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CHAPTER FORTY-SIX: The Electrified Tightrope

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

For those who enjoy reading papers in the context of a background of information about the author, there is much to be said for reading the Afterword of this book first. It is a short piece of autobiography, which throws a special light on the author of these often extraordinary essays. It speaks to queries and theories that grow in one’s mind as one reads them. For example, although I might have guessed at it, I was delighted that Eigen actually says,

How can one call the therapist’s exasperation impatience when it may take years to reach the blow-out-burn-out point? Therapist outbursts can be helpful. It is inhuman for the therapist always to be on good behaviour … it is hard to imagine real work without [outbursts].

My pleasure related to the fact that to this day, thirteen years after I first gave the paper “Slouching towards Bethlehem”, people who have heard or read it still evince a sort of horrified shock at my description of “an outburst”.

The Afterword, and its references to the varied interests of this unusual man, provides us with a historical sketch of how these subjects have fed into his destiny, that is, his chosen life work of analysis and therapy. He reveals that he has, at one time or another, “gone into” a wide spread of therapies—Gestalt, existential, those that work with the body. The analysts who have been his strongest influences are Searles, Klein, Winnicott, British Independents generally, Kohut, Laing, Lacan, and Bion. He has always pursued a more than passing interest in religion, and later in his life he studied Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism with two elderly Chassidic rabbis in New York. Religion, prayer, faith, mystical experience—all appear, woven into the texture of his analytic writing; to those who will have some idea of what he means, he speaks of “a sense of holiness” which can visit him while he works, when “it uplifts me as an analytic person and ignites sessions”. His long apprenticeship included work with autistic and psychotic children, and with adults of very mixed pathologies. He gives us an overview of the sorts of subjects which interest him and which he likes to work with; this does not particularly focus on anything called “cure”, but includes “ideal experiencing”, psychosexual identity, interactions and coun-tertransference, the clinical (rather than theoretical) “dramas of the Self”, issues of pure-self feeling and self–other feeling, distinction and union, the body, the face. Both in the Afterword, and scattered through the essays, are views of what our work is, gleaned from experience: therapy is most helpful in “coming through”—coming through catastrophe, addiction, rigidity, psychopathy; it provides new experiences of old patterns, and new partnerships with unconscious processes; it soothes pain, assists growth, is full of contrasts and polarities, and constantly “brings one near the Unknowable”. Invaluable aphorisms on technique crop up frequently: “do not prematurely interpret the negative transference” (which is often a name, he adds, for the analyst’s frustration); “paradoxical injunctions are useful”, especially with the acting-out, psychopathic sort of patient for whom he seems to have a flair; “let them luxuriate in their hatred”; use cross-talk, aggressive playing, use the comic if the patient arouses it in you; “do not force intimacy on those who cannot bear it … it is as undesirable to deluge the patient with therapeutic openness as it is to starve him with too great austerity”. This last piece of advice is extremely necessary and rarely given. If only I could believe this book would reach the therapists who are proliferating round the edges of the older-established analytical fields, whose training is often scanty, and who often seem to rely on a sort of familiar over-friendliness as if it were therapeutic in itself—which, as Eigen emphasizes, it may well not be.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT: In praise of Nina Coltart

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

Peter L. Rudnytsky

“It is of the essence of our impossible profession that in a very singular way we do not know what we are doing”.

[Coltart, “Slouching towards Bethlehem”, 1986]

1

In reading the work of a psychoanalytic author, there is one question that I think we should ask ourselves above all others: would I want to be in analysis with this person? Is this someone I would trust to probe the innermost recesses of my psyche and with whom I would be likely to have a genuinely therapeutic experience?

To be sure, we also hope to profit intellectually from reading a psychoanalytic paper. But a brilliant theorist may not be the man or woman to whom one would turn for emotional healing. Even today, the figure of Freud casts by far the longest shadow over the psychoanalytic field, while both Klein and Lacan have indubitably expanded the universe of analytic discourse; but I suspect I may not be alone in feeling that I would rather have gone for treatment to Ferenczi or Winnicott—or, indeed, to any number of lesser mortals, provided they were possessed of genuine humility and compassion.

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CHAPTER ONE: Nina-isms

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

Susan Budd

Iwas one of Nina Coltart’s analysands.

It is difficult to write about a relationship that is both so intimate and yet so remote; for example, I never, either during my analysis or after it, ever called her “Nina”. But it is inevitable that, during a long training analysis, the patient comes to know the analyst pretty well, and the training analysis is the central part of an intensive apprenticeship by means of which we are turned into analysts and members of the same profession. After I had finished my analysis, I used to write to Nina, and go to see her from time to time, and I took over from her as the analytic consultant to a psychotherapy training in Birmingham. During these encounters, and in the latter stages of my analysis, she told me quite a bit about her attitude to our rather odd vocation, and I have tried to record here some of her various aphorisms and what I think she meant by them. (I did think of calling this piece “The wit and wisdom of Nina Coltart”, but I can well imagine just how indignant that would have made her.)

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN: The silent listener

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

Mona Serenius

Inever actually met Nina Coltart in person. Nevertheless, I came to regard her as one of my most intimate friends. She was, for me, a role model and a mentor, ever since 1994, when our correspondence first began, up to her tragic death in June 1997. Even now, when so many years have passed, I can feel her powerful influence on me and on my life. I also have reason to believe that in the last two and a half years of her life she considered me a close friend and came truly to enjoy our correspondence. In the beginning, she ended her letters formally: “Kind regards. Yours sincerely, Nina Coltart”. One of her last letters ends, “Yours ever, with much love, Nina”.

How, then, did this intimate relationship come about?

To begin with, Nina Coltart was certainly not prepared to become so involved with me. I can think of several reasons why. She had been asked by the Editor in Chief of the International Forum of Psychoanalysis, Jan Stensson, to read and comment on the first draft of my article “The silent cry. A Finnish child during World War II and 50 years later” (1995). She showed rather clearly that she was irritated and reluctant to do so, especially since she was under the misapprehension that I, the author of the draft, was a psychoanalyst by profession—quite understandable, since I was supplying my article to a psychoanalytic journal. My article did not include a discussion on psychoanalytic theory, nor did the draft include a reference list. I had been in psychoanalysis for six years and had read a fair amount of psychoanalytic literature by the time I wrote the article, but obviously did not think it appropriate for me to theorize on the subject.

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Chapter Six - Reflections on Women and Psychoanalysis

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER SIX

Reflections on women and psychoanalysis

Introduction

I wanted to prepare a historical and clinical text that would bring us to the present tense of “Women and Psychoanalysis”, let us reflect on how we—we in the field of psychoanalysis—have come a long way on this topic, and where we might be going. So I thought about writing a brief history—a “multibiography”—of women psychoanalysts, our foremothers, and comparing their situations with ours. Then I thought about writing a brief history of women in psychoanalysis—-of women as patients—focusing on how women patients now are understood and treated. With these possibilities, I wanted to avoid writing a history of changing views in psychoanalysis of female psychology, as that has been done many times, for many purposes. Not one of you is in need of such a treatise, for you have all taken whole courses on this “changing views” theme at your training institutes, and many of you teach such courses. In fact, one of the key features of the present moment of “Women and Psychoanalysis” is that we are all well aware of the history of changing views in psychoanalysis of female psychology; we are thoroughly historicised.

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