CFP: Psychoanalysis in Our Time 2017 – Psychoanalysis and the Symptom, Sopot, Poland, 7th-9th April 2017

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Now in its fourth year – and following the great success of sessions in Copenhagen, Sauðárkrókur, Tallinn, Druskininkai, Gdansk and Orivesi – the Psychoanalysis in Our Time research network is delighted to announce the call for papers for our next event, which will take place on the Baltic coast in Sopot, Poland from 7th to 9th April 2017. The topic for this symposium will be “Psychoanalysis and the Symptom”.

We are very pleased to be able to say that Prof. Elizabeth Cowie – who has devoted most of her working life to interrogating relationships between psychoanalysis and cinema – and Adrian R. Price – practicing analyst, Editor-in-Chief (2010-2013) of Hurly-Burly, The International Lacanian Journal of Psychoanalysis, and translator into English of both Lacan’s Seminar X, Anxiety, and Seminar XXIII, The Sinthome – will be presenting the keynote papers for this event.

This research initiative funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers aims to initiate and develop trans-disciplinary conversations. We believe in deep and ardent discussions over meals and in sessions. We have recently published our first edited collection stemming from the meetings in Copenhagen and Tallinn, entitled Psychoanalysis and The Unrepresentable: from Culture to the Clinic (Routledge, 2016). We are working on further publications based on our on-going research activities.

The registration fee is £145, or £75 for students. There will be a possibility of a reduced fee for local participants. We will be working in a relatively small group and lunches and coffees will be provided, as well one dinner with wine as part of the registration fee. There will be no parallel sessions. Sopot is a beautiful resort not far from Gdansk. Our symposium will be held in a hotel next to the beach and the participants will be encouraged to stay in the same hotel where the comfortable rooms will cost about €50 with breakfast.

Please send an abstract (max. 300 words) and a short biographical statement to Dr Agnieszka Piotrowska ( or Dr Ben Tyrer (

The deadline for submission is 16th January 2017.

We welcome submissions for 20-minute papers from artists, academics and clinicians, and would invite different approaches to this subject from, for example, historians, film and literature scholars, or natural scientists with an interest in psychoanalysis.

Possible topics could include (but are not limited to):

  • Conversion symptoms, hysteria and the mind-body problem
  • Symptoms as “the outcome of a conflict”
  • Inhibitions, Symptoms, Anxiety
  • The symptom and language: signifier, signification, metaphor and message
  • Phobia: symptom or structure?
  • Symptom and Truth
  • From the symptom to the sinthome, the Borromean knot and jouissance
  • “Joyce the symptom”, the sinthome and psychosis
  • Žižek, enjoying one’s symptom and “permissive biopolitics”
  • “How Marx invented the symptom”
  • “Woman is a symptom of Man”
  • Edelman, queer theory and the “sinthomosexual”
  • Deleuzian symptomatology
  • Symptomatic readings of texts (psychoanalysis, ideology and the symptom)
  • The “symptomatic” place of psychoanalysis in relation to other discourses

We look forward to receiving your proposals.  As always we aim to be outrageous but scholarly and rigorous. We welcome psychoanalytically-inspired performance pieces too.

Best wishes

Agnieszka and Ben

Further details:

The symptom is perhaps the vital concept around which psychoanalysis is articulated both as a clinical practice and as a body thought relevant to culture and society.

Freud’s first investigations were of course into hysteria, which considered perhaps the symptom par excellence at the birth of psychoanalysis. In his rethinking of hysterical illness, the notion of conversion symptoms brought the question of the mind-body connection to the fore for Freud and thus laid the groundwork for much of the clinical and metapsychological development of his project for psychoanalysis. And it is the symptom, that troubling blockage, that bungled action, the thing unsaid and unsayable that often brings the analysand to the clinic in the first place.

Lacan, in his return to Freud, first posed his conception of the symptom in broadly linguistic terms, differentiating it from the conventional medical understanding of symptom as a straightforward index of pathology, the direct surface manifestation of underlying illness. For Lacan, the symptom was a sort of signifying knot, a metaphor or a message for the subject as a formation of the unconscious.

This Lacan rethought radically in his later work: far from being an aberration to be dissolved or dispelled in order to “cure” the subject, the sinthome came to be seen by Lacan as the very identity of the subject – who is now defined by their particular organisation of jouissance. The sinthome is thus the “fourth ring” that holds the Borromean knot of Real, Symbolic and Imaginary together for the individual. For Lacan, this was most clearly demonstrated in the extraordinary writing of James Joyce, which served – he suggested – to stabilise a potential psychosis, giving us, for instance, Finnegan’s Wake in the place of acute breakdown.

(And the recent publication, by Polity, of a new English translation of Lacan’s twenty-third seminar on The Sinthome, marks our turn to consider once again the importance of the symptom in psychoanalysis as a particularly timely intervention!)

In the contemporary context, Slavoj Žižek has taken the psychoanalytic notion of the symptom into cultural analysis and dialectical materialism, explaining “How Marx invented the symptom”, and pointing to a regime of permissive biopolitics where the subject is enjoined to, “Enjoy your symptom!”. Building on this in the direction of queer theory, Lee Edelman’s radical polemic, No Future, theorises the “sinthomosexual”: the figure of the queer as social symptom, which binds a community together through its abjection. While Catherine Malabou’s work on the “new wounded” argues that traditional psychoanalytic ideas of the symptom and interpretation no longer hold in an age of widespread neurological trauma.

And if one indication of the symptom in psychoanalysis is that which is missed out, passed over, or must remain unsaid, then a significant aspect of our focus (both for this session, and for our network in general) will be on the symptomatic status of psychoanalysis today: a potential absence in discourses on mental health, for example, as well as in theoretical and philosophical paradigms. What does the absence of psychoanalysis say about our times? If the symptom is a “message from the future”, what is it telling us?

Psychoanalysis in Our Time ( is an international research initiative with the Nordic Summer University and the Nordic Council of Ministers (, with the aim of providing psychoanalytic interrogation of social, cultural and scientific issues. It is a trans-disciplinary network that aims to create a space for a dialogue between clinicians, academics and practitioners of psychoanalysis as well as scholars in other fields, including film, post-colonial, and literary studies in order to investigate and elaborate ways in which psychoanalytic thinking can assist in understanding the events and developments of our times.