diagnosis: chronic neoliberalism

Yes, my inner rant about the negative effects of the form of capitalism we’re being held hostage by is still on high simmer but, again, my brain capacity is still radically reduced just in time for the weekend. Before Monday, however, I have to rustle up sufficient cognitive function to do the readings for the first class of a course on working with refugees run by the Tavistock, a well-known London-based mental health trust. I’m beside myself with excitement – finally, a chance to link the person-to-person, psychotherapeutic grounding I received from my Masters with the collective, social sphere. It’s a bridge I’ve been working hard to build through self-directed means since I graduated in 2014. I also can’t wait to meet other, similarly psychologically cum refugee-minded people… Woohoo!

Whilst I’m speaking from the ‘toxic capitalism’ bandwagon, here is a link to a 2016 talk entitled ‘Why Neoliberalism is bad for your mental health’ given by Dr David Bell, a consultant psychiatrist at the Tavi and past President of the British Psychoanalytic Society. I heard him speak at an international psychoanalytic conference recently – more about this another time – and found him to be incredibly insightful and sensitive in his thinking, as I believe he is in the talk below. He runs a specialist unit for serious/enduring complex disorders and is a leading psychiatric expert in asylum seeking and human rights, jointly setting up the Tavistock Immigration Legal Service to provide psychiatric medico-legal reports as part of the Immigration Tribunal process, thereby significantly enhancing the quality of its decision-making tools. So inspiring.

He is part of a group of mental health professionals who are actively engaged in connecting psychoanalysis – a project whose fundamental aim is to understand what it means to be human – with socio-political issues, using this knowledge to fight against a range of social injustices. It is a tribe that continually informs and inspires my professional learning and personal growth.

One example is a recent realisation – arising from a heightened feeling of my commitment to social activism fired up by the aforementioned conference – that, no matter how tired I may be at the end of a day, there might still on occasion be a form of creative output I can engage in, including shorter, quicker writings like this. I need to continue working hard to sustain sufficient boundaries during my income-generating working hours and build up sufficient soul muscle and mental mettle outside of them, to fight against everyday obstacles to my creative, activist process… After all, this is what makes me feel truly alive. I am an artist and sometimes I’ll just have to be a (very) tired one.

Over to you, David.