Madness in a Maddening World

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Psychosis can be seen as the sign or symptom of disturbances within our present cultural situation in the world. For a significant number of people, it is a way of escaping from unbearably destructive and maddening social situations.

The cultural nests or “cradles” of our civilization are precisely places such as the Mesopotamian historical foundations of Nineveh, Palmyra, Babylonia and other heritage sites; these treasures of our present system of sociological and historical values (e.g., the origin of writing in the Sumerian tradition) have become victims of maddening attacks in a world that finds itself in a state of mental and moral decline.

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How the ongoing dialogue between the left and right hemispheres constitutes our mental reality

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My book The Wisdom of Lived Experience explores various aspects of the nature of reality and more specifically that of lived experience. In recent years I have become aware that my efforts to learn from theory and from noted colleagues have often meant closing down my experiencing mind and focussing upon the intellectual and the theoretical, rather that upon the more three-dimensional lived experience with my patients and within myself.

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David Smail

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

DAVID SMAIL (1938-2014): Pioneer of the Social-materialist analysis of psychological distress

by Julia Faulconbridge, the Midlands Psychology Group, and Karnacology

David Smail, clinical psychologist, who has died aged 76

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HALL OF FAME

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

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The Karnacology Hall of Fame is devoted to celebrating the lives of those who have made outstanding contributions to the world of therapy and mental health.

We launch the series with a powerful and moving tribute by Professor Brett Kahr to Harry Karnac, the remarkable founder of Karnac Books, whose “contribution as an educator of psychoanalytical students and as a disseminator of psychological culture remains unparalleled”.

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‘Why War?’: The Freud-Einstein Letters

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To coincide with the launch of the Freud Museum’s landmark exhibition ‘Why War?‘ Karnacology is reprinting the letters between Freud and Einstein that formed the inspiration for the exhibition. Their correspondence was set up by the League of Nations in 1932 and was later published as ‘Why War?’. The initial idea came from Einstein, who posed the question, ‘Is there any way of delivering mankind from the menace of war?’ Freud sets out his response, exploring various aspects of human nature which illustrate how war appears virtually inevitable.

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Iain McGilchrist: Interview

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Iain McGilchrist explores the key themes of his book ‘The Master and His Emissary’

The Master and his Emissary is perhaps the most influential and significant work to have appeared in the field of neuroscience and psychotherapy in the last fifty years. In this remarkable interview the author explains how the ‘divided brain’ has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society, and explores what the implications of this are for mental health and contemporary therapy.

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Siblings and Psychoanalysis

In this fascinating interview for UCL, psychoanalyst and author Juliet Mitchell discusses how siblings profoundly affect the development of our egos, and how our early experiences with or without brothers and sisters map out our sense of self.

In her work, Mitchell has urged analysts to pay more attention to the place of siblings in the subject’s psychic economy and their impact on the psychic structure. The trauma of a sibling’s birth leads the child to question its very existence and to the murderous desire to eliminate the ‘usurper’. But the baby also being an alter ego loved by the mother, the challenge is to overcome the violence and accept its sibling as like itself but not identical to itself. This leaves room for more than one person to be the mother’s child and introduces the concept of seriality.

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Lacan: Seminar recording (1972)

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Jacques Lacan’s Lecture at Louvain

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Joan Raphael-Leff

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Dark Side of the Womb (podcast)

Joan Raphael-Leff is a psychoanalyst and transcultural psychologist who leads the UCL/Anna Freud Centre academic faculty for psychoanalytic research. She was previously head of University College London’s MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology, and Professor of Psychoanalysis at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex.

 

Fascinating  podcast for the UCL Psychoanalysis Unit discussing pregnancy and parenting from a compelling multidisciplinary perspective including psychoanalysis, neonatal research, social psychology, feminist theory, and cultural studies. Key points include:

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Interview with Professor Brett Kahr, conducted at Karnac Books, London on 20th February 2016

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KARNACOLOGY [KN]: Congratulations, Professor Kahr, on the appearance of your most recent bookTea with Winnicott.

BRETT KAHR [BK]: Thank you.  I am very honoured to be published once again by Karnac Books.

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SCOTT WILSON and GUSTAVO DESSAL

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Psychoanalysis and Music: A Resonance

Novelist and psychoanalyst Gustavo Dessal interviews Karnac author Scott Wilson, author of Stop Making Sense

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Cabecera_Gustavo_Dessal (1)GUSTAVO DESSAL: Stop Making Sense introduces a special way of conceiving the relationship between psychoanalysis and art. There’s a long tradition of psychoanalysis applied to different cultural fields. In some cases the results have been fruitful, opening original perspectives and casting unexpected light on many subjects. But at the same time applied psychoanalysis runs the risk of becoming a sort of meta-language. You are very careful about this, and I appreciate the effort you make to prove that music can help psychoanalysts to go deeper in the comprehension of subjectivity, just as literature was indispensable for Freud to forge some of his concepts. How do you approach this exciting if delicate bond between psychoanalysis and cultural phenomena?

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Interview with Brent Potter

Fascinating interview with Brent Potter discussing R.D. Laing, Iain McGilchrist, trauma, the American mind, and how to embrace the Unknown.

In a wonderful conversation with Richard Hill, the author compellingly analyses the social contexts for personal feelings of destructiveness and distress, how dominant media and cultural narratives foster an inability to tolerate ambiguity or nuance (for example, through easy constructions of good/evil, us/them), and any how apparently destructive behaviours may be  paradoxical manifestations of  attempts at survival. All that and Metanoia too!

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Peter Philippson on Gestalt Therapy

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Interview with Peter Philippson

Gestalt Therapy: Roots and Branches

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Karnac Books: What made you write this book?

Peter Philippson: I have been developing an understanding of psychotherapy and the Gestalt approach over more than 20 years, and an important part of that development has been the journal papers I have written over those years.  It seemed appropriate at some stage to produce a collection of these papers, as they explore themes from my previous books in more detail, and also give some sense of the evolution of my ideas.
Could you briefly explain, in easy words, what your book is about?

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Lynette Harborne

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Psychotherapy and Spiritual Direction – Interview

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Lynette Harborne tells us all about the writing process of her book Psychotherapy and Spiritual Direction: Two Languages, One Voice?

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ERNST FALZEDER and BRETT KAHR

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

INTERVIEW WITH Dr. ERNST FALZEDER

by Professor Brett Kahr

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To mark the publication of  Psychoanalytic Filiations:  Mapping the Psychoanalytic Movement, Karnacology takes great pleasure in presenting an exclusive interview with its distinguished author, the psychologist and historian of psychoanalysis Ernst Falzeder, who spoke to Brett Kahr from his home in Austria. 

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Brett Kahr and PETER RUDNYTSKY

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

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Professor Peter Rudnytsky, the distinguished psychoanalytical historian and author, and Honorary Member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, has published a Festschrift in honour of the late Dr. Nina Coltart, edited in collaboration with Dr. Coltart’s sister, Mrs. Gillian Preston. 

Here, in a special interview commissioned for the Karnac Books website, Professor Brett Kahr, Co-Editor of the Karnac History of Psychoanalysis Series, speaks to Professor Rudnytsky aboutHer Hour Come Round at Last: A Garland for Nina Coltart

croppedimage250250-Brett-KahrBK: Congratulations, Peter, on the publication of your book about the life and work of Dr. Nina Coltart. Now, you are, of course, a scholar who lives and works in Florida. How on earth did you first discover this most British of psychoanalysts?

 

As seen on a Sussex Directories Inc sitePR: I’ve long been interested in the Independent tradition of British psychoanalysis, and I can’t remember whether I first read her famous essaySlouching Towards Bethlehem or whether I read the interview that she gave to Anthony Molino (published in his book Freely Associated: Encounters in Psychoanalysis with Christopher Bollas, Joyce McDougall, Michael Eigen, Adam Phillips, Nina Coltart), which then lead me to read the rest of her work.

 

BK: But as an historian, you read very widely. Why a book about Coltart in particular?

 

PR: Once I had read her three books, I felt that her work was important and personally moving to me. I learned from the interview with Molino that at least some of her writing had remained unpublished. I thought that any such work of Coltart’s merited being brought to the light of day. Through Neville Symington, I made contact with Coltart’s surviving sister Gillian Preston who lives in Sway, in Hampshire.

 

BK: And you approached Mrs. Preston about the prospect of a Festschrift for her sister?

 

PR: I think initially my interest was in collecting the unpublished writings of Coltart, but it soon became clear in collaborating with Gill that the book would be an opportunity for those who knew and loved Nina Coltart to pay tribute to her life and work. So as the book turned out, it has two parts: the first, the garland of tributes by patients, supervisees, friends, family members, and readers; and the second, all of Coltart’s unpublished or uncollected writings, now available to students of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

 

BK: I have read all of the tributes to Dr. Coltart which you published in this Festschrift, and I found them all very moving, but none more so than the testimonials and reminiscences from her many former analysands. Clearly Coltart had a remarkable capacity to make deep, affective contact with her patients. How have you come to regard her as a clinician?

 

PR: I think undoubtedly one of the most remarkable features of Coltart’s writings is her series of case histories or clinical portraits in which her patients come to life with truly novelistic vividness, which has lead me to describe Coltart as the “Jane Austen of psychoanalysis”. So I believe that Coltart must have had an even deeper impact on her patients, in her clinical work, than she has had on me and on others who have read about these same patients.

 

BK: And Coltart, of course, became a much-loved practitioner, in spite of a very traumatised youth and adolescence.

Nina Coltart

Nina Coltart

PR: Indeed, it was precisely the extraordinarily honest degree of self-revelation in her interview with Molino (especially about the tragedy in which both of her parents died in a train crash when Coltart was only twelve years of age) that lead me to think about how a person with this terrible history could go on to become such an important and profound contributor to psychoanalysis.

BK: What saved her and allowed her to flourish as a psychoanalyst?

