Many psychotherapists and general medical practitioners subscribe to the popular understanding that psychotherapy is a treatment for those suffering from mental health problems. They earnestly believe that psychotherapy might offer some relief and insight to those patients who are suffering from problems that do not respond well to mainstream biologically based medical treatments. They value the fact that its effectiveness can be demonstrated by an evidence base, and consider it to be an important addition to the repertoire of mainstream medicine.
The evolution of Into TA: A Comprehensive Textbook proved to be quite an adventure. The roots of this book were in Leerboek Transactionale Analyse, written in Dutch by Moniek Thunnissen and Anne de Graaf and published in 2013 in the Netherlands by de Tijdstrom.
There are many paths that offer an understanding of the experience of people with psychosis, and numerous ways to consider the nature of institutional treatment approaches. This book presents psychoanalysis as one path that provides a conceptual foundation for both the treatment of psychotic conditions and how to understand institutions that care for patients. It focuses on the priority that psychoanalysis places on the individual, how the treatment is conceived theoretically and the ways it can be incorporated in the overall organisation of an institution.
“Everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation and the personality too desires to evolve out of its unconscious and experience itself as a whole. I cannot employ the language of science to trace this process of growth in myself, for I cannot experience myself as a scientific problem.” – Jung, from the Prologue to Memories, Dreams, Reflections
My book (I feel inclined to say “my first book”), Being With and Saying Goodbye, has just been published and is on the shelves. This is an exciting, but teetering, position from which to reflect; I am still asking myself if the book is any good. True, Karnac Books invested in it and I still bask in the extremely positive comments of the book’s endorsers. The only criticism I have received so far has been that the book may reflect an unrealistic hope, and that the first chapter might give the impression that the whole is about Zen Buddhism.
This book represents a life-times work with people with learning disabilities, from a number of perspectives, but chiefly as a psychotherapist. From early experience of a long-stay hospital to community supported living, I have been struck by the resilience of people with learning disabilities, their response to being heard, but, more sadly, to the degree of trauma they have suffered. Sometimes this has been at the hands of family, but more frequently by the system that is designed to support them. It is good to see that they have more visibility now and better services but there are still too many instances of cruelty and neglect, abandonment and loss.
One flew into the cuckoo’s nest—but how do we help them get out? We are all familiar with the usual images of the film and many of us have worked in mental health units and found wanting the knowledge base we have been presented with to help patients recover from mental ill health and get out of ‘the nest’ (hospital).