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11: “It wasn’t meant to happen like this”: the complexity of mourning great expectations

Karnac Books ePub

Lynne Cudmore

In this chapter I will discuss some aspects of my clinical work in the perinatal service, part of the specialist service for the under-fives age group, based in the Child and Family Department at the Tavistock Clinic in London. The majority of the individuals, couples, parents, and families that I meet struggle with the emotional aftermath of living through traumatic experiences that have occurred during pregnancy, the infant’s birth or the months following. The experience of feeling catapulted into a disaster area where they had previously had great expectations of joy is one they share. There is an inevitable emotional fallout for each individual internally and externally; on relationships within the family, between the parental couple, between parent and infant and with already existing children. Trauma always involves loss (Levy & Lemma 2004) so these experiences need to be mourned if development is to occur; loss has to be acknowledged, grief expressed. But a mourning process might be inhibited by trauma if there is a breakdown in symbolic functioning, the capacity to reflect on lived experience (Garland 1998). The losses that my patients describe can be actual, such as the death of a child, or the loss of an “inside” baby because of a very premature birth; and also symbolic, such as the loss of a sense of self as good and strong, the loss of hope, trust and faith in a benign world. Working through these different layers and aspects of loss is painful to bear and rarely linear. Many factors, both internal and external, influence the meaning that is generated from the experience of “it wasn’t meant to happen like this”.

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Medium 9781780490816

Chapter Nine - The Facilitating Silence: Dialogue with Sara Leon

Pozzi Monzo, Maria Karnac Books ePub

Dialogue with Sara Leon

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

—Mahatma Gandhi


Batchelor, S. (1998). Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening. London: Bloomsbury.

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Medium 9781855759077

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Consultation to a nursery school

Pozzi Monzo, Maria Karnac Books ePub


In this chapter, the understanding of the unconscious world of children under five and of their relationship with their parents and nursery teachers is applied to consultative work in a nursery school in a deprived area. The intervention, which is different from the traditional under fives’ counselling with families, shows how the school began to emerge from and transform the state of disarray into which it had been thrown. The consultation was undertaken together with a colleague who had a systemic approach. Our different ways of thinking complemented each other in this situation. I will focus mainly on the psychodynamic interpretation of the school situation, when our consultation began, and on the changes that occurred as a result of this work.

A four-year-old gangster: cigar in mouth, guns in pockets

In March one year, a request for a consultation came to the clinic from an infant school. The school wanted help in managing the difficult behaviour of their children and the stress that it caused to the staff, reflected in the number of absences and early retirements. The school was located next to a council estate, in a rough and deprived area, renowned for its social problems, vandalism, and delinquency. In the past the school had adopted a macho, authoritarian approach to badly behaved children, but now it wanted to adopt a more child-centred, gentle regime. The communication between the school, the parents, the Special Needs Advisory Team, and the educational psychologist had led nowhere. My colleague social worker and myself decided to respond by offering a multidisciplinary consultation.

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Chapter Nineteen - The Child in the Adult: Psychotherapy Informed by Buddhism: Dialogue with Steven Mendoza

Pozzi Monzo, Maria Karnac Books ePub

Dialogue with Steven Mendoza

Parents are very kind,

But I am too young to appreciate it.

The highland mountains and valleys are beautiful,

But having never seen the lowlands, I am stupid.

—Chogyam Trungpa, The Myth of Freedom


Bion, W. R. (1959). Attention and Interpretation. London: Tavistock.

Bion, W. R. (1962). Learning from Experience. London: Tavistock.

Bion, W. R. (1967). Notes on memory and desire. Psycho-Analytic Forum, 2: 272–273; 279–280.

Chogyam Trungpa (1976). The Myth of Freedom. London; Shambala.

Eliot, T. S. (1959). Four Quartets. London: Faber & Faber.

Govinda, A. (1957). Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism. London: Rider Books, 1969.

Sartre, J. -P. (1943). Being and Nothingness. New York: Pocket Books, 1992.

Steiner, J. (1994). Patient-centred and analyst-centred interpretations: some implications of containment and countertransference. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 14: 406–422.

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Chapter Four - Serendipity in the Magic Garden: Dialogue with Deirdre Dowling

Pozzi Monzo, Maria Karnac Books ePub

Dialogue with Deirdre Dowling

When you touch one thing with deep awareness, you touch everything. The same is true of time. When you touch one moment with deep awareness, you touch all moments.

—Thich Nhat Hahn


Bion, W. R. (1962). Learning from Experience. London: Tavistock.

Dowling, D. (2006). The Capacity To Be Alone: A Question of Technique. London: Routledge.

Suzuki, S. (1970). Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. New York, Tokyo: Weatherhill.

Thich Nhat Hahn (1992). Touching Peace, The Art of Mindful Living, p. 123. Berkeley, CA: Parallaz Press.

Thich Nhat Hanh (2006). Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, Sounds Tru CD.

Walpole, H. (1754). The Three Princes of Serendip, quoted in a letter written by him to Horace Mann, January 1754.

Winnicott, D. W. (1965). The capacity to be alone. In: Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment. London: Hogarth.

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