Australasian Journal Of Psychotherapy
NO.2 - 2015
Welcome to this edition of the Australasian Journal of Psychotherapy. I am delighted to include, among the four under its covers, three papers from the 2015 PPAA conference. This conference invariably provides a rich source of material for the journal, although we are always glad to consider manuscripts from elsewhere, and members are encouraged to alert us to papers of interest that they might come across.
Volume 33/2 opens with a fascinating history of the birth and formation of the PPAA, compiled by Mary Cameron. An enormous amount of work has gone into gathering this information, and the PPAA owes Mary a large debt of thanks for the time and effort she has devoted to this valuable task. Her paper reminds us of the passion for psychoanalytic psychotherapy which, from the beginning, has inspired the formation of our member associations, and the challenge of holding and growing these fledgling groups, sometimes in the face of internal differences about how to proceed. The PPAA has, in the view of many of those Mary interviewed, retained a fundamental integrity and good will, and a capacity to contain and support its differing “family members”, due in part to the strong bonds between members fostered by the enjoyable “live company” shared at the annual PPAA conferences.
Sally Young’s beautiful paper, A Developmental Frame to my Psychoanalytic Practice: What Child Therapy has Taught Me continues this theme of nourishing development — of child patients, in her case — and the reciprocal possibilities of being enlarged ourselves by those with whom we work. Ranging across subjects as diverse as beauty, justice, the body, and boredom, Sally offers us insights from her deft and quietly empathic work with children and young people that has much bearing for practitioners working with adults too, and gently challenges some of the traditional ways of thinking about psychoanalytic practice and parameters.
In her intriguing paper Down the Rabbit Hole: Exploring the Psychological Significance of Human Relationships with Other Animals, Alison Clayton invites us to think about the powerful ways in which animals, both wild and domestic, have figured symbolically and emotionally in the psychological life of humans, as bearers in both waking and dreaming of projections, benign and ferocious, or by providing for a child what, in Kohutian terms, I would call the missing selfobject functions of soothing and self cohesion, filling in the deficit left by a physically or emotionally absent parent. Alison’s is an important contribution to an infrequently considered realm of psychological life.
Finally, Elisabeth Handscombe, the AJP’s Book Review Editor, has very kindly agreed to offer an introduction to a paper of my own, given at the last PPAA conference, which I have been encouraged by colleagues to publish.
Those who attended this years PPAA conference in Brisbane will have heard Suzanne Hicks present a full version of this paper; abridged and ammended here for reasons of patient confidentiality, it is still able to capture the beauty of American writer Marilynne Robinson’s lyrical novel, Lila. In the paper Suzanne traces the book’s fictional relationship between Lila, a troubled young woman and her much older husband, the Reverend John Ames, two people who are seemingly ill matched by dint of age and circumstance. Their relationship evolves over the course of the novel, as Lila is able to overcome her lack of trust, her loneliness and her longing. Suzanne explores this story of relational struggle as a parallel to the building of a therapeutic relationship, especially between patients and therapists from very different worlds. This theme is linked to Heinz Kohut’s ideas on self-objects and the need for mirroring in a powerful blend of narrative, clinical and theoretical understanding.
The books reviewed in this edition of the journal are three. Penelope Jools brings us a psychoanalytic reading of last year’s Booker prize-winning novel, The Long Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. She draws on the ideas of Klein and Fairburn to help her understand the split between the public and private personas of the books flawed protagonist, and the ways in which being idealised may be both hated but needed by our heroes.
Anne Jeffs offers us a very thorough critique of the 2014 volume, The Winnicott Tradition: Lines of Development—Evolution of Theory and Practice over the Decades, edited by Margaret Boyle Spelman and Frances Thompson-Salo. Seen through the lens of some of her own current theoretical and clinical preoccupations, Anne finds in the book a very strong collection of papers, with few missteps. Given Winnicott’s own interest in this area, Anne commends the book’s focus on applied psychoanalysis, especially in the field of infant mental health, but fears that the increasing financial pressure within public health systems is shifting government and community attitudes in ways that imperil valuable psychoanalytic approaches, such as those exemplified in this volume, that draw on the Winnicottian tradition.
Lastly, Carol Bolton offers a review of Anne Power’s recent book, Forced Endings in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis: Attachment and Loss in Retirement (2016), which, Carol says, addresses three overarching questions: How do I know when it’s time to retire? How do I plan for it? And how do I manage the endings for my clients? She comments that these critical questions are rarely addressed in psychotherapy training or organisations — a form of death denial perhaps — and commends the author for very valuable checklists included in the book that would provide a place to begin thinking about them.
While I have the enjoyed the varied art works that have graced our covers over the past few years, it is increasingly difficult to source appropriate material that can be adequately and legally reproduced. Together with our Book Review Editor, I have therefore made the decision that henceforth the cover of our journal will be standardised in the form in which it now appears. I believe that this change also has the advantage of making the AJP readily recognisable to our readership, and more in line with the covers other professional publications. My thanks to Tim Fluence, our tireless and talented graphic designer, for this beautiful creation.
In conclusion, I wish to once again to thank the readers and writers who have contributed so generously to this edition of the journal.