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CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR: Ignatius of Loyola: The Psychology of a Saint

Karnac Books ePub

Here is a book of paradox, and, to many readers, the author himself represents a paradox. Dr Meissner serves two professional masters, two of the most powerful cultural figures of the last 400 years, St Ignatius and Sigmund Freud; he is a Jesuit priest, and he is a Professor of Psychoanalysis at Boston College. I imagine he is unique. Without his profound immersion in both his disciplines, he would never have brought off the achievement which this book is; with it he has produced a vivid, detailed and scholarly study of an extraordinary character, Ignatius of Loyola, who in his own life and character manifested many paradoxes. As I got deeper into the book, I was increasingly gripped by it, so alive is the portrait of a remarkable and charismatic man. I even felt by the end that he was, after all, rather lovable; through most of the book I had felt impatient, amazed, admiring, aggravated, and moved by turns, but rarely stirred to affection. I cannot help wondering if Dr Meissner heaved a sigh of relief as he laid down his pen: there are massive sources for the Life, he had set himself a formidable task, and because of the intellectual and emotional requirements of both his professions, he must have been conscious of balancing on a tightrope throughout most of his journey.

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CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: The Trans-Siberian Railway

Karnac Books ePub

We packed a suitcase each and an overnight bag—my black Samsonite, as you know, is very capacious. Because we’d read two books on the Trans-Siberian Express, one by Eric Newby when he’d gone on it in 1977, which actually, as it turned out, wasn’t all that out of date, and one by someone who’d gone on it in 1991, which brought us up to date and they had advised about (a) presents for people who looked after us on the train, and on the hotel floors, etc., and (b) food for ourselves, because it’s so sparse and unspeakable on the train (and it was), a lot of our luggage consisted of that and got lighter and lighter as we went along.

I’ll jump ahead, and say that there were three conductresses who worked in shifts, on the train, and they were tough sourfaced old cows who gradually softened towards us as the week went by, because from the beginning we made a habit of being Fairy Godmothers every evening about 6 p.m., and took them presies, and they really were touched and thrilled. We used cigarettes, soap, tights, coffee, chocolate and glossy magazines. Things are just not obtainable in Russia. There was one lump of soap in the washroom at the beginning of the journey, ugly, lardy brown stuff, which had been stolen within a few hours and was never replaced. And what the Russians do (many of them were using the train as a conveyance between stations in the ordinary way—we stopped at about 20 places all told) is to get out at the stations, and peasants would be crowded on the platform selling things—eggs, cooked chickens, fish (by Lake Baikal), vegetables, cooked potatoes, coleslaw, and of course, vodka and beer, and then a lot of bartering and buying would go on. We were the oldest people on the train by far—we hadn’t realised we’d be rather a focus of interest because of it—and the young 'British contingent’—about 15 backpackers doing world travel before going up to University—all soon got together, and discovered us, and, again, were rather fascinated by our age and us, and would drift along the corridor and chat to us, leaning up against the door of our carriage. Well, they hadn’t thought to bring any food, or probably hadn’t got room, so firstly, they went to the restaurant car at every meal time and jolly well ate what there was, and secondly, they would leap out and buy bread and salami and potatoes, etc., so they were glad of it—as were the Russians.

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CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE: The assessment of psychological-mindedness in the psychiatric interview

Karnac Books ePub

In the last paragraph of his paper “A defect in training”, Yorke (1988) has a sentence which serves as an excellent link to the opening of this paper : “For all their importance, empathy and awareness of patients’ anxieties do not in themselves amount to psychological understanding” (p. 160). In his paper, he had made a plea for more psychoanalytical psychology to be included in a general postgraduate psychiatric training, and I am in complete agreement with his cogently argued case.

However, I want to concentrate on a particular aspect of this point. When an experienced psychoanalyst is carrying out a diagnostic consultation with a view to assessing a patient’s suitability for analysis or analytical psychotherapy, he is exercising his own skill and psychological-mindedness in this intensive exploration. The prospects of a successful treatment will be greatly enhanced if he finds the patient is “psychologically-minded”—whatever the presenting complaints, or however unpromising the superficial impression. Therefore, I would like to detail some of the qualities of this feature, with a view to offering some guidelines to colleagues who are still learning their technique. Because of the value of brief lists for the purpose of consigning to accessible memory, I shall lay out these points in an approximate order of discovery, rather than of importance, under two main headings. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that the whole may be larger than the sum of its parts.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: A chink of craziness

Karnac Books ePub

Penelope Twine

Ihave struggled to put my thoughts about Nina into succinct words, as she was such an important person to me, in so many ways. Her patience and listening skills were an inspiration. Her intellect and humour could challenge and encourage at the same time. Her astute remarks were so personal and memorable, even years later. And a chink of craziness flavoured all parts of her and gave her that extra edge.

I miss her frequently and am reminded of her in bizarre ways. The internal walls of the WC block above a favourite beach in Cornwall have been painted deep purple and bright pink—colours I immediately associate with Nina. She loved, and often wore, them. A new Jane Gardam book came out this summer; Nina introduced me to this author, along with many others, through her genuine, unsnobbish love of modern literature.

Nina made one feel special and worthwhile, and confident that, if you worked hard, you could achieve. She was such a wonderful aunt, mentor, friend, and person to have known. It’s a cliché, but I really do feel it was a privilege to have been her niece.

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Chapter Five - A Brief History of Prejudice Studies

Young-Bruehl, Elisabeth Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER FIVE

A brief history of prejudice studies

Introduction

To study prejudice scientifically requires first of all, of course, some sense of it as a phenomenon and one in need of study. In the European tradition, we have evidence from the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers of awareness that people are religiously prejudiced because they make their gods in their own images and judge themselves superior to other peoples with other gods, other beliefs. As Xenophanes, forerunner of Parmenides, said around 500 BC: “The Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black, the Thracians that theirs have light blue eyes and red hair.” But this awareness, like later echoes of it in the Mediterranean world influenced by the Greeks, was in the service of an aspiration to a kind of philosophical monotheism—a doctrine of Being—that all superior men should embrace. Although none of the pre-Socratic Greeks ever worshipped a transcendent God, or developed a religion from a transcendent God's revelations, as did the Hebrews led by Abraham, the Christians, and the Muslims, they did criticise people for not being monotheists like themselves and for persisting in their particular customs and beliefs, their pre-judgments (praejudicum is the Latin word for prejudice). But criticising other people's prejudices because they do not conform to one's own superior and purportedly universal vision is not studying them in the scientific sense. Among the Europeans this step came only with the Enlightenment.

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