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Straight From The Bees

Welcome to the yearly schedule of Free Association Lisbon events for 2022. This year the Free offers two Cornerstone courses, two FORWARD sessions and the annual Living Theory Conference. We are looking forward to meet you on the road.

2nd Living Theory Conference

3rd-4th DECEMBER


This year we wish to focus, think and discuss together in depth. For that, we will concentrate on the recent work of Howard Levine on unconscious intra- and intersubjective processes and their interpretation. Throughout the one and half days of the conference, Howard will present three unpublished papers. These papers will be commented by Ofra Eshel, Dominique Scarfone and Carlos Farate and discussed by the audience. The three papers are:

  • On the Genesis of Interpretation in a Changing Landscape

  • A Metapsychology of the Unrepresented

  • On The Necessity of Failure

From the Argument

There are limits to our capacity to directly know the psychic experience of ourselves and our patients:

“… no one can ever know what happens in the analytic session … ; we can only speak of what the analyst or patient feels happens, know what the participants say happens, or the emotional state engendered by the verbalization of analyst or patient in the listener.” (Bion 1965, p. 33).

Psychic reality, which was once believed to be exactly and fully ‘knowable’ via empirical observation is now recognized to be only ‘represented’ or indicated – i.e., partially intuited and constructed - by unconscious intra- and intersubjective processes and it is these processes that partially determine the terms which representations assume when they are given shape.

In addition, our ability to talk about psychic life and functioning with patients and colleagues is limited by the constraints and obscurity of the very language that we are of necessity forced to use. The nature of language and communication is such that even in the best of circumstances, words can only approximate and indicate that which needs to be communicated. Speech itself,
whether that of the patient or the analyst may be used in the service of communication or evacuation; to attempt to evade frustration (Pleasure Principle) or to recognize, modify and thereby deal with frustration (Reality Principle). At every moment in the consulting room, “The choice that matters to the psycho-analyst is one that lies between procedures designed to evade frustration and those designed to modify it. That is the critical decision. (Bion 1962, p. 29, original italics)..

Howard B. Levine, 2022

On Going & Past Events This Year
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Sebastian Thrul invites Steven Jaron


Registration is Closed
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Steven's new book - Christopher Bollas: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge, 2022) - is about to come out. He sent us a sneak peek, where he writes: "The aim of this little book is twofold. The first is to comment on Christopher Bollas's central insight into the human mind, the unthought known. Why the unthought known? Since the 1970s, Christopher Bollas has introduced new ways of conceptualising and practicing psychoanalysis at every turn. [...]

The second, tied to the first, is to consider aspects of Bollas's metapsychology in relation to how a psychoanalyst may work in the session. Several case vignettes and studies enlarge on what Bollas suggestively calls the analyst's self experience as a way of being 'informed from within, so to speak'."

Sebastian will guide the conversation about this "inside job" and many other topics, but, as always, the word is also yours.

Steven Jaron trained with the Psychoanalytic Society for Research and Training in Paris. He is on the staff of the 15-20 National Ophthalmological Hospital and works in private practice, also in Paris. He holds a PhD in French and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and is the author of Zoran Music: voir jusqu’au cœur des choses (L’Echoppe, 2008). His essays have also appeared in the Libres Cahiers pour la Psychanalyse and Bacon and the Mind: Art, Neuroscience and Psychology (Thames and Hudson, 2019) and in Psychoanalysis and Covidian Life (Phoenix, 2021).

Let’s go anywhere, provided it be FORWARD.

We meet on Saturday November 19th 2022, between 15h-17h (Lisbon Time).

The participation fee is 10 Euros.




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with Dominique Scarfone

Registration is closed.

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Dominique Scarfone is a former professor (now retired) at the Department of Psychology, Université de Montréal. He is a training and supervising analyst at the Canadian Psychoanalytic Society and Instiute.

