Mark’s Whitehead lecture: Enactivism, mental health and the emergence of narrative

I was very excited and privileged to be asked to deliver one of the Whitehead lectures at Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2013.  These are public lectures organised by the Centre for Cognition, Computation and Culture under Prof Mark Bishop.  (It was explained to me afterwards that this centre has almost become the Centre for Not-Cognition, as their research is largely into post-cognitive ways of looking at things.)
Mark Whitehead poster

My 16 January 2013 lecture was entitled ‘Enactivism, mental health and the emergence of meaning: taking the ‘psycho’ out of psychotherapy’.

The abstract was:

Much of the existing research into an enactive view of mental health has focused on movement and physical engagement. I will be taking a look at psychotherapy – ‘talking cures’ – through an enactive lens to examine the way language is used in therapy. Contrasting with the cognitive perspective (‘thoughts cause actions’), we can take cues from Dan Hutto and Ludwig Wittgenstein to take a fresh look at what can sensibly be said about, and by, those suffering distress. This tour will incorporate the hybrid psychology of Rom Harré, complex systems and the Solution-Focused Brief Therapy work of Steve de Shazer to present a firmly grounded and novel way to view therapeutic conversations, raising new questions and challenging existing notions of good therapy practice.

You can download an mp3 audio recording of the lecture and the conversation that emerged at

I’d be very keen to hear responses and in particular challenges to the case I put forward here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: