This conference run by the Psychology Department in the School of Health and Education at Middlesex University showcased an eclectic mix of perspectives and topics and made a very interesting day out in leafy Hendon. The common denominator in all talks clearly was psychoanalysis, both in clinical presentations as well as more theoretical ones.
Two surprises of the day were one how 'present' Lacan was across a variety of disciplines, and two, how much the arts and cultural studies have embraced psychoanalytic thinking.
The conference was well run and had a focused but friendly atmosphere with an emphasis on sharing insights and discussing viewpoints rather than indulging in academic competitiveness. The faculty members who also chaired the parallel sessions contributed to making everyone feel welcome and at ease.
Highlights of the day were Ambrosio Garcia's (King's College) talk titled 'Dimensionality in Jonathan Glazer's Under The Skin', Thomas Harding of the University of Nottingham's 'Biological Uniqueness or Subjective Singularity? Choices in the Clinic of Autism', Akshi Singh's 'Will it not be Better: Recognizing the Indian Psychoanalytical Society' and Nirav Soni's 'Squiggles in the Dust: Winnicott, Symbolization and the Ideogram'. Myna Mustram from Manchester Metropolitan university stood out with a brilliant account of the concept of the museum in 'The shadow of the museum: loss and melancholy in the midst of plenty.'
Unfortunately, the talk I wanted to hear the most, Finian Fallon's 'This Group is Corrupting! Leave Now Before It's Too Late!' (Dublin City University) coincided with my own talk 'Enlightened or Insane? The dilemmas and unique insights of having a psychotherapist and sociologist hat in the field of 'cults' '. This clash is probably the only criticism of the conference that came up in the plenary at the end - it was compressed so meant having to miss out on the occasional talk. But as Professor David Henderson, head of the school and organiser of the conference points out, that is always going to be the case, however many days a conference will last.