PR: That’s a hard question to answer. One of the main themes of Coltart’s writings is survival. She talks about survival, meaning, for her, survival with enjoyment. And I think that in large measure it must have been the discovery of psychoanalysis as a vocation – vocation is another of Coltart’s most important concepts – which became crucial, and this enabled her to feel, as she said, a round peg in a round hole, and hence to find meaning and fulfilment in her life through giving back to others the healing that she herself so badly needed.

BK: She had her long analysis with Mrs. Eva Rosenfeld, if I recall correctly, and Mrs. Rosenfeld had been one of Freud’s former analysands, and also one Klein’s.

 

PR: This is true. Mrs. Rosenfeld came out of retirement to take on Coltart as her final training case as I detail in my own chapter in the published volume. Coltart said that if she were to have had a second analysis, she would have liked it to have been with Wilfred Bion, who also exerted a deep influence on her thought.

 

BK: What do you suppose Coltart found so attractive about Bion?

 
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PR:
I think it’s undeniably the mystical element of Bion’s thought which Coltart understood to involve the capacity for faith (with a small “f”), and above all faith in the analytic process to allow that which lay inchoate in the mind of the patient – what Coltart famously called the “rough beast” – to be born. I think it’s also important to note that Coltart was also an active practitioner of Buddhism, and that the integration of psychoanalysis and Buddhism in her life and writing is one of the most distinctive features of her contribution to psychoanalysis.
 

BK: Now although the intersection between psychoanalysis and religion has flourished in recent years, many clinical practitioners still regard any manifestation of religious belief or practice as a neurotic manifestation, and I have certain heard colleagues condemning Coltart for being a crazy Buddhist.

 

PR: I think that’s ironic because when Coltart participated in a Freud Museum symposium on the subject of whether psychoanalysis is another religion, she answered the question in the negative, whereas Neville Symington, her close friend and colleague, answered in the affirmative. Coltart said that the loss of her Christian faith left her with a “god-shaped gap”, filled in part by her discovery of psychoanalysis as a vocation, but more deeply by coming to the practice of Buddhist meditation. But Buddhism is not a theistic religion; rather, it is a set of values that guide us in the practice of daily life. So whether or not one views religion negatively, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that Coltart was a religious person herself.

 

BK: She had of course a huge reputation here in London for her work as a psychoanalytical consultant. And for many years, large numbers of prospective patients flocked to her Hampstead consulting in order to be matched with a psychotherapist or psychoanalyst. What have you come to understand about the details of her clinical practice?

 

PR: What you’re speaking about now, of course, has more precisely to do with her role as a consultant or as a referrer, rather than directly with her own clinical practice with ongoing analysands. Coltart believed that she had a singular gift for matching patients and therapists. In all likelihood, she frequently succeeded in finding good fits in people who came to her in that capacity. As far as her own clinical practice is concerned, I think she combined a mixture of rigorous, classical psychoanalytic practice with a degree of human warmth and flexibility that stemmed from her deep concern for her patients as people. One of Coltart’s central metaphors is of being on the tightrope, and there is a tension between her classical, austere side, and her warm and flexible side. She herself tried to walk the analytic tightrope.

 

BK: What about the famous story of Coltart shouting at a patient? This rather shocked London when she first presented this material at a conference.

PR: I suppose one could debate the merits or demerits of her action in this particular case, but what I think is most remarkable is the fact that Coltart was willing to divulge something that happened in the privacy of her consulting room to a wider audience of colleagues. One thing that one can say about Coltart is that the way she described her analytic work and the way she practiced were in close accord, rather than maintaining one face for public view and showing another one to her patients.

BK: I always admired Coltart’s tremendous open-mindedness. All mental health professionals give lip service to being open, but few would have had the guts that Coltart had in later life to become a rookie, first-year student at the Institute of Group Analysis, something which many regarded as a bizarre undertaking.

 

PR: You’re absolutely right, Brett. Coltart differed from most other analysts in supporting and involving herself with therapeutic communities in London that were outside the framework of the British Psycho-Analytical Society. She was a close friend of the Arbours Association, and, as you say, participated in a training course at the Institute of Group Analysis. She describes that experience in what I have called one of her most autobiographically revealing papers, “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd”, in the midst of which she experienced a breakdown that went back not only to the catastrophic loss of her parents in the train crash but to earlier experiences of disappearance of loved figures that formed what Coltart called the “preconditioning” of the great catastrophe of her parents’ death.

BK: I believe you mention in the book that Coltart is the analyst with whom you would have most liked to be in analysis. Is this really true?

'Coltart was also an active practitioner of Buddhism, and that the integration of psychoanalysis and Buddhism in her life and writing is one of the most distinctive features of her contribution to psychoanalysis'

‘Coltart was also an active practitioner of Buddhism, and the integration of psychoanalysis and Buddhism in her life and writing is one of the most distinctive features of her contribution to psychoanalysis’

PR: In all honesty, I’m quite happy with the analyst I’ve got, but in paying that tribute to Nina Coltart, I was indeed saying how much I was moved by her writing. Moreover, I was suggesting, and I mean this in a serious way, perhaps the best test of our response to reading an analytic author, is whether or not we think we would feel comfortable lying on that person’s couch. So I was suggesting that when I read Coltart, I have the feeling that here is a person with whom I could have a genuinely transformative analytic experience.

 

BK: Some of our colleagues would aver, however, that the experience of lying on the couch should not necessarily be too comfortable, and that a comfortable analysis might be a false analysis. What do you think about this allegation?

 

PR: I’m not sure I was asking for any extra pillows!

 

BK: But surely, you have an acute awareness of how group-riven the psychotherapeutic communities can be.

 

PR: Indeed, but that is a separate issue. Though it is noteworthy that Coltart herself, in addition to being highly supportive of groups outside the traditional analytical world, did in fact resign from the British Psycho-Analytical Society and retired to her garden in the rural seat of Leighton Buzzard.

 

BK: Do you know why she resigned?

 

PR: Coltart makes it clear that she had become fed up with the in-fighting and institutional politics that pervaded her organisation, even though she had held almost all the important positions in the Society in the course of her career. She famously described herself as the most independent of the Independents, and the logical extension of this attitude is that she emancipated herself from institutional structures altogether.

 

BK: Was this an act of emancipation or of disillusionment?

 

PR: I’m not sure that disillusionment is the antithesis of emancipation, but I know what you mean by the question. I think that we are now coming to the topic of Nina Coltart’s suicide, which, like the death of her parents, is a tragedy which must have an impact on all those who come in contact with her. As I suggest in my contribution to the Festschrift that I edited with Gillian Preston, to whom I would like to pay tribute for revisiting both the joyful and the painful aspects of her relationship to her beloved sister, Coltart’s suicide can be regarded as either an act of freedom or as an act of despair. Or indeed, perhaps it was both simultaneously. In the same way, her decision to resign from the British Psycho-Analytical Society was both emancipatory and perhaps also despairing.

Nina Coltart at High Leigh, Buddhist Society Summer School, 1982

Nina Coltart at High Leigh, Buddhist Society Summer School, 1982

BK: Of course she suffered from crippling osteoporosis towards the end of her life.

 

PR: Indeed, the medical woes from which she suffered were grave, and they undoubtedly contributed to her decision to end her life. Ultimately, however, I think more existential issues may have been at play. But suicide, surely, is a mysterious act, that one can never hope to understand completely.

 

BK: Thank you, Peter, for these sensitive reflections. You chaired a conference recently, in Nina’s honour, sponsored by the Freud Museum. How did colleagues grapple with her legacy?

 

PR: We had what I’m pleased to say was an extremely successful day in which we spent the morning listening to papers focused specifically on Coltart’s life and her work, whereas in the afternoon we enjoyed a roundtable discussion dedicated to the theme of what it means to be an independent psychoanalyst more generally. The conference coincided not only with the publication of our book, but also launched our history of psychoanalysis book series which I am delighted to be co-editing with you, and under the auspices of Karnac Books.

 

BK: Tell us what is next on the agenda for Peter Rudnytsky.

 

PR: Before I do that, I’d like to add one more word about Nina Coltart.

BK: Of course.

 

PR: And that is, our book and the conference that we held to commemorate its publication represent the first time that Nina Coltart’s enormous contribution to psychoanalysis has been given this kind of public recognition. It is my sincere hope that through Her Hour Come Round at Last, many new readers will come to discover Nina Coltart for themselves, and will want to read the three books she published during her lifetime.

 

BK: And you?

 

PR: I’m delighted to say that I have a second book with Karnac that I have entitled, provocatively,Rescuing Psychoanalysis from Freud and Other Essays in Re-Vision, about which I would be delighted to have a conversation with you on a future occasion. Having completed these two projects, my current work in progress concerns the novelist Philip Roth, about whom I am writing a book tentatively entitled ‘Philip Roth and Psychoanalysis’.

 

BK: How intriguing! From Coltart to Roth …

PR: I’m not sure that there is an obvious connection between the two, but Roth is certainly the writer in whom the encounter between literature and psychoanalysis plays itself out most intriguingly in not only his fiction but also in his life.

 

BK: We look forward to reading that. A final question if I may. You’ve been here in London for over a week, what is your impression of the British scene as compared to that in America?

 

PR: I have always been a big fan of British psychoanalytic thinking and in the course of this week I’ve had the opportunity to meet many people whose work I deeply admire. I think it’s undeniably true that even today British psychoanalysis remains at the forefront of worldwide psychoanalytic thinking, although this is not in any way to minimise the vitality of psychoanalytic culture in the United States, or anywhere else for that matter.

 

BK: That is very generous. Well, please allow me to thank you for sharing in this conversation. We look forward to your next books and to your next visits.

 

PR: It’s been my great pleasure. I think I can honestly say that I’ve never been blogged before.

