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Psychoanalysis On and Off the Couch

Oct 6, 2019

“This idea of freeing the patient up to think as they please; to speak without selecting, without direction is the heart of the method that he devised. There is an idea of freedom, but it is differentiated from compulsion from the start.”


Description: Harvey Schwartz welcomes Dr. Daniel Pick who is a psychoanalyst and a fellow of the British Psychoanalysis Society. He read English literature and completed a Ph.D. in history in Cambridge before moving to London University, and undertaking his psychoanalytic training. He has worked for many years in private practice in London and has written widely on cultural history the history of the human sciences, and psychoanalysis. He is also a professor of history at Birkbeck, University of London, and over the last six years has been the Senior Investigator on the Wellcome Trust Funded project, 'Hidden Persuaders': Brainwashing, Culture, Clinical Knowledge and the Cold War Human Sciences, c. 1950-1990’, which explores the history of the human sciences and 'psy' professions, and mind-control fears, during the Cold War. Professor Pick has presented and contributed to a variety of radio and television programs, including for Radio 3, 'Brainwash Culture'.

As you will hear in today’s interview, Dr. Pick’s training both as a psychoanalyst and a historian allows him to go back and forth between historical influences and the psychoanalytic dyad to learn about how the mind works in relation to our own histories and to the culture we live in.


Key takeaways:

[3:15] Connection between Psychoanalysis and brainwashing.

[3:50] Dr. Pick talks about the history of brainwashing.

[5:07] Freud reflection on his methods.

[6:57] Exploring the resistances to free association.

[7:53] The question of influence.

[9:13] The ideals of freedom.

[11:08] Dr. Pick’s research on hypnosis.

[12:01] The anxieties from the patients about the analysts.

[13:23] Cultural anxieties.

[17:11] How Dr. Pick’s studies on brainwashing has entered his clinical work.

[21:28] Feeling, as an analyst, being brainwashed by the patient.

[26:05] Trauma in transference.

[26:55] Our cultures influence on our reactions.

[27:43] The line between survival brainwashing and malignant brainwashing.

[30:15] Questioning the ideals about the freedom to think.

[31:18] How brainwashing became a term in the 50 ́s

[33:35] How the brainwashing enters the consultation room.


Mentioned in this episode:

IPA Off the Couch

Hidden Persuaders


Recommended Readings:


Pick, Daniel (2016).  (ed. with Matt Ffytche), Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism, The New Library of Psychoanalysis, 'Beyond the Couch' Series  (Abingdon: Routledge).


Pick, Daniel (2015) . Psychoanalysis: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press).


Pick, Daniel (2012). The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind: Hitler, Hess, and the Analysts (Oxford: Oxford University Press)


Pick, Daniel (2000). Svengali's Web: The Alien Enchanter in Modern Culture (London: Yale University Press)