Psychoanalysis Unit


Re-visiting Psychotic Aspects of the Personality

03 December 2021–05 December 2021, 3:30 pm–1:30 pm


This UCL Psychoanalysis Conference with its accompanying clinical seminars will seek to form an understanding of psychotic aspects of the personality

Event Information

Open to



Psychoanalysis Unit

Forms of mental functioning resembling psychosis are ubiquitous. Psychoanalysis sees some degree of them in all of us.

Some are like radioactive nuclei: they are silent; entombed next to the heart of a personality; others manifest. Many, by restricting the ego’s efforts to face problematic aspects of internal and external reality, immobilise what might otherwise become a large-scale breakdown. Yet, the senses of sanity and security they provide are deceptive. Although often resistant to change, these modes of functioning represent points of weakness. Later challenges in life search them out. For instance, in our current time, the anxieties and privations of the Covid pandemic have generally had the effect of making otherwise manageable areas worse. But at the same time, in certain circumstances, visiting and re-visiting these areas repeatedly over the course of one’s life can be a source of renewal and growth.

The papers and sessions of this online conference will consider:

  • the nature of psychotic modes of functioning as found in psychoanalysis; what are they really? what is the potential value of visiting them?
  • their part in identity formation and confusions, in fetishism, perversion, and acts of violence
  • the malign – yet sometimes also the personally deeply meaningful - effects of psychotic functioning in parents and caregivers on infants, children and their developments
  • continuities and discontinuities with major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar and manic-depressive conditions
  • their expression in large groups, crowds, nations, political organisations and religions
  • the intimate relationships found between mental trouble and creativity.

Saturday 4, Sunday 5 December

The Main Papers will be given by:

Catalina Bronstein

'“Snakes and Ladders” and the end of the world. An exploration of psychotic states of mind'

Catalina Bronstein, MD is a training analyst and Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society and Visiting Professor at the UCL Psychoanalysis Unit. She trained as a medical doctor and psychiatrist in Argentina before training as a child psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic and as a psychoanalyst at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in London. Catalina works with adolescents at the Brent Adolescent Centre and with adults and adolescents in private practice. She was London Editor of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and is now on the Board of IJP. She has written extensively and published many papers and chapters, and has edited Kleinian Theory: A Contemporary Perspective and co-edited Attacks on Linking revisited, The New Klein-Lacan Dialogues and On Freud's The Uncanny. She is a former President of the British Psychoanalytical Society.

Kate Pugh

'Psychosis: Getting in and taking over'

Dr Kate Pugh is a Fellow of the Institute of Psychoanalysis and a Training and Supervising Analyst.  She has been a Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy for twenty years in Central and North West London Trust and has a private psychoanalytic practice. 

Helga Skogstad

'Where Does Madness Lie?'

Dr Helga Skogstad is a Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst. She is a Fellow and Training and Supervising Analyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society. She worked as consultant psychiatrist in different inpatient settings and in an outpatient clinic for suicidal patients. For twenty years she worked as a Psychotherapist at the Cassel Hospital, a psychotherapeutic hospital for severe personality disorders, where she became the Lead Psychotherapist. She is now in full-time private praxis. She teaches and supervises regularly in Germany.

The Parallel Paper & Panel Contributors are:

Lydia Chambers, Shmuel Erlich, Tomasz Fortuna, Becky Hall, Rob Harland, John Lahr, Louise Phillips, Alla Rubitel, John Steiner & Philip Stokoe. 

Contributing Chairs include:

Nicola Abel-Hirsch, Liz Allison, David Bell, Julia Britton, Francesca Hume, Daniel Pick & David Taylor.

Clinical Seminars
Friday 3 December

The afternoon Clinical Seminar, 15.30 - 17.00, will be led by David Tuckett. The evening Clinical Seminars, 18.00 - 19.45, will run concurrently in different groups. Their leaders are:

  • David Bell
  • Donald Campbell
  • Fakhry Davids
  • Peter Fonagy
  • Mary Hepworth (formerly Mary Target)
  • Francesca Hume
  • Daniel Pick
  • Irma Brenman Pick
  • Kate Pugh
  • Vic Sedlak
  • Wilhelm Skogstad
  • Gigliola Fornari Spoto
  • David Taylor

As ever, views and opinions expressed by speakers are their own and do not represent those of the Psychoanalysis Unit/UCL, event organisers or other speakers.


The full conference programme is now available to download, as well as the Parallel Paper abstracts. All times are Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Full Programme [PDF]

Parallel Paper Abstracts & Biographies [PDF] 


Registration is now closed. Please subscribe to our mailing list for news of future events!

Further Information

For any queries, please contact us at events.psychoanalysis@ucl.ac.uk

This image is intended to denote what it can be like sometimes to look at the appearance of a personality. After a time, most personalities will seem as if made up of different kinds of materials- some soft, some hard and, some like here, of wood, some of stone; some bend, others crack, some add up, others, like this one, don’t immediately make sense. Discontinuities may either be fault lines or scars or both.