 
Peter Rudnytsky with co-editor Gillian Preston, Nina Coltart's sister

Peter Rudnytsky with co-editor Gillian Preston, Nina Coltart’s sister

 
 
 
 
 
 
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The Life of Franz Alexander: Pioneer of Psychosomatic Medicine

Professor Brett Kahr interviews Ilonka Venier Alexander, the granddaughter of Sigmund Freud’s pupil Franz Alexander, exclusively for Karnacology

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Franz Gabriel Alexander (1891-1964), the noted psychoanalyst, has earned a place in history as the very first person to graduate formally from a psychoanalytical institute.  Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Alexander became a pioneer of psychoanalytical studies of characterology and, subsequently, of criminology and, also, of new directions in psychotherapeutic technique.  He will perhaps best be remembered as one of the undisputed founders of psychosomatic medicine. His granddaughter,Ilonka Venier Alexander, a psychotherapist, has recently written a deeply moving memoir of her remarkable grandfather.  Psychoanalytical historian Brett Kahr interviewed Ilonka Alexander to coincide with the publication of her book The Life and Times of Franz Alexander: From Budapest to California, which appears in the Karnac Books “History of Psychoanalysis Series”.

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Tessa Christie

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Tessa Christie’s art explores the relationships between memory and space, structure and content, and the outer and inner worlds

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Meg Harris Williams

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Art and aesthetic conflict

'Couple by Candlelight' by Meg Harris Williams

‘Couple by Candlelight’ by Meg Harris Williams

These days the arts are no longer seen merely as neurotic material to be interpreted or diagnosed by an outside person. Instead, art is looked to as a model for a live developmental process in which we are invited to partake. It can become part of our own ‘learning from experience’, just as psychoanalysis can. This live engagement involves ‘aesthetic conflict’. This idea (as formulated by Meltzer in The Apprehension of Beauty) has roots in the dovetailing of several disciplines or art forms: namely, clinical discoveries, infant observation, and readings of the poets.

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Karen Izod

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Behind every fighting man are fifteen more

(Advanced Reinforcement Section, 2nd Echelon, June 1944)

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Janet Sayers

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Barbara Hepworth, Adrian Stokes, and Melanie Klein

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Barbara Hepworth was keen on carving. So was her close friend, Adrian Stokes, who, unlike Hepworth, was arguably influenced in this by his psychoanalytic treatment by Melanie Klein. As for Hepworth, she was influenced, she said, by her experience, as a postgraduate student, of being taught in Rome by a sculptor, Giovanni Ardini, that ‘stone takes on a different colour under the hand of different sculptor’ this making her realise that everything ‘depends upon an artist’s personal touch’. This decided her, she said, ‘that it was not dominance which one had to attain over material, but an understanding’ springing ‘from a factual and tactile approach to the object – whether it be the feeling of landscape which one feels beneath one’s feet or the sensitivity of the hand in carving’.

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Ismond Rosen

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Pioneer in the synthesis of art and science

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‘Civilization’ by Ismond Rosen

Ismond Rosen (1924–1996) artist, psychoanalyst, and psychiatrist, created a vast body of art and written work during his lifetime. Mainly self-taught, he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and the Academy Julien in Paris.

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Desy Safan-Gerard

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Music to Painting: My Encounters with Pierre Boulez

I was only 19 years old when I first met Pierre Boulez. I was singing in the choir of the University of Chile, the country where I was born. He was a fledging conductor who was the music director in the famous theatrical company of Jean-Louis Barrault and Madeleine Renaud (the same Barrault of fame who played many years later the role of the mime in the French classic film, Les enfants du Paradis).

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The Intersection of the Timeless Moment

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Clandon Park is one of those landmark places on my doorstep that is part of the fabric of living, as I do, on the edges of the North Downs.  It is a place that I know well, I can in my memory walk through doors into rooms that both give an instant sense of familiarity, continuity, reaching back almost 300 years and rooms where I seek out much loved or pondered paintings, ceramics, furnishings.

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Harry Karnac

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

HARRY KARNAC (1919-2014): ‘The Prince of Psychological Bookselling’

by Professor Brett Kahr

Harry-Karnac-specialist-b-011On Friday, 4th April, 2014, at approximately 2.00 a.m., Harry Karnac, the distinguished bookseller and publisher, died at the age of 94 years.  Although he had never undertaken a psychological training, had never worked with patients, and had never taught a theory seminar, the name of Harry Karnac will be remembered long after those of most contemporary mental health clinicians have faded away.  As the founder of the unique shop which still bears his name after more than half a century, and as the progenitor of a publishing firm which now produces approximately one hundred new psychotherapeutic titles each year, Harry Karnac’s contribution as an educator of psychoanalytical students and as a disseminator of psychological culture remains unparalleled.

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Alexandre Bento

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

ALEXANDRE BENTO (1948-2014): ‘The Man Who Kept Freud’s House Safe’

by Professor Brett Kahr

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On 10th June, 2014, Alexandre Bento, the long-standing caretaker at the Freud Museum in London, died of cancer of the intestine, at the age of only sixty-six years.  As custodian of Sigmund Freud’s home at 20, Maresfield Gardens, Alex greeted virtually every visitor at the front door; and as such, he not only cared for this landmark house and museum, he also provided each psychoanalytical pilgrim with the warmest of welcomes.  Through his role as custodian of this Freudian “Mecca”, Alex held the distinction, one suspects, of having met more members of the international psychoanalytical community than any other person in history.

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MENTAL FIGHT CLUB

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

MENTAL FIGHT CLUB: THE DRAGON CAFE

Dragon CafeMental Fight Club (MFC) was founded by Sarah Wheeler in Southwark in 2003, as a creative force for change led by service users. The group has been running pop-up creative events since 2003 to explore issues around mental illness, recovery and wellbeing. These varied events play to packed audiences, using creativity to break down the barriers between the ill and the well, the supporters and the supported. In this way the group hopes to “open everyone’s mind to the wisdom and riches that can be gained in the journey through mental illness into recovery”.

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ABOUT

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

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Karnacology

Karnacology provides knowledge and ideas for mental health professionals who practice talking therapies or any form of talking treatment in working with their clients or patients. We are a forum for conversations about all aspects of mental health and its treatment. You can search the site, ask us questions, or enter into dialogue and debate with experienced professionals. We hope you will also contribute your own knowledge and experience to the site, so that others may benefit from it.

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Darian Leader

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Darian Leader on the Marketing of Depression

Darian Leader is a British psychoanalyst and author who studied philosophy in Cambridge and then history of science in Paris, where he also trained as an analyst. He is a founding member of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research (CFAR), President of the College of Psychoanalysts, a Trustee of the Freud Museum, and Honorary Visiting Professor in Psychoanalysis at Roehampton University.

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Adam Phillips

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Adam Phillips/RSA Interview: Psychoanalysis: Is it Worth It?

Adam Phillips, one of Britain’s most renowned psychoanalysts and literary figures, joined RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor for a conversation about life, the universe, and everything (and maybe a little Freud as well).

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Christopher Bollas

Posted on Aug 09, 2016

Christopher Bollas on the Enigma of Schizophrenia

Christopher Bollas is a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies, and Honorary Member of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. He is a member of ESGUT, the European Study Group of Unconscious Thought.

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How Intercultural Understanding Enriches the Coaching Relationship

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My book, The Cross-Cultural Kaleidoscope, was written over a period of four years, in a pre-Brexit world.  This called for an increase in cultural understanding, thanks to the forces of globalisation, increased mobility and the impact of technology, bringing about multi-cultural societies and new ways of working.

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Regressing to move forwards

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My search for healing began many years ago, when I was experiencing unhappiness and extreme anxiety with panic attacks. I entered into a therapeutic relationship which at the time was supportive and useful and helped me through some difficult times.  Some years later I trained in psychotherapy, partly to understand myself, and entered into therapy again. This time the work was at greater depth and began to address the source of my pain, my early infancy and the relationships in my family. During my training I came to understand my object relations and the failed dependency I had experienced in infancy and so continued to search for. Fortunately for me, my therapist was open to wherever I wanted to go and was not afraid of my developing dependency. This relationship and my response to it has healed me. My personal interest and my need to develop my practice to aid clients with similar difficulties led to my research into this area, and to my book – Better Late Than Never.

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Challenging the Myths Surrounding Sexual Abuse and Sexual Offenders

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There are few crimes which evoke more horror and loathing than sexual abuse, especially when the victim is a child. Yet in the late 1960s, when I first began a residency in psychiatry, there were also no established evaluation and treatment programs for the sexual offender.

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Group Analysis as Meta-theory, Clinical and Social Practice, and Art

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On Group Analysis and Beyond records my theoretical and clinical investigations in the domain of group analysis over the past two decades. Its chapters fall into four main parts which re-evaluate the theoretical and meta-theoretical foundations of group analysis, and explore specific issues and phenomena as seen in the operation of the group-analytic group. The book also demonstrates how major mental disturbances such as eating disorders and psychosis can be effectively treated through group analysis, and examines the interrelations of group analysis with issues related to the social unconscious as well as with art, more specifically music.

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Why Peace is Not Just for Christmas, by Rod Tweedy

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Last year saw the centenary of the Christmas Truce of World War One – the remarkable event in which soldiers from supposedly ‘enemy’ sides spontaneously decided to meet in No Man’s Land to exchange gifts, play football and wish each other a happy Christmas — much to the disapproval of their leaders, who promptly prohibited such unpatriotic fraternising under threat of court-marshall. To mark this anniversary we posted a photograph from the event, together with a quotation from a contemporary veteran, the former SAS-soldier and founder of Veterans for Peace UK, Ben Griffin:  “It is important to remember the truces today only if we are willing to foster in the present the spirit of those who on Christmas Day 1914 put down their weapons and walked out to meet the enemy.”

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The Objectified Body as a Transitional Object in Anorexia and Body Dysmorphic Disorders

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False Bodies, True Selves: Moving Beyond Appearance-Focused Identity Struggles and Returning the the True Self is a book embedded in Donald Winnicott’s idea of the false self and true Self. Winnicott, an English paediatrician and psychoanalyst writing in the 1950s and 60s, described the development of a false self within the mother-infant relationship when the infant’s spontaneous impulses are met with non-acceptance.

