Support Kids Company ‘Give the gift of Christmas’ campaign



This year, Karnacology and Karnac Books are supporting the work of the children’s charity Kids Company, who this Christmas are organising a special Christmas Day party for some 4000 vulnerable children in London, for whom this time of year can be particularly isolating and distressing. As Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, explains:

‘We work with some of the most traumatised children and young people, the majority of whom have been sexually and/or physically abused. For 4,000 of them Christmas Day is one of the most difficult days of their lives. In fact, during December, in the process of dreading it, many of our young people used to attempt suicide. That’s why we decided to generate a party on Christmas Day that they could look forward to. It helps reduce their shame of not having a loving family or presents. So Kids Company staff give up their own Christmas to act as a substitute family for the kids. In partnership with some 300 volunteers, we create the best party in town with food, face painters and presents, as well as nourishment to take home.’

Kids Company will also be providing an additional 7,500 children, young people, vulnerable adults and families with food as well as gifts over the Christmas period.

Please support their inspiring and vital work by donating to this special Christmas project at and help give these neglected and vulnerable children a Christmas Day that they can both look forward to and remember.

Thank you.

Tom Ormay’s theory of the fundamental social nature of all human beings

The Social Nature of Persons: One Person is No Person


By presenting a series of interconnected studies, effort is made to approach timely questions regarding the social nature of human beings. A new part of the structural theory of the personality is presented, called “nos”.  Instead of attempting a definition at the beginning, it is more expressive of our subject if slowly, chapter by chapter some of it emerges, always from a specific viewpoint. Such method may not satisfy some disciplined minds, as it lacks a tightly organised frame in which everything duly falls into its place. I want to introduce the subject not only from an intellectual viewpoint, but allow relevant feelings to come in also. The result awakens not only our logic, but hopefully the whole person.

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Hendrika C. Freud on Marcel Proust, Masochism, and Matricide

Marcel Proust – the making of a sadomasochist



The subject of the mother-son relationship had never been broached with such psychological insight as in Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past (1921). Indeed, we had to wait until 1969 before Philip Roth revisited the subject in Portnoy’s Complaint.

Yet Proust writes about the mother in such an innocuous and idealizing manner that to the unsuspecting reader it appears an unambiguously loving relationship. However, in earlier works, such as Jean Santeuil (c.1897) and short stories dating from his youth, Proust expressed himself in a less veiled style. Moreover, a letter to his mother written when he was more than forty years old is even more revealing. In it he complains that she still treats him as a four year-old child. Her aim seems to have been to control him mentally as well as physically.

Proust developed a sexual perversion. He became a sadomasochist and shows in his novel how this preference can develop. Generations of analysts after Sigmund Freud have maintained the explanation of masochism put forward in Freud’s paper, ‘A Child is Being Beaten’: the boy wants to be beaten by father as a replacement for being loved by him. The Oedipal father is the central figure in this account, rather than the mother. Indeed, Freud idealized the mother-son relationship, calling it ‘the least ambivalent and the most loving’ of all human bonds. He used only female cases for his theory of masochism. No male cases at all were explored, with only a mention of how passive feminine strivings are the source of masochism in males.

Like Proust, Freud derived his psychological knowledge in great part from subjective experience. But his experience with his mother was very different from that of Proust, who never overcame her domination. Consequently, Proust felt that in order to enjoy his (homo)sexuality he had to escape her control. Because his pleasure insulted his mother, then profaning and even murderous phantasies concerning mother figures became a condition for his pleasure and sexual excitement. This is the perversion that drives all his male protagonists throughout his novel.

marcel-proust-maman-famill1The Oedipal concept of ‘the boy in love with mother and wanting to kill father’ is turned upside down. The boy has not overcome his dependent position towards his mother. He has not reached a triadic Oedipal relationship. Consequently, he has to escape her control momentarily, to function as a sexual being at all. To channel his anxiety and aggression in a perverse sexual scenario enables him to become excited and potent. But this is compulsive, repetitive and not at all a free choice.

In my opinion, matricide (rather than patricide) has not received the attention within and outside of psychoanalysis that it deserves. Besides mother-son pathology, the concept clarifies much mother-daughter pathology as well. Such murderous phantasies and dreams are not uncommon in either men or women, but there is a crucial difference that must be observed: femininity is not threatened by unresolved dependency on the mother, unlike masculinity in males.

Hendrika C. Freud
Author of Men and Mothers: The Lifelong Struggle of Sons and Their Mothers, and Elektra vs Oedipus: The Drama of the Mother-Dauighter Relationship

John Michael Greer explains why symptoms of approaching social change are often pathologized



The human psyche is not simply a cultural construct. Neither is the universe in which the individual and society alike are embedded. Both have their own reality, their own powerful drives and hard limits. Sanity has as much to do with confronting those implacable facts as it does with conforming to social norms.

Now and then, the gap between the collective imagination of society and the realities of psychological or physical existence widens to a breaking point, and the facts that matter most are precisely those for which a culture’s definitions of sanity can find no room at all. When this happens, some of that culture’s cherished assumptions about the world are about to give way, with consequences that usually end up in big type in the history books.

There’s at least one way to catch the foreshocks of such a transformation, and that’s to pay close attention to changes in psychological patterns on the individual level.

