8 Chapters
Medium 9781855752818

My Kleinian Home

Herman, Nini Karnac Books ePub

The days before the interview, at the end of the same week, I thought and thought about those words. Up to now I had assumed that the person and the place of a psychoanalyst must be swathed in mysteries appropriate to the alchemists. The more the better, certainly. Precious metals, ornaments, symbols, halos, roots and herbs: I demanded everything, tutored properly by Jung, Hans Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. Now Dr G had scuttled that. It was the work, the actual work itself, that was significant. A thing that could presumably be evaluated and assessed like the ploughing and the crop.

This struck me as uniquely right and reassuring all at once. A breathtaking discovery, and I had made it just in time to shed some preconceived ideas which, disappointed, always led to withdrawal and hostility and a lot of acting out. It was certainly as well, because I was not going to find any trappings at this door. Even the window boxes had very little more than weeds.

The wooden plate above the bell of the simple garden flat spelt the surname: nothing more. No letters stood behind the name and no initials in the front. Not even ‘Dr’. Not a hint.

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My Freudian Father

Herman, Nini Karnac Books ePub

The heat lay heavy on the land in that July of 1973. The trees drowsed dusty, somnolent and still. The air was syrupy by day and like a tepid bath at night. Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, were briefly nudged by our tyres and then curled over once again to dream their stubborn history, on which we no more scratched our mark than hens on farmyard dust. Each wrapped in sorrows of their own, both D and B had fallen fast asleep, by way of simple, human self-defence, long before London straggled into sight. And so I greeted her alone, my beloved megalith.

How I had missed her, through those Suffolk years. Past rhyme and reason I had yearned for my old mother of the Blitz. How often she had held my hand when there had been nobody else. There, all my children had been born. My small and her majestic span had brushed so often in the dusk and dawn. And now they touched another time, for some still hidden, and unwritten page.

Such were the sentiments with which I made that hot, homesick drive, to start up up my shrill, persistent, organ-grinder life at some new and hopeful pitch. As is frequently the case when one pins unrealistic hopes upon a change of outer scene, the city of my dreams now seemed less than a total panacea.

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In the Beginning

Herman, Nini Karnac Books ePub

All experience awaits recapture in the day to day of dreams, analysis and life. I remember being born. There was a splintering in the head, together with a bursting pain, a gurgling where there should have been breath, a feat of rescue and reprieve equally mysterious as that onslaught just before. This baffling sequence of events I have repeated all through life. Time and again, when all seemed lost, I somehow won through in the nick of time. When it was over there remained a blind necessity to sleep. To relegate this vast ordeal back to oblivion whence it made an illicit, brief escape. For everything has been inscribed in the computers of the mind from the beginning to the end.

‘You almost died when you were born. You had that string twice round your neck and looked quite blue. Well, almost black. Ugly, really terrible,’ my mother in due course confirmed this cataclysmic episode, during my analysis, one Sunday in her tidy flat.

Listening to her carefully I was unable to detect, fifty-three years afterwards, a trace of feeling in her voice, nor any hint that she had perhaps felt terror When her first-born did not cry in that impressive bedchamber of that villa in Berlin in which she too had grown up.

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Postscript: Reflections after One Decade

Herman, Nini Karnac Books ePub

REFLECTIONS AFTER ONE DECADE

How much lifetime has passed. This book was actually written near enough half-way through a nine-year analysis. By the time it went to press I might already have composed something of a variation. I was, in part, a different person, which is always the case with the making of new growth. However, the original assuredly had caught a moment which I was not prepared to scuttle on account of younger shoots. ‘If I cannot be myself in what I write, then my work would be nothing but lies and humbug’;* and now that some four years have passed since I left that Kleinian Home in a row of London houses, at the foot of a small hill, I know that I must try to capture a fragment of truth again, while knowing that it too, in time, will again be superseded.

The last few months and final weeks of the analysis, continued five times a week to the hour of termination, had been punctuated by some deeply gratifying sessions of a profoundly peaceful nature, which perhaps is what is meant by bliss. We agreed that they felt like a satisfying feed, both for mother and for infant. Both were thriving, one could say. What Tustin has evoked so well as ‘a rhythm of safety’ where the mouth and breast achieve harmonious co-operation after troubling trial and error, was gaining in ascendancy. After a life of daunting struggle it was becoming safe to be, as I believed with some conviction.

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Therapeutic Interlude

Herman, Nini Karnac Books ePub

I would have given almost anything for the opportunity to return to London there and then to start my new analysis. But D’s ‘O’ levels were by now just another year away, preventing any change of school until that hurdle had been cleared. Surely Cambridge had to have more resources than the one gloomy psychoanalyst who had discouraged me so much when I had consulted him?

Yes, a friend of mine replied, a retired therapist lived on the edges of the town and still took patients now and then, the more so if they were short-term.

Two charming whippets peered at me through a landing window when I arrived and rang the bell. The door was opened by a frail, bent man. The hand he gave me so readily felt like the warm nest of a tired bird and seemed to crumple in my own, yet the blue, seafaring eyes chased the weariness away as though one had imagined it. His much-adapted, well-worn house, was a comforting affair set in gardens that an old, gnarled man - the archetypal gardener - tended in the timeless way habitual to monasteries; his barrows, rakes and twiglike brooms appearing dreamlike here or there.

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