I am currently undertaking PhD research with the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, under the supervision of Dr. Amber Jacobs (Psychosocial Studies) and Dr. Mohammed Abouelleil Rashed (Philosophy).
Resistance, Freedom and Critique: late-Foucauldian ethics and radical feminist psychotherapy
Mark Fisher (1968 – 2017) utilised the term ‘capitalist realism’ to refer to how neo-liberalism has circumscribed our social and political possibilities to a reality entirely dominated by capitalism. What Fisher termed ‘post-capitalist desires’ are rendered unimaginable, impossible to conceive and to actualise. Neo-liberalism, has in Fisher’s terms, operated a programme of ‘consciousness deflation’ – a squashing of the expanding collective consciousnesses of 1970’s counterculture and suppression of imagining an otherwise. The psy-disciplines have not escaped this consciousness deflation; by contrast, they have become a site of reproduction of neoliberal capitalist ideology. Responding to Fisher’s work on capitalist realism and post capitalist desire, and extending it to psychotherapeutic discourses, this PhD research sets out to re-imagine a radical feminist psychotherapeutic praxis that deviates from this neo-liberal stronghold. Specifically, it will do so by placing the late writings of Michael Foucault (1926-1984) on care of the self, techniques of the self and ethics of the self into dialogue with feminist praxes - including consciousness raising, friendship, self-care and political action. It is concerned with how these late Foucauldian ideas - that revive ancient notions of philosophy as a spiritual practice - provide a framework through which to re-consider and re-conceptualise a contemporary feminist psychotherapy that engages with the present via an ethos characterised by ‘technologies of the self’, or askesis. This PhD project is concerned with how askesis can be utilised to challenge assumptions of psychotherapeutic culture that are entrenched in capitalist realism, exploring the potential for a subversive and dissident existential therapeutic praxis that draws upon Fisher’s notion of the ‘collective subject’ as a means to traverse the binaries of ‘individual’ and ‘collective’, advocating a mode of subjectivity that does not erase the individual yet makes ethical demands of it.