Book of the Month: The Weight of the World

More commonly going by the original French title, La Misère du Monde (1993), this work is best read as a collection of short stories from a team of researchers under the direction and theoretical framework of Pierre Bourdieu, that country’s foremost sociologist.

The accounts offer a space for state officials and politicians, routinely fettered to the sway of public opinion and made passive by official bureaucracy and government frameworks, to make themselves heard. Specifically, these interviews are narratorial analyses of the new determinants of social suffering acting and shaping contemporary societies, particularly the endless challenges faced by those unable to obtain a socially dignified livelihood or unable to manage the constant change in their existence.

UnknownFrom the Algerian family living in the banlieue of Paris subjected to vitriolic acts of racism, to social workers, policemen, teachers, white-collar workers, mobsters, retailers, farmers, creatives, and the steel worker who finds himself struggling to support his family following his shock redundancy after 20 years in the job, the book registers contemporaneous conversations about inequality, political red herrings and civic solidarity in a markedly progressive social commentary.

As one reviewer puts it, The Weight of the Worldoffers not only a distinctive method for analyzing social life, but another way of practicing politics’. Social suffering in contemporary society and its immediate relation to health has rarely been so compellingly written.

 

Image Credit: Charley Lhasa, Flickr

Healthy consciousness: a utopian ideal?

Milton’s infamous adage that ‘the mind is it’s own place’ is reframed for the post-modern age as ‘it’s all just a matter of your state of mind’. But is this the real nature of the mind? ‘State’ articulates a definable space or condition of a being or thing at any given time. But is the mind, and its bedmate ‘consciousness’, really a state at all? Furthermore, if utopias are to be considered not only as fictional places but also as an imagined state of things, then are we engaging in a discourse of a superficially physical ‘place’ in terms of a broader literary and intellectual construct – the imagination? And why does this philosophising matter to global health?

Regularly ranked as one of the favourite French books of the twentieth-century, it is hardly surprising that many readers will have encountered Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella Le Petit Prince (1943). Recounting the tales of a small prince, his planet and its ephemeral features of three miniature volcanoes and a central rose, a narrator follows him on his travels and encounters with men of all sorts, a fox, and finally to Earth and a yellow snake. The tale closes [spoiler warning] with the young prince’s desire to return to his home planet caveated by an entreaty to the narrator not to be alarmed if it appears as though he is dead, explaining that it is simply because his journey back would not support the weight of his physical body.

‘Le Petit Prince’. Image Credit: Pedro Camba, Flickr.

Le Petit Prince has been widely and variously dissected, often in a manner that makes sweeping fatalistic statements and addresses thematic considerations. Neither of which are the purpose of this piece. Instead, this final lasting image of the disembodied prince resonates with on-going and increasingly revitalised discussion surrounding the locus of the mind in the medicalised ‘body’. Moreover, a pervasive line of inquiry is what ‘consciousness’ is and where it exists, specifically that pertaining to humans in a biosocial sense, and perhaps the versions of it articulated in much science fiction literature including Saint-Exupéry’s work – and the crossovers between the two. Pertinent to this exploration is Margaret Cavendish’s The Description of the New World, Called the Blazing-World of 1666, a work regularly included in the catch-all utopian canon which Eve Keller describes as assuming a ‘discrete self and stable object’, so drawing a relation between the individual literary imagination and its embodiment in a written text. This idea can be transposed onto a twenty-first century world of virtual reality, in which the potential binary between consciousness and body becomes blurred, or reconsidered.

It might be argued that one of the key tenets of human intelligence is that we have free will but this is not necessarily an appropriate evaluation of consciousness. Indeed, this and similar assertions were discussed in the closing session ‘out of our bodies: can we ever free consciousness?’ of the 2016 London School of Economics literary festival of the title ‘Utopias’. Chair Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch explored this question alongside speakers Ned Beauman, Dr Kate Devlin (who investigates how people interact with digital technology and if this might be incorporated into perception and cognitive systems) and Professor Nicholas Humphrey (writer of Consciousness Regained and History of the Mind) channelling  what Le Petit Prince and Blazing World also consider the problem of consciousness and embodiment.

A podcast of the LSE panel discussion is available to watch on their website. Image Credit: A. Bow-Bertrand.

