Professor Matt Ffytche

Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Professor Matt Ffytche



I joined the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies in 2008 and served as Head of Department from 2015-2018. In 2015 I took over the Editorship of the journal Psychoanalysis and History from John Forrester, which I currently edit with Dagmar Herzog (CUNY). I have a particular interest in the history of psychoanalysis and its connection to other academic fields across the twentieth century, including the social sciences, philosophy and literature, and I am a member of the Essex research group on the History of Psychoanalysis. Besides psychoanalytic historiography, I am currently involved in two broader research projects. The first, on 'Humans in Fantasy', is attempting to develop a critical history of the use of notions of the 'imaginary', informed by psychoanalysis, in the human and social sciences across the twentieth century. Recent articles linked to this project include 'Real Fantasies: Reinserting the Imaginary in the Scene of Social Encounter' (forthcoming from Psychoanalysis Culture and Society ) and 'Throwing the Case Open: the Impossible Subject of Luisa Passerini's Autobiography of a Generation' (forthcoming from History of the Human Sciences). This project is linked to a Fellowship held at the Independent Social Research Foundation (2013-14). My second new project is on 'Outsider Writing' - loosely, historic writing and texts produced by individuals who were diagnosed with schizophrenia or other forms of psychosis, and which has either been archived in psychiatric archives, or published as an examplar of schizophrenia or of psychosis. The aim of the project is twofold. Firstly to encourage the recuration of such writing, to make it more visible beyond the psychiatric frame; secondly to study the history of the labelling and interpreting of such texts both within psychiatry, and within cultural movements (such as surrealism and art brut). This work is ongoing and has been developed through a fellowship at the Neubauer Collegium at the University of Chicago (2018-19) and a year-long period as Residential Associate at the National Center for the Humanities (2018-19). I welcome enquiries about postgraduate projects in the history of psychoanalysis, outsider writing, the 'imaginary' in the social sciences; as well as on the history of ideas of the unconscious (including in the nineteenth century) and the interactions of psychoanalysis with critical theory.


University of Essex

  • Director of Graduate Studies, Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex (2/9/2019 - present)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

The history of psychoanalysis (particularly mid-twentieth century)

post-war psychoanalysis; the Frankfurt school; the US; psychoanalytic movements and institutions; the development of Kleinian approaches; global psychoanalysis; applications of psychoanalysis

Open to supervise

The psychoanalytic imaginary and its integration with social and psychosocial theory

Fanon, Bion, Klein, Freud, Milner, Winnicott and the translation of their notions of fantasy, phantasy and the imaginary into psychosocial applications and critical theories of the social.

Open to supervise

Nineteenth-century theories of the unconscious

Myers; Schelling; Carus; philosophies of the unconscious; symbolism; romantic literature and philosophy

Open to supervise

Psychoanalysis and critical theory

Adorno; Benjamin; Horkheimer; Fromm; Fanon and psychoanalysis

Open to supervise

The relation between psychoanalysis and modernist literature

modernist experimentation; free association and stream of consciousness; surrealism; Milner; Bion; H.D.; poetry and poetics

Open to supervise

Conferences and presentations

Outsider Hermeneutics

Keynote presentation, Outsider Hermeneutics, Neubauer Collegium, 27/10/2018

Society Without the Father: Psychoanalytic Authority in Postwar Sociology', History and Psychoanalysis During the Postwar Period, Heyman Centre, Columbia University, NY (5 April, 2014)

New York, United States, 2014

Mythos in Evolutionary Time: Schelling, Freud and H. P. Lovecrafts Cthulhu, Centre for the Study of Myth, Aberdeen (1 May, 2013).

Aberdeen, United Kingdom, 2013

The Eclipse of the Father: The Frankfurt School on the Superego in the Age of Totalitarianism, Interdisciplinary Seminars in Psychoanalysis, St John's College, Oxford (18 February, 2013).

Oxford, United Kingdom, 2013

The Embryo Individual: Early twentieth century psychodynamic perspectives on the origins of selfhood, Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series, UCL (11 December, 2012).

London, United Kingdom, 2012

The Superego as a Historical Crisis, for Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism, Wellcome Collection Centre, London (22 September, 2012).

London, United Kingdom, 2012

Talk on The Foundation of the Unconscious: Schelling, Freud and the Birth of the Modern Psyche, Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies, Birkbeck (19 March, 2012).

London, United Kingdom, 2012

Truth and the National Interest: Freud and the Neocons, for Psychoanalysis and Politics: Nationalism and the Body Politic, Oslo, 25-27 March 2011

Oslo, Norway, 2011

Hoffmanns Mines of Falun: Myth, History and Indeterminacy in the Depths of the Soul, for Myth, Literature and the Unconscious, Centre for Myth Studies, University of Essex (2-4 September, 2010)

Colchester, United Kingdom, 2010

Psychoanalysis in the School of Cambridge Poetry (1970-2010): John Wilkinson, Denise Riley, Nick Totton, John Welch, for Poetry and Psychoanalysis, Exeter College, Oxford (1July, 2012).


Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Psychoanalytic Epistemology (PA928)

  • Lacanian psychoanalysis (PA405)

  • Current Debates in Depth Psychology (PA407)

  • Psycho Analytic Theory (PA901)

  • Reading Freud (PA941)

  • Jung in Contexts: Historical, Philosophical, Cultural (PA972)

  • Psychoanalysis in Contexts (PA976)

Previous supervision

Wolfgang Lassmann
Wolfgang Lassmann
Thesis title: Lost to Desire. Stories That Refuse to be Dreamt. the Investigative Burden of the Psychosomatic School of Paris
Degree subject: Psychoanalytic Studies
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 15/2/2019
Shehzad Dorai Raj
Shehzad Dorai Raj
Thesis title: Ambivalence and Penetration of Boundaries in the Worship of Dionysos: Analysing the Enacting of Psychical Conflicts in Religious Ritual and Myth, with Reference to Societal Structure
Degree subject: Psychoanalytic Studies
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 20/12/2018
Dominik Havsteen-Franklin
Dominik Havsteen-Franklin
Thesis title: When Is a Metaphor? Art Psychotherapy and the Formation of the Creative Relationship Metaphor
Degree subject: Psychoanalytic Studies
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 6/10/2016
Marie-Louise Mederer
Marie-Louise Mederer
Thesis title: Making Chance Meaningful: Exploring Links with Creativity and It's Culturally Subversive Application
Degree subject: Psychoanalytic Studies
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 26/1/2016
Karl Hans Christian Mcmillan
Karl Hans Christian Mcmillan
Thesis title: The 'Image of Thought' in Jung's 'Whole-Self': A Critical Study
Degree subject: Psychoanalytic Studies
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 21/5/2015


Journal articles (7)

Ffytche, M., Throwing the case open: the impossible subject of Luisa Passerini’s Autobiography of a Generation. History of the Human Sciences

Ffytche, M., Real Fantasies: Reinserting the Imaginary in the Scene of Social Encounter. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society

ffytche, M., (2017). Psychoanalytic sociology and the traumas of history: Alexander Mitscherlich between the disciplines. History of the Human Sciences. 30 (5), 3-29

ffytche, M., (2013). Freud and the Neocons: The Narrative of a Political Encounter from 1949-2000. Psychoanalysis and History. 15 (1), 5-44

ffytche, M., (2012). Night of the Unexpected: A Critique of the 'Uncanny ' and Its Apotheosis Within Cultural and Social Theory. New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory, Politics. 75 (1), 63-81

ffytche, M., (2010). Objects and How to Survive Them: Several Views of John Wilkinson's 'Saccades'. Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry. 2 (1), 7-34

ffytche, M., (2007). ‘The Most Obscure Problem of All’: Autonomy and its Vicissitudes in the Interpretation of Dreams. Psychoanalysis and History. 9 (1), 39-70

Books (2)

ffytche, M. and Pick, D., (2016). Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism. Routledge Taylor & Francis. 978-1-13-879388-0

ffytche, M., (2011). The Foundation of the Unconscious: Schelling, Freud and the Birth of the Modern Psyche. Cambridge University Press. 9780521766494

Book chapters (7)

ffytche, M., (2016). The Superego as Social Critique: Frankfurt School Psychoanalysis and the Fall of the Bourgeois Order. In: Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism. Editors: ffytche, M. and Pick, D., . Routledge Taylor & Francis. 978-1-13-879388-0

ffytche, M., (2016). Sigmund Freud: Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious. In: Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalysis in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Editors: Elliott, A. and Prager, J., . Routledge. 0-415-62692-7. 978-0-415-62692-7

ffytche, M. and Pick, D., (2016). Introduction. In: Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism. Editors: Ffytche, M. and Pick, D., . Routledge Taylor & Francis. 1- 6. 978-1-13-879388-0

ffytche, M., (2013). Investigating Bion?s Aesthetic Turn: A Memoir of the Future and the 1970s. In: Bion?s Sources: The Shaping of Genius. Editors: Torres, N. and Hinshelwood, RD., . Routledge, Taylor & Francis. 0415532094

ffytche, M., (2010). 'The Arduous Path of Appearance': Phenomenology and its Uncertainties in the Work of George Oppen. In: Phenomenology, Modernism and Beyond. Editors: Bourne-Taylor, C. and Mildenberg, A., . Peter Lang. 189- 214. 9783039114092

ffytche, M., (2010). The modernist road to the unconscious. In: The Oxford Handbook of Modernisms. Editors: Brooker, P., Gasiorek, A., Longworth, D. and Thacker, A., . OxfordUniversity Press. 410- 428. 9780199545445

ffytche, M., (2008). Psychology in Search of Psyches: Friedrich Schelling, Gotthilf Schubert and the Obscurities of the Romantic Soul. In: Romantic Psyche and Psychoanalysis. Editors: Faflak, J., . Praxis

Grants and funding


Social Theoretical Contexts for the Conceptualisation of Transgenerational Trauma and Projective Identification


+44 (0) 1206 873903


5A.125, Colchester Campus