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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 FOURTEEN: My pen pal

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

Gill Davies

In truth, I only met Nina once, and that was in the late 1980s. I was struck by her appearance and demeanour. She was handsome, but seemed quite austere—the kind of person who, I felt strongly, would do things meticulously and correctly. She struck me as a particular type of English woman, upper middle-class, clearly well read, radiating personal authority, neither a taker nor receiver of liberties. Faced with such a seemingly perfectly-formed person, one wondered if there might be possibilities for “difference” just below the surface. Was she what she seemed to be?

Some years later, I had become the managing director of Free Association Books. I wrote to our authors to explain my arrival and to outline some of my intentions in relation to the administration of their “affairs” (at the time, paying their royalties was our most pressing need), my approach to managing the list, as well as the kind of publications I was seeking to contract. It was the usual kind of letter a publisher sends out when joining a company. I did get a reply from Nina, short, polite, wishing me well, and so on. Things might never have developed further from that first exchange of letters, but one day I wrote asking if she could advise me on a synopsis for a book that an author had sent me.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: Little Christmas

Gillian Preston Karnac Books ePub

Mary Nottidge

Nina was my godmother, or Buddha-Mum, as she referred to herself. Having studied medicine at Bart’s with my father in the 1950s, she had been part of the same group of devout Christians known as the St Augustine’s Society. My father introduced her to my mother before they were married and the three of them remained great friends until her death in 1997. She once told my father, “I’ve come to the conclusion that God for me is an interval between lovers”. When my parents approached her to be my godmother she was already exploring Buddhism and my mother was concerned that she might not want to accept the role. Their hope was that a godparent might give their children an adult friend, an alternative to the parents, rather than testing them on the Ten Commandments. Ever quick, Nina’s reply was, “But of course I shall constantly be asking Mary if she’s committing adultery!” By the time I knew her she was a Buddhist and the most fabulous godmother you could wish for. She had a marvellous ability to make one feel incredibly special and was adored by the whole family.

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Chapter Two - The Trauma of Lost Love in Psychoanalysis

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER TWO

The trauma of lost love in psychoanalysis

Most historians agree that in the history of psychoanalysis Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g) marks a juncture, even perhaps the juncture. Until 1920, no one could be a Freudian without subscribing to his libido theory—in its evolving formulation—and to the centrality of the sexual instinctual drive in the aetiology of the neuroses. Non-subscribers left the movement. Adler's and Jung's withdrawals became like traumas that Freud kept trying to master in writing about them. But in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud himself brought into question the defining position of the libido theory. He disagreed with himself, and the disagreements his internal debate provoked among his followers have, to this day, not ceased reverberating. But, because the master's revision was so problematic, and got no less so as he elaborated his new theory in some later works while rejecting it in others, his followers have felt free to disagree without needing to become schismatics. Beyond the Pleasure Principle was more a statement of intense theoretical need than a diktat.

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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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