This part-time 2 year programme provides professional clinical training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy founded on a student’s engagement in their own psychoanalysis. It launches the student in beginning to practice psychoanalytically under supervision. The programme’s module content develops understanding of the principles underlying the clinical practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, a discipline launched by the pioneering work of Sigmund Freud. The programme content is strongly informed by the work of French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Jacques Lacan (1901 – 1981) whose seminars and writings elaborated Freud’s work.
Psychoanalysis is a practice founded on attending to the unconscious mental life, that is, processes of the mind no less sophisticated than the wittiest of jokes and which carry content comparable to that of the great literary and artistic work of our culture, content at the core of our concerns and perplexities in the face of the task of human existence. This focus on unconscious processes and the laws governing them is fundamental to the clinical practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Closely connected to its clinical basis, psychoanalysis contributes importantly to our understanding of contemporary culture concerns – informing our response to supposed normality, to the psychopathology of everyday life and of mental disorder, to deviancy and violence. Many of its concepts inform diverse fields of academic and artistic enquiry and endeavour including law and criminology, sociology, anthropology, psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, literature, the visual arts and their critique.
The course is delivered in 13 modules:
- Eight of these – 4 modules in year one and 4 in year two - provide 5 credits each.
- Of the remaining 5 modules, 4 are specifically related to clinical training and assessment and run continuously throughout the two years. These are Supervision of Clinical Practice and Clinical Diagnostics and Research, each contributing 7.5 credits yearly. The final module is by dissertation and contributes 30 credits.
- Attendance must be 80% or higher throughout the course
- Assessment is by continuous assessment for the taught modules and a mark for the thesis
- Total credits awarded: 100 ECTS
Supervision of Clinical Practice
The supervision of clinical practice takes place in small groups with an assigned clinical tutor in order to offer students an intimate environment and a highly focused training in the technique and practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Practical questions, such as how to commence work as a psychotherapist, how to maintain a correct position vis à vis the patient, the early sessions, the place of interpretation, the role of the transference, etc. are all looked at in detail. Central Freudian texts on psychoanalytic technique are used as a basis for the discussion of ongoing clinical formation, with students presenting their active case material in rotation for peer and tutor supervision.
Clinical Diagnostics and Research
Students attend the weekly psychiatric case conference where the presenting psychiatrist conducts an interview with a patient in the presence of the multi-disciplinary group of mental health professionals. The interview itself, the related differential diagnosis, including the psychodynamic/psychoanalytic opinion and the treatment plan will inform a seminar immediately following the case conference. In addition to the refined psychoanalytic opinion formulated in the course of this seminar, questions of diagnosis and technique will be further developed in conjunction with the study of some of Lacan’s essays on psychoanalytic technique, such as The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power.
Psychoanalysis in Context
Seminal texts for the understanding of the place of the psychoanalytic discourse in contemporary culture will be covered. Students are introduced to key texts on the following topics:
- Philosophy and psychoanalysis
- Paradigms of science
- History of theories of madness and the history of its treatment including legal positions on madness
- A psychoanalytic account of the family
- Psychoanalysis in Ireland
The Symptom and the Dream
Sigmund Freud proposes his fundamental concept of the unconscious on the evidence of working with dreams, parapraxes, jokes and symptoms. His articulation of the laws of unconscious mental functioning derives from his work with these formations of the unconscious. This module studies the dream and the symptom leaving the parapraxes and jokes to be covered in the module Psychoanalysis and language. Both modules cover the mechanisms of the unconscious as discovered by Freud and the recognition of these in terms drawn from linguistics by Jacques Lacan, leading him to propose that the unconscious is structured like a language. The primary text for the study of the Freudian account of the importance of dreams in working with mental phenomena is The Interpretation of Dreams, the text that launched the practice of psychoanalysis in 1900. The text used to follow a psychoanalytic response to the symptom is the case history 'Notes upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis' (aka the Rat Man case history). The reading of these texts relates them to clinical practice which works with dreams and symptoms.
