Words and Deeds: Language, the Psyche & Object Relations

The UCL Psychoanalysis Unit Conference  


Date: Friday 1 - Sunday 3 December 2023 

Location: University College London, The Cruciform Building, Gower Street, London,

and Online via Zoom



The 2023 UCL Psychoanalysis Conference aims to arrive at a psychoanalytic view of the place and the functions of language in its intricate relationships with mental and interpersonal forms of action.    Psychoanalytic treatments depend upon language.  Language can be used to communicate meaning in true support of oath, reproductive fertility, description, imagination, discovery, and knowledge, or to act contrary to these purposes; we alone amongst the species possess language, which is of such an adaptable, capable-of-mischief kind. 

The Conference’s enquiry will focus upon what can be observed in psychoanalytic work with children and adults in whom the use of language approximates to what is often deemed normative; as well as with others in whom there are divergences or abnormalities.   Other papers will examine the development of psychoanalytic thinking about language and meaning, innovations in literary representation, and the uncertain effect of psychoanalytic utterance about major currents in world events.


The Main Papers


Beyond the Symbolic Level - Detecting the Concreteness in Clinical Communication

Heinz Weiss

(German Psychoanalytical Association, Germany, British Psychoanalytical Society, UK, and the Sigmund-Freud-Institute, Germany)


Language - the 'Problem of Now', Meaning and the Correlation of Thinking

Denis Flynn

(British Psychoanalytical Society, UK)


Building Blocks and “White Lies”: A Patient’s and an Analyst’s Struggle Towards a Common Language

Shirley B. Hiscock

(British Psychoanalytical Society, UK)


Making the Best of a Bad Job? Doing Things with Words in Psychoanalysis

Liz Allison

(British Psychoanalytical Society, and University College London, UK) 


Saturday Afternoon Panels

Saturday afternoon panels will include contributions from: Liz Allison, Verity Emanuel, Emma Hotopf, Peter Fonagy, Kate Pugh, Maria Rhode, Margaret Rustin, Michael Rustin, Kathy Taylor, and David Tuckett. 


 The Clinical Seminars

 Afternoon Clinical Seminar with David Tuckett: What do Psychoanalysts do and how do they know they are doing it?


Date: Friday 1 December, 15.30 - 17.00 (GMT)

Location: Senate House, London (in-person only)


Evening Clinical Seminars

Date: Friday 1 December, 15.30 - 17.00 (GMT)

Location: various online and in-person* (please see registration website for the location of each clinical seminar)

 Clinical Seminar Leaders include: Catalina Bronstein, Peter Fonagy, Gigliola Fornari Spoto, Shirley B Hiscock, Francesca Hume, Kate Pugh, and David Taylor.


After the event a recording of the conference will be available to registered participants (on request) for 4 weeks.