Psychoanalysis Unit


Secrets of the Soul: Dialogues on Mind, Art and Psychoanalysis


Secrets of the Soul Blue Cupboard Image Tess Jaray

Everybody has secrets. Our own secrets can be a source of both pleasure and anxiety, while other people's secrets often stimulate intense curiosity. Freud invented psychoanalysis to help his patients tell their secrets, not only to their analyst, but primarily to themselves. However, he soon realised that while the sharing of secrets can bring relief, they are not easily given up. This one-day conference will bring together psychoanalysts, writers and artists to explore the use of psychoanalysis in our encounters with works of art and literature, which both invite and resist interpretation. How might psychoanalysis enrich our understanding of the work, the artist's creative process and our own reactions? With the mystery of consciousness still unsolved, can art and fiction communicate aspects of the experience of having a human mind that both neuroscience and psychoanalysis fail to articulate? What can our experiences of art tell us about ourselves, and what do they reveal about the limits of what we can know? Join us as we investigate.


  • Tess Jaray | Artist, and Royal Academician
  • A.R. Hopwood | Artist, and Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow
  • Sophie Hannah | Psychological Crime Fiction Writer
  • Catherine Hall | Novelist
  • Paul Broks | Neuropsychologist, and Writer
  • Garry Kennard | Artist, Writer, and Director of Art and Minda
  • Carol Seigel | Director of the Freud Museum
  • Commissioned student artists | Slade School of Fine Art, and the University of the Arts London

In dialogue with psychoanalysts Peter FonagyLesley CaldwellJuliet MitchellKen Robinsonand Liz Allison

In parallel with the conference an exhibition of works responding to the theme of secrets, commissioned by the Psychoanalysis Unit from students at the Slade School of Fine Art and the University of the Arts London will be mounted at the Freud Museum. The conference will feature a panel discussion with the student artists on the works they have produced.

*Image credit: Pascal Bergamin