Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix


Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix is an actual and virtual space hosting ‘cartels’ devoted to close reading and discussion of texts related to the work of Jacques Lacan and other psychoanalytic traditions. A key tradition in Manchester, which we allude to in the name of our group, is that of ‘Group Analysis’, which employs the notion of ‘matrix’ to describe the dynamic processes in and across therapeutic and societal domains.

The ‘cartel’ is a research mechanism proposed by Lacan to bring together psychoanalytic researchers, and cartels are designed to operate as transient horizontal small groups formed to carry out a particular task and then dissolve. Cartels usually comprise three to five members (usually four) and meet for an agreed period of time. The cartel meets to work on a particular text or topic, and a ‘plus one’ is appointed from outside the cartel, a figure who will function to encourage work and to intervene at points where group dynamics may be obstructing the work of each member. The product of a cartel is not a ‘group product’ but a collection of individual products enriched by discussion in the cartel with the other members. The formation, dissolution and reformation of cartels with different overlapping memberships may operate against the crystallisation of institutional hierarchies in a psychoanalytic organisation. This open process of the composition and decomposition of groups is what prompts work in cartels in Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix.

Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix makes use of academic resources but is not beholden to them, and does not seek to impress itself within the ‘discourse of the university’. The work that is undertaken in the cartels may be shared with others outside through presentation and discussion, or may even be undertaken in the context of academic course credits; but these outcomes do not drive the work of the cartels. Members of the cartels may or may not be academics, or may or may not work as clinicians in various psychoanalytic traditions, and the development of a close reading of Lacan’s text requires attention to the antagonism between academic and non-academic perspectives and between clinical and non-clinical perspectives, between (anti-)therapeutic and (anti-)psychiatric agendas.

Our concern is with psychoanalysis, particularly with reference to the work of Lacan, and the research in the cartels is necessarily critical, searching and interrogating the text; but this ‘critical reading’ does not involve the bringing to bear of external bodies of knowledge on the text to ‘explain’ it or attempt the embedding of psychoanalysis in a ‘metalanguage’. There is a political impetus in this reading that is given by the accumulated histories of the members of the cartels which is broadly speaking of the Left and the feminist movements; but we do not pretend to find any complementary or wholesome relationship between Lacan’s texts and our politics. We work on Lacan in order to return to Freud, and to discover what is obscured in Freud’s own texts, and our reading of Lacan is also concerned with the discovery of what is obscure in Lacan; but this reading does not proceed by invoking another master narrative or a standpoint that pretends to be authentically ‘Lacanian’ or ‘post-Lacanian’.

Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix is necessarily embedded in certain symbolic coordinates, and these are defined by psychoanalytic research and clinical institutions that are open to new developments in Lacanian research. We welcome contributions from other psychoanalytic perspectives, either as input in a cartel devoted to Lacanian work or as providing the focus of work for a cartel. Lacan’s work is not a hermetically-sealed complete system, and the contradictoriness of the texts, internally and in relationship to one another, is the very stuff of a reading and a fruitful discussion; but each text is located in the course of a reading within the trajectory and shifts of emphasis in his work as a reading of Freud.

For more information on open meetings, planning meetings and possible participation in cartel work contact, with proposals for texts or topics that you may want to work on, the secretary of Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix: Ian Parker.


The founding meeting of Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix was on 1 June 2005, where a paper outlined the rationale for ‘Cartels in Lacanian psychoanalysis.’

There is a paper available from a meeting the following year on ‘The Emergence of Lacanian Psychoanalysis

The 2009 issue of Annual Review of Critical Psychology guest edited by Carol Owens was on the theme of Lacan and Critical Psychology

There is a Routledge book series edited by Ian Parker associated with Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix called ‘Lines of the Symbolic in Psychoanalysis.

Books in the series so far are:

Pavón Cuéllar, D. (2010) From the Conscious Interior to an Exterior Unconscious: Lacan, Discourse Analysis and Social Psychology. London: Routledge [ISBN: 9781855757943]

Dunker, C. I. L. (2011) The Constitution of the Psychoanalytic Clinic: A History of its Structure and Power. London: Routledge [ISBN: 9781855756465]

Riggs, D. (2015) Pink Herrings: Fantasy, Object Choice and Sexuation. London: Routledge [ISBN: 9781782201748]

In June 2017 MPM hosted an international conference co-organised with the College of Psychoanalysts and CIDRAL at the University of Manchester on Psychoanalytic Islam / Islam Psychoanalysis, papers from which appeared in a co-edited book:

Parker, I. and Siddiqui, S. (eds) (2019) Islamic Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Islam: Cultural and Clinical Dialogues. London and New York: Routledge. [ISBN: 9780367086749]