Australasian Journal Of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
NO.1&2 - 2022
Australasian Journal OfPsychoanalytic Psychotherapy
NO.1&2 - 2022
Writing for the first edition of the Australian Journal of Psychotherapy in 1982, Editorial Chair Leonardo Rodriguez described his hopes its future. The journal was envisaged as a ‘reading space for those interested in the developments of the talking cure’; and ‘reflections about the place of [psychoanalytic] psychotherapy in the life of our culture’. Then, as it is now, the journal offered a space for original written contributions, critique and reviews; promoting dialogue between psychotherapists, and guided ‘by the same principle that makes [psychoanalytic] psychotherapy possible: ‘to make the unconscious conscious, that is to say, to be prepared to learn the truth, in the understanding that one cannot escape from the truth without losing something’. The truth, Rodriguez continued, ‘is not the private property of anyone, however clever or powerful’.
For Loren Borland, then President of the Psychotherapy Association of Australia, the journal was about the Association. From the mid twentieth century ‘a number of groups across the Commonwealth’ had formed independently by people with a shared interest in psychoanalytic theory and practice’. To bring them together under an umbrella organisation was not easy. As Borland explains, ‘identity and competence went hand in hand, making membership a jealously guarded privilege’. Training was a common principle, ‘clearly related to membership qualifications, and thus, to group identity. Each group protected its ‘state rights’ and identity, mistrusting, at least to begin with, the intentions of those others’ Borland explained. It was ‘the chief reason for the Federal rather than National form’ which the Association assumed. The Journal’s editorial committee drawn from each of the Association’s member organisations reflected this federalism and, Borland continued, ‘the value we place upon the dissemination, public examination, and discussion of new concepts’.
The commitment to publish at least one journal a year or more ‘depending upon necessary financial support and the quantity of contributions’, has more than been met.
This retrospective edition published some forty years after the journal’s launch showcases some of this work. In 2010 the journal achieved international ranking (Grade 3) as a scholarlym peer reviewed journal, and is currently included the Australian Research Councils journal list, ‘Excellence in Research Australia – (ERA 2018) meeting the criteria as a scholarly blind peer reviewed journal. It has drawn international authors as well as papers from local researchers and writers from across the Australasian psychoanalytical field: psychoanalysis, group analysis, child analysis and psychotherapy and psychoanalytic psychotherapy and couple therapy. It has also published papers on applied psychoanalysis: from history, politics, the arts and literature.
We begin with a Memorandum from Leonardo Rodriguez, the journal’s first editor. Reflecting on his own migrant experience and psychoanalytic development, Rodriguez also explores the current state of psychoanalysis in Australia and internationally. Despite the disputes and debates over the evidence base for psychoanalysis, and for some, pessimism about its future, Rodriguez is optimistic that psychoanalysis not only has a future, but is increasingly relevant to understanding our world and relationships.
Two of Australia’s early, and Melbourne based, psychoanalysts Dr Rose Rothfield and Dr OHD Blomfield were early contributors. Rothfield, qualified as an Associate of the British Psychoanalytical Society in 1956, and as a full member of the IPA in 1968, contributed a paper on the dynamics of the transference. Not only does she introduce the dimensions of internal reality explicated by Freud and Klein but readers will be treated to the clarity and elegance of her thinking and teaching. Bill Blomfield’s another of Australia’s early generation of trained analysts, and member of the Australian Association of Group Psychotherapists, seeks to explore the ‘phenomenology of human development as it bears on the establishment of an inner reality and an effective capacity for group life’. Blomfield explores the interplay between internal and external realities developed from infancy, between the internal life of the individual and the mental life of the group. These include fears of engulfment as against rejection and abandonment on the one hand and creative desires for individuation and capacity for secure attachment.
For the third paper we move to Sydney and the work of Isla Lonie whose presentations on the dynamics of the parent child relationship are a feature of the first decade of the journal’s life. It was hard to pick from the number of papers she published during the 1980s. Her paper on ‘Enthraldom’, explores states of psychic bondage, drawing from fairy tales and case material to show the struggle for survival experienced by children of parents with psychotic or borderline personality organisations. ‘Enthralldom’, Isla Lonie explains, not only conveys the penumbra of archaic and preverbal experiences, but also, possibly the abrogation of ego- function in service of the needs of the other. She draws on D W Winnicott and Melbourne psychoanalyst Silvia Rodriguez to show how, in this dynamic, the parent-enchanter can be idealised and the child trapped, caught in a thrall from which the child does not readily free itself. Without a rescuer, such a child is in emotional peril.
David Lonie’s paper, ‘Projective Encounters of the Fatal Kind’ considers the denigration and destruction of the loved object resulting from an outside attack, and what might preserve the object from such destruction. Stern’s work on infant research are explored in relation to early catastrophic trauma and the underlying biological mechanisms that can also be observed in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Bion’s theory of container-contained and the transformation of Beta to Alpha functioning, together with Winnicott’s conceptualisation of the holding, facilitating environment are important dimensions of developing analytic space.
From Western Australia we find Carol Bolton’s delightful paper, Granny Goes to Baby Obs, opens the theme of infant observation and development . Bolton explores her experience undertaking an infant observation late in her career. Part of a group of clinicians supervised remotely from Melbourne, with Frances Thompson Salo, Bolton describes the process of locating a baby and the discoveries she made not just about the baby but herself. She likens her experience to a ‘geological exploration in which the geologists take a core sample right down deep into the earth’noting that the ‘longer the oberserver’s life, the longer the core sample’. Bolton uses vignettes from the observation and her grandparent life to contemplate the intersubjective experience between infant and observer, grandparent and child as part of her developing perception of the baby’s inner world – from birth, to breast, to weaning.
