Every year, the Severnside Institute hosts a lecture on a psychoanalytic topic. The lecture is open to the general public.


Details of SIP’s 2020 Public Lecture coming soon…


Previous Lectures

SIP Public Lecture 2019

“I hope you die and I hope it’s soon”: Parental Death wishes and the Infanticidal Attachment presented by Professor Brett Kahr

  • When: Saturday 12th October 2019
  • Registration from: 10.00am – 10.45am
  • Talk from: 11.00am – 12.00pm
  • Discussion from: 12.00pm – 1.00pm (with break)
  • Where: Radisson Blu Hotel Bristol, Broad Quay, Bristol BS1 4BY
  • Tickets: £10 – £35

Do parental death wishes actually exist? And if so, what impact might such unconscious hatred have upon the long-term development of the child? In this presentation, Professor Brett Kahr will examine the toxic, even nuclear, impact of infanticidal wishes across the life cycle.


About the lecture: Although Sigmund Freud wrote extensively about death wishes in the family, he devoted far more attention to the child’s desire to kill the parent of the same sex, rather than upon the parent’s desire to murder the child. Donald Winnicott elaborated upon parental death wishes, especially in his classic essay “Hate in the Counter-Transference”, albeit rather briskly. Building upon these foundational contributions, Brett Kahr will draw upon his work with psychotic and forensic patients and, also, with normal-neurotic individuals, to explore the many ways in which maternal and paternal death wishes and death threats towards babies and children become internalised over time and, ultimately, contribute to the development of severe psychopathology. Kahr will explore the concept of the “infanticidal attachment”, examining how early death threats can damage the very foundations of the ego structure, resulting in psychosis, suicidality, criminality, severe eating problems, life-threatening addictions, and a host of other extreme psychological states. Drawing upon extensive case material, he will consider how intensive, long-term psychoanalytically orientated treatment can contribute to the neutralisation of such toxic “infanticidal introjects”.

About the speaker: Professor Brett Kahr has worked in the mental health profession for over forty years. He is Senior Fellow at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London, as well as Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Psychotherapy and Mental Health at the Centre for Child Mental Health and, additionally, a Trustee of the Freud Museum London and of Freud Museum Publications. A Consultant in Psychology to The Bowlby Centre and a Consultant Psychotherapist at The Balint Consultancy, he works in full-time independent practice in London.

Author or editor of twelve books, including the best-selling Sex and the Psyche, as well as the popular books Tea with Winnicott and Coffee with Freud, he has also served as series editor for sixty further titles which have appeared in the “Forensic Psychotherapy Monograph Series”, the “History of Psychoanalysis Series”, and the “Library of Couple and Family Psychoanalysis”, initiated at Karnac Books and now part of Routledge.

Most recently, he has published How to Flourish as a Psychotherapist (Phoenix Publishing Company, 2019). His forthcoming books include: Bombs in the Consulting Room: Surviving Psychological Shrapnel (Routledge, 2019); Celebrity Mad: Why Otherwise Intelligent People Worship Fame (Routledge, 2019); and On Practising Therapy at 1.45 A.M.: Adventures of a Clinician (Routledge, 2020).

SIP Public Lecture 2018

Hannah Arendt, Wilfred Bion and the Destruction of Thought presented by Dr David Bell

  • When: Saturday 6th October 2018
  • Registration from: 10.30 – 11.00
  • Lecture from: 11.00 – 13.00
  • Where: Watershed
  • Tickets: £10 – £35

About the lecture: Hannah Arendt is perhaps best known for her report of the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Arendt’s book on that trial is subtitled ‘The Banality of Evil’ to draw attention to the idea that such acts were carried out not by passionate monsters outside ordinary experience but by a mentality that is in many respects frighteningly ordinary, empty of thought and devoid of passion, in her telling phrase ‘banal’. The character of Eichmann the bureaucrat provided Arendt with a model of a devastating pathology of the mind – and she insists that such a mind must be appreciated and understood for what it reveals to us about our modern world.

Arendt’s concept of ‘thinking’, a process opposed to and therefore opposed by, totalitarian states of mind, and her related concept of ‘natality’ (that is the capacity of the mind to give birth to thoughts, to bear their development in ways we cannot control) are, it will be suggested, rich in psychoanalytic content particularly the work of Bion. Hannah Arendt’s work is highly relevant to our current conjuncture with the increasing domination of administrative procedure over thought and the creation of ‘superfluous people’ (an Arendtian concept) – most particularly refugees but also the many others who fall through the interstices of the world.

The banal, unconscious, unspoken and/or unquestioned irrationalities which can infuse our daily practices may carry in their train cruelties which range from th epetty and relitively trivial to the large scale horros such witnessed in Germany from the 1930’s onwards.

Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt, Dr David Bell’s public lecture is not to be missed and will appeal to anyone concerned with the pursuit of ethical and democratic practices in our everyday lives.

About the speaker: Dr David Bell is a Consultant Psychiatrist in the Adult Department at the Tavistock Clinic where he leads a specialist service (the Fitzjohns Unit) for the more complex cases. He has written extensively on interdisciplinary studies (the relation between psychoanalysis and literature, philosophy and socio-political theory). He is one of the UK’s leading psychiatric experts in asylum/ immigration/human rights. He is a former President of the British Psychoanalytic Society. His books include: Reason and Passion (1997, Duckworth), Psychoanalysis and Culture (1999, Duckworth), Paranoia (2003, Icon) and, with Rael Meyerowitz, Turning the Tide (2018, Karnac, on the work of the Fitzjohns Unit),. He participated in the making of a DVD ‘Iago on the Couch’ where he is in discussion with Simon Russell Beale and Terry Hands.

SIP Public Lecture 2016

Thou should’st not have been old till thou hadst been wise: Psychoanalytic Reflections on the “Unhoused Mind”presented by Margot Waddell

  • Date:     Saturday, 8th October 2016
  • Time:     10.30am – 1.00pm (inclusive of coffee 10.30am – 11am)
  • Venue:     Armada House, Telephone Avenue, Bristol, BS1 4BQ
  • Tickets: £15 – £28

About the lecture:     At the end of the first Act of King Lear, the Fool addresses Lear with these words: “Thou should’st not have been old till thou hadst been wise”: Lear’s response – expressing an extraordinary degree of unconscious self-knowledge and premonition – is: “O! Let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven; Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!”
This paper will pursue a long-standing pre-occupation of mine, that of the “unhoused mind” at whatever age or stage of the life cycle: unhoused, because unfamiliar, in a state of transition, of loss and mourning, or lack of, and fear of the unknown or of the too late. The subject is the transitional worlds of life, whether of childhood, or of adolescence or, in this case, of the very elderly.
Lear did not consciously realise that giving up “kingship” would take from him so much. The trappings of majesty had hitherto held him together, just as the trappings of the soldierly world had held Othello together. Now, both men find themselves utterly vulnerable, bereft of their own experience and so, unknown to themselves. It is Shakespeare’s extraordinary capacity to express the unbearable parts of human experience that I shall be exploring, mainly in relation to the work of Wilfred Bion.

About the speaker:
Margot Waddell is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society and a Child Analyst. She has worked for over 30 years as a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic, London where she continues to contribute as a Visiting Lecturer. She is a widely published author and has taught both nationally and internationally for many years. She has edited the Tavistock Clinic Book Series since its inception in 1998. An extended edition of her book, “Inside Lives: Psychoanalysis and the Growth of the Personality”: was published by Karnac in 2002, and “Understanding 12–14 Year-olds”: was published by Jessica Kingsley in 2005.