‘The Dark Continent’: Myths of Femininity

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According to Freud (1933) the theory of the instincts is so to say our mythology. Instincts are mythical entities, magnificent in their indefiniteness. In our work we cannot for a moment disregard them, yet we are never sure that we are seeing them clearly. They can conceal something serious and powerful. Freud understood how significant the fantasy world is to us.

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The Bedrock of Therapy is our Shared Humanity

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As professions that are now firmly entrenched in society, psychotherapy and counselling are relative newcomers. However, wanting to help another in difficulty must surely have ancient roots. Indeed, our success as an evolving species may have been due to our propensity to bond with others and work on shared challenges. We take for granted that it is normal to listen to the problem of a close friend and offer advice or support. For millennia, writers have praised the virtues of friendship, even regarding a person’s friend as their ‘second self’.

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‘On the seashore of endless worlds, children play’

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I have been fascinated by images ever since I can remember. How embarrassing for my mother, proudly introducing her three-year-old son to the principal of the school at which she taught only to have the little one say, “You’re a whale.”  To this moment, I can see myself seeing this good man as a whale as vividly as the instant it happened. His body and demeanour became a prompt for a waking dream image selected from swarms of inner possibilities, seas of images within. For the little boy, people were not only people. They also were these images and, at times, this led to trouble.

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That’s the catch when you stop eating food starts to eat you

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Writing The Rustle of a Wing: Finding Hope Beyond Anorexia has been both a challenge and a chance to take something good out of the misery inflicted by my anorexia.  I want it to reach out to sufferers, those that care for them and also professionals involved in treating this wretched addiction.

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We’re teaching our kids not how to Remember, but how to Kill

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Introduction

Why should we study killing? One might just as readily ask, Why study sex? The two questions have much in common. Every society has a blind spot, an area into which it has great difficulty looking. Today that blind spot is killing. A century ago it was sex.

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You are Good Enough

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In modern culture love  has a  prominent position.  Television dramas, songs and novels as well as popular magazines all focus on love in its many forms. Is love the answer to suffering?  Sigmund Freud noted the importance of love in the healing of the human psyche and his concerns around the erotic nature of love distanced this  relationship with his patients. 

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Plato, Lacan, and the Myth of Incompletion

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According to Plato, in Greek mythology humans originally had four arms, four legs, and a head with two faces. Fearful that such humans would become too powerful for the gods to control, Zeus split humans into two halves, each with two arms and two legs and one face.

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How our attachment experiences determine our response to unresolved oedipal issues

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I always think it is fascinating to discover what makes a particular author write about a particular subject, whether that individual has a predilection for fiction or non-fiction. It is all a part of one’s central curiosity as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, I dare say, to want to discover “what makes an individual tick”.  We analysts function in many ways rather like detectives – detectives with empathy (hopefully)!  And so you may wonder what led me to write a book about the Oedipus complex, and its relationship with attachment theory.  So I will tell you the story. 

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It is not the pain we suffer, but our relationship to it that makes life complicated

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My book The Psychomatrix began with just a shadow of an idea that had haunted me for many years.

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Parents are increasingly turning to private practitioners for therapy for their children

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Therapeutic work with children, young people and their families in private practice can be complex and challenging while differing significantly from therapeutic work in other contexts, such as education or CAMHS.

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Everything That is Left Unsaid Ties up Energy

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Therapy with Infants outlines a form of psychotherapy aimed at infants and young children who have experienced traumatic events before the age of three. With inspiration from French therapists, the specific method was developed by the book’s authors, Inger Thormann and Inger Poulsen, who discuss here the origins and key themes of the work. Both are experienced therapists who have practiced in private and public settings for more than twenty years. 

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How the poetic and psychoanalytic processes illuminate each other

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The Motive for Metaphor can be thought of as a small anthology: each chapter a kind of meditation (perhaps to start the reader on a longer meditation). Each focuses on a poem, sometimes two; on poetry in general; on poetry and psychoanalysis; on thought itself. The poems are beautiful and would be even in the absence of discussion.  But I hope the discussion will deepen the reader’s appreciation – of both the poems themselves and of the way the poetry sheds light on the psychoanalytic process.

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Refining the Spectrum: We Need Better Diagnostic Distinctions for Children with AS

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Lonely, isolated, unwanted, mocked, shunned, rejected, denigrated, despised, ostracized, misunderstood and friendless: stringing together so many negative adjectives may seem a little bit exaggerated – but that’s exactly the point I am trying to make. My recent book, Asperger’s Children: Psychodynamics, Aetiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment shows how Asperger’s children have exactly these kinds of negatively ‘exaggerated’ perceptions and feelings. Adjectives like these have been applied to these children many times over the years. This is the way they most frequently describe and experience themselves. Their inner experience of the social world can with few exceptions be summarized in three words – untrustworthy, unjust and unfair.

