Making Spaces: Putting Psychoanalytic Thinking to Work

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This book argues for the value and application of psychoanalytic thinking beyond, as well as within, the consulting room. Inspired by a Scottish psychoanalytic tradition that owes much to W.R.D. Fairbairn and J.D. Sutherland, the Scottish Institute of Human Relations has provided a valuable reference point for the work described in the book. It illustrates how the coming together of human beings into a shared space fosters opportunities to create loving, collaborative relationships in which to work and from which to grow. The book's first section explores how psychoanalytic thinking developed in Scotland, while section two focuses on work with children, families and couples, showing how psychoanalytic perspectives can be used to strengthen capacities for loving relationships. The chapters in section three show how psychoanalysis can be applied in such varied settings as psycho-social research, education, institutional development and organisational consultancy. The fourth section pursues this theme further, considering the potential of psychoanalytic concepts to enhance work in religious ministry, in medical and psychiatric services, and in understanding the processes of ageing. The book shows how psychoanalytic thinking can be put to work in a variety of professional contexts to create spaces in which we learn to love, work and grow.

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CHAPTER ONE The development of psychoanalytic spaces in Scotland: historical overview and introduction

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CHAPTER ONE

The development of psychoanalytic spaces in Scotland: historical overview and introduction

Liz Bondi and Molly Ludlam

J

. D. Sutherland, one of the founders of the Scottish Institute of

Human Relations (SIHR), was fond of quoting Kurt Lewin’s aphorism, “There is nothing more practical than a good theory” (Lewin,

1952, p. 169). The title of this book, Making Spaces: Putting Psychoanalytic Thinking to Work, describes not only the process of applying psychoanalytic ideas, but also speaks to a human anxiety evoked by the struggle to find one’s place in the world, and by the need for spaces in which to love, to work, and to grow. Psychoanalytically speaking, human responses to this anxiety are understood to be ambivalent. So, externally, they are expressed in a tension between, for example, a search for wilderness vs. a need for city dwelling, whereas internally, they might be found in a conflict between seeking individuality and solitude vs. a compulsion to bond together as a defence against the fear of abandonment and isolation. Psychoanalytic thinking provides resources to help us make and explore spaces in which this anxiety can be contained and worked with, both within the consulting room and, as this book illustrates, in a wide variety of other settings. These spaces shape our inner and outer worlds, and create conditions in which to develop our capacities for loving, working, and growing.

3

 

Chapter One - The Development of Psychoanalytic Spaces in Scotland: Historical Overview and Introduction

ePub

Liz Bondi and Molly Ludlam

J. D. Sutherland, one of the founders of the Scottish Institute of Human Relations (SIHR), was fond of quoting Kurt Lewin's aphorism, “There is nothing more practical than a good theory” (Lewin, 1952, p. 169). The title of this book, Making Spaces: Putting Psychoanalytic Thinking to Work, describes not only the process of applying psychoanalytic ideas, but also speaks to a human anxiety evoked by the struggle to find one's place in the world, and by the need for spaces in which to love, to work, and to grow. Psychoanalytically speaking, human responses to this anxiety are understood to be ambivalent. So, externally, they are expressed in a tension between, for example, a search for wilderness vs. a need for city dwelling, whereas internally, they might be found in a conflict between seeking individuality and solitude vs. a compulsion to bond together as a defence against the fear of abandonment and isolation. Psychoanalytic thinking provides resources to help us make and explore spaces in which this anxiety can be contained and worked with, both within the consulting room and, as this book illustrates, in a wide variety of other settings. These spaces shape our inner and outer worlds, and create conditions in which to develop our capacities for loving, working, and growing.