Dominique does research in Psychoanalysis. He is presently working on the project of formulating a translational theory of the psyche and a model of translational psychoanalysis. His most recent publication is 'Free Association, Surprise, Trauma, and Transference' (Psychoanalytic Inquiry).

We meet on five Saturdays, between 15h-17h (Lisbon Time):

April 23rd, May 7th 21st, June 4th & 18th.

The participation fee is 250 Euros.


Freud started his theoretical formulations on a physicalist (materialist) basis, as is obvious in his Project of 1895 which rested on two fundamentals: “neurons” and “quantity”. Yet, in the very writing of the Project Freud had to consider the passage from quantity to complexity. A complexity that he in fact kept on tackling throughout his development of psychoanalytic theory during the forty-five years that followed.

The Freudian developments, however, were not exempt from problems and “strayings” in need of a critical reexamination. Fortunately, Freud’s central invention itself – i.e. the psychoanalytic method – provided the tools for such a critique. If, indeed, we stay firm on the explicit and implicit principles at work within the Freudian method, we can see that psychoanalysis is a self-organizing, self-transformative process and discipline. It does not accumulate discoveries upon discoveries in a linear sequence; rather, it can revisit analytically its own foundations; something akin to what it offers to its analysands.

At the empirical level, the object of psychoanalysis is not the human being in general, but the human that can “formulate and give shape to their own experience” (Laplanche). It is therefore the human as a self-interpreting, self-theorizing or self-symbolizing subject.

At the metapsychological level, the specific object of psychoanalysis is psychical reality – another name for the systemic, repressed unconscious. The self-symbolizing movement observable in the empirical individual is indeed the manifest expression of what goes on at the level of the body-psyche conceived as a self-organizing collection of systems and sub-systems.

At both levels, psychoanalysis deals with the individual body-psyche, its constitution and its evolution. Within the wider context of evolution, the individual body-psyche operates at the meeting point of the biological, psychological and social/cultural levels. At every level, we can describe the same pattern of system-environment relationship. Among these multiple systems, the unconscious system matters to us the most in that it is a system that, though operating in a bio-psycho-social individual, is neither biological nor social, and yet not simply psychological. The system unconscious modifies –distorts– the virtual “normal” course of the three other systems. It subverts the ethological-biological process of attachment (think of seduction); it impacts and disturbs the psychological cognitive functions (think of symptoms, slips, parapraxes), and is involved in many grave phenomena at the social and cultural level (think of mass psychology and of the hubris manifest in the exertion of power and destruction). The system unconscious is therefore what gives the human individual its unique status among the living.


On the basis of these general premises, the four programmed encounters will proceed along  the following lines :

  • A brief return to the question of quantity and its destiny in Freud’s Project. The relationship between psychical energy (quantity) and organization (complexity). To which we will append notions of individuation and pre-individual residues (Simondon) and notions of autopoiesis (Varela, Luhmann). We will address the consequences of these conceptions in terms of psychoanalytic practice and ethics.

  • Laplanche’s theory of generalized seduction; of the enigmatic or compromised message and the effects of its partially successful, partially failed transduction/translation (primal repression). The translational model of the psychical apparatus in Freud and in Laplanche. The critique of the translational model, introducing the notion of transduction.

  • The transductive/translational model and the dimension of time. Après-coup and the unpast (“actual time”). What follows from this temporal view in terms of the theory of trauma and of the analytic process.

  • Based on the transductive/translational model we will examine how the theory of trauma as inseparable from the theory of the drives. It will be shown that the psychoanalytic method works on the basis of this fundamental premise. In this context, it will be proposed that the method of free-associations is still the most advanced method for psychoanalysis.

  • We will formulate a critique of drive duality and propose that there is but one drive that concerns psychoanalysis: the sexual drive for power.

Registration is closed.

Registration is Closed
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with Riccardo Lombardi
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Nowadays patients question the analyst with new manifestations that are not always in line with classical psychoanalytic theories. We consequently need to reduce the number of theories of reference, to leave more space to the analyst’s observational resources and spontaneous intuitions.

