You don’t have to be a psychoanalyst to recognize a stalker or to read or write a book about stalking. I hope the readers of Karnacology will indulge me by accompanying me through some selected personal highlights of my journey in preparing this volume, which is not, I believe, your typical experience of a psychoanalyst attempting to break new ground via writing.
Teaching the World to Sleep was written on the back of a presentation delivered to a group of around 120 psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors and others in London in December 2014. This presentation had been delivered many times over the previous decade, mostly to healthcare professionals and, on occasion, to members of the public and other interested parties. At the event in London in December 2014 there was, sitting in the audience, an associate editor from Karnac. After the event Rod Tweedy, editor-in-chief at Karnac, contacted me and suggested that I might consider translating the presentation that his associate had heard into a book for Karnac to publish. I roughed-out an outline for the book and, in due course, contracts were signed and the work was commissioned by Karnac in February 2015. Writing took one-year and the final manuscript went to publication in November 2016, after some great support from Rod Tweedy, Constance Govindin, Cecily Blench, Kate Pearce, Oliver Rathbone and the rest of the team at Karnac.
Jung’s Red Book records an extraordinary series of self-induced visions that Jung experienced between 1913 and 1917, together with his reflections and interpretations of them, which he continued to reinterpret and refine until about 1930. The book, which was only publicly published in 2009, takes us to the core of the personal experience on which Jung drew more circumspectly in his psychological works.
Following the talk I gave at the Freud Museum on October 6 to celebrate the publication of Portraits of the Insane. Théodore Géricault and the Subject of Psychotherapy, a couple of new thoughts have emerged, connections implicit in the book that I now feel I can make more explicitly. It is unsettling but satisfying too to have to acknowledge that writing and thinking are processes over which I have but limited control – like patient and therapist, who are similarly subject to larger processes.
I have been a psychoanalyst for about 45 years, and a writer all of my life. Conducted seriously, both practices impart a degree of personal pride that sometimes verges on self importance. Long ago, I began to be chastened of such inclinations with regard to the practice of clinical psychoanalysis: the non-negotiable price of growth as an analyst is a systematic diminution of omnipotence. Likewise with writing: you learn soon enough that you have overestimated the distance that talent, alone, will take you. All this is painful, but necessary, if you intend to persist.
During his work on the concept of the Oedipus complex in 1910 Freud took recourse to a literary highlight of early European culture, Sophocles’ drama “Oedipus Tyrannus”. In so doing he unfolded a perspective unfamiliar to contemporary science of the day, and which to the present day remains disturbing in nature whilst at the same time allowing greater access and lucidity to the concept. Despite the fact that the classical conception of the Oedipus complex has undergone modifications it still influences present day psychoanalytic understanding and clinical work.