 

Chapter Two - Inner and Outer Worlds: Then and Now

ePub

Jill Savege Scharff

“Let me gi'e thanks noo fur ma lot
I micht no ha'e been born a Scot”

(Kate Bone, Prayer to Saint Andrew)

Introduction

Of all the psychodynamic theories, object relations theory is outstanding in having the explanatory power for comprehending the inner world and the outer world; self, family, and society. I first came upon object relations in 1969 as a young registrar at Dingleton Hospital when, attending the University of Edinburgh Department of Psychiatry course in psychological medicine, I heard John Sutherland lecture on human development. I had already studied Freud's psychosexual stages and found his theory too linear, too biological for me (Freud, 1905d). I had found that Erikson's (1950) theory of psychological challenges to be solved at each developmental stage went some way towards connecting Freud to the real world of parents and children, but it still was not enough. Then, thanks to Sutherland, I found Fairbairn (Birtles & Scharff, 1994; Fairbairn, 1952, 1963; Grotstein & Rinsley, 1994, Scharff & Birtles, 1994; Sutherland, 1989).

 

CHAPTER TWO Inner and outer worlds: then and now

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CHAPTER TWO

Inner and outer worlds: then and now*

Jill Savege Scharff

“Let me gi’e thanks noo fur ma lot

I micht no ha’e been born a Scot”

(Kate Bone, Prayer to Saint Andrew)

Introduction f all the psychodynamic theories, object relations theory is outstanding in having the explanatory power for comprehending the inner world and the outer world; self, family, and society. I first came upon object relations in 1969 as a young registrar at Dingleton Hospital when, attending the University of Edinburgh

Department of Psychiatry course in psychological medicine, I heard

John Sutherland lecture on human development. I had already studied Freud’s psychosexual stages and found his theory too linear, too biological for me (Freud, 1905d). I had found that Erikson’s (1950)

O

* This chapter is modified from “Inner and outer worlds: Then and now, the practical application of psychodynamic theories”, a presentation given by the author in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Scottish Institute of Human Relations, Edinburgh,

 

CHAPTER THREE A liminal practice? Making interdisciplinary spaces for psychoanalysis

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CHAPTER THREE

A liminal practice? Making interdisciplinary spaces for psychoanalysis

Liz Bondi

Introduction ike many counsellors and psychotherapists in the UK, I trained on a part-time basis in the middle of an apparently quite unrelated career. In my case, I was an academic based in human geography, interested in feminist debates about gender, knowledge, and everyday life. When I began my training, I was familiar with a variety of feminist engagements with psychoanalytic ideas. However, my knowledge was largely theoretical and I looked forward to understanding what psychoanalytic ideas might mean in practice. I did, indeed, learn about that, but much else in my training surprised me.

It had not occurred to me, for example, that I would find the language of counselling and psychotherapy to be so resonantly spatial in its talk of such themes as “boundaries”, “interior worlds”, and the configuration of consulting rooms. The distance between my original discipline of human geography and the new field I was entering did not seem as great as I had anticipated, and the area of overlap held out great promise.

 

Chapter Three - A Liminal Practice? Making Interdisciplinary Spaces for Psychoanalysis

ePub

Liz Bondi

Introduction

Like many counsellors and psychotherapists in the UK, I trained on a part-time basis in the middle of an apparently quite unrelated career. In my case, I was an academic based in human geography, interested in feminist debates about gender, knowledge, and everyday life. When I began my training, I was familiar with a variety of feminist engagements with psychoanalytic ideas. However, my knowledge was largely theoretical and I looked forward to understanding what psychoanalytic ideas might mean in practice. I did, indeed, learn about that, but much else in my training surprised me. It had not occurred to me, for example, that I would find the language of counselling and psychotherapy to be so resonantly spatial in its talk of such themes as “boundaries”, “interior worlds”, and the configuration of consulting rooms. The distance between my original discipline of human geography and the new field I was entering did not seem as great as I had anticipated, and the area of overlap held out great promise.

 

CHAPTER FOUR The “Fort Da” game and other stories from infant observation

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CHAPTER FOUR

The “Fort Da” game and other stories from infant observation

Nicola Chadd

Introduction nfant observation has played an important part in psychoanalytic training for more than half a century. A form of observation rooted in psychoanalysis, it is an endeavour that introduces practitioners to a very particular way of being subjectively with, while, at the same time, objectively observing, the other. It gives insight into the nature and meaning of relationships, with all the joys and terrors of love and hate, intimacy, separation and loss, and it gives us a privileged view of the crucial early stages of development of the personality. As such, its value goes far beyond the practice of psychoanalysis, and the influence of infant observation, in its original form and its many adaptations, extends into many different spheres. Clearly, it is directly relevant to those concerned with child development, among them parents, teachers, health visitors, general practitioners, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, psychologists, and psychotherapists, but this unique method of observation has the capacity to enrich our understanding of adults as well as children, groups and organisations as well as individuals. Trowell (2002) describes the value of observational skills derived from infant observations in the training of

 

Chapter Four - The “Fort Da” Game and Other Stories from Infant Observation

ePub

Nicola Chadd

Introduction

Infant observation has played an important part in psychoanalytic training for more than half a century. A form of observation rooted in psychoanalysis, it is an endeavour that introduces practitioners to a very particular way of being subjectively with, while, at the same time, objectively observing, the other. It gives insight into the nature and meaning of relationships, with all the joys and terrors of love and hate, intimacy, separation and loss, and it gives us a privileged view of the crucial early stages of development of the personality. As such, its value goes far beyond the practice of psychoanalysis, and the influence of infant observation, in its original form and its many adaptations, extends into many different spheres. Clearly, it is directly relevant to those concerned with child development, among them parents, teachers, health visitors, general practitioners, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, psychologists, and psychotherapists, but this unique method of observation has the capacity to enrich our understanding of adults as well as children, groups and organisations as well as individuals. Trowell (2002) describes the value of observational skills derived from infant observations in the training of practitioners in a range of different fields, including community work with older adults, people with mental health problems, and those with disabilities, as well as in training projects with medical students and hospital doctors, police and child protection teams. She further discusses the use of this approach in decision-making for a wide variety of professionals who work with people.

 

CHAPTER FIVE Learning from experience: developing observation skills and reflective thinking in social work practice with children and families

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CHAPTER FIVE

Learning from experience: developing observation skills and reflective thinking in social work practice with children and families

Debbie Hindle and Alexandra Scott

The Munro Report review of child protection in England was commissioned in

June 2010 as part of a national drive to improve the quality of child protection services. Led by Professor Eileen Munro, a series of reports ensued that advocated a new approach (Munro,

2011a,b). Previous reforms, which shaped social work practice for several decades, had shifted from relationship-based practice to a more procedural and regulatory approach.

A

The managerialist approach has been called a “rationalist-technical approach”, where the emphasis has been on the conscious, cognitive elements of the task of working with children and families, on collecting information, and making plans. (Munro, 2011a, p. 36)

In Munro’s opinion, this emphasis on gathering data and providing detailed assessments, placed too much emphasis on “the explicit, logical aspects of reasoning and . . . contributed to a skewed management framework that undervalues intuitive reasoning and emotions and thus fails to give appropriate support to those aspects” (Munro,

 

Chapter Five - Learning from Experience: Developing Observation Skills and Reflective Thinking in Social Work Practice with Children and Families

ePub

Debbie Hindle and Alexandra Scott

The Munro Report

A review of child protection in England was commissioned in June 2010 as part of a national drive to improve the quality of child protection services. Led by Professor Eileen Munro, a series of reports ensued that advocated a new approach (Munro, 2011a,b). Previous reforms, which shaped social work practice for several decades, had shifted from relationship-based practice to a more procedural and regulatory approach.