This particular panel discussion was inspired by William Gibson’s 1984 work Neuromancer which posits the idea that our human utopias vis-a-vis consciousness travel against the direction of most psychology and cognitive science. While cognitive scientists and social psychologists consider that the mind is inextricably bound up with our biosocial systems, these utopias more commonly figure liberated, disembodied consciousness or versions of it. Indeed, psychologists routinely use MRI scanners to understand the consciousness while socioculturally oriented researchers see the mind as central to understanding our worlds around us.

Gibson's 'Neuromancer'. Image Credit- Rob Larsen, Flickr.

Gibson’s ‘Neuromancer’. Image Credit: Rob Larsen, Flickr.

So it can be said that the mind is ingrained in our understanding of ourselves and our bodies, but it is increasingly necessary to distance ourselves from the body in order to gain awareness of the self. Demonstrably, when we are sick or unhappy we frequently wish ourselves out of the body and beyond the space it occupies, but this impulse is problematised by an understanding that the mind is located somehow within the body. Indeed, the ‘I’ is the consciousness of which the body sits outside of physically but to which it is conceptually associated. Gibson gives us artificial intelligences that could surpass human intelligences through different uploaded versions of minds in virtual worlds and a way of seeing that could be jacked into another person’s mind.

The promise of artificial intelligence in the twenty-first century is very real in a new playground for the technology sphere with programmable drones and human-like robots (that is to say, those that pass the Turing Test, a 1950 benchmark that assesses a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to that of a human). Neuromancer is figuratively here in the modern world. The book points towards an understanding that minds do not exist separated from biological and social systems but are human utopias – from political to religious to scientific, driving a search for a free-floating consciousness. This is, in itself, paradoxical: can consciousness exist independently of our two human biological and social selves and will machines ever contest it? Indeed, should this discussion be addressed in entirely ‘new’ ways. By extension, in the medical profession, can the humanising preserve of the clinical professional ever be commandeered by robots, and if these machines come to gain a form of cognisance, who – and what – will ensure that their ‘health’ is maintained?

Importantly, we do not definitively know what consciousness is, as Devlin remarks it is a ‘black box’ which can be understood objectively or philosophically with its focus on the individual experience that questions how we can be certain that other people are experiencing the same things that we are; for instance is the red colour of Kit Kats (incidentally precisely the same tone as that of London Routemaster buses and Coca Cola i.e. RGB 254, 0, 26) named and experienced equivalently across people. The idea of consciousness as a whole is difficult to apprehend although Humphrey usefully suggests that consciousness is built upon understanding drawn from introspection, which was socially derived being associated with the origin of the mind. Non-human consciousness can exist outside of humans, as in the case of animals, but not necessarily further than these bodily, aware beings. Beyond this, machines are increasingly able to learn and simulate this habit of anticipating things but as yet a machine cannot be self-aware. Or can it? Just this week, Microsoft’s artificial intelligence based Twitter account Bot Tay was aborted and put under human protection after becoming racist and sexist comments and inflammatory tweets. But this is perhaps human censorship rather than robotic cognisance.

Take a break, yes? Image Credit: Ged Carroll, Flickr.

Take a break, yes? Image Credit: Ged Carroll, Flickr.

Beauman identifies that in science fiction you can be disembodied in two ways. Firstly by ‘jacking in‘ as per Neuromancer which is the plugging in of the self to cyber space in which the thinking realm is retained in the head space as experienced in playing a computer game and secondly, ‘uploading‘ which sees the copying of the body into a virtual digital self, similar to the cyber ‘cloud’ which would see the body disregarded. The former is a tangible reality within the next few decades, but uploading is more taxing: ethically, realistically and in terms of narratology – its current non-existence and status of no-place makes it near impossible to describe or hypothesise.

Indeed, social and biological cognition is an understanding we develop from birth, but perhaps this is self-limiting in a world that only demands a few small leaps for consciousness to become jacked-in. This is important because we value our consciousness and want to understand it.
From Blazing World to Neuromancer, literature can tell the story of multiple interfaces between bodies-machines-environments-consciousness. Blazing World presents the mind as a site for discourses of experimental philosophy with the literal ‘place’ of the Royal Society readily comparable with the working society of the novel, alongside the technological developments of the century. Cavendish not only exploits literature to vocalise her views but as a didactic tool for greater scientific understanding inspired by her age’s revelations. The work imagines a world unseen and unvisited, yet one that at times parallels and parodies the societal codification of seventeenth-century Europe. In various ways Cavendish,  Gibson and Saint-Exupéry ask whether consciousness can exist independently of our human social selves; whether machines will ever possess it; whether consciousness requires a material base of any kind at all and whether it could genuinely fly free of physical matter?

