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Psychoanalysis Meets Virtual Reality

23rd June 2023 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

A one day event using a series of group activities to reflect on our individual &collective experience of virtual reality

There is a significant amount of work happening at the interface between research on mental health and Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR). This work brings together artists, curators, clinical practitioners, patient advocates, academics and activists. VR, AR and MR make use of arts-based technologies to facilitate individuals having an immersive sensuous experience by means of wearing a headset. Some experiences require the individual to engage with the environment – opening virtual doors or moving simulated objects, for example – while other experiences play out for the individual a bit like a cinematic encounter, by engaging the senses of sight and hearing.

This event will include an individual VR experience, ‘Perinatal Dreaming’ (fEEL 2023), which will be launched at the event. This will be followed by a number of small and large group activities to help us to reflect on, and talk about, our individual and collective encounters with ‘Perinatal Dreaming’. We will also have an opportunity to hear from Professor Jill Bennett and Dr Gail Kenning from the Big Anxiety Research Centre (BARC) and the felt Experience & Experience Lab (fEEL) at the University of New South Wales, Sydney about their work, and discuss what VR, AR and MR might offer psychoanalysis and vice versa. We will consider the importance of VR, AR and MR experiences within the context of arts and mental health projects more broadly. The emphasis will be on experience, reflection and conversation throughout the day.

What kinds of feelings might be evoked and/or contained while engaging in VR, AR and MR experiences? How might our engagement with VR, AR and MR experiences help us to become more aware of, and reflective about, the operation of introjection and projection? Might VR, AR and MR have a place in our clinics and/or as part of our clinical training programmes? What, in particular, might the ‘Perinatal Dreaming’ VR experience contribute to our thinking about the long-term impact of early life experiences? How might our participation in group activities, underpinned by psychoanalytic thinking, help us to make meaning of our individual encounters with the ‘Perinatal Dreaming’ VR experience? These questions will frame our event.

This event will be of interest to anyone interested psychoanalysis and VR, AR and MR. It will be of particular interest to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, psychologists, counsellors, group analysts, play therapists, arts therapists, social workers and social care workers, mental health workers, youth workers, artists, performers and curators, as well as academic researchers and students in the fields of psychosocial studies, cultural studies, and in the arts, humanities and social sciences more broadly. Given the focus of this event on the unconscious, the birth experience, and the long-term impact of early life experiences, participating in the VR experience and group activities might bring up painful feelings or memories. This event is an in-person event. It will not be recorded.

The event is organised by Professor Lynn Froggett (University of Central Lancashire), Dr Noreen Giffney (Ulster University, Belfast), Professor Jill Bennett (University of New South Wales, Sydney) and Dr Gail Kenning (University of New South Wales, Sydney).

The event is sponsored by the Association for Psychosocial Studies, the Big Anxiety Research Centre, felt Experience & Empathy Lab, and Psychoanalysis +, and the Institute of Group Analysis in London, UCLan’s Psychosocial Research Centre and Ulster University’s Communication, Media and Cultural Studies



23rd June 2023
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
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