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“Horses and Humans, Sociology and Psychoanalysis”, A Talk by Janet Haney

Date: TBA


In this talk I am thinking about three impossible relationships and to try to invent ways to live with and learn from the struggle each one represents. First there is the difference between the university discourse and that of the psychoanalyst. Then there is the specificity of the difference between sociology and psychoanalysis as practices. And thirdly, there are the differences that arise between the human and other animals, in this case, horses.

In the early 1990s I worked with social scientists exploring the human factors involved in science and technology. It was there that I encountered Bruno Latour’s idea of laboratories as places where inscription devices were deployed to extract an essence from frogs that could be turned into writing. Also, the ideas of Michel Callon that the fishermen of St Brieuc Bay were translation experts whose skill could be judged by reading the haul of scallops in their nets.

Since then, I have become more and more engaged with the practice of psychoanalysis, which I have followed by orienting myself on the work of Jacques Lacan and becoming a member of the New Lacanian School. The psychoanalyst waits for the subject to speak, then enters the conversation using the words of the analysand. The interventions made by the analyst are governed by the desire of the analyst, and this is how the analyst’s discourse is operated and how it can be shown to work. It is the analysand who ultimately proves the success of psychoanalysis by agreeing to enter the machinery and put himself through the mill. The analyst’s desire and the analyst’s discourse can be used by an analysand to untangle the mess that catapulted him into analysis, to recognise the master signifiers that held particular pathways in place, to take responsibility for his drives and their particular objects, and to invent new solutions, cut fresh pathways, forge new bonds in the real business of life.

I am currently in the early stages of exploring the possibility of including horses in the effort to cut fresh paths in my life and practice. I’d like to share with you some of this experience and to chat with you about the questions it raises when an analyst steps outside the consulting room. I have two short excerpts that arise from encounters between humans and horses in a field trying to make a new conversation and to shed light on the problems they encounter in life.

Janet Haney obtained her PhD in organizational sociology at Trent Polytechnic Nottingham in 1987, and her Masters in Psychoanalytic Studies from Brunel University in 1995. She works in London as a practitioner and a freelancer researcher.