On the Verge: Madness in the Psychoanalytic Encounter
Saturday, November 16 2019
1651 3 rd Avenue, Suite 205
Dr. David Bell on The Singing Detective and “Who is Killing Whom?: Some Notes on the Internal
Phenomenology of Suicide” with Dr. Donald Moss as discussant
Dr. David Bell brings his multidisciplinary interests in literature, art and psychoanalysis to his critical
engagement with Dennis Potter’s award winning film series The Singing Detective, perhaps the greatest
ever television film on BBC. The conference includes a screening of clips from the final episode of this
non-linear, multi-layered work. We do encourage participants to view the whole series prior to the
presentation. (available on Youtube TV and as a DVD from Amazon).
Phillip Marlowe, a detective story writer is in the hospital stricken with the most severe crisis of the
incapacitating psoriatic arthritis he has suffered for much of his life. We witness his hallucinatory and
anguished inner world as he struggles to come to terms with primitive guilt and loss. Bell addresses the
breakdown of the barriers between inner and outer reality, and as Marlowe emerges from his psychic
retreat to confront overwhelming guilt and the unbearable sense of loss he suffers.
Dr. Donald Moss will open the discussion which will be followed by a Q. and A. session.
In the afternoon Bell discusses his paper on suicide “Who is Killing Whom?: Some Notes on the Internal
Phenomenology of Suicide” which describes the various unconscious phantasies that dominate the inner
world of suicidal patients. Starting with Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholia” the paper goes on to
discuss the contributions of Melanie Klein and others. The paper makes ample use of clinical examples
to illustrate the theoretical framework discussed.
Dr. Donald Moss will open the discussion which will be followed by a Q. and A. period.
Rosenfeld’s (1971) “Contribution to the psychopathology of psychotic states: The importance of
projective identification in the ego structure and the object relations of the psychotic patient”, in P.
Doucet and C. Laurin (eds.) Problems of Psychosis. Amsterdam: Excerpta Medica.
John Steiner’s Psychic Retreats: Pathological Organizations in Psychotic, Neurotic and Borderline
Patients. London and new York: Routledge, 1993.
Morning Meeting, Part 1, The Singing Detective
8:30 to 9:00 Continental breakfast
9:00 to 10:00 Screening of The Singing Detective
10:00 to 10:15 coffee break
10:15 to 11:15 Lecture by Dr. Bell on the film
11:15 to 11:30 Dr. Moss, Discussant
11:30 to 12:15 Q and A with audience
Lunch break 12:15 to 1:45
Afternoon program, Part 2
1:45 Dr. Bell’s “Who is Killing Whom?: Some Notes on the Internal Phenomenology of Suicide”
2:30 to 2:45 Dr. Moss, Discussant
2:45 to 3:15 Dialogue between Drs. Bell and Moss
3:15 to 4:00 Q and A Discussion
Dr. David Bell is a Training and Supervising psychoanalyst of the British Psychoanalytic Society where he
served as president (2010-2012). He is a Consultant Psychiatrist in the Adult Department at the
Tavistock and the Portman NHS Foundation Trust where he leads a specialist service, The Fitzjohns Unit,
for the more complex/severe disorders. He was Director of Medical Specialist Training at the Tavistock
for many years. He is Honorary Senior Lecturer at University College London and a master teacher and
Working in the tradition of Freud, Klein and Bion, Bell has published numerous papers and book
chapters on many topics which include: the development of psychoanalytic thought, the understanding
of the internal world, hysteria, projective identification, suicide, paranoia and primitive states of mind in
the borderline, psychotic and narcissistic patients. He has edited four books Reason and Passion: A
Celebration of the Work of Hanna Segal (1997) and Psychoanalysis and Culture: A Kleinian Perspective (
also celebrates the work of Hanna Segal (1999), Living on the Border and Turning the Tide ( on the work
of the Fitzjohns Unit).
Throughout his professional career he has been deeply involved in the relationship between
psychoanalysis and other disciplines: literature, philosophy, culture and socio-politico issues and has
published extensively in these areas. He is one of the leading psychiatric experts in issues of asylum and
His discussion of Othello with Simon Russell Beale and Terry Hands is now available as a DVD, “Iago on
the Couch” Trailer:https://vimeo.com/13232964
Dr. Donald Moss is Founding member of Green Gang, a psychoanalytic collective focusing on
climate change and the human relation to the natural world, the recipient of the Elizabeth Young-Bruehl
award for work against prejudice (2017) and Chair & member of the Program Committee at the
American Psychoanalytic Association. Dr. Moss is also the author of four books, most recently At War
with the Obvious (2017)and I and You (2018) and more than sixty articles, most recently "Love Speech,
Hate Speech,Free Speech and Neutrality: In and Out of the Consulting Room" (JAPA,
Spring 2019) and "On Having Whiteness" (plenary address for South African Psychoanalytic Society),
February 2019 . He is unaffiliated with any Psychoanalytic Institute
1. To understand how the barriers between the external and internal worlds break down in
2. To gain a psychoanalytic understanding of some dynamics in suicidal patients from a Kleinian
3. To understand how psychosomatic conditions can serve defensive needs against unbearable
states of mind
4. To more deeply appreciate a patient’s struggle with unconscious, primitive guilt and loss and
what can lead to recovery and away from suicide and somatization.
General 150.00$, 5 CE Credits. Candidates and Students 40.00$, includes 5 CE Credits