Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in North West London

This page is in preparation. The plan is to indicate some of the situations and conflicts that some might find a way through in psychoanalytical psychotherapy.
First though, think of this:

We hurt one another

a) We hurt others when we are out of touch with what we can't stand about ourselves.
b) We hurt ourselves as long as we deny that part of us we can't stand.
c) How can a state of affairs so unsatisfactory change? What makes it so intractable?
d) Eventually only we ourselves can know.


Hello Loneliness

Who wants to let on they’re lonely! Well, Elvis maybe. But did he? Maybe it'll get you a bit of sympathy. Or maybe a companion. more likely someone to pity you! Mm! Mightn't that leave you feeling patronised and secretly resentful?
D'you think it'd be better to pretend you're ok and put on an act!’ Except it rarely works--no one is fooled. That, I think, seems to be the trouble with secrets, especially if I hide it from myself. They can sniff it out and, nine times out of ten they will keep your secret from you. So nothing is said. While deep down, you may want it to be seen (that would be natural, a child is sure to want that, even though he is sulking).

Put it another way, a lonely person tends to act the part of their own judge and executioner. So you don’t need a therapist to be doing that for you!! And it is not what a therapist is there for anyway. If it’s absolution you're after that could be seen to be bowing down to an internal judgemental presence implanted by your culture to muzzle your innate capacity to be in touch with a truer self.
I'd rather think of being in therapy as getting ready little by little to entertain more of your undiscovered self and distinguish your 'voice' from the one superimposed upon you to disable the authentic one.

Hidden within this take-over, I believe, may lie a vital clue to the depression of the lonely.


Here I am—like George Formby (remember?)I’m leaning on the lamppost at the corner of the street in case a certain little lady comes by and the song goes on: Oh me! Oh my! In his intro he sings in a different cadence, ‘I’m leaning on the lamp. I know I look just like a tramp and you may think I’m hanging round to steal a car. And no I’m not a crook, and if you think that’s what I look, I’ll tell you why I’m here and what my motives are’.

And here I am in a quandary (about my motives, yes): Will I, won’t I--tell? Oh but perhaps it’s ‘too much information, like, ‘keep that to yourself, thank you very much!’ like what I’ve grown up with. And I can’t play innocent and excuse myself by saying there is a lot I don’t know about myself—which is true. I may think I know myself, what I want etc. So is it a question of not really knowing myself? Well, hell, it does seem I don’t know the half of it, all that stuff under the surface coming up in dreams—why on earth did I do that etc?! Thank goodness it was only a dream etc. And then the moments when you never knew you could feel ‘like that!’—the mystery of my moods—surprised by some idea that seems to come out of nowhere at the appropriate moment and which you never could have figured out, despite all the reading you’ve done on the subject—no, just by being there and listening out, something becomes clear, a sudden discovery of well-being, the unexpected laughter or sorrow.

Anyway here I am and it is likebeing cornered, waiting for (well maybe a certain little lady… or else some nefarious opportunity or other).

Well, but this is about secrets and that is what George Formby turns into a big hit in 1937. A crook wants to look trustworthy to get away with it and maybe he does not want the certain little lady to know he lies in wait. If she were to, maybe he would pretend he hadn’t noticed (being like shy). The song may be about just such a conflict—his motives--like being in a corner (cornered) if not ‘on the corner’ with something to hide (or sell) or what... ‘she’ll try to get away’, the song gives the show away.

But it is a paradox. ‘If you want to keep a secret you must keep it from yourself,’ is a quotation from Animal Farm by George Orwell. How is that to be done? Self-deception! By not being yourself—what Winnicott termed having a false self. In that case then, do my loved ones really know me and, if not, what does their love mean? But to know your secret does not mean you have tell, you can take care of it and have respect for privacy. ‘A secret is a kind of promise’, according to Jennifer Lee Carrell, a thriller writer and Shakespearian scholar—(you can tell I’ve been trawling the internet). But what does that mean--a 'promise'? Perhaps that I want to tell or I will only or have you find out when I get to know you or your secrets. ‘It can also be a prison’, she writes.

Secrets—‘weary of their tyranny’ (James Joyce)—brought me to my own therapy. Doesn’t mean they’re all out in the open now. Okay, but in the end they will be exposed ('shouted from the rooftops'). Only then it will have been a missed opportunity—with that certain little lady.

What I'm getting at is the mystery of being a person. 'Dawn points, and another day/ Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind/ Wrinkles and slides. I am here/ Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning'. T.S.Eliot

Missing What?

‘Ain’t no sunshine’ … goes the song … ‘When you’re gone’. Missing someone is a theme pretty central to so much pop music. It’s there in the compelling three-chord sequence of the Blues. The fading descant in music generally communicates instantly and affects us deeply, putting us in touch with loss. There it is in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, when Orsino says—'That strain again! It had a dying fall; / O, it came over my ear like the sweet sound, / That breathes upon a bank of violets'—something we would refer to as ‘sweet sorrow’: parting, and at least for a moment or two we are in touch with melancholy.

I have, I think, never fully grasped Freud’s crucial distinction between mourning and melancholia. But in moments of reflection—‘in vacant or in pensive mood’—it is always somewhere in the background. Why? Well, for one thing, it seems melancholia may be a too long mourning; to put that another way, my loss instead of being worked through, is clung to, even cherished ('half in love with easeful death, Ode to a Nightingale).