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Living in the Breath: Breathing as a tool for professionals in health care, interpersonal work, teaching and guidance

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When introducing people to the breathing school method, I have often started by describing my professional background and the history of psychophysical breathing therapy, because I believe these explain why I use breathing as an important tool and pathway in my psychotherapeutic work.

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The Psychoanalytic Understanding of Psychotic Communication

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In her foreword of my book, Edna O’Shaughnessy says ‘that the psychoanalytic method does not keep insanity out of view, but tries to offer madness a habitat for human understanding’.  In this book I have tried to demonstrate how psychoanalytic thinking can make ‘Room for Madness in Mental Health’. One of the issues the book tries to address is the challenge of madness – both that which is identifiable as being madness and also madness that is disguised.

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Laughing with Two Rabbis and an Imam

'What is this, some kind of joke?'

During my research for writing my book How To Laugh Your Way Through Life. A Psychoanalyst’s Advice (Karnac, 2013), I became sensitized to how people use tragic-comic humor—seeing the comic in the tragic and the tragic in the comic—in the service of life-affirmation amidst their personal ordeals. Recently, I had three instances in my clincial work in which my patients use of tragicomic humor reflected their mature capacity to recognize internal conflict with a degree of self-acceptance even if it involved some narcissistic bruising. 

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‘Once Upon An Analysis…’

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The psychoanalytic voyage of discovery is probably impossible to capture in words.  If every analysis is unique, the signature of each human mind more identity-laden and whorled than any thumbprint, a verbal account of the process must fall short of its mark.  Rensal the Redbit addresses the complex innocence of communication as two beings, a “tall one” and a “small one” fling the bridge of language across the chasm that separates them. 

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David Smail: Clinical Psychologist, Sociologist, Philosopher, and Political Critic

David Smail, clinical psychologist, who has died aged 76

As Karnac Books republish four key works by the pioneering clinical psychologist, his son Alastair reflects on his achievement.

When my father died just over a year ago, the family was unsure what to do with his books. He had said he would like them published on the internet for free; either that or left alone. We did not have the capacity to post them on the internet, although David had put many articles and an internet publication on his website: www.davidsmail.info. The reaction to his death, as for example inThe Guardian obituary persuaded us that we needed to do something.

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Psychoanalytic thinking through three prisms: person, group, and society

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The chapters of this book were written throughout a period of many years. The ideas they present are grounded in the thinking of Wilfred Bion. Bion has always been an inspiration to me. His books are thought-provoking and conducive to playfulness and elaboration. His writing is an exquisite combination of poetry and science. It draws on intuition, a unique life experience, and profound knowledge of psychoanalysis and other disciplines.

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The Space of Shared Experience and the Art of Couplehood

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I would like to invite you to delve right in and explore the enigma of the art of couplehood and happiness. You may find you are one of those people who succeed in the practice of this universal art, or alternatively, discover you may resist it, unwittingly blemishing or spoiling your relationships with your children or spouse, or even with your co-workers, when part of a team. 

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Depositing, Transgenerational Transmission, Dissociation  and Remembering through Action

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As a psychoanalyst, I have been actively involved in international relations since 1979 and have visited many areas where wars and war-like situations existed just prior to my visits or even during my visits. I observed children with or without parents in such locations, places like South Ossetia and Kuwait. I also participated in projects designed to help children traumatized by wars or war-like conditions, and last year I was invited to a meeting in France to deliver a paper on the children of war with whom I had worked. 

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‘Always’ is a beautiful word

This is a film made with the sentences and the plot of the novel  Invisible Mending by Argentine psychoanalyst and novelist Guillermo Montero. With the background of a sexual bond, and following the lives of the main characters (Vera and Victor), the novel tries to disentangle the difference between Fate and Destiny. Internationally awarded, this is the first English edition.  

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One hundred years after Totem and Taboo

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Although it was the object of numerous publications by ethnologists from the mid-nineteenth century up to the First World War, the age-old practice of totemism, well-known for its quasi-worldwide dissemination and the questions of its origins, seems to have disappeared from anthropological literature thereafter.

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How a greater understanding of unconscious processes in relationships benefits all of us

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Recently I attended an academic research conference at which the subject under discussion was mental health difficulties and treatment programmes. It was an interesting conference in many respects, and as always one of the most interesting aspects of it was the diversity of the academic research interests in this area and the variety of disciplines who are making a contribution to the field. It was the conversations that took place at coffee, lunch and tea that were equally as engaging as the more formal timetable.

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Patrick Casement’s moving account of being diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma

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Ever since I came out of hospital (three years ago) I have several times been asked if I would be writing up my experience of cancer. Until now I have always said that I would not do that, for several reasons. Although I have no problem in talking about my experience, my reluctance had mainly been because I did not want to alarm people. Not all cancer patients go through what I went through.

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Adult Education: The Anxiety of Influence and the Influence of Anxiety

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Fragile Learning: The Influence of Anxiety asks the reader to consider a wide variety of factors that might challenge an adult learner’s resilience or make the process of learning precarious and problematic. It is a book about anxiety (anxiety at the root of all learning); about barriers to adult learning, and about the situation that arises when the educator also becomes a Fragile Learner. Over fifteen chapters, the book discusses the various ways in which the processes and procedures of learning can be broken; and argues that it is much easier to break something than to fix it.

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Life after Loss: The Lessons of Grief

Cyprus 1964, printed 2013 Don McCullin born 1935 ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Purchased with the assistance of the ARTIST ROOMS Endowment, supported by the Henry Moore Foundation and Tate Members 2013 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR01184

I was born in Cyprus, a Mediterranean island, when it was a British colony. After completing my high school education there I went to Turkey for my medical education. In the summer of 1956 I finished Ankara University’s School of Medicine and six months later I came to the United States of America where I remained. During the last two and a half years of my life in Ankara, first as a rather poor medical student and then as a newly graduated physician, I shared a small room in an apartment complex with another Cypriot Turk named Erol. He had come to Ankara, as had I, for his medical education and was two classes below me at the same medical school. He called me “abi,” meaning“my big brother.” Since I only had sisters and no brother, I considered him to be my brother. During the time we were roommates, ethnic conflict began between the Cypriot Turks and Cypriot Greeks. 

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A Journey Through the Dark Boroughs of a Pedophilic Cannibal’s Mind

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Nathaniel Bar Jonah would regularly say, when questioned about the murder of the 10-year-old boy, “They can’t prove anything because there is no body,” and Bar Jonah was right, because he ate the young boy. 

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A new approach to understanding and working with complexity and wholeness in people’s lives

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Integrative Gestalt Practice (IGP) is a new framework and form of practice for understanding and working with complexity and wholeness in people’s lives. Amongst the many published books on the market today that are focusing on the need for specialization, manualization, and evidence-anchored methods, our book introduces an alternative approach to working professionally with people. By combining (selected) basic principles from the gestalt-approach with the integral model introduced by Ken Wilber, IGP develops a framework for integrating different forms of theoretical, empirical, and practical knowledge of human life-processes. As such IGP also introduces a framework for establishing dialogues across the many different schools of psychotherapy.

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How yoga can promote embodiment, connection, sensory integration, and anxiety-reduction in children

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Recent figures estimate that approximately 1% of the population in the United Kingdom has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is almost twelve times higher than estimates made in the 1970s. According to the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, individuals with autism experience communication difficulties alongside repetitive and restrictive behaviours and sensory hypo/hyper reactivity. Those of us who parent and work with children with autism, however, know this is only part of the story.

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The Interpretation of the Other: An Analysis of Love

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‘Oh, yes, I’ve been in love before alright but though violently not to a hundredth this degree. For I do not believe that one can more than once lose one’s identity … If I am cut off from you … there is nothing of me surviving,’ the art critic, Adrian Stokes, told his beloved sister-in-law, Ann Mellis.

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Technology, teleanalysis and teletherapy

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How does technology impact the human mind?  Developmental, neuroscientific research and clinical experience confirm our personal impressions that all-embracing communication technologies are reshaping our ways of thinking and relating.  Some of us worry about the widespread use of the internet changing our capacity to connect, create, and love.  We have seen young adults who would rather interact on text with many people via a hand-held device than relate intimately to those who are present at the dinner table. They find others with shared experience and perspectives, indulge in sexual fantasy, and find a space for belonging.  Has undivided attention lost its value?

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Retrieval, Recovery, and Renewal

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“What have we done to you – poor child?”- Sigmund Freud (1897)

There is an important irony in psychoanalysis that our book, Analysis of the Incest Trauma: Retrieval, Recovery, Renewal, attempts to address.

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Myths of Mighty Women: Their Application in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

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It is the premise of our book Myths of Mighty Women, that the Oedipus myth which was all-important to Freudian analysts in the twentieth century is only one among many myths that can embody the unconscious fantasies that shape women’s hearts, minds and behaviour, and we explore aspects of these ancient mythic, biblical, and folk stories that have implications for contemporary women’s lives and for treatment.

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Models of the Mind, and Models in the Mind

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“In every writer on philosophy there is a concealed metaphysic, usually unconscious; even if his subject is metaphysics, he is almost certain to have an uncritically believed system which underlies his specific arguments” (Bertrand Russell).

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The Couch and the Cushion

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My book, Freud and the Buddha: the Couch and the Cushion, aims to explore what two traditions dedicated to the alleviation of human suffering, psychoanalysis and Buddhism, can learn from each other. 

