2018 ANZAP Conference
ANZAP held its 2018 conference and we were lucky enough to be there to record it. The following lectures have been uploaded to the Owl Talks.
Working on the Edge in a Dangerous Method
Dr Anthony Korner presents Working on the Edge in a Dangerous Method. In a world of changing norms and heterogeneous values and beliefs we constantly have to adjust and evolve. Even though in many ways people’s needs for warmth, affection and social connection may be relatively constant, the ways in which these needs are realized have been subject to enormous change in recent decades. Paternalism and trust in immutable truths and laws have eroded. Psychodynamic treatments have contributed to this change in bringing inner experience into a more public domain. Many groups, including ANZAP, are involved in efforts to ensure safe, ethical practice. Psychodynamic practice has changed away from the therapist as blank screen and authority on the unconscious, towards mutuality and engagement in a relationship that goes that allows for both security and play. In this paper consideration will begiven to the question of what values can be considered guideposts for traversing the field of our work with a sense of ethical integrity. Recent deliberations within ANZAP and its ethics committee will be highlighted and draft documents put forward for consideration and debate.
The Fruits of Coherent Companionship: Shared Stories and Gifts from the “Pilgrim” Roads
Dr Loyola McLean presents The Fruits of Coherent Companionship: Shared Stories and Gifts from the “Pilgrim” Roads. In a conversation around soul, a proposition was offered by a young Australian writer: “Art is proof of the passion of the soul, but kindness is proof of its integrity” (Jessica McLean, 2018).
This talk will explore this notion by applying the Conversational Model approach, a theory attempting to integrate aspects of neuroscience, developmental psychology and linguistics within a psychodynamic frame, to case material.
The hypothesis is that relationship, here a psychotherapy, can sometimes foster the development of soul/psyche as seen in growing creativity, compassion and kindness. Perhaps these can be seen as fruits of developing coherence and posttraumatic growth.
Here the demonstration will involve drawing on material across different levels ofpersonal and interpersonal organization: linguistic, somatic behavioural, relational using material derived from acute, brief and long term psychotherapy settings. At times these capacities blossom in more than one, and are seen in therapist, patient, team, including supervisor. This will link with prior work proposing that the shared journeys of psychotherapeutic conversations can be likened to pilgrimages – journeys of special purpose with companions- that foster growth in us as individuals, dyadsand communities of care.
Self-hatred in Psychotherapy: One of the Most Difficult Things to Treat
Dr Nick Bendit presents Self-Hatred in Psychotherapy: One of the Most Difficult Things to Treat. When the client presents with pervasive and extreme self-hatred, it presents a terrible conundrum for the psychotherapist.
To try and undermine self-hatred is often experienced by the client as undermining their experience of themselves and creates a schism within the relationship. On theother hand, to collude with the self-hatred is even worse, perpetuating damageto the client and usually experienced as unbearable by the therapist.
Dr Bendit explores the underpinnings and possible causation of client self-hatred and explore the links between self-hatred and shame. This will (hopefully) lead to some tentative offerings about how to manage and treat these difficult clients.
From “Mind-forg’d Manacles” to “Interior Paramour”: Literary Motifs and Language Choices in Construing the Psychotherapeutic Notion of Analogical “Fit”
Prof David Butt presented From Mind-Forg’d Managles to the Interior Paramor. The co-ordination of factors in human consciousness referred to as the “self” is rarely accorded the organic status bestowed on it by Hughlings Jackson (see Meares 1999) and William James in the C19th and elaborated in psychotherapy by Hobson and Meares in the Conversational Model (CM: Meares 2012), and by Damasio in the “biological idiom” of contemporary neuroscience (2010). Nevertheless, any ambivalence in scientific and medical attitudes to the self as an essential object of medical focus runs contrary to overwhelming phenomena: namely, the social effects of trauma and the personal effect that a stricken “self” has upon the individual human condition (see Haliburn 2017).
In this talk, I will review linguistic and literary motifs that may assist in understanding the idea of analogical ‘fit’ in the interaction between psychotherapist and those who carry with them their experience of trauma.
Meares has himself used examples from writers and scientists to throw light on this mercurial but crucial notion (Meares 2016). The therapist is seeking to establish a ‘centre that will hold’ by meeting the patient at a juncture of meanings that re-energises what was an inert core of being. Such catalytic meanings are realised in the relationship; and this suggests that we need to consider the parameters of the therapeutic context, as well as the discourse,in order to characterise conversation in the Conversational Model. These two dimensions of meaning – wording and context – can be consistently mapped, and such maps may assist in anticipating the options and the complexities through which analogical ‘fit’ is created, and by which the measurable results of the Conversational Model are achieved.