    In France last year I awoke from a dream to a day of what I thought of as desolation—a good word for what Keats depicts in La Belle Dame Sans Merci, ('Oh what ails thee, knight-at-arms,/Alone and palely loitering./The sedge has withered from the lake/ And no birds sing.’) Browning invokes a desolate and ultimately devastating landscape in Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came (written in one go in a single day, I believe) in which he is in touch with the last things (as we say of a drowning man: his whole life flashes before him), a theme brilliantly reworked by Louis MacNeice in his radio play The Dark Tower. My dream that morning I have largely forgotten except for a sense of loneliness and someone ‘who once was a true love of mine’ (Scarborough Fair) begging to be let go.

This whole fact of an endless ‘mourning’ seems to me to centre on the virtual impossibility of forgiving ourselves, something quite different from forgiving someone for causing us an irretrievable loss. In which case, whether, real or deluded, the notion of having been complicit in, if not responsible for, our loss is incapable of being relinquished. Some would say that a secret guilt is what prevents a mourning becoming completed and restorative. And then we may despair in the belief that our destructiveness is too great. I noticed a comment which chimed with this in the BBC3 powerful drama about child abduction Thirteen Episode 4 (21/03/16) where Ivy’s (Jody Comer) schoolboy sweetheart from thirteen years ago Tim (Aneurin Barnard) suffers the fantasy of having found his long lost ‘love’ but has it disposed of out of hand by a friend’s comment: ‘Nostalgia with a side order of guilt!’

Freud’s paper on melancholia is regarded as one of his great insights. To make it simpler for me to understand what Freud meant I put it this way: What is it I miss? Let us say I concealed from myself that what I chose to think of as a ‘a bed of roses’ or ‘a bank of violets’ was in fact rather different. I may, alas, have taken my opportunity to make use of another, rather than wondering, and seeking to discover who each of us really were. ‘You never knew me!’—is a sad farewell and may just be too devastating to admit.

This is probably especially true in the case of having been abused where it is part of yourself and your development you have lost. For, along with what you may have been subjected to, you may have lost the ability to decide objectively whether you laid yourself open to it when in fact you were defenceless--who to hate, yourself or the other.

But, in any case perhaps, by some miracle of the psyche our guilt may turn, not to sanctimonious pacifying, but towards a muscular, even-handed love.



Your dreams… can you think of one?
Who’s it about?
Is it about you?
Are you the subject or the object of your dream?
Does it seem to take place somewhere familiar?
Or in a strange place?
Do you waken up left with a good feeling or a bad one?
Do you have a sense of only having dreamt and can’t recall it?
Do you often have the same or similar dream?
Do you think your dreams matter?
Do you consider they have a meaning?

So here’s one: (I’ll just make one up).
You are running up a steep slope. There is someone behind you. (That’s it.)

Is it hard going or like you are running on the spot or slipping back even?
Is the person behind you male or female?
How close behind?
Is he or she catching up with you?
Or are you leaving them behind?
Is this person calling for you to wait?
Do they give up, out of breath perhaps?
Is there anyone there when you look round?
If not what does it make you feel?
When you wake up do you feel excited, sad, scared or what?
Does the dream have another part to it—before or after it?
Do you wish you hadn’t dreamt it?
Would you have immediately forgotten it?

How would you make sense of any of this?
Since this is not your dream how could you?
Is it possible for someone to (sort of) dream your dream with you?

That seems an important part of my work with the people who come to see me.


Without Memory or Desire (sic Wilfred Bion)

Forget memories -- they never die!
You don't need to worry about memory; just you might get stuck in what has already happened rather than being surprised by what is new. And without a 'memory-bank' you have nothing to grow, and growing is a desire, a need in fact, bred in the bones.

Desire may, as T.S. Eliot wrote, be for the wrong thing and, I reckon, is what Bion meant. But -- perhaps you can imagine being without it. What we are talking about there in boredom or despair.

So don't worry about memories; they always come at the appropriate moment (no racking brains like: where did I put my specs?); and forgetting is not without purpose either.

It is like dreams -- they are always on time and so too is the surfacing of a memory unexpectedly awaiting an update.

It is the irrelevances that provide the clues when it comes to psychoanalysis, not the confessions.

We are at all times challenged, whether we accept it or not by the as yet unthought known.


Discrimination --what is it?

Do you discriminate? We all do!— have prejudice. Who isn't? But what about the capacity to discriminate. That refers to intelligence. So the word takes in two fairly opposite states: prejudiced or discerning. The first is divisive the second has integrity at its root.
Racial discrimination, snobbery, violence etc. embody the need to exclude, while the interest to distinguish our selves with others points to an urge to include.

If it is exclusion we are after my thought is that it is something in ourselves we don't want to know about and so prefer to keep seeing it not under our own nose, but as belonging to someone else.

It is also clear that it springs from the need to belong and to that end to raise artificial boundaries. Our world is riddled with this and how it brings out and justifies the very worst forms of inhumanity.

To try to own what belongs to me as a person is often hard, galling and strongly resisted. But the choice is between widening and narrowing down. So which feels better?

The tendency to one or the other of those attitudes depends to a large degree on the experience of being listened to without preconception since we seem to be so wary of the critical judge lurking ready to condemn. And this I see as the prerequisite for the development and instantly recognized by the infant.

Depending on how we have been heard thus in the past will be our willingness to trust it in later life, but I sense we never completely fail to recognize how much it matters and how gradually we may allow ourselves to trust it and come to own more of ourselves.


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