In the Spotlight: Timo StorckIn the Spotlight: Timo Storck

What were your first thoughts when you saw the call for applications for the fellowship?

I had already heard about CAPAS before, so when I saw the call for applications, I merely thought: Let’s go then…! What fascinated me most about CAPAS and about the idea to become a fellow was to think about “the post” in terms of transgressing anything that can be thought so far. Or to deconstruct any fixed image of an “afterwards”.

What does the apocalypse and/or post-apocalypse mean for you?

Since I am a psychologist, there is not much consideration of apocalyptic and postapocalyptic thinking in my discipline so far, in terms of research topics. There is, however, a more general awareness of various crises that challenge mental health and resilience. Since I am also a psychotherapist, I embrace this in the consulting room more often than in lab. Images of breakdown have always been something patients are bringing to sessions, both personal and on a larger scale. Finally, since I am also a psychoanalyst, the idea of a breakdown is of key interest for me, also in terms of interdisciplinary encounters with philosophy and other fields.

Timo Storck

What is your fellowship trying to achieve?

In my CAPAS project I explore views on non-linear time. That means, I focus on how “later” events have an impact on “former” ones, or even set these into motion. For example, in trauma we see how something rather trivial can serve as kind of an entry lane to suffer the full emotional impact of disastrous events “from before”. In psychoanalysis, we have concepts like “fear of breakdown” to think about the mutual back-and-forth impact of events onto each other. “Fear of breakdown” means that someone lives in constant fearful expectation of an upcoming event – which actually has already happened but couldn’t be mentally represented or worked through in a proper way. With these preparatory works in mind, I will then explore temporality and imageries of decline a) in mental illnesses and b) in fiction (e.g. tv series).

How does the fellowship project build on or connect to your previous career or biography? 

In my lab, my team and I mainly focus on psychotherapy research, albeit from a conceptual, methodologically qualitative point of view and with regard to society and culture (among other topics, we do research on conceptual skills in psychotherapy, personality disorders, effectiveness of psychodynamic methods in psychotherapy, or psychotherapy and psychosocial prevention in post-conflict areas). Alongside that, I have been working on artistic working processes and done some work on psychoanalysis and film. The latter I can especially build upon, as well as on some works I have done on psychosis or other mental illnesses. I also published on psychoanalytic concepts so there is some groundwork regarding that as well.

What do you hope to take with you from the project and its results?

It has always been important for me to bring a humanities perspective to psychotherapy research or to the more scientifically orientated research in psychology. Of course, CAPAS and my project enable me to do that as well. Since there is a growing awareness of the need to deal with crises in a broader context, I am sure that my project’s results can inform research as well as my colleagues about more “unconventional” approaches (against the backdrop of common research focus in psychology).

What are the aspects you are looking forward to at CAPAS?

I am strongly looking forward to working together and getting to know the different perspectives of my fellow fellows from different regions, disciplines etc. Most prominently, I like the idea of using discourse as a method to arrive at new input and conclusions. Therefore, I also look forward to combine working on my CAPAS project with the research in my working group.

To get some practical advice: What would be the three things you would definitely need in a post-apocalyptic world? 

Something to take notes, probably. Do note pad and a pen count as two items? Then I’d go for these two, alongside a person to discuss life after the end with.

What are some of your favourite pop culture references to the/an (post)apocalypse?

I really enjoyed the TV series “Dark” (showrunners Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar) and plan to write about it during my fellowship. In terms of disruptions of subjective time I’d recommend the film “I’m thinking of ending things”, directed by Charlie Kaufmann.

Timo Storck is professor for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at Psychologische Hochschule Berlin. His research focuses include conceptual skills in psychotherapy, conceptual research and methodology, psychoanalytic theory of illness and film psychoanalysis.