Review: Psychological Health: A Psychoanalyst’s View

Sophie Smith

Psychological Health: A Psychoanalyst’s View, took place at Milk Bar, Wednesday 19 July.


Part of the Reading Fringe Festival, ‘Psychological Health: A Psychoanalyst’s View’, saw Reading-based psychoanalyst, Dr Christine English, talk to a packed Milk Bar on Wednesday 19 July.


Beginning by admitting she had been nervous that no one would attend, Dr English mulled on the reason behind such a high attendance. Was it due to increased awareness of our own mental health issues right now, (this event falls within Berkshire’s Year of Mental Health campaign)? Or, are we simply more willing to discuss our own issues and seek out help than ever before? The talk was timely and clearly in demand.
Through her informative 45-minute session, Dr English challenged us to consider how we think about our mental health. We understand how to keep our bodies healthy and many of us do so, but we don’t generally treat our minds in the same way. She also touched on the idea that we all need to keep a fire burning: we all need something for us to focus on in our lives, whether that a hobby, sport, or even a person – it just gives us a reason to keep going. Life is often a struggle, she suggested, and it is important for us to acknowledge that, but also to understand what it is we do enjoy and love in our lives.


The talk then moved on to discuss the idea of checking in with yourself and listening to your inner monologue. She stated that often we feel unhappy with an area of their life (a job for example), but it’s not until we really sit down with themselves and question why it makes unhappy that they’re able to understand and pinpoint the issues they have. It may sometimes seem baffling to some that her patients can lie on her couch 5 days a week and talk about their lives, she said, but it is not until you give yourself permission to do this that you’re able to address your issues.


The talk concluded with a brief focus on the Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. Does the acceptance of ‘futility’ of a task leaves one able to go on? This idea may help us frame our thinking and grant us permission to accept that life isn’t always easy but also that it may always be us pushing a rock up a hill and watching it roll back down.


Dr English’s talk was captivating and inspiring. This was made clear in the Q&A portion of the talk, as each question was prefaced with a comment about how enjoyable the presentation had been. Personal questions were asked and answered with thought and respect, and it felt a safe environment to discuss thoughts and problems. If you do get the opportunity to ever hear Dr English talk, take it.

If you’d like to find out more about Mental Health in Reading, check out the Berkshire Year of Mental Health project.

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