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The King Hit and the Coward’s Punch: Can we make sense of the dialectical tension between these two metaphors?

The King Hit and the Coward’s Punch: Can we make sense of the dialectical tension between these two metaphors?

A year ago an invitation to present a paper arrives from the 2015 ANZAP Conference Committee almost at the same time as an email advising the reading of Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents in New York in early January 2015 – as a “response to the beheadings, school shootings and other violence that have defined 2014”. Violence continues in the world and we are not immune down-under.

At the same time posters in Sydney train stations proclaim “Let it Go” tattooed over clenched fists emerging from a bouquet of roses and ask “is one punch worth it?” promoted by Stepbackthink.org. Stepbackthink is a not for profit organisation with the aim of “driving cultural change that ends social violence in Australia.” Questions arise…

What are the origins of the metaphor the king hit and the coward’s punch? Can we “let it go” and what is it specifically that we have to let go of, one punch or is it something more complicated requiring a deeper understanding? What role do we have as psychotherapists practicing the art and science of psychotherapy in driving and supporting cultural change to end social violence? This paper explores these questions in response to the Conference Committee’s invitation.

Areas of Interest / Categories: ANZAP 2016

ANZAP 2016

Society, Catholicism and the human person as complex systems and sub-systems

Complexity theory is recognised as the New Science that conceptualises the universe as a system of communicating systems. As such, everything in the universe is better understood by exploring the dynamic, nonlinear relationships between the parts that make up the whole. Psychoanalytic Complexity Theory provides a new, but familiar contribution to contemporary psychoanalytic theory and practice.

Poiesis in verbal art, in verbal science and in nature: Creativity and the Conversational Model

Therapists working in the Conversational Model draw from a number of sources of experience and creative endeavour. The use of such sources suggests that therapists recognise some form of crossover between the goals of therapeutic, dyadic sharing and the value bestowed on aspects of subjectivity by creative engagements. In this talk, we offer analyses related to three aspects of such a crossover: a) what reasons have been proposed by practitioners (i.e.. Meares and his colleagues) for the efficacy of artistic values in therapeutic method and in a therapeutic relationship? b) what role do analogical ‘leaps’ have in the discourse between therapists and patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)? c) what do current theories of art and science suggest about a resonance between mental health and ‘poiesis’ – or inspired making and accomplishment?

Depressive realism, angst and creativity - What can the work of Michel Houellebecq tell us about the art and science of psychotherapy?

This paper will explore this question and present the work of Michel Houellebecq who has now published six novels, all of them bitter and miserable. Their pessimism isn't the only or necessarily their most important element, but it's probably the first thing that everybody notices. They are callow, cynical, sex obsessed, openly racist and misogynistic in turn, rife with B-grade porn, contradictory, full of contempt for art and intellectuals and operate on a low level of masculine anger at the indignities of not being an alpha male. They are none-the-less serious works, and their increasing reputation has more to do with their artistic achievement than the strong reactions they elicit.

Society, Catholicism and the human person as complex systems and sub-systems

Complexity theory is recognised as the New Science that conceptualises the universe as a system of communicating systems. As such, everything in the universe is better understood by exploring the dynamic, nonlinear relationships between the parts that make up the whole. Psychoanalytic Complexity Theory provides a new, but familiar contribution to contemporary psychoanalytic theory and practice.

Spoiled identities and community resilience

Using the work of Goffman and other social psychologists, this presentation looks at the ways in which the identities of perpetrators of sexual abuse are constructed in a monolinear fashion creating `spoiled identities’. This is a social construction which the community actively participates in for necessary reasons but which after time affects levels of community healing and resilience through embedded and habitual processes of othering.

Joseph Conrad, master of ships and master of affect: His gift to Robert Hobson and the Conversational Model

He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars: General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, & flatterer. For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organised particulars.’ William Blake, apart from Wordsworth, Coleridge and Shakespeare, Robert Hobson declared his indebtedness to the Polish/English novelist, Joseph Conrad (1857-1924). But what in particular did Conrad give to Hobson? His Darwinian biological conceptions? His Jamesian (Henry, if not William) psychological concept of an unconscious? His awareness of Newtonian Physics? (O’Hanlon), Maybe? 

Making sense: The intersection of the actual and the symbolic

To be a person is to have a place within a relational network. Simply occupying such a space carries significance, although often a significance that is only vaguely sensed, as if “through a glass darkly”. We exist within a reality that is simultaneously actual and symbolic. To have a developed mind is to be able to negotiate one’s place within this duality; to be a self-organising system not solely contingent upon the exigencies of physical space and time. Like language, which only has meaning through contrast within a network of linguistic relations, self; person; and mind exist as unique realisations within a relational network that has symbolic as well as practical significance. The area of significance, with multiple resonances and symbolic, non-literal dimensions can be seen as the zone of self, developing in complexity over time in the manner of Saussure’s “axis of simultaneities”, while the area of specific meaning, in the sense of “dictionary definition” is more defined and fixed and applicable to the “axis of successions”.