Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix

Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix is a 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.

MPM Activities

The founding meeting of Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix was on 1 June 2005. The speakers at the meeting were Tony Brown (Manchester), Alessia Contu (Lancaster) and Ian Parker (Manchester), whose paper was ‘Cartels in Lacanian psychoanalysis.’30P4Y After this meeting a number of cartels have been formed in Manchester.

A day conference was held on 3 April 2006 with speakers from Brazil and Japan. ‘The emergence of Lacanian psychoanalysis30P4Y was the introduction to the day by Ian Parker (Manchester), ‘Style is the man himself30P4Y followed as the main morning paper by Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker (Sao Paulo), and ‘Freud, Lacan and Japan30P4Y was presented in the afternoon by Kazushige Shingu (Kyoto). Alison Hall (Leeds) was discussant. Contact was established with the Jan van Eyck Circle for Lacanian Ideology Critique (CLIC) in Maastricht, and a day conference jointly organised by CLIC and MPM on Lacan’s Seminar IX Identification (the topic of cartels in Manchester and in Maastricht) was held in Maastricht on 9 December 2006. A number of cartels in 2007 and 2008 have been working on the Seshadri-Crooks text Desiring Whiteness .

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 2009 issue of Annual Review of Critical Psychology is on the theme of Lacan and Critical Psychology, guest edited by Carol Owens, available here.

There is a Karnac book series edited by Ian Parker associated with Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix called ‘Lines of the Symbolic’. Psychoanalytic clinical and theoretical work circulates through multiple intersecting antagonistic symbolic universes. This series opens connections between different cultural sites in which Lacanian work has developed in distinctive ways, in forms of work that question the idea that there could be single correct reading and application. The Lines of the Symbolic series provides a reflexive reworking of psychoanalysis that translates Lacanian writing from around the world, steering a course between the temptations of a metalanguage and imaginary reduction, between the claim to provide a god’s eye view of psychoanalysis and the idea that psychoanalysis must everywhere be the same. And the elaboration of psychoanalysis in the symbolic here grounds its theory and practice in the history and politics of the work in a variety of interventions that touch the real. Two books have been published in the series, one by David Pavón Cuéllar and the other by Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker. Here are details of these two books:

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

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

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

A meeting of Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix in September 2011 led to the formation of new cartels working a variety of topics. At the meeting, a paper on teaching psychoanalysis in universities was given which is available here.30P4Y

In 2016, Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix co-hosted meetings on Basaglia and Lacan with Alvise Tarabocchia (co-organised with CIDRAL at the University of Manchester), a Lacan in the Clinic seminar with Carol Owens, and a film event to show and discuss films part-funded by the College of Psychoanalysts (co-organised with CIDRAL at the University of Manchester). On June 9 there will be a book-launch event and talk with Annie Rogers (co-organised with the Sexualities Summer School at the University of Manchester), details from

In June 2017 there will be an international conference co-organised with the College of Psychoanalysts and CIDRAL at the University of Manchester on ‘Psychoanalytic Islam / Islam Psychoanalysis‘.