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Psychoanalytic perspectives in work with the individuals, the couple, and the group

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This book presents psychoanalytic thinking about the phenomenon of the couple and couple dynamics in internal and external reality and at different levels of organisation: the ‘couple’ in the individual’s internal world, the dynamics between partners in a couple relationship, and the dynamics between the couple and the group. It will interest professionals from different disciplines who find couple dynamics relevant in their work.

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Write or Wrong: What Patients Tell Me About Dignity and Psychoanalytic Treatment

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“The talking cure.”  These words were first uttered by Bertha Pappenheim, Anna O., and adapted by Freud to refer to the basic method of psychoanalysis. The patient’s free associations must be paired with the analyst’s evenly hovering attention: loose, flexible listening characterized by deep concentration. It is this combination of talking and listening that results in the magnification of signification – and in its dignification.

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How Mind Control Programming is Accomplished and How it Works

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White Witch in a Black Robe: A True Story of Criminal Mind Control brings to light an undercurrent in society that a minority know about, many don’t want to know about, and the majority are unaware of. 

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Is Alcoholism Primarily a Spiritual Illness? The 12 Steps as a Spiritual Journey of Individuation

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As part of my research journey for my book, Carl Jung and Alcoholics Anonymous, I travelled to Akron, Ohio to visit the home of Dr. Bob Smith, one of the co- founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.  On a tour of his home, the guide asked if anyone knew what the peculiar black stick was in Dr. Bob’s bedroom.  I explained it is a blackthorn shillelagh (pronounced “shi-lay-lee” – a wooden walking stick associated with Irish folklore) given to Bill Wilson as a present for Dr. Bob when the former visited Ireland.

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Therapeutic atmospheres can be created anywhere

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One flew into the cuckoo’s nest—but how do we help them get out?  We are all familiar with the usual images of the film and many of us have worked in mental health units and found wanting the knowledge base we have been presented with to help patients recover from mental ill health and get out of ‘the nest’ (hospital).

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A Psychoanalytically-informed approach to helping and supporting people with disabilities

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This book represents a life-times work with people with learning disabilities, from a number of perspectives, but chiefly as a psychotherapist. From early experience of a long-stay hospital to community supported living, I have been struck by the resilience of people with learning disabilities, their response to being heard, but, more sadly, to the degree of trauma they have suffered. Sometimes this has been at the hands of family, but more frequently by the system that is designed to support them. It is good to see that they have more visibility now and better services but there are still too many instances of cruelty and neglect, abandonment and loss.

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Healing Between the Lines: How doing and being go hand-in-hand

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My book (I feel inclined to say “my first book”), Being With and Saying Goodbye, has just been published and is on the shelves. This is an exciting, but teetering, position from which to reflect; I am still asking myself if the book is any good. True, Karnac Books invested in it and I still bask in the extremely positive comments of the book’s endorsers. The only criticism I have received so far has been that the book may reflect an unrealistic hope, and that the first chapter might give the impression that the whole is about Zen Buddhism.

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How to Understand Institutions that Care for Patients

There are many paths that offer an understanding of the experience of people with psychosis, and numerous ways to consider the nature of institutional treatment approaches.  This book presents psychoanalysis as one path that provides a conceptual foundation for both the treatment of psychotic conditions and how to understand institutions that care for patients. It focuses on the priority that psychoanalysis places on the individual, how the treatment is conceived theoretically and the ways it can be incorporated in the overall organisation of an institution.

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The Mind in the Cave and the Cave in the Mind

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“Everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation and the personality too desires to evolve out of its unconscious and experience itself as a whole. I cannot employ the language of science to trace this process of growth in myself, for I cannot experience myself as a scientific problem.” – Jung, from the Prologue to Memories, Dreams, Reflections 

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The Evolution of Transactional Analysis

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The evolution of Into TA: A Comprehensive Textbook proved to be quite an adventure.  The roots of this book were in Leerboek Transactionale Analyse, written in Dutch by Moniek Thunnissen and Anne de Graaf and published in 2013 in the Netherlands by de Tijdstrom.

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Symptom as symbol: the metaphors of the soul’s true story

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Many psychotherapists and general medical practitioners subscribe to the popular understanding that psychotherapy is a treatment for those suffering from mental health problems. They earnestly believe that psychotherapy might offer some relief and insight to those patients who are suffering from problems that do not respond well to mainstream biologically based medical treatments. They value the fact that its effectiveness can be demonstrated by an evidence base, and consider it to be an important addition to the repertoire of mainstream medicine. 

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Testing Freud: Evidence and Confirmation

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It was 1986 and I was taking a course with Henry Kyburg, Jr at the University of Rochester where I was enrolled to do my PhD in philosophy. One day Henry gave me a book which was titled Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical Critique authored by Adolf Grünbaum.  Henry said to me, “You are a psychoanalyst. See, what you can do with this book.”

