Australasian Journal Of Psychotherapy
NO.1 - 2015


At the most recent conference of the Australasian Association of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy a very lively and engaged forum took place, focussing on the future of the PPAA, and ways of ensuring its adaption to the challenges of 21st century public, political, and psychotherapy landscapes. As well as possible changes to models of psychotherapy training, and the sharing of resources across the organisation, outreach was identified as an important means of raising the profile of psychoanalytic psychotherapy in the professional community. To that end, this journal plays an important role. I am proud of the high quality of the thinking and clinical work reflected in the papers between these covers, and the current edition is no exception.

This edition of AJP brings together four papers exploring psychoanalytic theory and psychotherapy across both life span and culture, from the very young and their parents, through mid-life, to people in old age, and in migrant Chinese, and white and black Australian contexts. In our first paper, Wayne Featherstone’s deep understanding of the work of Wilfred Bion is brought to bear on questions of creativity, identity formation and transformation, and how the traumatised and isolated self may be imagined, and therapeutically re-imagined via art, when met with requisite sensitivity and empathic intersubjective linking. Wayne’s clinical account of his work with a deeply troubled young man, who uses his art as a means of expressing his inner world, is coupled with the remarkable paintings that his patient has been kind enough to allow us to re-print.

Our second paper, by Dr. Francis Thomson-Salo and her colleague Dr. Campbell Paul gives us a sensitive account of their parent-infant psychotherapy with Chinese migrant families, arguing that the specific issues of cultural dislocation and loss that make up the “ghosts in the nursery” for these families may be ameliorated using interventions borrowed from psychoanalytic psychotherapy, while being attuned to those cultural assumptions Occidental therapists bring to their work which may be at odds with Asian culture.

This paper is followed by Pamela Nathan’s challenging account of her meetings over two years with aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, undertaken as part of a partnership between the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) based in Alice Springs​ — ​a large health organisation with five remote health satellite services​ — ​and Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment (CASSE)​ — ​a small, psychoanalytic, non-voluntary organisation focusing on violence and underlying trauma in Aboriginal communities. These meetings offer a means of giving voice to the pain and grief associated with “whitefella” abuse and cultural appropriation, both past and present. It is a sobering but important account, which yet holds within it the seeds of transformation and healing.

Our final paper brings us the psychotherapy at the end of life. Julia Blum’s thoughtful and humane engagement with those many may view as “too old” to make use of psychotherapy was, to me, very moving. Just as infants, to flourish, need to be empathically understood by those on whom they depend, so Julia shows that the opportunity for the elderly, who are often vulnerable, afraid, or grieving, to share their story with an empathic other, perhaps to make sense of the links between past and present, may be profoundly healing.

Elisabeth Hanscombe, our much-valued book review editor, has once again brought us three excellent reviews. Maurice Whelan has high praise for Paul Schimmel’s Sigmund Freud’s Discovery of Psychoanalysis: Conquistador and Thinker. He comments that it is difficult in a world overflowing with new publications to stay fresh, but that Schimmel has succeeded in doing just this in his illuminating work due to his passionate and infectious interest in his subject. His exploration of the workings of the mind of the pioneer of psychoanalysis provide the reader with a deepened understanding of the man’s ambition, self understanding, and imagination.

Carol Bolton considers Inquiries in Psychoanalysis: Collected Papers of Edna O’Shaughnessy, which clearly got under her skin, leading as it did, to her dream of meeting the author. She is impressed not only by the range of O’Shaughnessy’s thinking and work, but also by the her sense of lively engagement with the writer’s mind. Bolton finds rigor, curiosity and aliveness in the writer’s theoretical and technical work​ — ​as teacher with students, supervisor with supervisee, and in her work with mothers and babies​ — ​and commends the book to a wide audience.

Marita Lowry highly recommends Eavesdropping: The Psychotherapist in Film and Television, an exploration of, as she says, the “often fraught and complex relationship between psychoanalysis/psychotherapy and cinema, and specifically how psychotherapy and psychotherapists, are portrayed on screen”. This large collection of papers, edited by Lucy Huskinson and Terrie Waddell, covers such areas as the erotic transference, and the various themes and constructs of psychoanalysis as they are portrayed on screen, as well as where the film director sits in his own creation, and raises the question of whether psychoanalysis/psychotherapy ever be portrayed in film and television with authenticity.

My thanks to Gavin Byrt for kindly providing us with the beautiful cover art that graces this edition of the journal​ — ​readers will be interested to learn more about Gavin and his work in his artist’s statement​ — ​and to PPAA member Paul Schimmel, who in addition to the book under review by Whelan, has also supplied us with his moving and evocative poem, Encounter​ — ​Bion​ — ​Beckett.

As always, I am indebted to those colleagues in the PPAA who have generously offered their papers for publication in the AJP. The journal only exists because of the support of our writers and reviewers, so I would encourage more of the talented members of PPAA to consider sharing their hard-earned clinical wisdom with fellow clinicians within and without our association, and in doing so attest to ongoing vigour and relevance of psychoanalytic theory and practice.

Suzanne Hicks

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