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Psychotherapy as Farming – The Story of Anna Hazare and the Healing of a Village

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If you google ‘Anna Hazare’ on www.bbc.co.uk , the most prominent picture which might bob up would be that of a slightly-built Indian farmer called Anna Hazare (in Marathi “Anna” is an honorific term meaning “village elder” or “father”), sitting in the shadow of Mahatma Gandhi’s large picture while embarking on a hunger fast against corruption.  But few know that the man who sat humbly in Mahatma Gandhi’s large shadow in BBC stories and pictures was the sort of man Gandhi had himself imitated a long time ago before he became the famed freedom fighter dressed in a loincloth. After studying law, the young, suited and booted M.K. Gandhi gave up his western clothes and adopted the garb of the Indian farmer/peasant, so as to better identify with the Indian farmer, such as Anna is, to lead the Indian freedom movement.

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On Latency: Individual Development, Narcissistic Impulse, Reminiscence, and Cultural Ideal

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In psychoanalytical terms latency is defined as a developmental period in which psychosexual maturation marks time – it occurs after the oedipal phase and ends with the beginning of puberty, and is a period of emotional abeyance between the confusion and dramas of childhood and adolescence.
 

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Suffering into Truth: The Achievement of Oedipus

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Given that the story of Oedipus is foundational to psychoanalytic thinking it is surprising that there has been relatively little attention paid to Sophocles’ play Oedipus Tyrannus, even though the play is the reason that the myth has survived and was noticed by Freud some 2400 years later. This is partly because psychoanalysts tend to assume the play and the myth are the same thing.

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Hilda and Freud: Collected Words

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Antonio Quinet in the performance of the play (Freud Museum, 2013)

This is a play on Hilda Doolittle’s analysis with Freud. The play is based on H. D.´s (Hilda Doolittle)Tribute to Freud, the letters, as well as some of her poetry, that she exchanged with Freud and her literary circle. Hilda, a forty-seven-year old poet met Freud, then in his late seventies, in 1930s Vienna. It was the beginning of a startling “love affair”, with exchanges of gifts, letters, and flowers, within and beyond the psychoanalytical setting.  It was written to be performed  by The Unconscious on Stage Company  at the Freud Museum London from 12th to 16th November 2013.

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The Covert Freud and the Lights He Lit on Western Culture

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There were many Freuds: the scholar, the academic, the researcher, the neurologist, the founder of the new discipline: psychoanalysis, and Viennese professional. All were noted for their rejection of religion and their identification with prevalent German culture. This was the picture painted by Freud’s principal  biographers: Ernest Jones, Peter Gay and Ronald Clark. They agreed that Freud came from an assimilated Jewish background and he was a completely secular intellectual.

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The Establishment on the Couch: Analysing the politics of blame, fear, apathy and denial

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Psychotherapy and politics

As Britain nervily approaches an unpredictable general election, it’s hard not to identify with a certain troubled soul from one of our greatest dramas and reflect that “something is rotten in the state of” our politics.

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The Universal Refusal: A Psychoanalytic Exploration of the Feminine Sphere and its Repudiation

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Faced with the difficulties and setbacks that he was encountering in his psychoanalytical work, Freud, by then (1937) in his twilight years, felt the need to theorize the “underlying bedrock” of the “repudiation of femininity” in both sexes. This new pitfall, a Scylla following on from the Charybdis of the death drive, was, in my view, one way of reintroducing the sexual dimension and of giving back to the sex drive the diabolical quality that he had taken away from it – thereby attributing to it the same kind of disruptive potentiality as the death drive. It is this enigma that I have chosen to explore in my book. 

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Confessions of a psychoanalyst who has not forgotten how to play

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There I was, walking along the streets of Buenos Aires in the early 1950s, when I ran into Alexander, an old childhood friend of mine. I had not seen him for many a long year. We had first met in primary school, and had spent some years together in high school. Later, I learned that, like me, he had gone on to study medicine, but in a different medical school.

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Objective Subjectivity: A Basic Theory of Neuropsychoanalysis

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Freud’s ideas about the mind, evolution, and culture were revolutionary. Psychoanalytic theory was brought into service to treat mental illness because it was developed in a medical context. But the methods of psychoanalytic investigation, especially ‘free association’ and dream analysis, were most suited for learning about the mind, not ‘fixing’ the mind. The theory involved thinking objectively and scientifically about normal and pathological subjective experiences such as ‘feeling anxious’ and ‘feeling depressed’. Psychoanalytic ‘therapy’ involves largely telling a patient “this is how your mind works” and “this is why it works this way”. 

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The Eve of Destruction: Germanwings flight 4U 9525 and Pilot Suicide

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A popular but dated image of pilots probably derives from war movies showing scenes in which they wrestle with the controls of a damaged aircraft to avoid catastrophe. Modern aviation is far removed from what are now outdated Hollywood depictions of pilots.  Wrestling at the controls to save the aircraft is hardly in a day’s work.  Planes now fly via computers following the calm and well-rehearsed inputs from pilots.  The recent Germanwings pilot suicide crash, however, highlights that there are a rare few pilots who do not wrestle with the flight controls to save their aircraft, but they may wrestle with very powerful and destructive forces within their minds.

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On Psychoanalysis and the Politics of Representation

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Thinking psychoanalytically about a phenomenon involves conceiving of it in a way that takes account of a dynamic unconscious, which can be understood differently within different psychoanalytic paradigms. It means reflecting on how we experience everything on an unconscious as well as on a conscious level, what Bion referred to as ‘bifocal vision’. When the object of reflection is social and cultural phenomena, unconscious representation of experience can be both individual and shared by several people in a social system, unit or subculture. Unconscious symbolisation and patterns of affect are always already marked by external others and by fantasies about these others. Human beings relate to others even when we are alone, as enemies, supporters, objects of desire, rivals and sympathisers. At the same time, unconscious fantasy has a capacity to transcend fixed patterns of identification, thereby challenging established social arrangements. Think of how in our dreams we can be young or old, big or small, or take various animal or human shapes; these rich identifications transcend fixed social categories and hegemonic ideas, thus carrying an emancipatory potential.

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The Evolution of Consciousness

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I would like to think of my book, Carl Jung: Darwin of the Mind, as offering a useful primer for the non-specialist who wishes to gain a general understanding of Jung. I also have, however, another objective: that of placing Jungian thought within the context of contemporary evolutionary science.

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A New Therapy for Politics?

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Andrew’s new book, A New Therapy for Politics?, will be published by Karnac this year. Here he trails some of the ideas that are developed in the book.

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Trauma and Attachment

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Going beneath the skin of the contemporary fascination with serial killers: the Allure of Power, Control, Dominance

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‘I hadn’t started out per se to ‘study’ serial murderers, now many years ago.  I was doing neurological research on the NASA Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.  Increasingly I was becoming interested in neuropathology of primitive personalities.  In biochemistry we go to the molecular structure of a compound to see what its chemical signature is composed of.  What then was the signature of what may be the most primitive form of man; who represented man at his serially worst: A murderer who killed for seemingly pleasurable gain and who used power, control and dominance, as a way of torturing his victims before he murdered them.  In those days the term ‘serial killer’ was not yet in the public sector as it resides today nor did the idea of a serial killer carry the current voyeuristic allure.

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Eigen in Seoul: Volume One – Madness and Murder

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Many years ago a man came up to me after a talk at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis and gave me a book he authored on the malady of the Korean soul. The book addressed soul sickness that can deplete the personality, sink a life, but also lead to creative work, poetry, dance, perhaps the very book this man gave me. Such a deep malady linked to the pain of existence, the pain of living, endless longing, loss, joy, overlapping with Garcia Lorca’s “Duende”. 

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Olympus Inc. 

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BERNIE NEVILLE: Sometimes you can say that a book changed your life. It happened to me in 1976 when I read James Hillman’s Revisioning Psychology. My understanding of the world and the flavor of my teaching had been strongly influenced by Jungian thought for many years, but this was new and exciting. Hillman challenged many of my assumptions, got me to think in ways I hadn’t thought before.

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Mapping Psychic Reality: Triangulation, Communication, and Insight

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This book arose out of the convergence in my mind of two strands of thought. The first concerned the abiding problem of a scientific psychology, which is how to be objective about subjectivity. The second arose from my experience as a psychoanalyst in which I had observed repeatedly someone “become a subject” and had participated in the process through which they arrived at this achievement. The confluence of these meant that it was incumbent upon me to respond to those who regard psycho-analysis as impossibly unscientific to the point that it is not worth taking seriously.

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Freud’s Schreber: Between Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis

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This book is not another general exploration of Freud’s 1911 Schreber text or yet another account of newly discovered historical facts about Daniel Paul Schreber, still the most famous case in the history of psychiatry. It is a clinical study of what was distinctive about Freud’s 1911 conception of disposition to psychosis in relation to the views of his psychiatrist contemporaries and of psychoanalysts after him. What moved me to write the book was a growing conviction that psychiatry and psychoanalysis need to remember their common history, that they have much more in common than they realise. 

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Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

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This book is addressed to anyone, lay or professional, who seeks to understand more of the shared unconscious processes that bind and/or destroy couple relationships. It explains how and why couples are drawn to one another in the first place and how the bond is then sustained or eroded by pacts made and broken without either party being aware they exist. Bringing these “deals” into the pair’s awareness is a significant part of couple therapy.

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Where the Waters Meet: Convergence and Complementarity in Therapy and Theology

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In 1957 the art critic Carlton Lake (1915-2006) enjoyed a remarkably frank interview with Pablo Picasso.  Jacqueline Roque, the woman in Picasso’s life at that time, was present.  Lake recalls this particular conversation: 

Just then my eye was caught by an unframed canvas standing on a shelf above Jacqueline’s head and to the right. It was a portrait of a girl – Jacqueline, I would have said – in tones of green and black and white. She was shown in profile, looking off to the left, and Picasso had given the face a mildly geometrical stylization built up of triangular forms which emphasized the linear treatment but at the same time preserved the likeness. I pointed to the painting. “How would you explain to a person whose training made him look on that as deformation, rather than formation, why you had done it that way?” I asked him.