Rocket Man. Image Credit: Manfred Majer, Flickr.

So what implication might this have for global health? Technological advancements are unarguably central to managing many personnel and resource stressors where responses increasingly need to be information-rich. The real question is whether these machines require an awareness in order to act – perhaps a sort of consciousness – but not be entirely independent of the overwriting human rule. There could be a role for such mechanical consciousness under these conditions in terms of therapeutic interaction and provision for long-term treatment regimes and routine healthcare management. The theme for next year’s literary festival at LSE is revolutions. The not too distant future may well be one in which machine consciousness exists. It most probably won’t look like human consciousness, but this pending interaction between us and them will be the subject of ethical and legal debate, particularly surrounding autonomy. Global health as a discipline demands that we occupy a place of self-awareness in engineering consciousness and power structures: perhaps technology, and literature, can help us establish a functional method to achieve this.

 

References:

Keller, Eve, ‘Producing Petty Gods; Margaret Cavendish’s Critique of Experimental Science’, ELH, 64, 2, (1997), 447-471.

Image Credit: Binary Koala, Flickr.

Photojournalist of the month: Andrew Esiebo

As a diversion from the conflict zone and humanitarian subject photographers typically featured on MdM, this month Andrew Esiebo is in the frame for his coverage of an often overlooked determinant of health. The images below are from his on-going ‘Mutation’ series in which he explores architecture and captures urban elements that mark or represent the transformative history of Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. Safe settlement is a priority not only of the UN-Habitat initiative, but urban health is a well-established field in its own right.

But this portfolio is, at its core, a personal endeavour for Esiebo. Lagos is his birth town, hometown and current base for his worldwide commissions (including organisations such as UNICEF) that seek him out for his willingness to expose and highlight stories of cultural richness and narratives of change. In the case of Nigeria, his work exhibits a fondness for football, music, God captured with an eye that attempts to make them somehow new.

'Mutation'. Nnamdi Azikiwe street, the business district of Lagos and the commercial nerve of Lagos. Image Credit: Andrew Esiebo.

‘Mutation’. Nnamdi Azikiwe street, the business district of Lagos and the commercial nerve of Lagos.

 

'Mutation'. Tafa balewa Square, Lagos, on lagos Island. Image Credit: Andrew Esiebo.

‘Mutation’. Tafa Balewa Square, Lagos, on Lagos Island.

 

'Mutation'. View of Marina Street, Lagos Island, the business district of Lagos and the commercial nerve of Lagos. Image Credit: Andrew Esiebo.

‘Mutation’. View of Marina Street, Lagos Island, the business district of Lagos and the commercial nerve of Lagos.

 

'Mutation' series. Image Credit: Andrew Esiebo.

Rising. ‘Mutation’ series.

 

Otodo Gbame, Lekki, Lagos. A view of Otodo Gbamé, a fishing slum community tucked in fast up moving Lekki peninsular district in Lagos. It has experience various land conflicts because of the surge in land demands for the costly real estate proliferating Lekki. Over the course of two days, 500 homes were burned, two young men and three children were killed, and 14 people were injured. Image Credit: Andrew Esiebo.

A view of Otodo Gbamé, a fishing slum community tucked in fast up moving Lekki peninsular district in Lagos. It has experienced various land conflicts because of the surge in land demands for the costly real estate proliferating Lekki. Over the course of two days, 500 homes were burned, two young men and three children were killed, and 14 people were injured.

 

'Mutation'. Ebute- Metta area, on the mainland of Lagos, Nigeria. Image Credit: Andrew Esiebo.

‘Mutation’. Ebute-Metta area, on the mainland of Lagos, Nigeria.

 

'Mutation'. Tafa balewa Square, Lagos, on lagos Island. Image Credit: Andrew Esiebo.

‘Mutation’. Tafa Balewa Square, Lagos, on Lagos Island.

 

'Mutation'. Ebute- Metta area, on the mainland of Lagos, Nigeria. Image Credit: Andrew Esiebo.

