Philosophy was the most interesting element of my first PPE degree, but I subsequently turned to sociology in search of a less atomised view of the world. A long-standing interest in psychoanalysis, and its relation to politics, followed during the late 1960s and 1970s. I have been involved in the academic accreditation of psychoanalytic programmes at the Tavistock Clinic and the University of East London over many years, including a substantial programme of doctoral research in child psychotherapy and other fields of mental health and welfare. One of my interests has been in developing research methods appropriate to the study of unconscious mental life, which has required attention to both the philosophy and sociology of the sciences. Papers in my books The Good Society and the Inner World (1991) and Reason and Unreason (2001) address these issues.
My work has also been concerned with the social and political relevance of psychoanalytic ideas, and with their use in the understanding of cultural phenomena. Narratives of Love and Loss: Studies in Modern Children’s Fiction (1989/2002), and Mirror to Nature: Drama Psychoanalysis and Society (2002) both with Margaret Rustin, are two such studies. The Inner World of Doctor Who: Psychoanalytic Reflections in Time and Space (2013) with Iain MacRury, continues this work. I generally find myself approaching the issues explored in this Study Group from a sociological perspective, somewhere between the approaches of the philosophers and the psychoanalysts.
I am a Professor of Sociology at the University of East London, a Visiting Professor at the Tavistock Clinic and at the University of Essex, and an Associate of the British Psychoanalytical Society.