The End of Abuse: A Playreading in Three Parts

Author(s) : John Woods

The End of Abuse: A Playreading in Three Parts

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Also by John Woods

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This work shows us the inner lives of a family locked into a cycle of disillusionment, deprivation and despair, and their interactions with "caring professionals". The authenticity with which the characters speak enables the readers - or audience - to experience directly, as it were, the essential need for love and meaning in human life, and the sheer pain of life without them. How can analysts and therapists enable their clients to believe in a good future? And is this a quest in which they are currently succeeding? These are the questions which this book so passionately addresses. Written as a series of letters to be read aloud - letters in which the characters express their thoughts, feelings and ideas - we see two generations of a family, and hear about a third. The playreading opens with Mary, who describes the experiences of her life - neglect, abuse, trauma, the death of her mother - and her perceptions of those who have intervened in the hope of helping her, and we are introduced to a life whose hopelessness seems to pass beyond anything a human being can tolerate. We are, therefore, distressed but not surprised when we find that her letter is a suicide note. The letters from the family members are interspersed with "letters" from psychoanalysts who have been given the task of helping them; and these letters themselves are very revealing about the dynamics of psychotherapy and the internal politics of psychoanalytic institutions. The second "character" is Sylvan, Mary's son, who is a highly intelligent young man, but so damaged by the experiences of his life that it is hard to know how to help him, especially since he finds it so difficult to enter into the therapeutic relationship which is being proposed to him - or, for that matter, any meaningful relationship. Again, we see the "caring" professions from the point of view of the client as well as the "professional" - but it is apparent from very early on that Sylvan's life will end tragically. Finally, we meet Ruth, Mary's daughter and Sylvan's half-sister. Although also emotionally scarred, she is making a more successful attempt to sort out the debris of her life, and we are invited to participate vicariously in the roller-coaster not just of her "real" life but also of her experience of therapy - group therapy this time. She has become an artist, and the fact that her art is both inside her and outside her acts as a great stabilising factor. One is left with the feeling that she will make it through and that her life will bring her at least a measure of fulfilment. The playreading is a powerful exposition of inner conflict and emotion, and would be ideally suited as training material for anyone intending to work in counselling, psychotherapy, teaching or social work. Most books about "problem families" take an objective, academic viewpoint. This book deals with what actually goes on.

About the Author(s)

John Woods is a Member of the British Psychotherapy Foundation and the Institute of Group Analysis, a Consultant Psychotherapist at the Portman Clinic, and works with adults and children who have shown harmful sexual behaviour. He is the author of Boys Who Have Abused: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Victims/Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse (Jessica Kingsley Publishers), and has also written articles on various clinical topics, dramatic monologues, and full-length plays dealing with psychotherapeutic engagement with trauma and abuse. He has recently written about the harmful effects of unregulated internet pornography.

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