Infant observation practice is explored in more depth by Leonardo Rodriguez and Ann Cebon, early members of the Victorian Association of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists. Reflecting on articles they published in 1993, they examine their original perspectives thirty years on. Ann Cebon ends her piece with a ‘call to arms’, asking how we, as clinicians, might become advocates for babies and children being raised amid the economic and social pressures of daily life in the twentieth century.
Adults can be sceptical or even blind to considering the experiences of the baby or the young child. Many adults can easily convince themselves that the baby or young child “won’t remember”, will not “notice”, or if they do notice, the baby or child surely won’t understand. As we know, all too well as clinicians, while adults can deny, and babies and young children may repress negative experiences and trauma, that does not mean that these experiences do not adversely affect them. This is very relevant to thinking objectively and constructively about what might be our obligation as professionals to advocate, prioritising for babies and young children’s needs, so they can develop secure attachments which we understand are mandatory to their capacity to build lasting, loving and committed relationships.
Finally there is the therapist’s task. ‘How on earth do I heal someone’s mind’? Neville Symington asks. Patient and therapist work together, opening of the internal space within, enabling reflection and development. In his pair of papers – ‘Healing the mind- What is the process?’ and ‘Healing the mind- what is the healer’s task?’ Symington reflects on personal experience to explore ‘what occurs in the mind when anguish is tamed and brought into the safe haven of understanding’ – from inner [self] representation to transformation. Symington is interested in those internal processes that occur in moments of reflection. The therapist brings four elements to the mix, enabling movement, and possible transformation within the space between themselves and patient: freedom, the personal, scientific enquiry, and compassion. Averil Earnshaw’s important paper, ‘Time and the Psychoanalysts’, also published in 1992, utilises her own life experience of ‘family time’, to develop a hypothesis about the unconscious inter-activity and transgenerational transmission of life events in families. From her study over twentyfive years Earnshaw offers evidence that age -linked events occur within families, reproducing past family events, and always ‘on time’.
Ethics, and the structure of one’s practice is considered in Lyndsey Fletcher’s seminal paper, ‘The psycho therapeutic frame and its relation to patient abuse’ published in 1989. It takes on a new pertinence with the advent of online therapies which not only have altered the nature of the frame, but prompted reflection on the nature of psychoanalysis itself. Fletcher takes up the assumption that ‘we all share, know and respect the same basic frame’. Yet the reality is there are enormous variations in the actual frames and in the manner in which we maintain our boundaries. It is an opportunity to reflect upon what we do, facing fearlessly the relationship between ethics, and boundaries, and the propensity to question, if not condemn those whose practices may differ and with which we disagree. The Editorial Committee is looking forward to working with potential authors and book reviewers in the next few years.
Our Book Review Editor Malika Verma has worked worked closely with the reviewers, Adam Becker, Sue Oliver, Vicki O’Dwyer, Michelle Dykman and Bernadette Rosbrook to produce a selection of reviews covering contemporary theory and practice.The Review section, begins with a Review Essay from Bernadette Rosbrook, discussing Dina Davis’s account of her analysis with Ivy Bennett during the 1950s, ‘A Dangerous Daughter’ which was presented at the Australian Confederation of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Conference in February 2022. Rosbrook sensitively explores Davis’s experiences and reflections on a treatment that ‘saved her life’, reflecting many years later, the ways in which psychoanalysis has changed and yet remains timeless. Adam Becker has reviewed John Steiner’s work on disillusionment and hope while Sue Oliver has opened exploration of transculturality in couple therapy. Vicki O’Dwyer and Michelle Dykmann have produced lively responses to publications covering couple therapy, Post Kleinian Theory and a review of the psychoanalyst Fred Busch’s work ‘A Fresh Look at Psychoanalytic Technique’.
During 2022 the journal moved from a print only to online format with a print option at extra cost – reflecting contemporary journal practice in the online world. It will, in the long term, enable the journal to be easily accessed via various academic distribution programs, as well as through independent subscription, as well as part of one’s membership of a PPAA member organisation. As it was in the beginning, in 1982, the frequency of publication will depend on the number and quality of papers received. At this point the journal will be published once a year.
Online publication brings with it new issues and hurdles. One particular issue identified by the Editorial Committee is the use of patient material – how this is managed, confidentiality maintained, and yet recognising that the crux of theoretical development and understanding is through experience. The need for privacy and confidentiality directly conflicts with moves in the publishing world towards ‘open access’. Another point concerns the reality is that the journal, while published by the PPAA, continues its original mission to disseminate and discuss knowledge of psychoanalsyis by encouraging authorship and readership from across Australia and New Zealand and international boundaries.
Moving online is also a new beginning. Of course there are the structures that have sustained the journal over four decades, not least being listing on ERA 2018 by the Australian Research Council, and its established practice of blind peer review. But with a comparatively small readership, a later move to online than most, time will be needed for rebuilding and development.
In 2023 I will be stepping down as the Editorial Chair to focus upon another project. I will continue with the Committee but the Editorial Chair and will be taken over by Yvette Willoughby from the CPPAA. Malika Verma from the VAPP will continue as book review editor. We have editorial representatives: Dr Mark Thorpe from NZIPP; Leonie Sullivan from NSWIPP, Dr Thea van Hees from QPAA. Carol Bolton and Heath Townsend are from APPWA, Dr Paul Foulkes is from the VAPP.
Published by PPAA / AJPP
18 Erin St, Richmond VIC 3121