PPNow 2020 online

This event is now sold out, however it will be possible to purchase a recording of the main sections of the event in the near future. If you are interested in this option, please email us at hello@bpc.org.uk to register your interest.

Organised by:

The British Psychoanalytic Council

14 November 2020

Time: 11:00 - 16:30

Price: This event is now sold out, however it will be possible to purchase a recording of the main sections of the event in the near future. If you are interested in this option, please email us at hello@bpc.org.uk to register your interest

Location: online

PPNow 2020 Fear and Loathing in the Time of Covid



The impact on family and relationships from the pandemic has been huge. Families have experienced losses and separations and parents and children have had to make huge adjustments in their lives. Many families also face poverty and uncertain futures. There has been an upsurge in family violence and work has become both precarious and stressful.

Yet, the pandemic has also provided a moment for people to rethink priorities and to live differently – with an upsurge in movements that challenge the prejudices and injustices that have been previously ignored. This conference will examine the impacts both positive and negative on our relationships and debate whether we are at a turning point in our values – moving from materialism to a more relational society.


10.45: Online waiting room opens

11.00: Welcome from Susanna Abse (chair)

11.00 – 12.00: Dr Susie Orbach in Conversation with Michael Rosen

12.00 – 12.15: Break

12.15 – 13.15: Dr Lisa Appignanesi “Covid Chronicle (Part One)”

13.15 – 14.00: Lunch Break

14.00 – 15.00: Professor Salman AkhtarThe Ruptured Non-Human Envelope: COVID Pandemic and the Experience of Time, Space, Things, Animals, Money, and God”

15.00 – 15.30: Q&A with Professor Salman Akhtar

15.30 – 16.30: Reflective Groups (on Zoom)

These groups offer an opportunity to think about the impact of COVID on yourself and your practice and to develop the thinking and ideas expressed in the plenary sessions. Each group will be facilitated by a senior BPC Registrant.

Contributor Information

Susanna Abse

Susanna Abse is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist who has worked in private practice with couples, individuals and parents since 1991. She is the current chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council and was CEO of the charity Tavistock Relationships from 2006 until 2016. She also works as an Executive Coach and Organisational Consultant. She is currently preparing a book for Ebury with the working title of O Tell Me The Truth about Love.

Professor Salman Akhtar

As a result of the COVID pandemic, a substantial change has occurred in how most human beings live their lives. All psychostructural assumptions based upon there being an ‘average expectable environment’ have come into question. This is true both of internalized human relationships and the externally holding non-human environment. My focus in this talk shall be on the latter. I will point out that the ‘envelope’ of such sustaining measures has been perforated by the virus. Time has expanded, space has shrunk, things have changed functions, money has simultaneously become more and less important, animals seem immune from this widespread disease and have thus lost kinship with us, and religious belief also has been under strain. All this has resulted in a destabilization of human psyche,  which can mobilize deeply buried and hitherto mastered annihilation anxieties or become the source of a salutary ‘new beginning’.

Salman Akhtar, MD, is Professor of Psychiatry at Jefferson Medical College and a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. Professor Akhtar is the recipient of numerous awards including the highly prestigious Sigourney Award (2012) for distinguished contributions to psychoanalysis. He has delivered many prestigious invited lectures including a Keynote Address at the 43rd IPA Congress in Rio de Janiero, Brazil (2005), the Plenary Address at the 150th Freud Birthday Celebration sponsored by the Dutch Psychoanalytic Society and the Embassy of Austria in Leiden, Holland (2006), the Inaugural Address at the first IPA-Asia Congress in Beijing, China (2010), and the Plenary Address at the Fall Meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association in 2017. Professor Akhtar has served on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the Psychoanalytic Quarterly. He has more than 400 publications include 99 books, of which most recently he was sole author of: Comprehensive Dictionary of Psychoanalysis (2009), A Web of Sorrow (2017), Mind, Culture, and Global Unrest (2018), and Silent Virtues (2019). He has also published 11 collections of poetry and serves as a Scholar-in-Residence at the Inter-Act Theatre Company in Philadelphia.

Dr Lisa Appignanesi

Lisa Appignanesi probes her shifting emotions in this chronicle of months endured under the sign of Covid and suspect government. She questions the pendulum swing between a love of neighbours and paranoia, a wish to trust in government and nihilistic scepticism, all the while interrogating the impact of screen life on the embodied creatures we are.

Lisa Appignanesi OBE is a prize-winning writer, novelist, broadcaster and cultural commentator. Currently a visiting professor at King’s and chair of the Royal Society of Literature, she is former president of the campaigning writers association, English PEN, and chair of London’s Freud Museum.

As deputy president of English PEN, and then its president (2002-2011), she led the Free expression is no offence campaign against the Incitement to Religious Hatred legislation, and campaigned for an end to the Blasphemy Laws and reform to the visa system and libel laws. She also helped to establish the PEN PINTER PRIZE for writers of courage in Britain and abroad; and worked to site Antony Gormley’s commemorative WITNESS chair in the British Library Plaza.

The ground-breaking Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love is Lisa’s latest book. Her award-winning Mad, Bad, and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present appeared to great critical acclaim, and was followed by the provocative All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion. Her book Trials of Passion: In the Name of Love and Madness again delves into the history of psychiatry, investigating the rise of the expert psychiatric witness through remarkable trials of passion.

Lisa received her OBE for services to literature.

Dr Susie Orbach

Susie Orbach is a psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, writer and co-founder of The Women’s Therapy Centre in London and The Women’s Therapy Centre in New York.

She is the author of many books. Her most recent In Therapy: The Unfolding Story is an expanded edition of In Therapy (an annotated version of the BBC series listened to live by 2 million people). Her first book Fat is a Feminist Issue has been continuously in print since 1978. Bodies (which won the APA Women’s Prize in 2009) was updated in 2019.

She was recently the recipient of the first Lifetime Achievement Award given by the British Psychoanalytical Council. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen was born in 1946 and was brought up in the north London suburb of Pinner. His parents came from London’s East End Jewish community and as Michael was growing up they were both classroom teachers. He was educated in state schools, and after a dally with Medicine, he studied English at Wadham College, Oxford. He spent a few years at the BBC, then at the National Film School before going freelance as a writer, performer, teacher and broadcaster. In the 1990s he studied for an MA and a Ph.D. which propelled him into university teaching. He is Professor of Children’s Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2020, he caught Covid-19, went into intensive care for 48 days, then rehabilitation hospital. It’s been a lifechanging illness in many ways, or as he puts it: ‘Covid took bits of me prisoner.’




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