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The Gossamer Thread: My Life as a Psychotherapist

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Years ago I started writing a novel in which a recently retired psychoanalyst is interviewed by a young post-graduate psychologist about his life and experiences. I wrote 25,000 words before I realised that I was writing about my own experiences. This then morphed into my memoir.

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The Language of Drawings

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This book is the result of a long gestation period.  Life had taught me that I was a good communicator, meaning that somehow people I met soon seemed to believe that I was interested in learning of their thoughts and experiences.  When I began to work with children in my clinical practice I discovered Winnicott’s use of squiggles in his therapeutic consultations and I was simply fascinated by the apparently magical bridge that this simple game made between the child’s unconscious and the analyst’s professional scrutiny.

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Love: Bondage or Liberation? The Meaning, Values, and Dangers of Falling in Love

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In the history of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy as we know, falling in love was first examined as an important event within the context of the therapeutic work. Freud and his contemporaries found that their analysands often developed passionate attachments to them. This formed the basis for Freud’s idea of the transference.

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The Harris Meltzer Trust, by Meg Harris Williams

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Donald Meltzer, who died in 2004, wished that the educational work disseminated over the course of over 30 years by the publications of the Clunie Press should continue to benefit both psychoanalysis and its applications in the world outside the consulting room. Clunie Press was started originally by Meltzer and his wife Martha Harris (Mattie) in memory of Roland Harris (a poet and teacher, who died in 1969). The new educational charity, the Harris Meltzer Trust, has been founded to continue the publishing work of the original Trust, in the spirit of these three widely loved and inspirational figures. 

Donald Meltzer

Donald Meltzer

It seems fitting therefore that it was launched by two books associated with Martha Harris and spanning the period of her publishing career. They are books which in complementary ways present Mattie’s legacy as an educator. 
 
The first book, Your Teenager, reprints in a single volume three small books originally published in 1969 that were designed for “ordinary beautiful devoted parents” (to adapt Winnicott’s well known phrase), to help them cope with their child during the turbulent secondary school years. The language is straightforward yet elegant and concise, revealing Mattie’s talent for expressing complicated thoughts in simple everyday terms. For if we look a little beyond the surface prescription, we realise the primary interest of the books is really in helping parents cope with their own turbulent emotions, which are aroused in response to their child’s adolescence. The structural hinge of her approach is her empathy with the struggling child in all of us; it shows in the gently piercing, detective quality of her location of the root of the trouble – namely, the difficulty of becoming educated, in the deepest and widest sense of that term. If the “central task of the adolescent” is defined as one of “finding their individual identity”, then the task of parents is a reciprocal one: it is to “re-educate themselves” through questioning their own relationships, values, emotions and principles, which will inevitably be stirred up and flung into the melting pot by their normally aggravating teenager. Her aim is that children and parents may make the most of this opportunity to develop in tandem, with a view to ultimately taking their place in “the great social class of the truly educated people, the people who are still learning”. 
 
Martha Harris

Martha Harris

At the same time these are also practical books, rooted in the everyday life without which no principle can find a local habitation and a name. A child develops mentally in the context of real failures and achievements, at the core of his or her personal solar system (in the analogy of Money-Kyrle and Meltzer), whose waves ripple outwards from a “little society” of expanding diameter. This relates to another interesting aspect of the books: namely the opportunity for comparison between the social context of today and that of 40 years ago, which is in various ways both surprisingly different and surprisingly similar; we have both progressed and regressed. Also this is probably about the minimum passage of time required before it is feasible to inquire whether a work has any “classic” or enduring qualities. In my view it is Mattie’s consistent focus on the growth of self-knowledge and on the very principle of education as something that takes place between an inner child and an inner parental object, that gives these books their classic – and deeply psychoanalytic – quality. Interestingly, they have remained in print in foreign translations despite being out of print here for many years.

The second book published by the Trust is very different in format and content, and yet, as readers new to Mattie will discover, it is essentially the same in spirit. It consists of her supervisions (recorded on tape) of infant and young child observations made by Romana Negri in Italy during the 70’s and early 80’s. The major part of the book concerns one particular child, observed from birth till age three, who delighted Mattie as representing a model for normal infant development, as distinct from the pathological or disturbed. She was among those who emphatically maintain it is impossible to help disturbed children (or adults) without having a clear conception of the thread of normal development with its mingled joys and sorrows, triumphs and frustrations, at the forefront of one’s mind. For this reason the book has been titled The Story of Infant Development
 
As with the Teenager book, what we may learn from reading The Story is something more than the pattern of development. We also learn about the process of observing itself and the pattern of symbol-making that it engenders. Bion describes the two equally difficult mental exercises that are required in the process of symbol-formation:
– firstly the necessity of perceiving the “facts” on the sounding-board of one’s emotionality;
– secondly, allowing this overwhelming amount of confusing information to find a pattern in one’s mind without imposing one’s preconceptions (memory and desire) upon it. 
 
These two processes interdigitate in the partnership between the two authors of this book. Many readers will be familiar with Romana Negri’s work with premature infants (The Newborn in the Intensive Care Unit, Karnac 1994); the later book demonstrates how to acquire those essential sensitive observational skills with the aid of a teacher who also becomes an internal teacher. For as Bion says: “Who is to put all this material in order?” In Mattie’s speaking voice there will be found none of those words that Bion objected to so vehemently as being “long, ugly, impressive and devoid of meaning” (his example being “psychoanalysis” itself!). 
 
More work will subsequently be published from amongst the wide repertoire of Meltzer’s and Harris’s teachings abroad. The Series’s latest book, Teaching Meltzer: Modes and Approaches (edited by Meg Harris Williams) will be published in March 2015. 

 

 
Meg Harris Williams
Discover Meg Harris Williams’ other books:

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Creating the ‘Good Life’

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In my most recent book Creating Heaven on Earth: The Psychology of Experiencing Immortality in Everyday Life, I asked the question, How does one best fashion an “internal” world, a personal identity, that creates the conditions of psychological possibility to apprehend immortality, that almost magical Infinite—conceived as something-outside-everything, God, or the Other—from everyday living? The art of living the “good life”—following Freud, one of deep and wide love, creative and productive work, one that is guided by reason and ethics and is aesthetically pleasing—requires skillful attunement to these lovely transcendent presences in everyday life.

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Healing Intelligence: The Spirit in Psychotherapy – Working with Darkness and Light

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The origin of this book lay in a conference, while I was doing my training, in which some notable psychotherapists were giving an overview of the principles guiding their practice. The question of what is healing in psychotherapy did not arise, so I asked how they believed healing worked. None were inclined to reply until one remarked: “That is the $64.000 question and if I had the answer to it I would retire to the hills of Hollywood.” General laughter followed. Clearly, healing was not on the agenda for serious analysts. Individuation, yes, but healing, well … not quite. This was a more “alternative” topic – image rather than substance. It was certainly mysterious. The matter, however, remained, not just as a personal struggle but increasingly, in my view, a crucial issue in psychotherapy.
 
 In my early practice I was reasonably skilled at exploring the negativity and darkness in the psyche, having spent years investigating plenty of my own. However, it was much longer before I could work with the light in the psyche and to realize that darkness and light have to be worked with together to facilitate a healing outcome. Thus, I learnt to value the healing intelligence that can manifest as light in the inner world, to cherish and enjoy the light of inner awareness, to recognise the potency of healing energy, to listen, evoke, cooperate and work with it, to appreciate the higher powers of illuminative intuition and even, albeit infrequently, transcendental love. 
 

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The Impossibility of Knowing: Dilemmas of a Psychotherapist

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Brett Kahr came to hear my paper on Absence (Chapter 8) given at the London Centre for Psychotherapy in June 2009 and, following this, encouraged me to think about producing a book, based on the many papers I have written and published over the years. He made the first contact with Oliver Rathbone on my behalf, and so smoothed the path through to Karnac Books, who generously offered to publish.

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Craving the love and devotion of their victims, it is not surprising that some culprits are politicians

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Home Secretary Theresa May, still trying to find someone suitable to chair her inquiry into historical claims of sex abuse against children, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr yesterday that the allegations that have emerged so far are only “the tip of the iceberg”.

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Psychotherapy and Philosophy

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What can philosophy tell us about therapy?  There are many opportunities for dialogue between philosophers and psychotherapists.  In the past, there’s been interest in the potential relevance of phenomenology, existentialism, and other continental philosophies, particularly for psychodynamic and insight-oriented therapies.  However, there’s been a growing interest in the practical side of ancient philosophy over recent decades, particularly in the philosophy of Stoicism.  Why ancient philosophy?  Isn’t it a bit, well, dated?  The curious fact is that originally philosophy was very much a practical concern.  Most of the ancient schools of Western philosophy were about as concerned with one’s lifestyle and the use of contemplative exercises as Oriental traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism were.  However, in the West, this practical tradition of philosophy as “care of the soul”, was virtually extinguished when the ancient philosophical schools were closed and their books destroyed, something partly due to the growing dominance of Christianity and its opposition to pagan philosophy.

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Freud in Zion: Psychoanalysis and the Making of Modern Jewish Identity

Freud-in-Zion2Few episodes in the history of psychoanalysis are as densely packed with trans-cultural, ideological, institutional and ethical issues as the arrival of psychoanalysis in pre-state Israel in the early 20th century.

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Paradigms in Psychoanalysis

At nearly 80, I thought it could be useful to share with readers my experience of nearly fifty years in the field of psychoanalytic psychotherapy.  In addition to my clinical work, four basic experiences converge in this book.

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Supporters of the virtual currency boast of no controls and no victims – but do they just want to get rich quick?

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As financial regulations increase by the day, so do the ways around them. The most radical yet is the virtual currency known as the Bitcoin. Instead of real money, virtual cash is stored in an online wallet lodged in the hard drive of a computer.

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The word AUTISM spelled out in letter cubes.

I consider that the treatment of an autistic child is an opportunity to observe and investigate the origins of verbal symbols and the creation of language, as well as the way the logic of thought is constructed.

