Peter Pan, the Lost Child

Author(s) : Kathleen Kelley-Lainé

Peter Pan, the Lost Child

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : October 2022
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 160
  • Category :
    Individual Psychotherapy
  • Catalogue No : 96872
  • ISBN 13 : 9781912691302
  • ISBN 10 : 9781912691
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Originally published in 1992 in French as Peter Pan ou l'Enfant Triste, the book was translated into English in 1997 and released as Peter Pan: The Story of Lost Childhood. This new English language version is translated by author Kathleen Kelley-Laine and enriched with the addition of an epilogue from the author plus a new foreword from renowned psychoanalyst Jonathan Sklar.

Peter Pan, "young innocent and heartless", with his baby tooth smile is one of the most popular heroes of fiction of both children and adults for over one hundred years. The author explores this mythical figure, both as a story as well as a metaphor, revealing the hidden traumas and psychological conundrums of this "Lost Child". The evocative and lyrical style takes the reader through multiple levels of understanding of this seemingly simple "fairy tale", into the tragic story of its author J. M. Barrie and of other Peter Pans who never grow up.

In Peter Pan, the Lost Child, psychoanalyst Kathleen Kelley-Laine explores Peter Pan's light-hearted escapades and uncovers a sad, lost child behind the 'baby tooth' smile. She uses the story as a framework for the stories of her patients to show how their own Peter Pan manifests, giving a unique insight into how childhood events can block growth into adulthood. She also investigates the sinister side of author James Mathew Barrie as it relates to his Peter Pan tale, and addresses her own family history and its links to The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up. Little by little, as the book progresses, Kelley-Laine's lost childhood emerges as a child who fled with her family from war-torn Hungary after the Second World War to the 'promised land' of Canada.

These three interwoven storylines take the reader on a literary journey to uncover secrets and hidden emotions. Kelley-Laine makes clear that the child who cannot grow up, the Peter Pan raging inside the adult, needs to be heard and understood. Only then can that lost child have a chance to find the road to maturity.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘Interweaving explorations of Peter Pan, Pan’s creator J. M. Barrie, and the author’s own rich and difficult early years – with appearances by Sigmund Freud and some of her own patients – Kathleen Kelley-Lainé offers us an absorbing exploration of the trauma of losing one’s childhood. I read the first edition many years ago, but this updated edition pulled me right back in again. Kelley-Lainé’s book is both psychoanalytically sophisticated and compelling – she helps us really see what happens to, and within, the children she writes about. Her unique voice, and the truth and wisdom of her story, speak to everyone. I recommend this wonderful book most highly.’
Jay Frankel, Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor and Clinical Consultant, Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, New York University

‘In this remarkable book, the psychoanalyst Kathleen Kelley-Lainé weaves together three very different narratives – the story of Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie’s biography, and her own traumatic story of escape and exile. The “lost child” invokes both Ferenczi’s “wise baby” and Winnicott’s psychic “survival-of-the-object”, inspiring the reader to explore their own inner story. This creative and moving endeavour changes the meaning of Peter Pan forever.’
Jan Abram, training analyst, British Psychoanalytical Society and author of ‘The Surviving Object: Psychoanalytic Clinical Essays on Psychic Survival-of-the-object’

‘This is a beautifully written, poignant, and far-ranging contribution. Through the frame of James Barrie’s Peter Pan, Kathleen Kelley-Lainé illuminates the perils and possibilities of childhood and parenting with episodes from her own traumatic life and insights from her Paris-based practice in psychoanalysis, against the backdrop of the worldwide transformations since World War Two. Anyone brave enough to reflect upon their own childhood in the context of social change will gain immeasurably from her analysis.’
Bruce Kidd, Professor Emeritus of sport and public policy, University of Toronto

‘This is a gift of a book and for many audiences. Creatively structured, exquisitely written, this illuminating exploration of the parallels in fairy and family tales weaves biographical facts and revelatory fiction through psychoanalytical knowledge and long experience to make new and expanding meaning in our lives and the lives of children – and parents. The generous glimpses into the author’s consulting room forge a confidence to and in this work of understanding the genealogy of damage; more importantly, her clever compassion and humanity model ways of repair. In our lost world, this is a book for now. It is a book to savour, encountering as we do in the words of the author “the elements of identity” and the possibility of restoration. It is a work in which you will meet yourself.’
Dame Ruth Silver, consultant educationalist and policy adviser, president of the Further Education Trust for Leadership, and patron for the Centre for Social Dreaming

‘In this fabulous piece of writing, Kathleen Kelley-Lainé intertwines her own voice with J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, folding fantasy into psychoanalytic exploration, entangling memoir within that impossible classic. She has written a reflective, sprightly book, as full of twists and turns as J. M. Barrie’s eternal boy himself. I have never encountered a book like it before, and I am glad to have grasped its hand and taken that flight out again with it back to childhood and to Neverland.’
Michael Newton, author of ‘Savage Girls and Wild Boys’ and editor of ‘Victorian Fairy Tales’

Table of Contents

About the author
Foreword by Jonathan Sklar
1. Peter Pan is born
2. Peter Pan on the window-sill
3. The past, the passage, and the passer
4. Forgotten childhood
5. The lost child-adult: a wife as mother
6. Captain of the lost boys
7. Folded wings

About the Author(s)

Kathleen Kelley-Lainé is a trilingual psychoanalyst working in private practice (English, French and Hungarian). She is an active member of the Société Psychanalytique de Paris, the European Psychoanalytical Federation, the International Psychoanalytical Association, and the International Sándor Ferenczi Society. She is internationally known for her many conferences, published articles in psychoanalytical journals and books. Her most well-known book published in French Peter Pan ou l’enfant triste was translated into English, Hungarian, and Greek and is still in circulation since 1992.

Kathleen was born in Hungary and emigrated to Canada with her family as a child. She was educated in Toronto and obtained a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Toronto. Her professional career began as a lecturer of sociology at Bishop’s University in Quebec. Later, she moved to Switzerland, hired by the Geneva Department of Education, to carry out research and development on the use of educational television. After seven years, she moved to Paris, engaged by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as project manager of an international policy survey on the education of disabled children. She began her training as a psychoanalyst at the Société Psychanalytique de Paris, after being admitted as a member, she joined the editorial committee of the La Revue Française de Psychanalyse, and later served on the admissions committee. In 2001, she organised an international psychoanalytical conference at UNESCO, “Une Mère, une Terre, une Langue” on the question of immigration and loss of the mother tongue.

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