My main research interests, grouped under the four broadly defined areas listed below, reflect my multidisciplinary background and expertise (Honours degree in Philosophy, MA and PhD in Psychology, UKCP Registered Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist), my intellectual interest in Western culture and values, and political commitment to feminism and the attainment of a just society.
These concerns fuel my overall interest in epistemological debates around the ontological and epistemological status of knowledge in social sciences in contemporary western society and how these debates are affected by post-structuralism, psychoanalysis and feminism.
Connected to these is my commitment to developing and applying qualitative research methods, in particular Grounded Theory and Discourse Analysis, to the investigation of social phenomena.
1. Human Rights, social responsibility and helping behaviour.
- For some years I have researched public responses to mediated news of Human Rights abuses, both in the UK and Spain, thanks to the support of a Leverhulme Foundation Fellowship and Birkbeck College Research grants. With time, these have evolved into an interest in the related issues of moral and social responsibility; prosocial behaviour; moral boundaries and discursive constructions of the ‘Other’. I have used a psychosocial approach in bringing together psychological work on altruism, psycho-social understanding of denial as well as psychodynamic and discursive readings of emotional responses. I have published on these subjects in Psychological and Human Rights journals.
- I am particularly interested in exploring how current social constructions of femininity and gender affect women’s lives. In particular I have conducted in-depth feminist qualitative research into women's experience of shame and critically explored socio-psychological and psychoanalytic theories of femininity, mainly through a social constructionist/discursive approach.
- My interest in psychoanalysis is two-fold. I am concerned with psychoanalysis both as a body of theory that has greatly affected the way we understand human behaviour and motivation, and as a clinical technique.
- As far as the latter is concerned, in my writing I have investigated the complex relation between feminism and psychoanalysis particularly in clinical practice.
- I am also interested in applying psychoanalytic ideas to the understanding of social phenomena, in particular oppression, discrimination and bystander behaviour.
- My critical interest in psychoanalytic theory and practice on the one hand and gender issues on the other has been further developed in ‘Feminism and Psychotherapy; Reflections on Contemporary Theories and Practices’ (Sage, 1998), co-edited with C. Heenan and in the edited book "Who am I? The ego and the self in psychoanalysis" (Rebus Press/Taylor and Francis 2000).
4. Discursive analyses and psychoanalytic readings of text
- The substantive interests listed above have found best methodological expression in discursive analyses and psychoanalytic readings of text. I am currently working on the complementarities and potential benefits of bringing together these epistemologically different readings of text, in grappling with the complexities of subjectivity and power dynamics.