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CHAPTER SIX. Professional maturity

Brett Kahr Karnac Books ePub

In 1934, Winnicott qualified as an adult psychoanalyst, and as an Associate Member of The British Psycho-Analytical Society; and in 1935, he received his certification as a child psychoanalyst. Nina Searl and Ella Freeman Sharpe, two early pioneers, had supervised the treatment of his adult patients during his lengthy training, and Melanie Klein, Melitta Schmide-berg (the daughter of Mrs Klein), and Nina Searl supervised his work with children (King, 1991a). His first patient in child analysis proved rather a handful—a delinquent boy who bit Winnicott on the buttocks on several occasions (Winnicott, 1956c). By 1936, he became a Full Member of the Society, having presented his membership paper on “The Manic Defence” on 4 December 1935 (Winnicott, 1935): and in 1940, after a long apprenticeship, he was appointed as a Training Analyst at The Institute of Psycho-Analysis—that is, he could now undertake the personal treatment of analysts in training. Melanie Klein even anointed him as an approved Kleinian Training Analyst for a time—one of only five such people in the early days of British psychoanalysis (King, 1991a).

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6. On pseudo-normality: a contribution to the psychopathology of adolescence

Brett Kahr Karnac Books ePub

Donald Campbell

Over the years I have been struck by the way children and especially adolescents seek reassurance for their anxieties about lagging behind their peers, or feeling strange and abnormal, by trying to achieve what they consider to be a developmental milestone, such as having a girlfriend, passing an important set of exams, or going off to university. The appeal of the achievement of a developmental milestone for the child or adolescent is that it provides a sense that they must be normal after all, because they have been able to do something that is expected of them and, in some cases, that their peers have already accomplished. Parents, teachers, and peers tend to support the fantasy that normality is defined exclusively by the achievement of developmental milestones.

I have found this a very powerful resistance in treatment with adolescents who use their work towards these milestones to avoid the more painful and disturbing regressive pulls in analysis with accompanying passive and infantile longings. I often find it difficult to resist my own wishes for them to progress and, more important, to be seen to be improving. The resistance may also manifest itself as an unspoken termination date which is in the adolescent’s mind from the beginning of his or her analysis—a termination date that coincides with the achievement of their developmental milestone (Novick, 1976).

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7. Psychoanalytic perspectives on traumatized children: the Armenia experience

Brett Kahr Karnac Books ePub

Sira Dermen

My work with earthquake survivors in Armenia might be called applied psychoanalysis—which is true but some what misleading. The story starts not with professional identity, but with national identity. I went to Armenia in the wake of a major disaster because I am Armenian. That a psychoanalytic perspective was of value in the midst of the rubble of Spitak was a discovery for me; equally, that the psychoanalytic community would find my thoughts on this subject of interest.

My approach is personal. I have made three working trips to Armenia since the earthquake, and my vision has gradually changed. The process is best captured in a phrase of Martha Wolfenstein (1957, p. 189): “the rise and fall of the post-disaster utopia”. Two years have passed since my first trip and I am having to face the fall of my own utopia.

This utopia was not sustained by illusions about the adequacy of the work I did there. Rather, it was associated with an intensity of personal commitment, called forth by the immensity of the suffering of the people with whom I worked. I quote again from Wolfenstein:

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13. Winnicottiana: a selection of some hithertofore unpublished documents

Brett Kahr Karnac Books ePub

Brett Kahr

A sonnet by Barbara Dockar-Drysdale

In 1958, Mrs. Barbara Dockar-Drysdale, one of Winnicott’s most devoted students and supervisees, wrote a poem: “A Sonnet for Winnicott”. This poem moved Winnicott deeply; he did not throw it away but kept it preserved among his papers, and I found it in the Donald W. Winnicott Papers, in the Archives of Psychiatry at the Cornell Medical Center in New York City, New York. The initials “P.D.D.” at the top of the poem stand for “Pip Dockar-Drysdale”. All of Mrs. Dockar-Drysdale’s friends referred to her not as Barbara but, rather, as “Pip”. Mrs. Dockar-Drysdale seems to have written this during the Christmas period, and the poem concerns the abilities of young children. I have reproduced the poem without any alterations of punctuation or format. Mrs. Dockar-Drysdale had not seen this poem in nearly 35 years. When I located it, I sent her a copy, and she told me how touched she felt to have had the opportunity to read the work again after all this time.

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10. On the capacity for being inside enough

Brett Kahr Karnac Books ePub

Murray Cox

Most patients in Broadmoor Hospital are legally detained “without limit of time”, so that the phrase “being inside enough” could carry an ironic connotation. It can also refer to the depths of the personality reached during prolonged forensic psychotherapy. Furthermore, the therapist’s auto-audit constantly questions whether the patient’s defensive organization, which precipitated the “criminal act”, has been adequately relinquished. In other words, in that complex mutuality between therapist and patient, which is a sine qua non of effective psychotherapy, the question hovering over both therapist and patient has to do with their reciprocal “capacity for being inside enough”. Such modified mutuality—which is partial, reversible, and at the therapist’s discretion—is exemplified in the simplicity of the squiggle that the psychotherapist starts and then invites the patient to continue.

Donald Winnicott’s influence is so pervasive and powerful that he is an ever-present prompter to those attempting to write about dynamic psychotherapy. Even within the relatively circumscribed field of adult forensic psychotherapy, with which he had some direct contact as a paediatrician and as a psychoanalyst, phrases of his are constantly at the ready, as we shall shortly see. Having an interest in those metaphors that change things—mutative metaphors (Cox & Theilgaard, 1987)—it seems appropriate to launch these reflections with Goldman’s words:

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