Research Group

Comparative Psychoanalysis

A hand drawn map of links between names of psychoanalyst theorists.

Studying controversy and dialogue in psychoanalysis

Intellectual, personal and institutional conflict is endemic in the history of psychoanalysis. Alongside this there are creative efforts to establish understanding and communication between perspectives.

The work of our research group includes historical reassessment, conceptual clarification, clinical exploration, reflection on the future of psychoanalysis and attempts to articulate the conditions for fruitful dialogue. The image used to represent this research group was created by Dr Ernst Falzeder, a respected researcher of psychoanalytic movements and friend of the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies at Essex.

We encourage and support applications for PhD research projects related to the research interests of our members. Please click on the profiles of the members to discover their areas of research. Alternatively, you can send a preliminary enquiry to Professor Matt Ffytche, Director of Graduate Studies in the Department or to Dr David Henderson, Organiser of the Research Group.

Highlights from our work


  • Brown, Robin (2017), Re-Encountering Jung: Analytical psychology and contemporary psychoanalysis, London: Routledge
  • Brown, Robin (2019), Groundwork for a Transpersonal Psychoanalysis: Spirituality, Relationship, and Participation, London: Routledge
  • Carveth, Donald (2018), Psychoanalytic Thinking: A Dialectical Critique of Contemporary Theory and Practice, London: Routledge
  • Ellman, Steven (2010), When Theories Touch: A Historical and Theoretical Integration of Psychoanalytic Thought, London: Routledge
  • Kirshner, Lewis (2011), Between Winnicott and Lacan: A Clinical Engagement, London: Routledge
  • Mills, Jon (2005), Relational and Intersubjective Perspectives in Psychoanalysis, New York: Aronson
  • Mills, Jon (2012), Psychoanalysis at the Limit: Epistemology, Mind, and the Question of Science, Albany: SUNY

Book chapters

  • Henderson, David (2017) Staying alive: anima and objet a. In: Re-Encountering Jung: Analytical Psychology and Contemporary Psychoanalysis Brown, Robin S., ed. Routledge. ISBN 9781138225343
  • Henderson, David (2020), Review of Groundwork for a Transpersonal Psychoanalysis, Robin Brown, London: Routledge in British Journal of Psychotherapy, 36(4): 650-653, DOI: 10.111/bjp.12591 




Symposia on Bion and Meltzer's Expeditions into Unmapped Mental Life by Avner Bergstein

You are invited to participate in an extended series of symposia organised by the Comparative Psychoanalysis Research Group. We will read chapters of Avner Bergstein's book Bion and Meltzer's Expeditions into Unmapped Mental Life. At each meeting one person will open the discussion by drawing out some aspect of controversy or debate in the chapter - be it theoretical, historical, biographical, or clinical. Using a comparative approach, we will attempt to clarify the issues at stake for psychoanalysis.

If you would like to take responsibility for kicking off the discussion of one of these chapters, please contact David Henderson who will be facilitating the sessions.

  • Wednesday 17 February, Chp. 1, The psychotic part of the personality: Bion's expeditions into unmapped mental life
  • Wednesday 24 March, Chp. 2, Transcending the caesura: Reverie, dreaming, and counterdreaming
  • Wednesday 5 May, Chp. 3, Beyond the spectrum: Fear of breakdown, catastrophic change, and the unrepressed unconscious
  • Wednesday 9 June, Chp. 4, On boredom: A close encounter with encapsulate parts of the psyche
  • Wednesday 7 July, Chp. 5, Attacks on linking or a drive to communicate? Tolerating the paradox
  • Wednesday 15 September, Chp. 6, The painful vicissitudes of the patient's love: Transference-love and aesthetic conflict
  • Wednesday 27 October, Chp. 7, Obsessionality: Modulating the encounter with emotional truth and the aesthetic object
  • Wednesday 1 December, Chp. 8, The ineffable

Meetings will take place Wednesdays on Zoom between 5.30pm and 7pm GMT.

The group is facilitated by David Henderson, PhD, lecturer in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex.

Denial of Death by Ernest Becker study group

Ernest Becker's seminal work, The Denial of Death, has become an underground classic since its publication in 1974. This study group offers an opportunity to read the book and reflect on Becker's stimulating and occasionally controversial insights. The group will be of particular interest to psychotherapists and analysts, but it is open to anyone who has an interest in the book's themes.

The group will meet over 10 sessions from January to July 2021. We will meet on Zoom from 6:00 to 7.30pm GMT (1pm to 2.30pm EST) on the following Tuesdays: 12 January; 2 February; 23 February; 16 March; 13 April; 4 May; 25 May; 15 June; 29 June; and 13 July.

The group will have 12 members. Attendance is free. Participants are requested to attend for the life of the group.

Further information about Ernest Becker (1924-1974) is available here:

For further information about the group and to join contact David Henderson to arrange a Zoom meeting.

The group is facilitated by David Henderson, PhD, lecturer in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex.

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Contact us
Research Group Organiser Dr David Henderson
University of Essex
Departmental Director of Research Professor Matt Ffytche
University of Essex