The Longer Conversation and The Caravanserai: Transforming and Transcending the Human Company
Language creates humanity rather than it being the other way around. It has a life of its own. Within the life of both individual and community symbolic and feeling exchanges occur: a process of ‘call and response’. The personal nature of feeling and imagery, involvement in conversations in words and images constitute what is most significant in human lives. It is part of a chain of continuity with past and future generations.
Language is a resource held in common. The inner world of self involves a living engagement with language. Messages are received, and representations expressed in reciprocal interaction. After death language enables personal experience to live on, most obviously in the form of the written word and recorded visual or auditory images. Even in their absence, the language and “messages received” by others live on. While individuals can be seen as having a lifelong text, there is a larger communal text. Language transcends death through this “long conversation”.
Language can feel like an assault. Most therapists will have the experience sometimes of dealing with a ‘battleground’ of intense emotion. The symbolic transformation of these raw experiences is challenging. An individual therapeutic conversation over itswhole trajectory constitutes an opportunity for metabolism of trauma.
The Cultivation of “Biological Eloquence”
Dr Malloch discussed Cultivating‘ biological eloquence’ as being vital to well being and as an equivalent to cultivating the richness of one’s soul. As the psychotherapist Thomas Moore writes, the spiritual self, or soul, “is not a thing, but a quality or a dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with depth, value, relatedness, heart, and personal substance.” “Ensouling” of our lived experience in its ‘minute particulars’ (Robert Hobson) is in many ways anordinary rather than extraordinary quality of living.
Drawing from work on infant development, communicative musicality, the conversational model, neuroscience, hemispheric complementarity, and mindfulness, as well as clinical vignettes, the presentation argues that supporting a client to live with soul – encouraging awareness into the ways they move in their inner and outer worlds –cultivates wellbeing of the human psyche as we learn to live with “the wisdom of the nervous system” (Alan Watts) – or what I call ‘biological eloquence.’ Expressions and nurturing of the spiritual self include ritual, the seeking out and creation of beauty, the enjoyment of trusted community, the telling of valued stories in prose, poetry, music and dance, and a knowing that the self is inter dependent with our surroundings. Above all, it is a consequence of the inter relationship between quality of awareness and the ways the body and mind move through outer and inner environments.
When Parenting Becomes Unthinkable
Margie Stuchbury discussed what happens in the mind of a parent who strikes out and harms their infant or small child.
Something unthinkable occurs when an otherwise loving parent strikes out and harms their child. Although difficult to think about, the intrapsychic phenomena are multifaceted and often poorly understood by our clients and indeed by us as clinicians. A number of environmental, and internal phenomena can contribute to the shift towards more automatic mental states, the capacity for enactment (violence) and the temporary loss of empathy. The work of Peter Fonagy and Anthony Bateman on mentalizing, trauma and violence provides a useful framework for understanding how this widespread relational enactment occurs and, in helping us to understand our client’s mind, better places us to help parents make sense of and manage this dreadful experience.
This paper will present some ideas applying the concepts of mentalizing and other aspects of Bateman & Fonagy’s work to the area of child abuse.
Aims: To make senseof the intrapsychic phenomena which underlie the parental capacity to inflict violence on a small, and presumably harmless, infant or child.
So, What Does Love Have to Do With It?
Dianne Hendry presented a lecture discussing the usefulness of infant observation in working with difficult emotions in psychotherapy in this presentation entitled “So What Does Love Have to Do With It?“
What, you might ask, does an infant observation have to do with working with difficult emotions in psychotherapy?
Early on the infant makes no distinction between physical and emotional distress. There is no concept of time. Everything is in the moment. So that, without a good enough mother the experience of pain is endless. Imagine, the infant is not soothed, and a traumatic memory of perhaps not counting is tucked away, dissociated, with no words to express it. Imagine, if you will, observing an infant’s response when mother is distracted. Maybe there is sufficient that is similar to re-wake the old trauma. And then what happens? How much does this mimic a response in the therapy room when faced with a client expressing emotions that the therapist finds difficult?
The Analogical Basis of Mind
I.A. Richards observed that there are two kinds of discourse, one of which “points” while the other “depicts.” Self comes about through a co-ordination of these forms of language, the first of which is in converse with the environment and the latter with “inner” experience. The two language forms, which reflect different states of mind, have different developmental pathways which are joined with the formation of the Jamesian “duplex” self and the birth of the reflective function. In this talk, the two developmental pathways are briefly sketched and compared with the “horizontal” and “vertical” themes of contrapuntal music. The vertical theme is fragile, made by a relationship based on resemblance i.e. consonance. The emphasis of a therapeutic approach to an individual in which the fabric of self is stunted or broken up is principally on creating this second theme by means of relationship in which resemblances, or analogues, of immediate experience are co-created in the therapeutic conversation and depicted in a “language of feeling.” Some details of this kind of therapeutic conversation will be discussed.