“All mod cons!”Consider ‘housewife syndrome’, a common but poorly-defined neurotic condition of married women in the suburban middle classes of postwar Britain and America. Presenting symptoms included anomie, depression, substance abuse, and a galaxy of poorly specified psychosomatic complaints. The medical authorities who pronounced upon it consistently blamed it on the supposed psychological or moral inadequacies of the women who suffered from it, and the standard treatment involved daily doses of tranquillisers such as Newtown.

Very few people noticed at the time that those authorities making the diagnoses and handing out the tranquillisers were almost exclusively male, and that their breezy certainty disguised a deliberate lack of attention to the fact that many women in the stifling conformity and isolation of postwar suburbia might have very good reasons to feel unhappy with their lives. Not many years later, this unmentionable reality became a massive social force, as second-wave feminism burst onto the scene, blind-siding scores of pundits and social critics (again, most of them male) who had convinced themselves that since women had won the right to vote, they were contented with their still bitterly unequal lot.

The emergence of ‘housewife syndrome’ marked the first round of foreshocks of a coming social earthquake. Even in the relatively short history of medical psychology, other cases of the same kind can readily be found. The redefinition of political dissidence as ‘insanity’, practised by the Soviet Union in its last decades, is only one of the crasser examples. To those who like to insist that everything is well in paradise, pathologising the symptoms of approaching social change is always an appealing option. In retrospect, the self-imposed blindness brought about by such manoeuvres is itself a psychological dysfunction, and always a highly destructive one at that.

John Michael Greer
Author of Not the Future We Ordered: Peak Oil, Psychology, and the Myth of Progress, and Twilight’s Last Gleaming

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Annie Reiner explores Bion’s concept of “O”

Bion and Being: Passion and the Creative Mind


The central focus of my new book, Bion And Being: Passion and the Creative Mind, is Wilfred Bion’s concept of O. It is the most mysterious and controversial of his ideas, although the controversy has often lived beneath the radar.

In a recent article on Bion’s later work, Blass (2011) writes of an often hidden unfavourable view of Bion’s later writings, inferred “from passing remarks in the relevant literature, as well as from the almost total neglect of Bion’s writings from 1966 onwards.” I would include the concept of O in that category, despite the fact that he did first discuss it in Transformations, written in 1965. There he describes O as ”the absolute facts of the session…. [which] cannot ever be known.” By the time they are addressed, a new reality is taking place and those original facts are transformed by the analyst’s mind. O is described here in terms of his theory of transformations, the brilliance and scholarly nature of which may inadvertently obscure its most controversial aspects of mysticism and the infinite, also included in the book.

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David Rosenfeld explores the origins of symbols and the logic of thought through the study of autism

The word AUTISM spelled out in letter cubes.

I consider that the treatment of an autistic child is an opportunity to observe and investigate the origins of verbal symbols and the creation of language, as well as the way the logic of thought is constructed.

As Maria Rhode wrote,

“The publication of this book with its accompanying DVD is an important event. Karnac Books have made it possible for us to witness what David Rosenfeld’s treatment of Benjamin, a young boy with a diagnosis of autism, was actually like. We can see for ourselves what was done, what was said; we can follow the steps by which Benjamin moved from being a child without language, in a state of perpetual, panic-stricken screaming and flailing about, to being a “real kid” with friendships, doing well at an ordinary school. Witnessing this transformation is a profoundly moving experience. So is hearing the testimony of Benjamin’s parents, who had been told repeatedly that there was no future for their son. It was their wish that his therapy should be more widely known about, in the hope that professionals could learn from it so that other families’ lives might be transformed as theirs had been through “Dr. David’s” intervention. Everyone concerned with children with autism is in their debt.”

The new contribution of this book to the field of child analysis is to demonstrate, as shown in the DVD, that with early diagnosis, before the age of four, and a family that cooperates closely with the psychoanalyst, it is possible to avoid the chronification of primitive autistic mechanisms. The key is early detection and to avoid chronification of autistic-type defence mechanisms. I hope to influence young psychoanalysts and psychotherapists to have hope, since I consider this a book that transmits hope for the treatment of severely ill children. Improvement and cures are possible. I hope that these theoretical concepts and the accompanying film will help to keep many young psychoanalysts from losing hope.

Another motivation that moved me to write this book and to film the treatment is my own curiosity. Without curiosity you cannot be a 33260psychoanalyst. As colleagues at the Tavistock Clinic Centre wrote:

“Was it scientific curiosity or craziness to set out and make a video of every session of therapy with a young boy with autism, not knowing what would happen?”

As Benjamin’s grasp of language developed, he made use of the Pinocchio story, which provided characters suitable for identification. In the film I show a theory of technique based on theoretical concepts of Freud, Henri Wallon and Merleau-Ponty concerning the child’s sensory relations with the world. For example, after making Benjamin feel sensory contact with water it was only a long time afterward that it was possible for him to connect this sensory contact to the verbal symbol ‘water’. A good theoretical base is a necessary guide for treating the mental world of severely disturbed patients.

David Rosenfeld, Buenos Aires
Author of The Creation of the Self and Language: Primitive Sensory Relations of the Child with the Outside World (+ DVD). London: Karnac Books, 2012; and The Body Speaks: Body Image Delusions and Hypochondria, London: Karnac Books, 2014.