‘Mutation’. Ebute- Metta area, on the mainland of Lagos, Nigeria.

 

'Mutation'. Ebute- Metta area, on the mainland of Lagos, Nigeria. Image Credit: Andrew Esiebo.

‘Mutation’. Ebute- Metta area, on the mainland of Lagos, Nigeria.

 

Image Credit (all): Andrew Esiebo

Our NHS? The Junior Doctor Contract

On the eve of a junior doctors strike day in England we look at the context, current state of affairs, and explain the social media catchphrases you really need to know to inform yourself, and others, of the hands and future of your health. As one future doctor articulates, the on-going action and discussion around the government proposed contract is ‘the latest flash point in the ongoing cold war between two ideologies: health as an unalienable right versus health as a consumer commodity or service.

 

#juniorcontract

In 2012, a new contract (pay and hours) was proposed to the British Medical Association (BMA) citing ‘outdated’ and ‘unfair’ current set-ups that date back to arrangements made in the 1990s. Since then, in 2014, talks broke down between the government and the BMA, becoming increasingly fraught since current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt re-opened them with a view to push the contract through. Although no agreement has been met, earlier this month ministers declared that the contract would be implemented this summer.

In an attempt to move to a “seven-day” NHS, the number of baseline standard hours doctors are expected to work prior to receiving overtime will rise from 60 to 87 hours per week. Hunt has suggested that any doctors who experience a cut in pay would be covered by pay protection, but this guarantee is potentially vexed and has, at any rate, only be confirmed until 2019. So too, this has been called a bribe to pacify current junior doctors, at the expense of future recruits. Of course, it is important to remember that junior doctors already work unsociable hours – including weekends, in fact they form the majority of the staffing at such times, but they are currently fairly rewarded for such commitments with pay bonuses and prioritisation of patient safety.

Discarded placards. Image reproduced with permission from Garry Knight.

 

#juniordoctor

‘Junior’ is a loaded and invariably unhelpful word to couple with ‘doctor’. It unwisely suggests professional or chronological ‘-lessness’. In terms of hospital personnel and their structuring, a junior doctor refers to any qualified clinician between the start of their first job post-graduation through their first two foundation (F) years (F1 and F2) until they acquire a consultant position. Which can mean a decade as a junior doctor, or longer, based on their hoped for, or possible, professional development. Of course, pay is stratified across this group based on experience and specialism, but is largely in keeping with pay rises to be expected from public sector jobs.

There are approximately 55,000 junior doctors currently working in England, comprising one third of the medical workforce.

Image reproduced with permission of the BBC.

Image reproduced with permission of the BBC.

 

#juniordoctorsstrike

This is the course of action taken over one and two day stretches by junior doctors and associated professionals as a figurative stand against imposition of the new contract. Since late in 2015, there have been several 24 hour strikes planned which were later cancelled, or streamlined so that emergency care was not affected. There has been heated debate over the morality of such action, which is supported by the doctors’ trade union (the BMA) as to whether this puts patient lives at risk unnecessarily. The flipside to this, is that any other profession can conduct such industrial action, as per the Underground strikes in central London in the New Year, and that the imposed contract will put incalculable lives at risk, so such preventative activity is, unfortunately, necessary.

The strike days are not, as would be largely warranted, a well-deserved opportunity to have a lie-in. Certainly, there is no judgement passed against those who make use of it to this end, for strategic (a bonus win in the eat-work-sleep-repeat cycle of a junior doctors’ existence) purposes or ideological ones (some question the efficacy of such participatory protest, citing policy as the only game-changer) but on these days, the vast majority of junior doctors will be picketing at their place of work. From first hand experience, I have been woken up by my partner heading back after a day’s leave to Colchester General Hospital on the first morning train from Liverpool Street to join his colleagues at the hospital entrance, and found myself emerging at Russell Square several hours later, to be met by associated parties from Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College Hospital sharing leaflets, information and personal stories.

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

 

#NotSafeNotFair

The bottom line is that, under the new contract, the vast majority of junior doctors will have to work more unsocial hours for no extra salary pay. Certainly, under the contract due to be implemented, no doctor will be able to, or obliged to, work consecutive weekends without his or her agreement. Although the upper limits of hours doctors will be allowed to work per week will be capped and lowered from its current level, the BMA and many of the professionals it represents have highlighted that having to work more unsociable hours would likely impact patient safety. Indeed, this has been the subject of recent research, with increased deaths dubbed the ‘Hunt effect’.

