In my most recent book Creating Heaven on Earth: The Psychology of Experiencing Immortality in Everyday Life, I asked the question, How does one best fashion an “internal” world, a personal identity, that creates the conditions of psychological possibility to apprehend immortality, that almost magical Infinite—conceived as something-outside-everything, God, or the Other—from everyday living? The art of living the “good life”—following Freud, one of deep and wide love, creative and productive work, one that is guided by reason and ethics and is aesthetically pleasing—requires skillful attunement to these lovely transcendent presences in everyday life.
Donald Meltzer, who died in 2004, wished that the educational work disseminated over the course of over 30 years by the publications of the Clunie Press should continue to benefit both psychoanalysis and its applications in the world outside the consulting room. Clunie Press was started originally by Meltzer and his wife Martha Harris (Mattie) in memory of Roland Harris (a poet and teacher, who died in 1969). The new educational charity, the Harris Meltzer Trust, has been founded to continue the publishing work of the original Trust, in the spirit of these three widely loved and inspirational figures.
In the history of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy as we know, falling in love was first examined as an important event within the context of the therapeutic work. Freud and his contemporaries found that their analysands often developed passionate attachments to them. This formed the basis for Freud’s idea of the transference.
Years ago I started writing a novel in which a recently retired psychoanalyst is interviewed by a young post-graduate psychologist about his life and experiences. I wrote 25,000 words before I realised that I was writing about my own experiences. This then morphed into my memoir.
This book is the result of a long gestation period. Life had taught me that I was a good communicator, meaning that somehow people I met soon seemed to believe that I was interested in learning of their thoughts and experiences. When I began to work with children in my clinical practice I discovered Winnicott’s use of squiggles in his therapeutic consultations and I was simply fascinated by the apparently magical bridge that this simple game made between the child’s unconscious and the analyst’s professional scrutiny.
It happens that I never thought I had any artistic gifts and this raised doubts about my ability to engage in the squiggles game. The obvious decision followed in that, when I found that the child or adolescent patient was at a loss to express his thoughts and feelings in words, I asked them whether perhaps they might be willing to make a drawing. It was only when they could not engage in making a picture by themselves that I suggested we might play a game together – squiggles. It gave me enormous pleasure to discover that, in spite of my lack of confidence, my patient seemed to accept my squiggles as valid and meaningful. But, as time went on, I found more and more young patients who seemed happy to make drawings. Most of them would move from one sheet to the next one, but some would turn the page over and draw on the other side. And, to my surprise, one day when I picked up the sheet of paper on which a youngster had drawn on both sides, I found an unexpected meaningful image resulting from seeing that piece of paper against the light.