Research project

Free clinics and a psychoanalysis for the people (FREEPSY)

Principal Investigator
Professor Raluca Soreanu
FREEPSY research project logo, Principal Investigator Professor Raluca Soreanu.

Progressive histories, collective practices, implications for our times

FREEPSY will produce a new global figuration of psychoanalysis as a progressive discourse and practice, by tracing the little-known histories of free psychoanalytic clinics.

This interdisciplinary project draws on psychosocial studies, social theory, historical research and arts methods. It asks how collectives of clinicians invested in the social mission of psychoanalysis innovate in the clinical and institutional domain, and in mental health cultures, by reconfiguring the meaning of time, space, money, suffering and their interrelations. There are four ideas the project aims to discuss further: mental health commons, clinical ecologies, economies of care and psychoanalytic convertibility.

In 1918, Freud placed the free clinic at the heart of psychoanalytic thought and practice. The recent progressive histories of psychoanalysis and the contemporary forms of creativity of the free clinics remain unacknowledged. The FREEPSY project breaks ground by telling an alternative radical history of psychoanalysis. It traces the metamorphoses of Freud’s couch, happening when psychoanalysis becomes entangled with emancipatory movements and liberation struggles, and engages with social inequalities based on race, class, gender, poverty, and other forms of marginalization.

Professor Raluca Soreanu, from the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytics Studies, leads this research and works collaboratively with academics across the UK

About the FREEPSY research project:

FREEPSY’s research programme has four dimensions. Theoretically, FREEPSY rethinks collective creativity, illuminating a novel kind of ‘clinical ecology’, which impacts how societies suffer, mourn, and become capable of reparation.

Historically, FREEPSY shifts the terms of debate in the historiography of psychoanalysis, by telling collective and marginal histories, as opposed to individual and Western-centric histories.

Learn more about research across four themes:


Methodologically, FREEPSY innovates by combining:

  1. A multi-sited psychosocial ethnography of free clinics (in seven main sites: Budapest, Berlin, Vienna, London, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Buenos Aires
  2. An ‘archive of the present’ assembled through visual arts methods
  3. The construction of a physical and digital archive of free clinics

Ethically, FREEPSY breaks new ground in debates on social justice and cultures of care.

Project timeframe: 2022 - 2027

Funder: UKRI Frontier Research Grant (ERC Consolidator Grant guarantee)


Recruitment for the FREEPSY research team:

The research team is soon to expand and will include the following roles:

  • PhD student in Psychosocial Studies
  • Archivist
  • Visual Artist
  • Curator

To become a member of the FREEPSY research project, please email Professor Raluca Soreanu to register your interest.

Highlights of our research:

The logo for the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, a Rorschach inkblot test.
Contact us
Principal Investigator Professor Raluca Soreanu
University of Essex
Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Telephone: 01206 873640
Image credit to: Daniel Guimarães