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Events 2016/17

Complex Needs to Disordered Personalities: Political Discourses and Practice Responses
January 17th Tuesday 2017, 9.30am - 5pm, The Foundry , London SE11 5RR 

Political and practice-based discourses have increasingly recognised groups of people said to have ‘complex needs’ and who face ‘multiple exclusions’ or ‘multiple disadvantages’. Their difficulties are often characterised by long term unemployment, drug problems, and a range of mental health problems that include personality disorder and histories of trauma.

The appearance of such ideas has emerged alongside, and arguably coalesced with, alternative discourses around ‘responsibilisation’, criminalisation, and the immorality of worklessness. These strands of political discourse have suggested that there are individuals who are not ‘strivers’, nor are they are part of ‘hard working families’. Instead their homelessness, their lack of employment and their dependence on welfare has led to labels as ‘shirkers’, or even ‘scroungers’.
Such punitive language has perhaps, for example, encouraged the use of ‘Public Space Protection Orders’ to fine people who sleep rough or who ’beg’ for money – a move criticised by homeless charities for punishing the poor while ignoring the ‘complex needs’ faced by this group of people.

Meanwhile, the UK government’s intention to encourage the availability of psychological treatment services within job centres (announced, for example, in the 2015 budget) was heavily criticised as an inappropriate attempt to reconstruct the social problems of unemployment and exclusion as issues of ‘disordered minds’ that were in need of treatment. The ‘troubled families’ initiative faced criticism that it was simply demonising struggling families and has not found it easy to evidence its impact.

The seminar will explore the psychosocial dynamics that surround policies and practices that are directed at those facing ‘complex needs’. It will address the appropriateness, or otherwise, of such (re)constructions and the types of intervention that the different discourses surrounding these issues have engendered. What type of intervention might be appropriate and what are the dilemmas involved in addressing treatment towards such psychosocial problems?

Confirmed Speakers: 
•Rachael Dobson (University of Kingston)
•Pippa Hockton (Street talk)
•Sarah Johnsen (Herriot Watt)
•Alan Kilmister (Forum Member, 'Revolving Doors')
•Sarah Anderson (University of Glasgow)
•Christopher Parker (Northumbria University)
•Chris Scanlon (Community Housing Trust)
•Paul Anders (Revolving Doors)
•Alastair Roy (UCLAN)

For further details: 

To Book: 

Borderline States of Mind and destructive Feelings: A diagnosis for our times?

Friday May 5th 2017, The Institute of Group Analysis, London NW3 5BY

The diagnosis of ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ is used to describe a set of problems experienced by individuals who often feel overwhelmed by their feelings and experience little sense of control of their lives. This might manifest in considerable unhappiness, volatile relationships and destructive (including self-destructive) behaviour. The diagnosis appears to be common amongst users of mental health services and even amongst offending populations. There are claims that the diagnosis, and related labels such as ‘emotional dysregulation’, are being used more frequently.  It would certainly seem that some of the difficulties (such as self-harm) associated with the diagnosis are becoming more common. 

And yet, this is a controversial diagnosis. As the diagnosis becomes prominent, more questions are asked about its meaning. Is it simply just another demeaning label that is applied to people whose life experiences may have given them every reason to feel marginalised – at the borders of the mainstream? 

Or perhaps, however clumsy the terms might be, does the phenomenology of the diagnosis point us towards something important about ourselves and our sources of discontent in the 21st century?  

We are seeking to understand more about what might be meant by borderline mental states. What can we learn about the times and culture that is producing these particular forms of distress? Can a focus on the psychology of such states of mind help us or we need a more thorough cultural analysis to understand what might be happening? 

We are keen to hear from people who are interested in exploring current ideas about borderline states of mind. If you are interested in contributing, please send an abstract (not more than 300 words) to David W Jones (, by 12th December 2016.

More information:

We will be able to pay travel and accommodation costs for contributors.


Gender, Violence and Antisocial Personalities
Thursday 20th October, 10am -5pm, University of Manchester; Renold Building, Altrincham Street, Manchester M1 7JA 

One of the most established fixtures on the criminological landscape is the dominance of men in data on violence. Men commit far more acts of violence – particularly more serious acts of violence.
The diagnoses of ‘antisocial personality disorder’ and ‘psychopathy’ are also far more commonly applied to men. Do the constructs of personality disorder or psychopathy offer any help in understanding the relationship between gender and  violence?  Do men happen to suffer from these ‘disorders’ more than women, or is it simply that violent behaviour, so much more likely to be carried out by men, leads to the diagnosis? Perhaps a better understanding of gender can tell us more about violence and its relationship to individual experience? Is it helpful to wonder about the psychosocial dynamics of gender and their relation to violence?
We are holding a one day seminar to explore this relationship. This seminar is organised as part of the ESRC Seminar series ‘Cross Disciplinary Perspectives on ‘antisocial personality disorder’ – organised by Dr David W Jones; Professor David Gadd and Dr Christopher Scanlon
Confirmed Speakers:
Anna Motz – “Explorations of Gender in Intimate Partner Violence”
Consultant Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, author of The Psychology of Female Violence; Crimes Against the Body (Routledge, 2008) and Toxic Couples: The Psychology of Domestic Violence (Routledge, 2014)
Anthony Ellis – “’Headcases’, ‘Nutters’ and ‘Handy’ Lads: For a Critical Psycho Social Understanding of Male to Male Violence”
Lecturer University of Salford, author of ‘Men, Masculinities and Violence: An ethnographic study.’ (Routledge 2015)
Shadd Maruna,  ‘Masculinity, Masks and the Social Construction of Psychopathy’
Professor of Criminology, University of Manchester, author of – Making Good: How Ex-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives (APA 2001); After Crime and Punishment: Pathways to Offender Reintegration  with Russ Immarigeon (Routledge 2013)
Peter Harris, ‘’Down with the kids’? ‘On-road’ youth worker identities and pathways to desistance.
Senior Lecturer, in Youth and Community Studies Newman college
David Gadd, ‘Beyond Typologies: Foregrounding Meaning and Motive in Domestic Violence Perpetration’
Professor of Criminology, University of Manchester, author of Psychosocial Criminology: An Introduction with Tony Jefferson and Losing the Race: Thinking Psychosocially about Racially Motivated Crime with Bill Dixon.