Category Archives: Research

Hidden Persuaders Blog

The reputations of the ‘psy’ professions – and the status of their ideas – were altered by controversies, myths and testimonies about ‘brainwashing’ in its various guises during the Cold War. Our project uncovers new source materials and promotes original analyses of the involvement (real and perceived) of clinicians in brainwashing and its cognate practices of interrogation, psychological warfare, subliminal advertisement, and therapeutic experimentation. We consider what ethical guidelines and safeguards, past or present, have been formulated to deal with the dangers of mind control so powerfully articulated during the Cold War.

By exploring these historical debates over mind control and their continuing legacies for psy expertise, Hidden Persuaders offers timely historical analysis of continuing present-day controversies. The language of ‘brainwashing’ continues to influence, in diverse and unexpected ways, present understanding of the relationship between the individual and the state; the nature of the therapeutic encounter between patient and psy-professional; and the borderlands between education, persuasion and indoctrination.

Our blog addresses these themes, with recent posts including:

If your research touches on these themes and you would be interested in writing a post for us, please contact

The Hidden Persuaders project is led by Professor Daniel Pick at Birkbeck, University of London, and is made possible by a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award. Find us on Twitter: @HPersuaders

Spaces of Psychoanalysis

We are delighted to present, above, a fascinating and informative new film about psychoanalysis at Birkbeck, University of London.

Birkbeck has a long standing and lively tradition of Freudian thought and a distinctive, highly interdisciplinary approach to psychoanalysis. In this film a number of academics with sustained interests in psychoanalysis, drawn from across different disciplines in the College, talk about the many spaces that psychoanalytical ideas occupy in their lives and research. Spaces of Psychoanalysis makes extensive use of drawings and collages offering a panoramic view of the Freudian legacy’s contemporary inflections and elaborations.

This 2016 film was directed by Bartek Dziadosz and produced by Lily Ford at Birkbeck’s Derek Jarman Lab.

CibWK1wWkAE8G6IThe featured image was shared on Twitter by the Derek Jarman Lab on May 15, 2016.

VIDEO: Sigmund Freud – Thinkers for our Time

Video recording of the event which took place on Wednesday 25 November 2015 at
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH

Chaired by Professor Laura Marcus FBA, University of Oxford

The work of Freud has shaped ideas, discussion and social discourse since the start of the twentieth century. This event revisited his key ideas and the influence they have had on society over the past hundred years.

This event was the first in a series re-examining the life and works of influential historical figures from across the humanities and social sciences, exploring the important and continuing influences they have on society and debating their place as key thinkers for our time.


Professor Stephen Frosh, Birkbeck, University of London
Professor Ankhi Mukherjee, University of Oxford
Dr Shohini Chaudhuri, University of Essex
Dr Jana Funke, University of Exeter

A TRAUMA MONTAGE, and other video work by Ian Magor

Today, we present the first in a series of entries showcasing member profiles and psychoanalytic research projects at CHASE institutions

We feature the work of Ian Magor, a PhD student at Birkbeck. Magor’s research examines the pooling of expertise between American psychiatrists, filmmakers and the military during the Second World War and its influence on Cold War concepts of brainwashing and thought control. Ian recently completed an MA at Birkbeck in Psychoanalysis, History and Culture, during which he began to make work on video. His work A TRAUMA MONTAGE, (the first video embedded in the full length post below), was recently selected as one of the best video essays of 2015 by online film critics.

If you are a researcher (postgraduate or faculty) working on psychoanalysis in a CHASE institution and would like to join the network and publish your profile at this website, please contact us on Thank you.



By Ian Magor (Birkbeck, University of London)
The research I am carrying out for my PhD project is focused particularly on the enthusiasm of the post WWII American psychiatric profession to shift the cause of the country’s extensive psychoneurotic war casualties away from the battleground and into the home. Such a debate highlights how overwhelmingly trauma is associated with war and its associated conditions of shellshock, combat exhaustion and PTSD. I wanted to think about what we might call everyday trauma, the kind that takes us by surprise through an unexpected trigger. A flock of birds, a shake of the head, a wave on a rock.  Continue reading

Black Psychoanalysts Speak

Black Psychoanalysts Speak (Basio Winigrad, 2014, PEP Video Grants 2014): a fascinating online film, exploring the history, theory and practice of psychoanalysis through the experience of black analysts:

In the field of psychoanalysis, it’s been minimized how profound the trauma of racism actually is.
–Anton Hart

The issue of race so prompts excessive anxiety that it blocks off our capacity to think. …. The mind, to me, has a social context to it. It’s always social. It’s always relational. …. Women begin to challenge a lot of the sexist theoretical constructs and analyze psychoanalysis. I think that’s what other folks  can do as well. People of color can show psychoanalysis its inherent racist structure.
–Kirkland Vaughans

Yet our psychoanalytic institutes have largely turned away from the big picture, the ills and inequalities of our cultures, and instead have focused on training and treating the relatively privileged. People whose problems can be narrowly conceptualized as stemming from their family relationships. People who seem, at least for a time, to be relatively immune to the traumas of history and cultural conflict. …. Psychoanalysis was for very long, and I think correctly seen, as patriarchal. And that’s really changed enormously. The issue of gender and sexuality is central to psychoanalytic curriculum. Whereas the issue of race, class, ethnicity is not
–Michael Moskowitz

Freud understood that poverty and racism can profoundly affect a person’s well being. And he said, I never expected to go so far because of the poverty and conditions of my youth.
–Dorothy E. Holmes

I point out to my white liberal friends that never have they ever made a white referral to me. It’s always black folks. I refer all kinds of folks to them all the time. Part of it is, I think, racism. And part of it is also economics. Because as I said, if that person’s got good insurance, they could come from the Saharan Desert. They’re going to keep that person. This needs to be interrogated. This needs to be looked at. And that has not happened in psychoanalysis.
–C. Jama Adams

The video is online at and