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Bion and Being: Passion and the Creative Mind

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The central focus of my new book, Bion And Being: Passion and the Creative Mind, is Wilfred Bion’s concept of O. It is the most mysterious and controversial of his ideas, although the controversy has often lived beneath the radar.

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The human psyche is not simply a cultural construct. Neither is the universe in which the individual and society alike are embedded. Both have their own reality, their own powerful drives and hard limits. Sanity has as much to do with confronting those implacable facts as it does with conforming to social norms.

Now and then, the gap between the collective imagination of society and the realities of psychological or physical existence widens to a breaking point, and the facts that matter most are precisely those for which a culture’s definitions of sanity can find no room at all. When this happens, some of that culture’s cherished assumptions about the world are about to give way, with consequences that usually end up in big type in the history books.

There’s at least one way to catch the foreshocks of such a transformation, and that’s to pay close attention to changes in psychological patterns on the individual level.

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Marcel Proust – the making of a sadomasochist

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The subject of the mother-son relationship had never been broached with such psychological insight as in Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (1921). Indeed, we had to wait until 1969 before Philip Roth revisited the subject in Portnoy’s Complaint.

Yet Proust writes about the mother in such an innocuous and idealizing manner that to the unsuspecting reader it appears an unambiguously loving relationship. However, in earlier works, such as Jean Santeuil (c.1897) and short stories dating from his youth, Proust expressed himself in a less veiled style. Moreover, a letter to his mother written when he was more than forty years old is even more revealing. In it he complains that she still treats him as a four year-old child. Her aim seems to have been to control him mentally as well as physically.

Proust developed a sexual perversion. He became a sadomasochist and shows in his novel how this preference can develop. Generations of analysts after Sigmund Freud have maintained the explanation of masochism put forward in Freud’s paper, ‘A Child is Being Beaten’: the boy wants to be beaten by father as a replacement for being loved by him. The Oedipal father is the central figure in this account, rather than the mother. Indeed, Freud idealized the mother-son relationship, calling it ‘the least ambivalent and the most loving’ of all human bonds. He used only female cases for his theory of masochism. No male cases at all were explored, with only a mention of how passive feminine strivings are the source of masochism in males.

Like Proust, Freud derived his psychological knowledge in great part from subjective experience. But his experience with his mother was very different from that of Proust, who never overcame her domination. Consequently, Proust felt that in order to enjoy his (homo)sexuality he had to escape her control. Because his pleasure insulted his mother, then profaning and even murderous phantasies concerning mother figures became a condition for his pleasure and sexual excitement. This is the perversion that drives all his male protagonists throughout his novel.

marcel-proust-maman-famill1The Oedipal concept of ‘the boy in love with mother and wanting to kill father’ is turned upside down. The boy has not overcome his dependent position towards his mother. He has not reached a triadic Oedipal relationship. Consequently, he has to escape her control momentarily, to function as a sexual being at all. To channel his anxiety and aggression in a perverse sexual scenario enables him to become excited and potent. But this is compulsive, repetitive and not at all a free choice.

In my opinion, matricide (rather than patricide) has not received the attention within and outside of psychoanalysis that it deserves. Besides mother-son pathology, the concept clarifies much mother-daughter pathology as well. Such murderous phantasies and dreams are not uncommon in either men or women, but there is a crucial difference that must be observed: femininity is not threatened by unresolved dependency on the mother, unlike masculinity in males.

Hendrika C. Freud
Author of Men and Mothers: The Lifelong Struggle of Sons and Their Mothers, and Elektra vs Oedipus: The Drama of the Mother-Dauighter Relationship

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The Social Nature of Persons: One Person is No Person

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By presenting a series of interconnected studies, effort is made to approach timely questions regarding the social nature of human beings. A new part of the structural theory of the personality is presented, called “nos”.  Instead of attempting a definition at the beginning, it is more expressive of our subject if slowly, chapter by chapter some of it emerges, always from a specific viewpoint. Such method may not satisfy some disciplined minds, as it lacks a tightly organised frame in which everything duly falls into its place. I want to introduce the subject not only from an intellectual viewpoint, but allow relevant feelings to come in also. The result awakens not only our logic, but hopefully the whole person.

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Why, not when?

Looking back on the theories offered to explain the riots of 2011, there was too much attention paid to the issue of why they occurred at that particular moment. Asking such a precise question was bound to lead to a plethora of factors being deemed significant, with a failure to identify which was more significant than the others.
 

The real question was ‘what were the conditions which made such a total loss of social control, expressed by looting, occur?’ That they happened in 2011 rather than the previous year or in 2012 was the wrong question.

The main factor

Of course there were many contributory factors, but by far the most significant was that we had become a nation of ‘shop till you drop’, It Could Be You, credit-fuelled consumer junkies. Widespread materialism (placing too high a value on money, possessions, appearances and fame – what I dubbed Affluenza) had been ramped up to such a degree that another question would be ‘why had there been no looting before?’

As the recession bit, money was getting tighter. For thirty years, first with Thatcherism, then Blatcherism, we had been encouraged to aspire, to believe that anyone could have anything or become anyone (even an ugly and unpleasant person could dream of winning Big Brother). There was a sense of entitlement to a widescreen TV and the sense that such a possession would make you fulfilled. What had been satirized as Loadsamoney in the eighties had ceased to be a joke. Being a loud-mouthed greedy person (otherwise known as the stereotypical American) had become highly valued. For five decades, we had been spending twice as much per capita on advertising to our population as mainland Europe, deliberately encouraging them to conflate real needs with confected wants.

The riots were inevitable

It would be wrong to claim that riots were inevitable. But it was hardly surprising to say the least when, one day, large swathes of the population who could not afford the consumer goods suddenly discovered that, if enough of them simultaneously smashed the windows of the shops and just took what they wanted, it was possible.

The biggest irony was that it took Right Wing journalists to point out that the population were only doing what the filthy rich ruling elite had been doing for three decades: the CEOs plundering their corporations, the MPs fiddling their mortgages and expenses, the politicians and civil servants hopping in and out of the financial services bed.

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Oliver James

Author of Affluenza; The Selfish CapitalistLove Bombing: Reset your Child’s Emotional Thermostat

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Sexual energy is potentially a free source of pleasure and ecstasy, with remarkable physical and emotional health benefits. In the UK, we seem much more liberalised than a generation ago, but there are also costs to our well-being, including high rates of sexual violence, sexual ill health, and the ‘side effects’ of chemicals in health and beauty products and the wide use of synthetic hormones.

We live in a highly sexualised culture where we are inundated with images of celebrity ‘sexy’ people, and lots of things to buy: fashions, lotions and potions to make us more ‘sexy’. We currently have concerns about our young people viewing pornography as a role model for adult sexual relationships, not understanding it is a fantasy world contrived to amuse and entertain adults. It is a world of a one-dimensional view of sex, where men have very large penises; women have very large breasts and where sex is mainly acts of penetration.

Many people feel a gulf between all this and their own tastes and preferences, their own sense of sexual self-esteem. Sexual issues are shrouded in shame. This silences us. Many think ‘everyone else seems cool, what’s my hang up?’ Discussing our current sexual culture needs to include physical and psychological health, and issues such as body image, cosmetic surgery, eating disorders, all of which take us away from our natural selves.

There are many areas around Sexuality in need of evaluation and healing. LoveSex offers a new model for us to explore what we think and feel about our own sexuality. It could be therapeutic for us all, to have a safe space to talk more openly, to blow out the cobwebs, and discuss how our sexuality could be honoured and really celebrated.

What do you think?

Cabby Laffy
Author of LoveSex (Karnac Books, 2013).

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A demented beehive

 

Early in my career during the 1990s, I recall occasionally looking up from my discussion with a so-called chronically mentally ill patient to look around the office. Invariably, there was outdated (usually 1970s-era) wall art, a desk lamp lighting the small room, a dead office plant in the corner and some abandoned dusty books next to the plant.

The community mental health clinic where I cut my teeth was a massive, labyrinthine structure with an awkward combination of large cubical-laden expanses for clinicians and tiny consultation rooms. The clinic was the eighth largest employer in the county and each clinician had roughly 80-100 patients on his or her caseload. It reminded me of some kind of demented beehive abuzz with overworked, underpaid clinicians frantically running around completing paperwork, making copies and answering a backlog of voicemails. And the ‘patients’—always one or two screaming and/or throwing things in the lobby—wandering around, usually disoriented in the befuddling hall network. Supervisors and administrators wisely locked themselves in their offices or were otherwise quietly absent.

I think, in my eight years working there, I saw the clinical director twice. To add to the confused and confusing environment, the clinic had a 50% annual employee turnover. So, I may have seen a clinical director on more than two occasions but wouldn’t necessarily know. Patient suicides, clinician suicides, government cut-backs in spending, heartless human resources personnel; the patients’ chaos and the agency’s chaos seemed to reflect each other. It was Kafkaesque, as if the atmosphere itself was saturated with unwellness and us, collectively, attempting to give it shape and meaning. During this time, I asked my analyst what the real difference, if any, there was between the patients and clinicians. “Keys,” he answered quickly. “What?” I asked. “The clinicians are the ones with the keys to the building,” he said with a smile.

Where was the disease? I was reminded of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, where Oedipus “is the land’s pollution” and the polis is the body with the “pollution grown ingrained within.” Oedipus and the polis mutually reflect each other’s pathology. I realized early on that pathology is constructed and contextual. It is in this spirit that I wrote Elements of Self-Destruction.
In its pages, I attempted to show that the alleged diseases outlined in the DSM are contextual and meaningful phenomena. This stands in contrast to the (presently failing) hypothesis that such conditions are biological diseases centered in chemically imbalanced brain organs. Focusing in on the destructive capacity of the psyche, I utilized Bionian psychoanalysis and Heideggerian phenomenology as hermeneutic keys. While taking to heart Bion’s seminal contributions to psychoanalytic treatment, these tenets also hold true for aspects of our contemporary society. Psychoanalyst and Bionian scholar, Michael Eigen, points out today’s mass hallucinosis that has:

“become part of the cotton fuzz that makes for a kind of psycho-social soundproofing, dulling, numbing. Part of the hallucinatory nexus involves a mechanism reaching deep into infancy. In psychoanalytic language: “identification with the aggressor” … A strong leader or group identification finds alternate pathways for fears, hates, and criticism, often deflected towards a designated enemy … People in power intuitively know how to throw small bones for constituents to gnaw, keeping minds occupied, while grander destructive scenarios unfold … a hallucinated election. A hallucinated democracy … A hallucinated identity, a hallucinated life, a hallucinated death.”


