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Chapter Twelve - The Smug Buddha: Dialogue with Caroline Helm

Maria Pozzi Monzo Karnac Books ePub

Dialogue with Caroline Helm, whose Tibetan name is Gakyil Shenpen, which translates as Coil of Joy Benefiting Others

References

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

Chõdrõn, P. (1968). When Things Fall Apart. London: Elements.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1973). Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism. Boston: Shambhala Publications.

Coltart, N. (1992). Slouching Towards Bethlehem. New York: Guilford.

Meltzer, D., Bremner, J., Hoxter, S., Weddell, D., & Wittenberg, I. (1975). Explorations in Autism. Perth: Clunie Press.

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9: Parent-infant psychotherapy: when feelings of futility are prevalent

Maria Pozzi Monzo Karnac Books ePub

Amanda Jones

The focus of this chapter is very specific. It is written out of a motivation to share some of my difficulties working with babies, who, I feel, have given up reaching out for human contact. The babies I am thinking of actively sever human connection by avoiding eye contact, stilling or startling when touched, and sleeping too much. They are also quiet: the mouth, usually a place of passionate expression is flat, as if the lips are glued together; or sometimes the lips and tongue are floppy, lacking tone. The absence of appetite for interaction is noticeable. Moreover, the babies look lethargic; their eyes are dull. There is no sense of mastery when making a gesture, or manipulating an object. Although these babies look depressed, I do not think this captures the experience of futility and hopelessness they feel. The fifteen or so babies I have worked with who presented in this way were between four weeks and six months old.

I describe an intervention I undertook with a very quiet and disconnected seven-week-old baby to explain what I think was starting to happen in his developing internal object-relational world and then how I helped his seventeen-year-old mother to reach him. This brief introduction is to give a flavour of Nat and Natalie. Although I have changed their names, I have Natalie’s permission to share aspects of their therapy. Natalie was referred to the Parent-Infant Mental Health Service by her health visitor. On completing the Edinburgh Post Natal Depression Scale Natalie had said in a flat voice—as if in passing—that she felt suicidal and cut herself. Her health visitor sensitively said that Nat was doing well, but Natalie seemed low. Natalie nodded and agreed to the referral.

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CHAPTER FOUR Serendipity in the magic garden

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CHAPTER FOUR

Serendipity in the magic garden

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

mp:

Thank you, Deirdre, for agreeing to talk with me in your beautiful garden on this topic, which is dear to me. As I may have mentioned already, the title of this book is going to be: The Buddha and the Baby, hence we need to focus on your work with children and parents.

dd:

Oh, it’s a lovely title.

mp:

Oh good, I’m so glad you approve as I value you opinion as a writer. I’d like to start with the two choices in your life, of being

Buddhist and a child psychotherapist, and how they came about for you.

dd: They’re linked in a way. As you know, I was born and brought up in a Jewish family but I have been interested in Buddhism since

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CHAPTER TEN: Learning disabilities

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Introduction

When children with severe disabilities, such as autism, Down’s syndrome, congenital or hereditary syndromes or mental handicaps, are referred to the clinic, the help that under fives’ counselling can offer is limited. It does not aim at modifying such severe conditions, but to help both parents and children to live together in a more tolerable and even satisfactory way, despite the disability. Sinason’s concepts, of “opportunist, secondary handicap” and the “stupid smile” (Sinason, 1988, 1992), are useful tools to understand patients with handicaps and to help parents, who are confused, lost, frightened, and guilty, to see better and not to create a secondary handicap.

The “secondary handicap” consists of a psychological problem that is superimposed by families and carers on the original, primary handicap. For example, parents justify not setting limits and not allowing their handicapped child to become independent by arguing that they do not want to upset them. The “secondary handicap” can cause far greater distress and destruction than the original handicap, but it is this that can be treated, differently from the primary handicap, which may be ameliorated only in some cases. The “stupid smile” is a defensive, false smile, which many handicapped people show. For example, it may be used on meeting a new person, in order to be liked and to deny that they are different and may be shocking to look at. It is a mask that attempts to deny differences and feelings of unhappiness, envy, and the awareness of being unwanted by society. The “stupid smile” is a form of “secondary handicap”. To be aware that the child with a handicap is still a human being with feelings and reactions, and to begin to understand his or her apparently inexplicable behaviour, can be a first step towards integration and a happier relationship with that child.

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN Mindfulness and meditation in the consulting room

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Mindfulness and meditation in the consulting room

Dialogue with Ricky Emanuel

There are only two days when things are impossible— yesterday and tomorrow.

—Dalai Lama

mp:

Ricky, thank you for meeting me to talk about your ideas on psychotherapy and meditation as I know you have been meditating for a long time and have been interested and written on psychotherapy and Buddhist ideas.

re:

I don’t practise Buddhism, but I practise meditation and am interested in the Buddhist thinking and constructs of mind, not in the religion.

mp:

How did you get to meditation in your life?

re:

Very early at university, I did transcendental meditation, but I didn’t keep up with it.

mp:

Did you have a mantra then?

re:

Yes, I did that for a while then left it. It was part of all that was going on in the sixties and seventies. How I came back to it

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