On Loneliness

On Loneliness: Therapeutic growth and the capacity for solitude


With Lesley Caldwell, Dr Richard Gipps and Dr Akshi Singh (recorded Saturday 18 January 2020)

“I’ll never attain any degree of freedom till I’ve learnt to disagree with people—to stand alone—to face up to human loneliness.”
Marion Milner (1927)

Why is it that some people never experience the emotion of loneliness, while others feel excruciating anxiety in solitude? This conference will attempt to understand aspects of an individual’s psyche that predisposes them towards either tendency.




Registration and Coffee

Dr Akshi Singh

Facing up to Human Loneliness: Marion Milner’s Experiments with Solitude
Milner’s writing—autobiographical and psychoanalytic—provides an intricate account of what is at stake in the capacity to be alone—and what links or severs solitude from moments of creativity and insight. Her work allows us to think about what is necessary, mysterious, and terrifying about the prospect of being in the presence of ourselves, and the others who accompany our solitude.


Lesley Caldwell

The Place Where We Live: Being at Home Being Alone
Winnicott’s account of being alone in conjunction with the idea that home is where we start from concerns the patient in analysis, the widespread condition of homelessness in the contemporary world, but also the engagement with the art object and what it offers. Both aloneness and solitude are fundamental conditions for participating fully in everyday life and difficulty, and in being able to undertake an analysis. I am interested in how a concern with being in the particularity of the consulting room also offers a perspective on art and beyond.

Chaired Q&A with speakers


Dr Richard Gipps

Love’s Possibility: On Loneliness, Madness and Human Dignity
A distinction can be drawn between feeling and being lonely, between ordinary loneliness and loneliness-beyond-loneliness. The capacity for ordinary loneliness may be compared to that for hunger: without an ability to register lack, one goes mad (loneliness-beyond-loneliness) or starves to death even if food or love is available. Recovery from mental illness requires developing the ability both to feel and to tend to one’s loneliness, and correlatively to develop or recover a sense that it’s intelligible that one be loved. Examples from poetry and from the autobiographies of psychotherapy patients are used to illustrate the central themes.

Chaired Q&A with speakers



Handouts and lunch included:

Live webcast to your own device with on demand access for 28 days:
£60 (SOLD OUT)
(Webcast FAQ)

Confer member:
£96 (SOLD OUT)
(Click here to become a member)

£120 (SOLD OUT)

Self-funded x 2:
£200 (SOLD OUT)

£200 (SOLD OUT)

Psychotherapy trainee or under 25’s:
£80 (SOLD OUT)


Certificates of attendance for 5.5 hours will be provided at the event


6th Floor, Foyles Bookshop
107 Charing Cross Road



09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:15 Coffee
13:30 Lunch
16:30 End


Regrettably, refunds cannot be given in any circumstances except as follows:

  • You cancel in writing to info@confer.uk.com 60 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 100% refund.
  • You cancel in writing to info@confer.uk.com 30 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 50% refund.

This does not apply to parts of an event such as a seminar within a series but only to a whole event or complete series. You may give your place to another person if you let us know that person's name at least 24 hours before the event begins.

We reserve the right to change a speaker at one of our conferences without offering a refund. However, if a solo presenter cancels we will offer a full refund OR transfer of your fee to another Confer event. If the entire event is cancelled we will offer you a full refund.

We reserve the right to change our prices at any time. Regrettably, discounts offered after you made your booking cannot be claimed or applied retrospectively.