Child Psychoanalysis - Theory and Application
Freud's contribution to the question of the application of psychoanalysis to children is represented in this module by his seminal account of the negotiation of anxiety and the castration complex in ' Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy' [aka the case of Little Hans]. Elucidating this case history will be reading from Jacques Lacan's 'Seminar, Book IV, 1956 - 1957. The object relation'. The following influential Kleinian concepts are also studied: the paranoid/schizoid and depressive positions; projective/introjective identification; unconscious phantasy and object relations, as well as the principles of her 'play technique' with children. Donald Winnicott's concept of transitional object will be the focus of the consideration of his contribution.
Psychoanalysis and Language
In psychoanalysis, how does cure through the mere act of talking come about? This module will demonstrate that the unconscious is structured like a language, thereby defining our relationship to reality. Specifically students will learn how the algorithm of the unconscious S/s (Signifier/signified) functions and its application in psychoanalytic practice. Links between this concept S/s and two of Lacan’s models for how the subject is ‘inserted’ into language and culture i.e. the Graph of Desire and Schema R will be developed. The origin of the laws of language in the work of Freud, Ferdinand de Saussure and Claude Levi-Strauss will also be privileged.
Human Sexuality and the Logic of Sexuation
Sexuality has been a fundamental question for psychoanalysis since the publication of Sigmund Freud's radical 'Three Essays on a Theory of Sexuality' in 1905. Not determined exclusively of our 'natural' gendered state, how men or women take up a 'sexed' position is at the core of our question of what it is to be human. This question has fundamental implications for our response to matters where sexuality is central: abuse, suicide among young men, the addictions, masculinity, femininity, transgenderism and gender fluidity. This module works with the key Freudian texts on sexuality including the debate within the psychoanalytic movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Jacques Lacan's concepts of object , of drive and of desire will be explored further following their introduction in the modules in the first year of the programme. The contemporary reading of Jacques Lacan's formulae of sexuation is introduced on this module.
Transference and the Interpretation of Desire in Literature and Art
This module consists of reading of fundamental texts on transference, on interpretation and on desire. 1) the concept of transference as discovered and illustrated by Freud in his account of his treatment of Dora, an 18 year old hysteric and elaborated on by Jacques Lacan in his commentary - Intervention on Transference 2) the discussion of transference in Lacan's seminar Book VIII 3) the dialectic of desire and its interpretation as developed by Lacan in his Seminar Book VI and in his graph of desire as developed in The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire. The module will include reference to Lacan's reading of Shakespeare's Hamlet as well as his reading of Plato's Symposium in particular as well as other places in Freudian and Lacanian texts where there is reference to art and literature to illustrate transference and desire.
Psychoanalytic Conceptions of Psychosis
This module concentrates on two of Freud’s case studies – his analysis of 1) Judge Schreber’s autobiography of his psychotic illness and 2) his treatment of the Russian émigré eponymously referred to as the Wolf Man - as reference points for a psychoanalytic understanding of psychosis. In addition, it studies Freud’s and Lacan’s theories of psychotic illness, especially, paranoia and schizophrenia (formerly dementia praecox), as they evolved and as they relate to the theories of their psychiatrist contemporaries. Attention will also be paid to questions of diagnosis and treatment of psychosis in psychoanalysis and psychiatry today.
Ethics, Research and Clinical Applications
Jacques Lacan's Seminar The Ethics of Psychoanalysis is the central text for this module. Students encounter how psychoanalytic ethics differ from humanist ethics and why they resist codification. The contribution of psychoanalytic theory and practice in two topical domains will also be addressed 1) addiction, where the role of the administration of enjoyment in diagnosis and treatment will be explored; 2) criminality, where the implications of Freud's concept of criminals being so from a sense of unconscious guilt will be assessed. Consideration is given to implications for our understanding of science, clinical practice and research. In light of this there will be sessions on research writing appropriate to the psychoanalytic field to support the work of the Dissertation.
Students will prepare and submit a 12,000 word thesis at the end of the second academic year of the programme. They will be expected to have a thesis proposal by the end of semester one of second year. Students will be supported in writing their thesis using the small group supervision meetings as well as with approximately 6 one-to-one thesis supervision meetings with a designated thesis supervisor. This support will help maintain an appropriate connection between the academic task of the thesis and the clinical ethos and direction of the programme. Further support will be provided in designated seminars in year two as well as content from the Ethics, Research Methods and Clinical Applications module.