyad needs to be rethought in terms other than the discourse of otherness as a way to undo the damage we see around us. This paper is an attempt to look for new terms for dynamics between Hindus and Muslims that do not reinstate the concept of necessary Otherness.

Author Bio: Karuna Chandrashekar is a psychodynamic therapist practicing in New Delhi, India. Her past research focussed on mourning in psychoanalysis.

Sabah Siddiqui is a third year PhD student at the University of Manchester. Her current research is looking at the faith healing practices at a Muslim shrine in India viewed through the lenses of postcolonialism and psychoanalysis.

A Moment of Displacement: Becoming “Muslim” after 9/11

Author(s): Katherine Pratt Ewing

Institutional affiliation (if any): Professor of Religion, Columbia University

Email address:

Keywords: Muslim diaspora, community trauma, ideology, quilting point

Abstract: In a recent conversation I had with a young American Muslim woman of Pakistani background who teaches in the New York public school system, she plaintively asked, “when can we stop being ‘diasporic’?” Recalling how as a child she had watched the twin towers collapse from her classroom, she described how her Brooklyn community “shut down” after the traumatic events of 9/11. Her social world, inhabited primarily by Indians and Pakistanis, suddenly became “Muslim,” and no one spoke of the time before 9/11. These people moved away from being an ethnic minority in the process of becoming American into one that now inhabits the impossible position of the “other” of Liberalism, as Joseph Massad has put it. In this paper I examine psychodynamic processes of being Muslim as they appear in memories of this moment of displacement, a sudden shift of identity linked to changes in public discourse. Critically assessing psychoanalytic approaches that treat “Islam” as a master signifier in which a single repressed event forms the essence of the historical, Quranic Islam, I examine competing efforts by Muslims, politicians, and scholars (including psychoanalytic theorists) to deploy master signifiers about Islam and America in efforts to “quilt” fluid signs (Žižek) into a stable discourse that produces silences and stigmatized identities. 9/11 has become a moment of recollection that sustains or “quilts” a particular structure of feeling, a diasporic sentiment that shapes both memories of the past, such as the Indian Partition, and anticipations of the future, such as Trump’s America.

Author Bio: Katherine Pratt Ewing is Professor of Religion and Director of the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life at Columbia University. She was previously on the Cultural Anthropology faculty at Duke University. She received psychoanalytic training at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and has carried out ethnographic fieldwork in South Asia, Turkey, and among Muslims in Europe and the US. Her books include Arguing Sainthood: Modernity, Psychoanalysis and Islam (1997), Stolen Honor: Stigmatizing Muslim Men in Berlin (2008), and the edited volumes Shariat and Ambiguity in South Asian Islam (1988) and Being and Belonging: Muslim Communities in the US since 9/11 (2008).


Islam and the Revolutionary Unconscious

Author(s): Nathan Gorelick

Link to draft paper

Institutional affiliation (if any): Utah Valley University

Email address:

Keywords: revolution, Ali Shari’ati, Fethi Benslama, Arab Spring

Abstract: This paper considers some ways in which political Islam, especially in the context of anti-colonial resistance, can help the Freudian field articulate a concept of revolution that is neither limited to the legacies of Enlightenment humanism and bourgeois liberalism nor indifferent to contemporary political realities. The paper argues, first, that Ali Shari’ati’s influential notion of the radical Islamic subject is consistent with Lacan’s teaching on the subject of the unconscious, despite Shari’ati’s general disdain for what he calls “Freudianism” or Freud’s complementary disdain for religion as such. Second, this affinity suggests that Shari’ati’s radicalism has been subverted and repressed through his appropriation by the Iranian regime, and that a psychoanalytic understanding of repression can help remediate this situation. Third, this sort of attention to the ways in which revolutionary Islam clarifies the revolutionary dimension of the unconscious can enrich Freudian and Lacanian accounts of contemporary revolutionary and counter-revolutionary struggles in the Islamicate world while also refusing any essentialist reduction of Islam’s cultural heterogeneity. The paper concludes that Islam is the stage upon which a viable definition of revolution consistent with the ethics of psychoanalysis is today taking shape.

Author Bio: Nathan Gorelick is Associate Professor and Assistant Chair of English at Utah Valley University. His work has appeared in several journals of literary theory and Continental philosophy, including Continental Thought and Theory, CR: The New Centennial Review, Discourse, Theory & Event, Umbr(a): A Journal of the Unconscious, and SCTIW Review – the journal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World. He was also managing editor of the 2009 issue of Umbr(a) on Islam and psychoanalysis. He is a founding member of the Buffalo Group for the Application of Psychoanalysis, the only non-clinical research circle of the École freudienne du Québec.

Between Neutrality and Disavowal: Being Muslim Psychotherapists in India


Shifa Haq, PhD;

Sabah Siddiqui

Institutional affiliation (if any):

Shifa Haq, PhD Psychology, Assistant Professor, School of Human Studies, Ambedkar University Delhi, India;

Sabah Siddiqui, PhD Education Third year, School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester, UK.

Email address: ;

Keywords: Neutrality, disavowal, religion, India, Islam, psychoanalysis

Abstract: In the Indian context, psychoanalytic theory and practice retains almost exclusively the cultural aesthetic of the dominant Hindu culture, indisputably influencing other minority cultures through its myths, philosophy and language deployed to resonate with a Brahmanical Hindu experience. Psychoanalysis found its root and tradition in India through Bengali Renaissance, that intersected with the Jewish and Christian underpinnings of psychoanalytic theory. It is as if, both historically and culturally, its most difficult to find the Islamic aesthetic, history or presence in psychoanalysis in India. This has implications for both training and practice of psychoanalysis. In an analytic dyad, principles of anonymity, neutrality and abstinence enter or work seamlessly when the analyst and the patient share religious, ethnic, class or gender locations. Unlike race, where colour of the skin becomes a form of self-disclosure in analytic treatment, religious identification of Muslim therapists, indiscernible in many ways, in a historical background of communal tensions and violence, is congealed to remain unavowed in the service of neutrality. We would like to interrogate this expectation of neutrality in psychoanalysis, which we suppose directs us to some assumed default position that the analyst occupies. In this paper, we would like to ask if there is something like an analytic religion performing in the very least at the unconscious of Indian psychoanalysis, and how do we as Indian Muslim psychotherapists interact with it? In the process, we will be asking how this impossible disavowal of Islamic presence in psychoanalysis is undertaken in India and beyond.

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