The managerialist approach has been called a “rationalist-technical approach”, where the emphasis has been on the conscious, cognitive elements of the task of working with children and families, on collecting information, and making plans. (Munro, 2011a, p. 36)

In Munro's opinion, this emphasis on gathering data and providing detailed assessments, placed too much emphasis on “the explicit, logical aspects of reasoning and…contributed to a skewed management framework that undervalues intuitive reasoning and emotions and thus fails to give appropriate support to those aspects” (Munro, 2011a, p. 36). Munro recommended a move away from an emphasis on bureaucratic aspects of social work practice to an emphasis on the importance of forming relationships with children and families. As she says, “Focusing on the centrality of relationship skills draws attention to the roles of intuitive understanding and emotional responses” (Monro, 2011a, p. 37).

 

Chapter Six - Scotland the Brave: Freedom to Roam between Individual, Family, Systemic, and Social Perspectives in Psychoanalytic Work with Children and Young People

ePub

Joan Herrmann

This chapter is an account of the development of my ideas about the role of child psychotherapists working within organisations such as the NHS; in fact, within any organisation that provides mental health services and support to individuals and their families. Over the years my ideas about the value and usefulness of a psychoanalytic training have significantly changed. I began, as I think many of my colleagues began, with a faith in the power of insight into one's self, which therapy can offer to individuals in distress, and ended in a firm conviction in what Jeremy Holmes describes, with reference to Sutherland's work, as “outsight”. This refers to the belief that “man is a person sustained by his social relatedness” (Sutherland, 1966, in Holmes, 1993a, p. 16), and that for psychoanalytic insight to be useful it must attend to the larger context within which the individual is placed: the family, the community (including the wider community of the helping professions), and the complexities of social reality.

 

CHAPTER SIX Scotland the Brave: freedom to roam between individual, family, systemic, and social perspectives in psychoanalytic work with children and young people

PDF

CHAPTER SIX

Scotland the Brave: freedom to roam between individual, family, systemic, and social perspectives in psychoanalytic work with children and young people

Joan Herrmann

his chapter is an account of the development of my ideas about the role of child psychotherapists working within organisations such as the NHS; in fact, within any organisation that provides mental health services and support to individuals and their families.

Over the years my ideas about the value and usefulness of a psychoanalytic training have significantly changed. I began, as I think many of my colleagues began, with a faith in the power of insight into one’s self, which therapy can offer to individuals in distress, and ended in a firm conviction in what Jeremy Holmes describes, with reference to

Sutherland’s work, as “outsight”. This refers to the belief that “man is a person sustained by his social relatedness” (Sutherland, 1966, in

Holmes, 1993a, p. 16), and that for psychoanalytic insight to be useful it must attend to the larger context within which the individual is placed: the family, the community (including the wider community of the helping professions), and the complexities of social reality.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN The perinatally depressed couple and the work of mourning: a developmental imperative

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CHAPTER SEVEN

The perinatally depressed couple and the work of mourning: a developmental imperative

Molly Ludlam

Introduction n this chapter, I focus on the impact of perinatal depression on relationships in families and especially on couple relationships.

Such is the cumulative effect of the timing of this experience in a couple’s life, I want also to suggest that their relationship itself might sometimes be considered to be “depressed”.

My interest in this subject emanates from meeting a number of couples who were expecting a child or who recently had become parents. They had come for couple psychotherapy because depression was preventing one or both partners from enjoying together life as a couple, and life as parents.

We know that a couple’s relationship is most vulnerable and most likely to break down during pregnancy and their children’s infancy

(Cowan & Cowan, 1992; Shapiro & Gottman, 2005; Twenge, Campbell,

& Foster, 2003). This is the time when the couple has to manage a number of demanding developmental tasks in order to grow as individuals and as a couple. It is generally understood that anxiety and depression are commonly experienced by new parents. The increasing recognition of maternal “postnatal depression” led, in the latter part

 

Chapter Seven - The Perinatally Depressed Couple and the Work of Mourning: A Development Imperative

ePub

Molly Ludlam

Introduction

In this chapter, I focus on the impact of perinatal depression on relationships in families and especially on couple relationships. Such is the cumulative effect of the timing of this experience in a couple's life, I want also to suggest that their relationship itself might sometimes be considered to be “depressed”.

