The seminar will consider this version of psychoanalysis as a radical redescription of what the aims of psychoanalysis might be, through the close study of a series of papers in the independent tradition. Areas of focus will include this tradition’s investments in the significance of aesthetic experience and literature, in democratic relationships, in teaching, and in conceptions of the private and the public – and public service.

About Adam Phillips

Adam Phillips is a practicing psychoanalyst and a visiting professor of English at the University of York. He was formerly chief psychologist at Charing Cross Hospital in London. Both the New Yorker and Le Monde have described Adam Phillips as ‘Britain’s foremost psychoanalytic writer’, and John Banville has praised him as ‘one of the finest prose stylists at work in the language, an Emerson of our time.’ He has been a regular writer for The London Review of Books, the Observer, and the New York Times for many years, and is the author of several books, including On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored (1994), On Flirtation (1995), The Beast in the Nursery (1998), Darwin’s Worms (1999), Houdini’s Box (2001), Going Sane (2005), Side Effects (2006), On Balance (2010), Missing Out (2012), Becoming Freud (2014) and Unforbidden Pleasures (2015).

Seminar Format and Schedule

Ordinary Language Psychoanalysis takes place three times a year. Each seminar lasts one and a half to two hours. Attendance is free and open to everyone, but there is a small amount of required reading, which will be uploaded to this page a few weeks in advance of each meeting. At each seminar Phillips will introduce the paper and lead the discussion. 

Seminars 2022/2023

Wednesday 8 February, 4.30pm to 6.00pm, Corpus Christi College, Auditorium
The paper for the meeting is Nina Coltart, 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'

Past Seminars

Saturday 19 November 2022
The paper for the meeting is Christopher Bollas, 'The Transformational Object'

Wednesday 11 May 2022
he paper for the meeting is Masud Khan, 'The Finding and Becoming of Self' (1972)

Wednesday 2 February 2022
The paper for the meeting is 'A Theory of Thinking' (1962) by Wilfred Bion.

Saturday 27 November 2021
The paper for the meeting is 'Some Notes on Psychoanalytic Ideas about Mysticism' (1973) by Marion MiIner.

Wednesday 19 May 2021
The paper for the meeting was 'Creative Life' (1989) by Enid Balint.

Wednesday 10 February 2021
The paper for the meeting was '
About Losing and Being Lost'  (1954) by Anna Freud.

Saturday 5 December 2020
The paper for this meeting was  'The Fascist State of Mind' by Christopher Bollas.

Wednesday 14 November 2018
The paper for the first meeting was D.W. Winnicott, 'Morals and Education'.

Wednesday 9 January 2019
The second session was part of Corpus' John Ruskin 200th anniversary celebration, and took a special format as a dialogue on Art and Psychology between Adam Phillips and TJ Clark. 

Wednesday 4 December 2019
The paper for this meeting was 'Grudge and the Hysteric' by Masud Khan (1975).

Organisers: Professor Jaś Elsner, Professor Constanze Güthenke and Dr David Russell

Enquiries: please contact Dr David Russell at