The Political Self explores how our social and economic contexts profoundly affect our mental health and well-being, and how modern neuroscientific and psychodynamic research can both contribute to and enrich our understanding of these wider discussions. It therefore looks both inside and outside—indeed one of the main themes of the book is that the conceptually discrete categories of “inner” and “outer” in reality constantly interact, shape, and inform each other. Severing these two worlds, it suggests, has led both to a devitalised and dissociated form of politics, and to a disengaged and disempowering form of therapy and analysis.
In 2009 when I was invited to become the facilitator of Schwartz Rounds at the Royal Free Hospital in London I felt I had a real and exciting chance to bring two strands of my life, and my work together. I’d long been interested in storytelling. My first degree was in English literature, and I loved writing. I also loved being a psychologist and I had often thought about trying to write creatively about the experience of having this role in a hectic organisation, sitting on the blurred interface between professional and personal experience, wondering about the similarities and differences between “patients “and staff. I had had “True Tales of Organisational Life” as a possible title in my mind for this story, for a number of years before I began my work on Rounds.
BERNIE NEVILLE: Sometimes you can say that a book changed your life. It happened to me in 1976 when I read James Hillman’s Revisioning Psychology. My understanding of the world and the flavor of my teaching had been strongly influenced by Jungian thought for many years, but this was new and exciting. Hillman challenged many of my assumptions, got me to think in ways I hadn’t thought before.