My interest in this subject emanates from meeting a number of couples who were expecting a child or who recently had become parents. They had come for couple psychotherapy because depression was preventing one or both partners from enjoying together life as a couple, and life as parents.

We know that a couple's relationship is most vulnerable and most likely to break down during pregnancy and their children's infancy (Cowan & Cowan, 1992; Shapiro & Gottman, 2005; Twenge, Campbell, & Foster, 2003). This is the time when the couple has to manage a number of demanding developmental tasks in order to grow as individuals and as a couple. It is generally understood that anxiety and depression are commonly experienced by new parents. The increasing recognition of maternal “postnatal depression” led, in the latter part of the twentieth century, to the development of special treatment programmes for new mothers. Nevertheless, it has recently been estimated that pre-natal depression now affects one in ten women in the UK, and that mental health problems constitute the largest identifiable cause of death in the perinatal period (CEMD, 2001). Enquiries such as Why Mothers Die (CEMD, 2001) question whether depression experienced by women during the perinatal period differs significantly in its characterisation from depressive illness at other stages in life. Thus, we might now wonder whether the term “postnatal depression” has not only served to obscure the whole nature of mental health problems in the broader perinatal period, but also whether it has fostered an undue focus on women. Furthermore, might any such focus on hormonally triggered illness have been reinforced by societal anxieties about the catastrophic consequences of breakdown in new mothers? Increasing reports of paternal depression (Cox, 2005) now add to a wider picture and might enable us to define a couple context for this phenomenon.

 

Chapter Eight - Temenos or Ivory Tower? Academic Pedagogy through a Psychodynamic Lens

ePub

Lindy Barbour

Introduction

“It may be that universal history is the history of the different intonations given [to] a handful of metaphors” (Borges, 1964, p. 227). This chapter will explore some of these metaphors and intonations as they are deployed consciously or unconsciously in both psychodynamic thinking and in the field of academic pedagogy, in theories of learning and teaching.

At one time, I used to have lunch with a group of philosophers in a Scottish university. After the stress of facing the masses of the Philosophy Ordinary class, they would often respond to the topics of the day by remarking, “Now, this is how philosophy can help!” This always raised a laugh, which doubtless discharged some of their tension, but the habitual joke was a defence. Behind the laughter hid the real belief that their academic discipline could affect and clarify the thinking of others, and a fear that it might not.

This chapter emerges from my participation in a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, the aim of which is to encourage the self-reflective practice of university teaching, together with an experience of simultaneously teaching on postgraduate courses on counselling and counselling skills. In encountering the discourse and themes of academic pedagogy, I found many points of intersection with the theory and habits of mind of psychotherapy, and found myself inwardly echoing the philosophers, “Now, this is where psychodynamic thinking can help.” I was aware of taking a similar stance, that of being engaged by, but not making any statement of, this intellectual conviction. This might be understood in terms of an observing third position (Britton, 1998), perhaps with a sense of the importance of the ideas of my discipline, but was also defensive and wary of overstatement. In academic life, as in psychotherapeutic circles, one treads cautiously when stepping out of the silo of disciplinary culture and identity. This defensiveness, it seems to me, represents a potential loss. Lehrer (2012) emphasises that creativity emerges out of the encounter with difference, in horizontally interacting groups, or the “mash-up”, to use a current term. In psychodynamic theory, we hold that the self emerges from identification with the other, into difference and agency in a dialectic of playful exploration. The therapeutic encounter, in its dissolving of fixed and repetitious relations of transference, re-enacts this, to enable, if all goes well, greater flexibility and toleration of difference. In this chapter, I set out, using my experience on this academic course, to endorse the belief of psychoanalyst Jock Sutherland, one of the founders of the Scottish Institute of Human Relations, of the importance of engaging creatively with wider fields of professional practice, culture, and intellectual exploration. In so doing, I also invite reflections on the possibilities for creative connection between the idea of the temenos, or sacred space, a space for thinking, and the phallic ivory tower more conventionally associated with the academy.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT Temenos or ivory tower? Academic pedagogy through a psychodynamic lens

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Temenos or ivory tower?

