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Talking with Dr Barnaby Barratt

by kai – sexpert

I recently caught up with Dr. Barnaby B. Barratt, who is a world leading expert expert in psychoanalysis specialising in body-mind approaches and human sexuality. It was an honour to talk with Barnaby. His work has been a positive influence in my own life and professional practice.

In this blog I explore Barnaby’s momentous career, his heart felt approaches to psychosexual work; and his latest project the Parkmore Institute that offers online doctoral degrees in subject such as human sexuality, bodymind healing, and psychosocial studies. A new era of doctoral education that seems impossible anywhere else.

Barnaby, tell me some of the highlights and unique moments of your career?

This is a tricky question for him. Barnaby felt that it was easier to identify unique moments in his personal life. Fair enough, but I sense him being too modest. He starts to ponder back to the completion of his undergraduate studies, which occurred almost 45 years ago. I won’t hold this against him. Age is the beauty of life. He confides, that every step of his professional career has been a struggle. The outcomes often fraught with ambivalence.

Barnaby comes from a working-class family, academia and education were not the social norm. So, when he was offered a scholarship to Harvard to undertake a PhD he was thrilled at the prospect. Like most intellects, he found it difficult to study what interested him the most. Much of his interests centred around psychodynamic psychology, leftist social theory, and human sexuality. I won’t pretend I have the faintest idea about ‘leftist social theory’. But I can tell you as an avid follower of Barnaby that he excels and is at the forefront of anything to do with human sexuality.  Barnaby has authored a plethora of books on sexuality and spirituality. It doesn’t take me long to realise he is the king of written dialogue – this is evident in our back and forth conversation. Certainly, a skill that he has used to his advantage throughout his work and life.

Barnaby describes himself as a radical psychoanalyst. I would not put him in the same class as Freud. However, Barnaby’s thoughts are light years ahead of the conservative psychology and sexology movements we see today. I feel, this is one of the reasons he is seen as such a radical. His work is thought provoking and ‘spiritual’ in every sense of word. I think this is why I have so much respect for him. He challenges modern societies sexual constructs that are often unhealthy and disembodied.

The radical nature of Barnaby’s work can be attributed to the true nature of the human sexual psyche. Thoughts that we are all having but often deny and grapple with in body and mind. He states the field of sexology has been “dominated simplistically by mechanistic behaviourist thinking that does little to address the psychodynamics of our polysexual expressiveness — the inherent of conflict around sexual desires, the spirituality made possible with sexual joy, and so forth”. I completely agree with him. This theme is also rife in our communities, relationships, interactions with one another, healthcare system and even pornography.

Barnaby is more than theory and text. If you ever delve into reading one of his many books (just google), you will also discover a humanist at heart. This heart felt approach is what sets him apart from many psychology professionals. In truth, Barnaby’s ideals enable others to feel free within themselves and life. There is something immensely powerful about feeling into our hearts in which he refers to.

Barnaby has held some interesting positions throughout his career. He established the Midwest Institute of Sexology, was the president elect of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counsellors and Therapists. Sadly, he has become disheartened with professional groups. He cites and reflects a theme of disappointment in his working life, that revolve around “professional myopia, conservatism and internal politics”.

The Parkmore Institute is Barnaby’s latest project. He is one of the founding academics. The institute offers Doctoral education in “fields such as bodymind healing, human sexuality and psychosocial intervention. These are such important areas for the future of human wellbeing, and they are disciplines in which doctoral education is almost entirely unavailable anywhere in the world today”.  You won’t find myopia and internal political struggle in Barnaby’s educational setting. I realise the importance of Barnaby’s approach to a new age of Doctoral education. The basic freedom to think and feel is extinct in modern education systems. As harsh as that sounds, it’s true.

Barnaby has come up with an approach to help specialists like myself be recognised for the subjectivity of body mind work. Which is not able to be assessed in the modern educational setting, for that matter modern psychology programs. Why? Because we are not taught to feel, nor can feelings be assessed by the educational machine. These new Doctoral programs enable specialists to deliver and apply their practices with the formality of a qualification. A true expert in their chosen field.

I would like to thank Barnaby for taking the time out to talk and allow me to share his some of his journey and current work with you.