psychoanalyst author editor
People and their Prejudices
My interest in historical influences and formations led me to take the opportunities I had to write a little bit about certain people who were important figures.
2004 Melanie Klein.
In Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
I felt it was something of an honour to be asked to contribute the entry on Melanie Klein to the Dictionary of National Biography. It was not only because this is a prestigious record of the contributions of British people to human learning and achievement, but also this is a link back to Leslie Stephen the founder of the Dictionary, and the father of Virginia Woolf, a connection with the Bloomsbury group that has done so much to root psychoanalysis in British culture as well.
2006 Who wants to be a scientist: The historical and psychoanalytic context at the start of Melanie Klein’s career, 1918-1921.
In Jon Mills (ed) Other Banalities: Melanie Klein Revisited London: Routledge
Having thought about Melanie Klein, herself, and her psychoanalytic ideas, for many years, I wondered about how she became interested in psychoanalysis and what struggles she had to make her achievements at the beginning. She did not have a University education, and was not versed in scientific or medical work at all (though she would, as a school girl, have liked to become a doctor). The title of the Chapter in this book is slightly ironic (as is the title of the book) but the text conveys how she was both limited by her obstructed intellectual formation, and also freed to expand in different ways from the predominant culture of medical science which prevailed in psychoanalysis in the 1920s.
2008 Impressions of Isabel. A contribution to ‘Tribute: Isabel Menzies Lyth 1917–2008’.
British Journal of Psychotherapy 25: 523–524
A meeting was held following the death of Isabel Menzies (in 2008), and I was keen to contribute. I had known her as a supervising analyst during my own training as a psychoanalyst. In looking back at her work, I was surprised at how diffident she sometimes seemed in presenting her work, and how that contrasted with the strong, no-nonsense manner with which she conducted her supervisions.
However the times were changing and we all became confronted by new phenomena including prejudices in our own culture and fanatical attacks on our culture from outside. It seemed important to understand the nature of intolerance that could lead to such deep commitments that they were patently self-destructive.
2006 Identity and the influence of social settings: A psychoanalytic perspective on the interaction of individual and society.
British Journal of Psychotherapy 22: 155-166
This is the first of a series of papers which tries to understand how the unconscious of individuals can be influenced by social pressure. The paper takes up Freud’s notion of ego-ideal and its replacement by the group ideal – clearly a means by which the social can intrude upon the individual. Thus identity and the notion of ‘who-I-want-to-be’ has strong elements of social construction.
2006 (with Gary Winship) Orestes and democracy.
In Prophecy Coles (ed) Sibling Relationships. London: Karnac
At this time there was suddenly an interest in whether psychoanalysis (supposedly focusing so exclusively on the influence of the Oedipal parents) had left out the influence of siblings in the early development of a child, or reduced it overmuch to mere sibling rivalry. Being now an ‘experienced’ grandparent, I was intrigued, and in discussion with a colleague looked at an alternative myth from Ancient Greece, which developed a very different side to sibling relations concerning solidarity and colleaguely destruction of the parents.
2007 Intolerance and the intolerable: The case of racism.
Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society 12 1-20.
For a long time I had been interested in what one might be able to tell about the nature of the social phenomenon of racism, from the psychoanalysis of people who are foreigners within our culture. Because the identification of the alien ‘other’ is so deep in human experience, it is important to understand how this can be co-ordinated as a social from, racism. Again, it seemed useful to use Freud’s idea of the internalisation of a group ideal (a social ideal), but this paper explores conditions for this being acceptable or unacceptable to a specific individual, using clinical material from two psychoanalyses.
2009 Ideology and identity: A psychoanalytic investigation of a social phenomenon.
Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society 14: 131-148.
Finally a paper which develops in more general terms the way in which personal identity is formed and distorted by ‘ideas’, i.e. ideology, that has been internalised as a group ideal in the manner described by Freud.