The interaction between symmetry and asymmetry can simplify the problem of the unconscious, placing it at the center of the psychoanalyst’s attention. It also describes the mind’s effort to think in the presence of the disorganizing force of emotions. The seminar will also explore the role of dissociation from one’s own body, that can paralyze the analytic process, becoming an undervalued source of clinical impasses. The role of the body becomes an essential compass to start a non-imitative capability of thinking, both in the patient and the analyst. 

Riccardo Lombardi is a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist and doctor of medicine. He has a full-time private practice in Rome and teaches at the Roman Psychoanalytic Institute of IPA. He is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Italian Psychoanalytic Society. He co-edited the book Psychoanalysis of the Psychoses: Current Developments in Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2019).  He is the author of Formless Infinity: Clinical Explorations of Matte Blanco and Bion (Routledge, 2016) and The Body-Mind Dissociation in Psychoanalysis: Development after Bion (Routledge, 2017).

We meet on five Saturdays, between 15h-17h (Lisbon Time):

September 10th, 24th, October 8th, 22nd, November 5th 2022

The participation fee is 250 Euros.

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Sebastian Thrul invites Nicolas Evzonas

Saturday, 25th JUNE

Whenever we open a new book or read the first lines of a paper, we enter a new living space. Invited by the author, we move FORWARD to satisfy our curiosity and thirst for meaning. Texts house ideas, some of them are familiar, others foreign. When you finish reading them, you wish you knew the author and could call them up, to introduce you to all the corners of the house. Where the reader is the visitor, the author is the host. And, from this gathering, a new book emerges.


Moving FORWARD together we read psychoanalytic books and papers, invite the authors and organize public on-line conversations. Sebastian Thrul guides the conversation but the word is also yours.

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The first FORWARD event of the year will feature a controversial discussion with Dr. Nicolas Evzonas, who has guest edited the December 2021 special issue of The Psychoanalytic Review on “Trans* Becomings and Countertransference, Volume 1: A Contemporary Perspective from France”

From the introduction: “A review of French and international psychoanalytic literature reveals complex countertransference reactions toward gender-nonconforming analysands. These reactions have been denounced as normative, even transphobic, by trans* activists and researchers and some psychoanalysts. Most authors of this special issue have chosen to extricate themselves from the arguably more comfortable position of criticizing other clinicians, preferring to focus on their own difficulties working with gender-variant patients."


Nicolas Evzonas (PhD in Literature and PhD in Psychopathology and Psychoanalysis) is a Greek Cypriot Paris-based therapist in private practice. He is a candidate in the French Psychoanalytic Association (APF, IPA) and Assistant Professor in Clinical Psychology at the University of Paris. He has published numerous papers in French, English, Greek, Spanish, and Portuguese on clinical and applied psychoanalysis as well as essays on films, theater, and literature. He is the author of a forthcoming French book on Gender and its Discontents, and the co-editor of a recent issue of Psychoanalytic Inquiry on “Sexualities, Gender, Class, and Race: A Psychoanalytic View from France.” He is also the editor of the double special issue of The Psychoanalytic Review on “Trans* Becomings and Countertransference” (vol 1: A Contemporary Perspective from France; Volume 2: An International Overview). Nicolas is currently preparing a French-based issue for Studies in Gender and Sexuality on perversion and an edited volume with Beatriz Santos on Trauma and Sexuality.

So, in the words of explorer David Livingston, let’s go anywhere, provided it be FORWARD.

We meet on Saturday, June 25th 2022, between 15h-17h (Lisbon Time).

The participation fee is 10 Euros.

Your host

Sebastian Thrul is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in training in Germany and Switzerland with the German Psychoanalytical Society (DPG). His main clinical interest is the application of psychoanalytic technique to work within the health care system and for a wide variety of patients. As one of the hosts of the podcast New Books in Psychoanalysis and an active member of the International Psychoanalytical Studies Organization, he has a special focus on international comparative psychoanalysis.

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