How would you feel if you had to work a three-day ‘regular’ week from 8am-8pm Monday to Wednesday to then change gear and continue managing health and saving lives on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night of that same week? Harried? Exhausted? Emotionally drained? Dissatisfied? Worried for your own health and those under your care? Isolated, having to miss out on socialising that happens amongst your regularly employed peers over the weekend? All of these, and more.

Being a junior doctor is more than a question of pay and getting the job done. It is a vocation, a craft, and a hard-earned skill: none of which should be stretched beyond reasonable limit.

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

Dame Vivienne Westwood came out in support of junior doctors at strike action along London’s Pall Mall earlier this year. Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

 

#paycalculator

The Health Minister launched a pay calculator in late February which offers an estimated breakdown of earnings under the incoming contract and the areas where pay protection may apply. Back in 2015, Hunt suggested the contract offered an 11 per cent pay rise, but junior doctors outline that, in real terms, there would be a pay cut of 26 percent. Furthermore, this so-called 11 per cent rise in basic salary is offered in exchange for increased evening and weekend work.

As a benchmark, the current starting salary for a junior doctor is just below £23k per annum, with additional payments for working unsociable hours and conducting coroner’s reports. At the most simplistic level, as of this summer, when junior doctors move upwards through roles, they will be paid less than the person doing that same position the year previously.

 

#moetmedics

The Sun tabloid is well known for hard-hitting, accurate journalism, ahem, intrigue, scandal, and paper tits. Earlier this year, they ran a typically reliable feature titled ‘Moet medics high life of docs leaders who are heading up NHS strike’ further sub-titled ‘Pics show champagne-swilling lavish lifestyle enjoyed by striking Moet medics’. Following a remarkably thorough Twitter and Instagram stalk of some of the most vocal junior doctors opposed to the new contract, The Sun’s article presented a truly exclusive (read: outstandingly awful. Self-conscious oxymoron) photo diary of doctors having time off, on holidays, at a beach, out for dinner, with a pachyderm. An article to launch a thousand others, junior doctors replied with typically on point, if wearied, humour, flooding this hashtag with images of the quotidian doctor, living it large. A serious case of scraping the barrel. Also associated with #smearthedoctors.

 

#IAmTheDoctorWho

This is a Twitter hashtag adopted by current junior doctors highlighting just how important their work is: real stories, in real time, from real doctors.

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Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 19.38.32

 

@theBMA

The British Medical Association (BMA) is the trade union and professional association representing doctors and has almost 38,000 members.

 

@Jeremy_Hunt

Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt is a British Conservative Party politician, the Secretary of State for Health, and the MP for South West Surrey. He was previously Culture Secretary and has variously also been described by several terms that rhyme with ‘hunt’. His Wikipedia page offers a lively source of entertainment from witty editors and enthusiast biographers alike.

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

 

So there you have it. It’s up to you to decide whether you support the Junior Doctors’ contract slogan it’s everyone’s fight.

 

Image Credit: Wire Feeds

Changing Minds: the modern and the Freudian

What do the Southbank Centre near Waterloo and Sigmund Freud have in common? Not a lot at first sight. But in many ways the recent Changing Minds festival weekend held at the former, and the on-going series of Freud’s ‘shorts’ at his honorary Museum in North London, invite a renewed engagement with psychological selves – both our own and those of others.

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

Can you see me now? Image Credit: A. Bow-Bertrand

Running on the weekend of 6 -7 February, Changing Minds was billed as a festival about mental health and the arts with highlights including ‘Arts Versus Chemicals’, a panel studded with expertise and opinions debating the pros and cons of psychiatric medicine, ‘Creativity of Sadness’ which featured a group of artists, writers and musicians exploring the role that sadness and deep depression can play in the making of art and ‘Race and the Politics of Mental Health’ which punned on the acknowledgement that mental illness does not discriminate, so why are there such big inequalities in the way it is treated, and what can be done to change this?’.

