Every only child wonders what it would be like to have siblings. Juliet Mitchell extends her seminal work on sibling relationships by suggesting that the only child, because siblings exist only in fantasy and through affinal relationships, offers us unique insight into the place of siblings in our psychic structure. In her paper Hamlet--The lonely only and his siblings, Mitchell applies a psychoanalytic reading of siblings to Shakespeare's Hamlet. Mitchell's creative and fresh use of Hamlet brings to life the dilemmas of the only child and the extent to which lateral--and not only parental vertical--relationships dominate the play. Mitchell's thought-provoking paper challenges our long-held paradigms by asking us to shift our perspective from parents to siblings and from the consulting room to the stage and back again.
The final two papers of this edition share an underexplored theme of pertinence to practice in South Africa. Both papers explore, from different perspectives, the painful and unpredictable task of working in South Africa's healthcare settings as an intern or community service psychologist. Lisa Padfield offers a candid and moving paper reflecting on her experiences as a community service psychologist. Entitled Reframing the frame: Reflections of a community service psychologist, her purpose is simultaneously to explore the unique complications of community service work and to suggest that, while possibilities for change may be limited, they can sometimes nonetheless be profound. Padfield offers a framework for holding the psychoanalytic frame in mind despite the frame violations endemic to the setting. Her paper makes an important and much needed contribution to understandings of this very difficult work.
In the second paper addressing the experiences of community service psychologists, Frances Williams and Sharon Sibanda ask us to think about the unthinkable--baby rape and the physical and psychic holes this leaves in its wake. The 'black holes' in the title refer to both appalling physical ruptures and the psychic ruptures that signal uncontained traumatic experience. It is recently qualified psychologists doing community service who are mainly responsible for conducting psychotherapy with the child survivors of sexual violence. By voicing their emotional responses to these young patients, the authors confront and attempt to make meaning of their abysmal countertransference reactions. As they note, however, the combination of projected rage, defensive blankness and the demand to think the unthinkable imposes at times unbearable countertransference strain on the containing abilities of psychotherapists. Whilst realistically appreciative of the containing function of their co-authored narrative, they write frankly about failed containment and the unconscious evasion of their patients' psychic reality. They also employ a generative dialogue to reflect on how their respective racial identities shape their countertransference responses to these traumatic contexts. Whilst emotionally confronting to read, the authors' unflinching presentation of their countertransference experience calls on us to witness, albeit secondhand, the horrifying consequences of community violence that newly qualified clinical psychologists are working with in their community service year.
Finally, Grahame Hayes reviews a book by Michael Miller entitled Lacanian Psychotherapy: Theory and practical applications.
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|Author:||Long, Carol; Ivey, Gavin|
|Publication:||Psycho-analytic Psychotherapy in South Africa|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2013|
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