Laura Gonzalez


Two forthcoming films about hysteria — 26 Sep 2011

Hysteria, by Tanya Wexler

A Dangerous Method, by David Cronenberg

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Adult love and its roots in infancy — 10 Sep 2011

This looks so interesting. Love. Love, that eternal question. How do we chose our love objects? Where does adult love come from?

Day Conference

at the Anna Freud Centre, London NW3

This conference investigates adult love by bringing together the worlds of psychoanalysis, literature, and performance. The most sublime, exhilarating and painful of emotions, love puzzles the intellect and almost defies description. It motivates the best and worst of us, overwhelming us with the ferocity of its demands, while thwarted love and perverse love are at the heart of much violent behaviour and neurotic suffering.

Psychoanalysis unlocks the mystery of love by tracing its roots to childhood. The conference will be of interest to anyone involved in adult psychotherapy or counselling, and anyone who has ever been in love.


Lisa Appignanesi (Chair)
All About Love: Introductory Remarks

Bernard Barnett
Psychoanalytic Love, Real Love and Love in Anna Karenina

David Morgan
Destroying the Knowledge of the Need for Love: The Perverse and Addictive Transference

Anna Furse
When I touch the keys my flesh melts: On writing Don Juan.Who?

Estela Welldon
The Dangers of First Love

Click here for speaker biographies, booking details and abstracts. And if you go, let me know how it was!

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The material sensuousness of a hysteric’s performance — 7 Sep 2011

I will be presenting a performative paper at the Sensuous Object conference on the 29th September 2011 at Medical Museion, Copenhagen. For my object, I have chosen a restraining belt. What is even better is that I will be allowed to use it. The pervert in me cannot wait, the hysteric is a little more scared but still up for it. Here is my abstract. Check for updates nearer the time, as it is going to be a distinct and very interesting event.

Hysteria is an outdated diagnosis for a neurotic condition where the patient manifests psychic traumas in the body. In the nineteenth century, Dr Jean-Martin Charcot established the Salpetrière, a hospital in Paris dedicated to the treatment of hysterics – then mainly women. This is also where Sigmund Freud trained and discovered a passion for neurology, leading him to develop psychoanalysis. Charcot left a legacy of medical practices involving photographs and drawings to support his clinicaoanatomic method, and the objects he produced demonstrate the performativity involved in hysteria, and its research. As with any performance, objects, and their sensuousness, are important props.

The first accounts of hysteria relate a ‘wandering womb’, and fits, swooning and violent convulsions are some of the common symptoms reported. Restraining belts were often used in hospitals to keep patients safe. But how much was the contact of the leather – and sometimes the chains – a stimulant for the contractions in the body? How much did this limp object, only coming alive when in touch with the patient’s body enable the hysteric to ask her question – known as Che Vuoi?, what do you want from me?

Hysteria and seduction are inextricably linked. The hysteric is a performer, displaying some of the scopophilic characteristics of the pervert in their pleasure derived from being looked at. The alienist Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault worked with kleptomaniac women, interns in psychiatric units because of the sensuous reactions they had to fabrics such as velvet, silk or velour. The materiality of the object, as with the leather belt, was the conduit to the manifestation of their symptoms. What happens when the belt is not used is evident in a scene of Andrzej Zulawski’s 1981 film ‘Possession’ which I will show and discuss. Through it, I will also explore the positions of the hysteric and the pervert in relation to objects, seduction and being seen.

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.