Tree in wilderness with sunrise

On re-describing the indescribable: trauma, psychoanalysis, and psychedelic therapy (CPD45A)

Join us in the second of our autumn 2022 trauma lectures

This lecture is also available as part of a series.

This innovative series of lectures is organised by the Tavistock Trauma Service and is designed to reflect the clinical approach of the work whilst emphasising an adapted psychoanalytic approach with multi-modality and trauma-informed care.

We also use neurobiological and attachment theory to understand the impact of trauma. Our series will present a range of external speakers, each experts in the field, who will bring their own understanding of trauma via a presentation, followed by an audience question and answer session.

This lecture can be booked individually or as part of a cost-saving bundle comprising the three summer 2022 series lectures.

Who is this lecture for?

It is for you if you are a professional working within the mental health field who have an interest in trauma. You may be a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, mental health nurse, support worker, counsellor or therapist.

Our talks will cover neurobiology, attachment theory and different psychoanalytic perspectives on trauma, including historical child sexual abuse.

Lecture details

This is the second lecture in the autumn 2022 series.

Lecture 2: On re-describing the indescribable: trauma, psychoanalysis, and psychedelic therapy

3 November 2022

This lecture will be recorded.

Lecturer: Nadav (Liam) Modlin

“When we look back at this unashamed period of childhood it seems to us a Paradise; and Paradise itself is no more than a group phantasy of the childhood of the individual. That is why mankind were naked in Paradise and were without shame in one another’s presence; till a moment arrived when shame and anxiety awoke, expulsion followed, and sexual life and the tasks of cultural activity began. But we can regain this Paradise every night in our dreams.” (Freud, S., 1900).

By interpreting the dreams of his patient’s Freud ‘dreams up’ an infantile desire to exhibit, to expose others and to be exposed by others. To be known to others and self, without knowing our desire. This Freudian story of Paradise, which we access, conveniently, only when we are asleep and therefore innocent for our lack of intentionality, is where our insatiable and potentially traumatising desire is free to be known and experienced without excessive shame or condemnation. If this is a form of paradise, trauma, in its many forms can be thought about and indeed is often described, as a hell or nightmare. And despite this hell being threatening, demoralizing, or humiliating, psychoanalysis proposes that we are unable to stop dreaming, or in the context of trauma care, unable to not re-experience, to not bind and be bound to the trauma, via the now popularised medical symptoms of PTSD, or in analytic terms, via repressive, projective, and dissociative processes, the compulsion to repeat, phobias and so on.

In this context the psychedelic (Greek “mind / soul” + dêlos, “manifest / visible”) state or experience, described by some as a ‘waking dream’ (Chandler and Hartman, 1960 quoted in Rucker, 2018; Carhart-Harris and Nutt, 2014), can be thought about as heaven-like; an affective, somatic, cognitive, interpersonal and spiritual happening which encourages, perhaps both to the relief and dismay of those participating in the experience, the at times cathartic emergence of one’s desires and phantasies, traumata’s and deficiencies; a private, public and socio-cultural encounter which may be interpreted as meaningful and healing, and as anxiety-provoking and confusing. Often, within regulated clinical trials investigating the safety and efficacy of psychedelic therapy in mental health diagnoses, these go hand in hand.

This lecture will explore the potential clinical and theoretical utility of psychoanalytic practice in psychedelic forms of therapy currently under investigation by discussing points of intersectionality between the disciplines in the context of the treatment of traumatic stress. To that end, the psychedelic state is considered an attempt to make the unconscious conscious by inducing a potentially bewildering and disruptive waking-dream to better understand and tolerate reality; wilfully entering a state of relational exposure and vulnerability, to develop trust in one’s own agency and capacity to trust others; immersing oneself in an indescribable experience to learn how to redescribe, to self and to others, the unthinkable and the unspeakable in service of healing.

This lecture will take place on:

DateStart timeEnd timeWill lecture be recorded* and available after the live event?
Thursday 3 November 20227pm8.30pmYes

*To enable access to the widest possible audience these lectures are planned to be delivered live, but remotely, as webinars. Where we are able, a recording will be made available to all booked delegates although we encourage live attendance wherever possible. Please see the details above to see if this lecture will be recorded and available after the live event.

These lectures will be delivered remotely using Zoom. You will need a device with a suitably fast internet connection. Although mobile devices and tablets can be used, we recommend the use of laptop or desktop PC for the best experience. Some devices provided by employers may have restrictions in place. Please use this test link ( to check your set up before booking.

You will be sent the necessary login link about a week before the course start date. Should you have any concerns about the accessibility of remote delivery please contact us at to discuss how we can best help you.


“Fantastic webinar about a topic that is difficult to talk about, rarely spoken about and hard to work with. Tonight was very enlightening and encouraging. Certainly will motivate and guide my personal research on the subject and undoubtedly open up my practice hoping to better support my clients.”
“Absolutely stunning – such an in-depth journey into new territory of work with trauma.”
“This lecture has been enormously helpful in providing me with a space to reflect on some of my cases alongside the presentation and discussion.”
“Yet again the standard of lecturers is excellent as well as the variety of viewpoints. Very stimulating course, thank you.”
“Thought provoking, relevant and very interesting.”


Book your place today

You can book a place on this lecture at any time using our MyTAP booking system. You’ll receive confirmation by email, and we will be in touch approximately one week before with detailed joining instructions.

Save £15 with a bundle

This lecture is also available as part of a convenient, cost-saving bundle for £75 – giving you access to our complete summer 2022 lecture series.

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