The Art of Listening

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19 March 2022

Time: 10:00 - 11:30

Price: General Admission: £25

Location: online


This event will be delivered via Zoom online.

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‘Anna O’, or Bertha Pappenheim, is famously credited with coining the phrase ‘the talking cure’. What gave her the idea that talking helped? And was it the talking or the listening? While her analyst, Josef Breuer’s, naivety about the explosive potential of listening led to an abrupt, catastrophic end to the treatment, together they opened the way to Freudian analysis, the plethora of modern talking cures and, most recently, therapy bots.

So, what makes a good listener?
We will look at some of the most commonsensical ideas — patience, tolerance, availability, responsiveness, lack of moral judgement — and ask whether it’s really so simple. In the early 1960s, Jozeph Weizenbaum developed a robot therapist, christened Eliza after the parroting protagonist of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’. Eliza was designed to respond like a Rogerian, human-centred therapist, mainly repeating people’s words back to them, slightly differently inflected. Weizenbaum was horrified that his creation was so well-received — people really seemed to like talking to it — and went on to become a forceful critic of A.I.

If Josef Breuer’s listening was somehow ‘too much’ — his patient fell madly in love with him, causing him to run away in panic — and Eliza’s listening risked being ‘too little’ — the software just offered a vapid semblance of a human response — what would be ‘just right’?


Anouchka Grose is a psychoanalyst and writer practising in London. She is a member of The Centre for Freudian Research, where she regularly lectures. She has written non-fiction: No More Silly Love Songs: a realist’s guide to romance (Portobello, 2010), Are you Considering Therapy (Karnac, 2011), From Anxiety to Zoolander: notes on psychoanalysis (Karnac, 2018), A Guide to Eco-Anxiety: how to protect the planet and your mental health (Watkins, 2020) as well as writing fiction: Ringing for You (Harper Collins, 1999) and Darling Daisy (Harper Collins, 2000). She also writes about art and fashion, and contributes to The Guardian, Radio 4, and Resonance FM.

Target Audience:

This event should be interesting and accessible for anyone interested in the topic, including qualified counsellors and psychotherapists and the general public. This event is open to all.

Applications must be received by Thursday, 10th March 2022.

Please note that by booking a ticket for this event, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions for CPD events, so please read through them carefully before making your purchase.

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