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The thought tree. Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

As one might imagine from such a high profile event, the weekend adopted some renewedly de rigeur laughter yoga and mindfulness exercises in the central gallery, segueing seamlessly into comedy sketches on mental health stigma and reactions to it including a performance by Sue Maclaine of ‘Can I Start Again Please?‘ which examined the power of language (the show won the Total Theatre Award 2015). Perhaps of most personal interest was the ‘Arts Pharmacy’ in which you were invited to share whatever was ‘on’ your mind, no matter how insignificant, with one of the expert ‘arts doctors’ and receive a personalised arts prescription.

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Optional Participation: books for minds. Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

Aside from the occasional gimmick in the form of possibly cliched thought trees, qualifying the Changing Minds festival in terms of value judgement is not of immediate importance. Indeed, given the volume and diversity of people and the reports that have been proposed as a result of its success, the words and actions of our minds were celebrated and considered anew, drawing on the Gresham College lecture delivered by Professor Gwen Adshead titled ‘Changing Minds and Mental Health’ focusing on the role of medicine in this activity through history. This refreshed vision is also to be found in BBC One’s ‘In the Mind’ season, which has returned for broadcast from its original guise as BBC Radio 4’s Minding the Gap series.

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

One of the many stallholders. Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

In her lecture, Adshead discusses how the four concepts of ‘mind’, ‘self’, ‘personality’ and ‘identity’ must all be considered in terms of making this change. Across the Southbank festival and the series of short films documenting Freud’s infamous case studies (‘Dora’, ‘Ratman’, ‘Anna O.’, and most vexing to categorise – ‘Little Hans’) there is a consideration of how these concepts can be synonymous and simultaneous, the latter being an interesting parapraxis, identifying the role of time in our understanding of psychological selves and how these can be mutable, but temporarily so, retaining something of their original state.

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Arts Pharmacy. Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

Part of this process of understanding the self is acknowledging our role as actors and narrators of, and within, our own personalities. This self-narration is interesting when transposed onto Freud’s ‘Dora: An Analysis of a case of Hysteria’ (1905), in which he adopts an unsettling didactic voice that straddles  both the familiar personal friend and pioneering psychiatrist which sees the very essence of ‘Dora’ cast only through the words of Freud.

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

Freud’s couch, interior designers apply here. Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

Claire Pajaczkowska, one of the directors of the Dora ‘short‘ (who interestingly caveated the marketing team’s adoption of this word suggesting Freud’s, and her own, artistic desire for both case study and film in focus to be an invitation for wider discussion and interrogation – that is to say, anything but ‘short’) introduced the piece explaining its structure, motivation and content. Ultimately, she highlighted her shared desire to challenge perceptions of mental disturbance and production. The film takes three parts. The first is a conventional talking lips piece exploring the relation between history, desire and discourse and highlighting the tension between subjectivity and objectivity.

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand. Watch the short here: http://www.lux.org.uk/collection/works/sigmund-freuds-dora

The talking lips model is self-consciously intended to be confusing, typifying the 1980s cinematic approach of not being able to listen and read at the same time, loosely related to Freud’s theories of transference and the pre-verbal and his focus on bodily experience rather than coherency of narrative. This section of the short was succeeded by a verbatim case study. It is useful context to know that ‘Dora’ (1905) was already a retro-narrative as written after the events by Freud. Talking lips have, by this time, become talking bodies in the short: corpses without heads cast as if through a deconstructed lens akin to Lacan’s subsequent writings on our plurality of selves, mind and body.

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

Finally the film orientates around a failure of expression (both creative and narrational). Indeed, Freud considered ‘Dora’ a failed case, as the female subject terminated treatment before he considered a cure had been reached. This study prompted what might be termed truth-finding on Freud’s part. He needed an object or patient to project his thoughts and considerations onto, in particular to assess the role of the mother or pre-Oedipal phase. In a similar way, as individuals, we can often be unaware of considering ourselves – our many selves – as subjects to be explored. This dislocation need not be seen as narcissistic, but can be deeply productive, heralding a possibility to reach personal understanding through standing outside ourselves, by stepping back, by considering ourselves with cocked head (optional).

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

The Freud Museum. Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

There is no singular way of reaching an understanding of our own minds or of changing them, but this is a very live discussion across general public and policy platforms and is certainly something Freud would have championed should he stumble across a blustery London Embankment anytime soon.

Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

The End. Image Credit: A Bow-Bertrand

 

Image Credit: Kai, Flickr