From Instinct to Self – An Imaginative Dialogue with Virginia on The Subject of Depression

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


In this session, we will tap into the psychoanalytic debates that have been going on since the beginning of the 20thcentury on the theoretical perspectives introduced by Freud, Klein, and Fairbairn on the subject of depression. Within this historical context I will emphasise the divergences there have been in the development of their theories and shine light on the Fairbairnian way of thinking on the human psyche, and the uniqueness and strength of a Fairbairnian lens into depression.

Seeing psychoanalytic theory as inseparable from the subjective practice of meaning making, I exploit the full meanings of the theoretical implications of the Freudian, Kleinian, and Fairbairnian depression through participating in an imaginative dialogue with Virginia Woolf – or rather, an imaginary friend of Virginia Woolf who I brought to life. Attending to history, I acknowledge and respect our differing responses to psychoanalytic theory, which unnerved and, at times, anguished Woolf but stimulated insights and helped me make sense of my depression as a psychoanalytic thinker. In the process of dialoguing with Woolf, I granted myself the permission to be lost to the recollection of what I had lost, the memories that I have long forgotten, the multiple selves in the past that encountered similar dilemmas engendered by the uncertainties between self and others, between love and hate, and, to put it psychoanalytically, how our old horrors were integrated into present wanting and shadowed future hope

The session comes with an invitation for the audience to participate in this on-going imaginative dialogue and expand on depression. As I engage with Virginia Woolf, I hope to engage my audience who might already know Freud and Klein, but may be interested to know what Fairbairn can offer on our thinking of depression.

Bio: Nini Fang is a lecturer at the University of Derby in Counselling and Psychotherapy. She was completed her doctorate in Psychotherapy and Counselling in 2016 at The University of Edinburgh, where she continues her research collaborations as a member of the Centre for Creative-Relational Inquiry. Nini also works as a psychodynamic psychotherapist (MBACP Accred.) with a range of client groups.
Period3 May 2018
Held atSchool of Health in Social Science