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The Pillar of Fire: Psychoanalysis and Religion

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Ever since my undergraduate days, I’ve been interested in the relationship between psychoanalysis and religion, delving deeply into the competing perspectives of Freud and Jung, and later, of Erich Fromm, Erik Erikson, and R.D. Laing. Between 1986 and 1999, I published two books and many papers that deal with these issues, and in July of 2000, found myself at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA, researching Erik Erikson and the American Psyche: Ego, Ethics and Evolution. Being Jewish myself, I was interested in exploring Erikson’s sense of dual religious identity, as a Jew and a Christian simultaneously, and in assessing the extent of the damage done by the personal and professional crisis that enveloped Erikson when his near-conversion and ultimate refusal to repudiate either faith came to the attention of his (mostly Jewish) critics in the 1970s.

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Crafting Stories: Allowing Form and Meaning to Emerge

In 2009 when I was invited to become the facilitator of Schwartz Rounds at the Royal Free Hospital in London I felt I had a real and exciting chance to bring two strands of my life, and my work together. I’d long been interested in storytelling. My first degree was in English literature, and I loved writing. I also loved being a psychologist and I had often thought about trying to write creatively about the experience of having this role in a hectic organisation, sitting on the blurred interface between professional and personal experience, wondering about the similarities and differences between “patients “and staff.  I had had “True Tales of Organisational Life” as a possible title in my mind for this story, for a number of years before I began my work on Rounds. 

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The Unconscious Language of Symptoms

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As is well known, each specialist approaches his patients concentrating on his particular field of work. If his investigations result negative, he can only try to reassure the patient or, if considered appropriate, refer him/her to another specialist – where the same clinical principles will be followed. General practitioners, paediatricians and various other specialists will often find themselves struggling with children or adolescents who present physical complaints that do not respond to words of reassurance or to multiple treatment attempts, even though all laboratory investigations fail to identify any underlying physical abnormality. My new book, The Language of Distress, describes a particular approach to such cases, where the consultation led to the finding that the response given by the parents to their child’s symptoms was, in fact, perpetuating their presence.

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The Tragedy of Crookham Court School

In 1969 Ian Mucklejohn went as a supply teacher to Crookham Court School, a private boys’ school in Berkshire, where he kept a diary of its eccentricities and odd characters. But it became clear that these peculiarities disguised a sinister undercurrent. Years later, he helped to expose one of the biggest scandals in modern British education, as evidence emerged of the sexual abuse by teachers of dozens of boys at the school. He writes here about the book recounting how the abuse came to light and the lessons that need to be learned. 

 

Crookham-2-005 (2)‘How’ I asked a Norwegian client last summer, ‘can Norway exist as the incredibly open society it is?’  I asked because, within a minute of tapping his name into a search engine, I had discovered not only a Norwegian enquirer’s full address, but also his landline number, his mobile number, his date of birth, his wife’s name and date of birth, his salary, the tax he paid and what that tax was spent on.  My client looked me in the eye.  ‘I think,’ he mused ‘It’s because we trust each other.’

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How early traumatic experiences, and our primitive responses to them, become embedded in our personalities

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We live in fascinating times, where recent advances in trauma theory, attachment theory, relational psychoanalysis, and infant research not only allow us, but require us, to revisit and reconsider the fundamental tenets of our theory and practice.

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How therapy can transform marital miscommunication into constructive communication

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Marital therapy has developed significantly in the last few decades and fulfils a very important role in helping disturbed couples in the process of understanding their difficulties. My new book, Married Life and its Vicissitudes: A Therapeutic Approach, provides an experienced and humane exploration of marital vicissitudes, and shows that in many cases pathological development is an unavoidable development that requires a sensitive and effective therapeutic input for successful resolution.

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Moralizing Evil

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Are we headed toward human extinction?  All inhabited continents are engaged in military conflict, and there is no foreseeable end in sight.  World superpowers, rogue nations, and international politics fuel existing warfare, leading to repetitive cycles of death, despair, transgenerational trauma, and systemic ruin. 

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Rationalism and Racism: how modern racism has its roots in the Enlightenment

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The aim of my new book, Racist States of Mind: Understanding the Perversion of Curiosity and Concern, was to observe and understand racism as a psychological phenomenon – what I refer to as a ‘state of mind’ as it emerges in individuals, groups, organisations, and societal life. 

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Freud and War, by Marlène Belilos

Posted on Jul 28, 2016

Thoughts for the Times on War and Death

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War is obviously still a core issue for us today – just as it was for Freud, as Eugenie Lemoine-Luccioni observes in the title of her article (‘War: A core issue for Freud’) for this book. 

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