Truth-seeking and its Discontents

Date: 9 July, 2021 to 10 July, 2021

Time: 16:45-19:00 (BST)

Venue: Online

Organised by: UCL Psychoanalysis Unit

Booking: Visit the UCL Psychoanalysis Unit website


This conference will strive towards a deeper understanding of a problem that poses a threat to global survival: intractable conflicts about what we claim as facts and knowledge, and disputes over the ground or authority for them. 

These conflicts are manifest at the levels of individuals, families, groups, societies, nations, and cultures; basically, humankind, and its many histories. At all these levels, communication and shared knowledge is threatened by misunderstanding and deception. We can understand these vicissitudes of communication from many perspectives. This conference will bring together psychoanalysts, developmental scientists, and historians to explore the problem in the light of their different paradigms.

Psychoanalysis, for example, contends that acts both of understanding and misunderstanding are unconsciously motivated; in effect, knowledge can either be loved and fostered or wilfully hated with efforts made to destroy it; each has different consequences for the individual mind. Developmental science has investigated the details of how balances and imbalances between trust and mistrust of knowledge are established by interactions between parents and children from infancy onwards. This has led to the idea of a particular epistemic form of trust*. The research of historians provides knowledge of prior instances of collective misunderstanding and deception and of the conditions out of which they arose, and by which they were shaped.

The main programme will comprise three panels and presentations on psychoanalysis, developmental science and history taking place on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.

Speakers and chairs will include:

  • Elizabeth Allison
  • Ron Britton
  • Catalina Bronstein
  • Alex Datnow
  • Michael Feldman
  • Peter Fonagy
  • Lily Ford
  • George Gergely
  • Carine Minne
  • Daniel Pick
  • Margaret Rustin
  • David Taylor
  • Virginia Ungar
  • Jeanne Wolff-Bernstein
  • Eli Zaretsky

For more details and to register, visit the UCL Psychoanalysis Unit website.