Taking Bion’s notions of dynamic psychotic processes in psychic reality and applying them to social reality yields much. From this broader perspective, it is easy to see the hallucinatory spell cast in much of the world to be ‘successful’, to be ‘Number One’, to vanquish the ‘evil doers’, to establish a moral super-ego across the lands. A superficial (or no) sense of consequences is near to the essence of much contemporary psychopathic hallucinosis.

Martin Heidegger, following a phenomenological hermeneutic path, reached many of the same conclusions. He spoke of a world caught under the spell, a “delusion”, of unfettered control of the earth and its inhabitants as resources to be calculated, ordered and used.  The collective hallucinosis to which Eigen refers, Heidegger dubbed the Enframing, a mode of revealing the world where nothing appears in its essential character. It veils its truth as a presencing of Being by appearing as though it is a product of human making. We become convinced that the only mode of disclosing the world is through quantitative calculation.

“As soon as what is unconcealed no longer concerns man even as object, but exclusively as standing-reserve, and man in the midst of objectivelessness is nothing but the orderer of the standing-reserve, then he comes to the very brink of a precipitous fall; that is, he comes to the point where he himself will have to be taken as standing-reserve.”

 

Martin Heidegger
Heidegger asserts that once humankind is set upon this course of disclosure, the world becomes an “unworld” in which humanity engages in a “circularity of consumption for the sake of consumption.” In 1969 Heidegger used the image of Nature as a gigantic gas station with humanity at the pump—a disposable earth. Now, in 2013, we can see the haunting accuracy of this image.
 
Medard Boss, who was analyzed by Freud and studied under Heidegger, said, “today, people [are] horribly depressed by the meaninglessness and tedium of their lives. Suffering as they do, these people often try to drown out their desperation through addiction to work, pleasure, or drugs.” J.H. van den Berg suggests that the name neurosis is no longer an appropriate label to describe the disturbed human relations of our technological age. Placing neurosis in the realms of the individual and the anatomical ignores the underlying sociological character is illness. “No one is neurotic unless made neurotic by society. In a neurosis is an individual’s reaction to the conflicting and complicating demands made by society.”
 
Today, we have a plurality of selves. We possess a self for every group we belong to. Though we all suffer from this, the neurotic is unable to maintain a unified identity in various contexts. Van den Berg believes that it is more appropriate to speak of sociosis than neurosis. Our relationships are the pre-conditions of sociosis. This multitude of functional contexts cannot be quantitatively ordered so we lead a divided existence in a complex society. Those who can cope with these factors suffer the least.
 
So, quite briefly, these are some of the pathways explored in Elements of Self-Destruction, from the theoretical to the horrifyingly real manifestations in contemporary culture and as reported concretely from people’s own experience. Through these explorations, I hope to name some of the challenges of destructiveness and hope also to uncover a contextual pathway, open a path of the heart and mind, in negotiating this most difficult terrain.
 

Brent Potter, author of Elements of Self Destruction, engages with the works of Wilfred Bion and Martin Heidegger to explore the sometimes horrifying manifestations of ‘mass hallucinosis’ in contemporary culture and our everyday lives.

 

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Migration and its vicissitudes

The life cycle

The life cycle is an important framework that has been used and can be used by different theoretical perspectives and from various disciplines. The concept ‘life cycle’ was developed by Erik Erikson, in terms of chronological phases from infancy onwards, connecting the emotional and biological development of the individual and socio-cultural factors.

The psychoanalytic perspective focuses on the chronological age of the individual and his/her emotional development. From birth onwards the individual is expected to develop in order to deal with emotional and biological changes and external needs and pressures. The life cycle allows horizontal and vertical exploration of the individual’s present situation: the individual’s history (vertical) and their present emotional state (horizontal) and, in addition, the external and internal pressures coming from families, friends and socio-cultural contexts.

We decided to use the life cycle in our books on Trauma and Migration as we considered there to be significant differences at each stage of the life cycle. From birth onwards the individual is never alone or in total isolation; what is digestible by some may not be by others. To come to grips with the vicissitudes of life requires the capacity to work through the various stages of the life cycle. We wanted to draw attention to the complexities of these issues.

From a psychoanalytic perspective, the early years and early development in terms of attachment and separation are especially important in relation to future developments. How they are worked through will affect future developmental stages and conflicts. We have used an object relations approach developed by Melanie Klein and her followers, but we also stressed the importance of different contributions from a psychodynamic perspective. We also are aware that there are different ethnic, cultural, social and gender contexts which have an effect on the various phases of the life cycle. It is important to be aware of these contexts and their effect on the patient and on the therapist.

The theory of the Oedipus complex was developed by Freud, who considered it central in exploring and understanding the mind’s functioning. I want to underline the importance of exploring the variations of the Oedipus complex at different stages of the life cycle.

It is well-known that emotional difficulties or trauma in early childhood tend to be reactivated and affect the individual’s capacity to work through stresses that may appear at later stages of the life cycle. As I mentioned above, it is important to locate the stage of the life cycle when the individual is experiencing considerable anxieties or stress due to some form of migration or trauma, because the meaning of what is happening and how it is happening can be significantly different according to that stage.

Each stage confronts the individual with significant changes and often activates stress and anxiety. Basically, these stresses refer to conscious or unconscious awareness about the individual’s own life, in terms of biological, emotional and interactive situations. Of course there are external situations in life, and some quite stressful ones, and all of them can reactivate oedipal anxieties in a very intense way.
It is also important to emphasise that men and women will have different symptoms and responses to trauma and stress, due to the biological and psychological differences between them.  There are changes in their bodies, and in their lives according to external and internal expectations, which are affected by their emotional development and social and ethnic and religious backgrounds. For instance, an Asian adolescent living in the Eastern world will have a very different experience from an adolescent from the Eastern world living in an Asian country.  All this suggests a multiplicity of factors that activate and shape different aspects of the life cycle from birth to death.
 
 
Internal and external migration
 

The Bible refers to the first migration, when Adam and Eve were seduced by the tree of knowledge. When their eyes were opened, they were able to see that the materials that make up life are good and evil. Their acquired knowledge had a high price: leaving Paradise. ‘Paradise’, meaning that everything is provided in terms of goodness and pleasure.

Life confronts us with migration from birth to death. We can say that the baby inside the womb lives in a different world. It is a habitat that resembles a paradise where everything flows without an effort. To be born is to enter a world of early attachments and frustrations that require external and internal help to work through. Therefore, we can consider that the first migration occurs when the baby is born. Coming out of the womb is a form of migration into a different world.  Of course we sometimes long for a ‘paradise experience’ and on some occasions individuals can recreate illusions or delusions in which some form of paradise can be re-installed.
We can define migration in everyday language as a forced or voluntary move whereby the individual changes his or her habitat. How he/she leaves, lands, or is received play an important part in a successful outcome.
Migration is a complex phenomenon and I focused on certain aspects that I consider important from a psychoanalytic perspective. I consider migration from a dual perspective: the external change of habitat and the internal change of habitat or mental change. This mental change is connected to the vicissitudes that the external change brings about, but I also suggest that the concept of internal migration can be applied to the emotional conscious and unconscious changes and its vicissitudes associated to development. Internal migration is very much linked to different aspects of the Oedipus complex and when we consider a successful internal migration we are referring to the ability to work though the anxieties aroused by the Oedipus complex.
As I mentioned, to locate internal migration at different stages of the life cycle is important; especially if we want to find out its meaning and how they affect the individual’s capacity to deal with them.
 
 

Arturo Varchevker
 
 
     
 
'At present, it has been estimated that over 200 million people are considered to be migrants. The reasons for having left their homes are wide-ranging: escaping from war, persecution, discrimination and exploitation, at one extreme; seeking better living conditions and opportunities for work, at the other. Some migrants end up having to perform jobs that are dirty, dangerous and degrading. For others, migrating can become a positive and creative experience, contributing to the economic growth of the new country and enriching societies through cultural diversity. In all cases, the changes profoundly affect individuals, couples and families.
Varchevker and McGinley have put together a collection of papers dealing, not only with external migration, but also with the consequences of internal migration. The individual’s life cycle is here used as a valuable frame for the understanding of those changes and their sequels. From a broad psychoanalytical perspective, the different authors included in this book describe the multiple problems presented by migration in its complex contemporary dimension.'
- Gregorio Kohon, Fellow and Training Analyst, The British Psychoanalytical Society

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Within the broader world of psychology and clinical psychology, neuropsychology has had a reputation for being overly academic and assessment-focussed. When I joined the profession over twenty years ago, we had our elegant models of cognitive function and dysfunction, and the neurologists and GPs could expect long and complex neuropsychological assessments from us, which pin-pointed areas of difficulty. However, a casual observer might rightly wonder aloud, ‘So what? How does this help the distressed patient and their family?’

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I wrote this book to help clarify some misconceptions about Zen and psychoanalysis and particularly to explore the relationship between Zen and Lacanian psychoanalysis. First, psychoanalysis and Zen are not worldviews or philosophy in the common sense of the words.  Psychoanalytic ideas are subject to critique and verification by the clinical practice between analyst and analysand. Zen also has to be confirmed within direct personal experience, the teacher-student relationship, and the relationship to the larger community.

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