Academic pedagogy through a psychodynamic lens

Lindy Barbour

Introduction

t may be that universal history is the history of the different intonations given [to] a handful of metaphors” (Borges, 1964, p. 227).

This chapter will explore some of these metaphors and intonations as they are deployed consciously or unconsciously in both psychodynamic thinking and in the field of academic pedagogy, in theories of learning and teaching.

At one time, I used to have lunch with a group of philosophers in a Scottish university. After the stress of facing the masses of the

Philosophy Ordinary class, they would often respond to the topics of the day by remarking, “Now, this is how philosophy can help!” This always raised a laugh, which doubtless discharged some of their tension, but the habitual joke was a defence. Behind the laughter hid the real belief that their academic discipline could affect and clarify the thinking of others, and a fear that it might not.

 

Chapter Nine - Precious Gift or Poisoned Chalice: What does Psychoanalysis Offer to Social Research?

ePub

Sue Jervis

Introduction

At the turn of the twenty-first century a new academic discipline known as “psycho-social studies” emerged. This evolving approach explores how people's feelings influence the society in which they live and vice versa. Psychoanalysis is especially helpful to psycho-social studies because it uses data-generating free association and addresses the role played by the unconscious. In particular, psychoanalytic theories shed important light on the interpersonal psychodynamics that inevitably underlie research relationships (Clarke, 2008; Clarke & Hoggett, 2009; Hollway, 2008a). Since these unconscious dynamics are potentially very informative, attending to them closely can facilitate deep understandings of research participants’ experiences. Hence, what psychoanalysis offers to social research is extremely valuable.

However, as the title of this chapter suggests, researchers could regard psychoanalysis as a mixed blessing. The use of the phrase “poisoned chalice” is not intended to imply that psychoanalysis might be injurious to social research; rather, that while it appears to offer something wholly beneficial, its contribution is also proving to be problematic. A number of ethical issues and interpretative difficulties arise when psychoanalytic theories and techniques are used in research. Many of these problems were highlighted at the inception of psycho-social studies (Clarke, 2000, 2002; Hollway & Jefferson, 2000; Wengraf, 2000, 2001). Among the various dilemmas discussed then were: the risk of evoking distress in research participants, the possibility of arousing anxiety by introducing participants and researchers to unconscious thoughts and feelings that they would really rather not explore, the difficulty of determining which psychic products belong to whom, and the ever-present danger of “wild analysis” (i.e., making erroneous interpretations, either through simple ignorance or by mistakenly relying on presumed expertise). To illustrate some of these problems, this chapter focuses primarily on a single research relationship. Before discussing that relationship, however, I want to outline why the ethical issues that psycho-social researchers must consider are so challenging.

 

CHAPTER NINE Precious gift or poisoned chalice: what does psychoanalysis offer to social research?

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CHAPTER NINE

Precious gift or poisoned chalice: what does psychoanalysis offer to social research?

Sue Jervis

Introduction t the turn of the twenty-first century a new academic discipline known as “psycho-social studies” emerged. This evolving approach explores how people’s feelings influence the society in which they live and vice versa. Psychoanalysis is especially helpful to psycho-social studies because it uses data-generating free association and addresses the role played by the unconscious. In particular, psychoanalytic theories shed important light on the interpersonal psychodynamics that inevitably underlie research relationships (Clarke, 2008; Clarke & Hoggett, 2009; Hollway, 2008a). Since these unconscious dynamics are potentially very informative, attending to them closely can facilitate deep understandings of research participants’ experiences. Hence, what psychoanalysis offers to social research is extremely valuable.

However, as the title of this chapter suggests, researchers could regard psychoanalysis as a mixed blessing. The use of the phrase

 

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