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CHAPTER THIRTEEN: A recollection of friendship

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

Nina Farhi

Icontemplated Nina as she sat, body erect, neck curved, eyes closed, a handsome and imposing woman, in the midst of a throng of people. And I watched these people as they moved eagerly towards her, then hesitated, then, somewhat bewildered, moved away.

She had made herself the centre of gravity within her complete inner stillness. She had also created a space around her that was hers and hers alone. Utterly personal.

This was her preparation before lecturing. Always in touch with her uncertainties, aware of her need to gather her resources, while deriving her power through the meditative practice of emptying herself of her Self.

However, I was very shortly to be chairing her talk (I now forget which), and it was time to rouse her. Lecturing, I know, was the world which she both loved for the freedom it gave to live out her mastery of her subject and for the opportunity it presented to perform with that charismatic presence, which, nevertheless, was always bounded by a silken skein.

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

Gillian Preston 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 FIVE: A one-off visit

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

Kathleen Murphy

Ifirst met Nina Coltart about 1980, when my doctor referred me to her, as a one-off visit. She quickly put me right on one point on which my thinking was at fault. She came across as a very kind person and one felt at ease with her.

At some point, possibly a couple of years later, and I cannot now remember how it started, after I had written to her, and she replied with a long friendly letter, and to that I replied, and, hence, a long and interesting correspondence began, and I looked forward to her letters coming, and to quickly responding.

Some time after this her housekeeper was taken ill, and I offered to do the vacuuming, if it would be of any help to her. I felt her life and her work were of so much help to others that to try and fit in housework seemed such a waste of Nina’s precious time. So I did the vacuuming and a few small errands (for which she paid me handsomely!), and I hope was of some help to her.

I might add that her housekeeper accomplished far more than I ever did!

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CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX: To go or not to go

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

Iused to be clearer in my views on this controversial subject than I am today. A combination of growing older and Buddhist practice has made it harder to hold a line. Early bereavement, and, later, becoming a doctor made me begin to reflect on death much earlier than most people, and this has deepened as death becomes a more real event for me instead of a remote possibility.

I joined the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, founded in 1935, about thirty years ago, simply to acquaint myself with the thinking and aims of the people who also belong to it, many of them Christians, and all serious and morally sensitive.

There is a tendency in the public to react strongly to the very word euthanasia. It is an interesting example of the power of conditioning, which so often leads to mindless prejudice. Like child-rearing and psychoanalysis, euthanasia is one of a small group of subjects upon which almost everyone confidently holds an opinion, usually characterized by profound ignorance, and vehemently expressed, particularly if negative, whenever the right button is pushed.

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Chapter Nine - Psychobiography and Character Study: A Reflection

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER NINE

Psychobiography and character study: a reflection


 

Biography as a relational scene

The other day, a patient of mine, who is a psychoanalyst, came in and told me, excitedly, apprehensively, that she had just come from a session with a patient of hers who was furious with me. Her patient had been reading my biography of Anna Freud, and had concluded that I had wilfully concealed Anna Freud's lesbianism. “What do you think?” my patient demanded of me. “Is she right?” When I questioned her question, my patient and I went off in the direction of her attitude towards me at the moment, which was suspicion and fear for the fate of her usual idealisation of me: maybe, she was thinking, I was homophobic and I would reject her for her own lesbianism. The question of Anna Freud's alleged lesbianism receded from our work while we focused on the homophobia my patient feared in me, but my biography remained there, suspended in the matrix of our talk, having an episode in the life it has had since its first appearance back in 1988. Every biography could be a subject of biography. And a biography's life is, also, part of the afterlife of its subject—part of the subject's public self, or publicly created self.

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