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21. Methodology and Research in Psycho-pathology (1951)

John Rickman Karnac Books ePub

MR Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: while acknowledging the honour in being asked to open this Symposium on ’ Methodology and Research in Psychiatry’ I cannot conceal from myself, and therefore should not conceal from you, a certain feeling of whimsical humour in the situation, for I have never read a l book on Methodology, so far as my memory serves me, nor extended by a hair’s breadth man’s horizon in the field of Psychiatry; the opener should at least have done one or other, But since Royal Commissions accept the testimony of nonexperts in the topic they are considering perhaps the Medical Section may extend an equal clemency. However, if I have myself added nothing to Psychiatry I have been upon occasion a participant observer in the work of some of those who have, and though I do not pretend to express their august opinions I cannot deny my debt.

For convenience this short paper will be broken up into sections which may be given catchwords, viz. (a) Number, (b) Pattern matching, (c) ’No research without therapy, no therapy without research!’, (d) Summary. Number

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APPENDIX 1. Memorandum on training criteria

John Rickman Karnac Books ePub

To the Training Committee at Lt Col Bowlby’s request From John Rickman, 10th Jan 1945

1. The following Memorandum is based on the assumption that the Institute is clearly distinguishing its function as a therapeutic establishment from its function and social duty to train as many of the best Candidates as it can find who will become future teachers & trainers of analysts and others in related subjects, and that the Training Committee is oriented to this latter purpose, i.e. to teach teachers in the present phase.

2. The second assumption is that the Training Committee will not employ the same criteria for Candidates who are going to use their psychoanalytic knowledge in non-therapeutic fields as for those who are. In the past it was said that Candidates who began with the idea of doing therapy in fact ended up by doing it, and therefore it was not expedient to have two kinds of criteria. If a higher level of Candidate is obtained it is less likely that this dilemma will arise; in any case it will not arise without warning, but the Training Committee should have a policy ready to meet the case. In the following notes it is assumed that the full therapeutic training is meant unless otherwise specified.

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Introduction. The rediscovery of John Rickman and his work

John Rickman Karnac Books ePub

Pearl King

Who was John Rickman?

The Dr John Rickman whom I knew, and have since got to know better, was a psychoanalyst who combined an extraordinarily thorough knowledge of psychoanalysis with an intense interest in social processes, and he was able to throw light on some of the problems of social psychology by extending psychoanalytic concepts to cover and understand group and community problems. The setting in which his heuristic capacities flourished best was during an informal discussion group or an impromptu conversation between colleagues coming from different disciplines in the social sciences.

The creative enjoyment that John Rickman brought to such discussions was not only because of what he contributed, but also because he enabled the participants to re-experience what they had said or thought, often opening up their understanding in a way that they had not previously experienced. They were then enabled to re-evaluate themselves. Many of the letters to John that I read while editing his papers bore evidence of the impact that his way of working with colleagues had on them. I then realised how important it was for these people to have been “listened to” by John.

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10. On the Nature of Ugliness and the Creative Impulse (1940)

John Rickman Karnac Books ePub

1. Introduction

The study of Æsthetics presents difficult problems and the solution of them is made more arduous if the field of observation is unduly constricted. So long as Æsthetics is confined to an examination of Beauty research is likely to prove as sterile as is a study of Behaviour which confines itself to the single factor of pleasure. Human psychology made greater progress when it gave recognition to the factors of mental pain, anxiety and guilt; it would therefore seem prudent to accord more significance than is commonly done in the literature to these disturbing but powerful forces in our aesthetic inclinations, and to see whether the underlying impulses of destructiveness, which give rise to these painful feelings, do not provide a substratum to Art as they do to everyday life. It is even possible that by representing in a neutral medium the interplay of creative and destructive instincts the artist can help us to comprehend a better solution of the conflicts that press within us than we could do for ourselves unaided, with nothing interposed between us and our passions but the medium of our unstable flesh. The artist provides more than a momentary consolation for our miseries; he goes behind the veil which serpens the source of our dejection and brings back evidence for the triumph of the creative impulse over the forces of destruction; he can do this not by the denial of pain but by facing it with a determination to master it. If we are to learn anything about Æsthetics we must be ready to follow the path he takes,

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5. First aid in psychotherapy

John Rickman Karnac Books ePub

On first reflection it may seem odd that there is no literature on first aid in psychotherapy comparable with that in general medicine. This omission cannot be explained on the ground that emergencies in mental life are very rare and that when they occur they are trivial. We know that they are occasions of the greatest discomfort to the general practitioner and that he dreads nothing in his patient’s illnesses more than a nervous breakdown. The dread is all the greater because he has no technique for dealing with the emergency except either to call in a specialist or to certify the patient, or to recommend a sea voyage for the patient. The general practitioner may look forward with some misgiving if called to a bad roadside smash; his aid may be called in too late and the injuries may be severe or his skill hindered by darkness or cold weather, but at least he knows how to set about his work, he can do something. In psychological crises he often feels helpless from the very start.

The many reasons for this feeling of helplessness have often been considered; first there is the lack of preparation in the curriculum; second, the fact that what training is provided consists of the exhibition of incurable cases in a distant and forbidding institution, instead of the demonstration of everyday mental disorders in the wards and outpatient department; and thirdly, the lectures centre on the symptoms of the medico-legal disorders called insanity and the medicolegal restrictions which may be imposed on the sufferers. The atmosphere is thus so charged with crisis and hopelessness that it is little wonder the student and practitioner look on acute mental illness as the bugbear of professional life.

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