Australasian Journal Of Psychotherapy
NO.2 - 2014
This edition of the Australasian Journal of Psychotherapy contains three papers, two of which were delivered at the June 2014 Conference of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia (PPAA). The first is by a regular and generous contributor to our journal, Neil Maizels. In it he explores the concept of disidentification, by which he means the gradual letting go of archaic identifications with individual parental objects, and the emergence of an offspring’s new identity, forged, in “good-enough” circumstances, from the transformed internalizations of a benign parental couple. Less optimally, the process of individuation is a traumatic disavowal and renunciation of all that the parents represent, or alternatively, a failure to individuate at all, reflected in slavish adherence to the inherited parental “template”.
Maizels’ thesis has great bearing on the situation today of psychoanalytic pyschotherapy organizations, in Australia and elsewhere, as they struggle with issues of regeneration in a social and political climate that values less and less the unique contributions psychoanalytic thinking can offer for understanding humans and their discontents. Ideally, we take from our psychoanalytic forebears an immense respect for unconscious processes as they are played out in relation to ourselves, and to each other. This homage will be shaped by the unique character of our individual histories, our training and its theoretical underpinning, and those influential teachers, supervisors, and therapists we meet along the way, generating in each of us new amalgams of parental identifications and disidentifications. Psychoanalytic organisations since Freud have had a sorry history of dealing harshly with those who stray too far from the tree, yet, as Tolkein reminds us “Not all those who wander are lost”.
Lis Hanscombe, in her paper, offers a sad account of two such analytic “children”, Sabina Spielrein and Marie Bonaparte, who have all but disappeared from the psychoanalytic record. She cautions that memory is tricksy, and our storying of history peopled with the ghosts of those who do not “fit” our neat trajectories of recalled events. The reasons for such forgetting may be linked with a desire for versions of the past that are less confronting to our self image, but such amnesia leaves us apt to similarly constrain the future also, eschewing the unfamiliar and novel, and pruning away potentially healthy growth.
Our final paper, with introductory comments by Melbourne forensic psychologist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist Pamela Nathan, is an edited re-print of the second chapter of Estela Welldon’s latest book, Playing with Dynamite. Readers may recall that an earlier chapter from this book was reproduced in the July edition of this journal. It followed requests for publication from those whose heard Estela present at the last PPAA Conference. We are grateful to Karnac Press for allowing us to re-print this material. Welldon’s paper explores the “malignant bonding” of two individuals whose own developmental trauma is “mastered” via pathological coupling in the infliction of pain and abuse on hapless others, often children. Welldon presents very dark and disturbing material, but her thinking has bearing, too, on the less extreme presentations of “ghosts in the nursery” that are the daily fare of most psychotherapists.
Lis Hanscombe has gathered three fine book reviews for our enjoyment and edification — of Traumatic Ruptures: Abandonment and Betrayal in the Analytic Relationship, edited by Robin A. Deutsch and reviewed by Karen Wilkinson; Jeanne Magagna’s The Silent Child: Communication without words, offered by Margaret Goodchild; and Christine Brett Vickers’ discerning critique of Judit Meszaros’s Ferenczi and Beyond: Exile of the Budapest School and Solidarity in the Psychoanalytic Movement During the Nazi Years. Together these books, each in their way concerned with the theme of absences and betrayals which cannot be easily thought about, present an account of the best and worst of psychoanalysts— in tune, or not, with their patients — and the institutions that nurture, or not, their evolution.
Finally, for another taste of Neil Maizels’ witty and wise application of psychoanalytic thinking to film, this time, to Steve Coogan’s and Rob Brydon’s The Trip to Italy. What appears to be delectation for the senses of that country’s culinary and oenological delights, is also, according to Maizels, a far more sober and bitter-sweet meditation on life’s choices, paradoxes, and contradictions.
Thanks again to our generous reviewers, and to Lis Hanscombe, Book Review Editor, who was also responsible for sourcing the haunting cover art for this edition of the journal. I once more encourage readers and writers among you to “join the conversation”, and offer your papers, reviews, and letter to the Editor. AJP welcomes debate and contributions.
Suzanne Hicks | Editor
PO Box 1115, Margaret River