It was 1887, and the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus had been in existence for seven years. Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini wanted to eventually extend her works to the Orient. But she realized that in order to be taken seriously, she needed the approval and support of Pope Leo XIII.
“Sisters,” she explained one day, “we must obtain the approval of the Holy Father in order to be officially recognized as a missionary institute. We also need to open a house in Rome. Please pray for these graces when you go to chapel. I’m going to speak with Monsignor Serrati and Bishop Gelmini about the matter.”
“Mother, you want too much too quickly!” Monsignor Serrati exclaimed when Mother Cabrini told him of her plans. “You must be satisfied with the works and houses that you already have. How can you even think of going to Rome!” The priest paced the floor as he continued. “You haven’t much to offer to the Holy Father in the way of being a missionary congregation, you know. If you really want to impress the pope, you should wait until your institute is more mature. You need to develop resources that will assure your financial stability. After all, Mother, we live in a world that requires money to function.”
Analysis, like life, is concerned with communication, but also with boundaries. Both of these determine growth and movement, or else paralysis, stagnation, and despair. For us, as analysts, the problem of communication and of the strengthening of ego boundaries belong together. They constitute a continuing challenge to search for new possibilities, a task that can never be wholly accomplished in any single lifetime or generation.
Furthermore, it is commonplace in the work of a supervisor to find that analysts-in-training, who over-identify with their patients, become stuck in (or even overwhelmed by) the therapeutic alliance. It was as if, initially, the emphasis had been directed towards enabling a regression in order to re-establish contact with the still undamaged, and also with the starved and arrested areas of their psyche. Subsequently, the emphasis became the gradual building up of ego boundaries within which they could begin to integrate and then relate to others as closely as to themselves. The complex pattern of interrelationships between these two complementary processes determines the course of any one analysis, and I shall be bringing some case material later to illustrate the point.
Between Seattle, the Cascade Mountains and Canada lies Washington’s most archetypal region, a ‘greatest hits’ of the Pacific Northwest. There’s the skyline-hogging volcano (Mt Baker); the wilderness-flecked natural parks (everywhere); the liberal, collegiate city (Bellingham); the antiresort ski ‘resort’ (Baker, again); innumerable islands (the San Juan archipelago); and even a stash of credible vineyards.
The Northwest’s urban hub is laid-back Bellingham, while its rural highlight could be any one of the 200-plus islands that speckle the northern reaches of Puget Sound. Cultural life tends to be influenced by Vancouver and Seattle, ensuring that the music’s electric, the microbreweries abundant and the coffee aromatic. And wherever you go you’ll be sure to find an abundance of Northwestern cuisine featuring locally sourced ingredients, from wild-caught salmon to the world’s sweetest blackberries.
Mar & Apr Vibrant flower displays at the Skagit County Tulip Festival.
“… man is a historical person, the mask of his history”
(Reiff, 1963, p. 25)
The bleak landscape of generational pain and conflict and its consequences upon human moral action lies at the heart of many early Greek mythological tragedies and in particular Aeschylus’s Oresteia. Thirty years after Marathon, Aeschylus wrote this trilogy. Scholars have pointed out that Aeschylus had a philosophical and moral interest in exploring the causes of destructive action among the many warring Greek clans, for he was called upon to help govern Athens following the Persian defeat of Marathon in 490 BC. Vellacott (1956) suggested that the trilogy was bringing dramatic form to Aeschylus’s belief that a democratic political framework and a legal court were the only way of bringing peace to generations of family bloodshed. When I first wrote about the Oresteia (Coles, 2007), I was interested in the sibling conflict between Atreus and Thyestes as the origin of the murder of Agamemnon and Clytemenestra. More generally, I argued that Aeschylus seemed to understand that sibling relationships can hold intense emotions of love and hate, and these emotions can determine the choices that people make in their life. Siblings of the same sex can find themselves in sexual conflict, such as Atreus and Thyestes, and wreak the most appalling revenge. In contrast, siblings can support each other beyond the call of loyalty such as Agamemnon going to the Trojan war to support his brother, Menelaus. Perhaps the most powerful sibling emotion is found between siblings of the opposite sex. Electra and Orestes are united in their decision to kill their mother and her lover. What I did not emphasize was that sexual conflict between siblings, as in the case of Agamemnon’s father Atreus and Atreus’s brother Thyestes, can have moral consequences upon the grandchildren, Electra and Orestes.
Asignificant proportion of patients in forensic psychiatric hospitals are admitted because they have killed someone. Homicide is a rare event in the UK, with only 600 on average recorded each year in England and Wales. This figure has remained relatively constant over the last 30 years, since the abolition of capital punishment, implying that of the 60 million people who live together in the UK, fewer than 1000 will die each year as a result of murder by another.
Such rare events are inevitably complex and multi-determined. If we accept the psychoanalytic position that all of us (consciously and unconsciously) have murderous impulses that we can sometimes struggle to contain, then the question becomes: why is homicide so rare? Most of us will never kill anyone even though we have these murderous thoughts, so what made these people cross the line from fantasy to reality? There is an urgent need to find an answer to this question: for the therapist, the public, the perpetrator, and the victim's family.