Some stepping stones on the way to Vienna.
My parents used to say that as a very young boy I asked one day "What part thinks?" I have no recollection of this, nor of their answer, probably it was just part of a game about parts of the body - eyes see, ears hear,
noses smell, and mouths eat, but what part thinks? I guess it points to an early curiosity about our psyche.
I had a secure and happy childhood, was born and bred in what later became a heritage home and garden, "Eryldene", in Gordon N.S.W. From my parents and its atmosphere I absorbed an appreciation of aesthetics
generally - in architecture, art, landscaping, music and the essentials of living. I was the youngest of four boys and was often described by my Scottish mother as her "wee optimist", which seems to document real
feelings of security and attachment.
Entering first year at Sydney University I had no clear sense of vocation. Perhaps I might become a teacher of some kind? (Both parents had been modern language teachers. My father was Professor of German at
Sydney University. Often we had international diplomats as visitors to the house. Sometimes I wondered whether perhaps one day I could learn languages and travel overseas to new places and become a diplomat
like them? Or maybe become a Mathematics teacher - Mathematics was a subject where I had done creditably? Well, I selected Mathematics as one of my initial BA courses, but I also enrolled in Psychology, because people said it was interesting, and it was on at a convenient time! It so captured me that I soon aspired to an honours course and did well. The luminaries of that era at Sydney University (1939-41) were Tasman Lovell, the Professor, who had written a fascinating book on Dreams and Dreaming, A.H. Martin
(with a strong interest in industrial psychology and measurement of individual differences), and Cecil Gibb with a deep interest and research in personality.
In his book on dreams Lovell had elaborated Freud's distinction between the manifest content of dreams and their underlying latent content. This fascinated me, as did the fruitfulness of such concepts as symbolism,
condensation, displacement, repression and so on. Therein lay the possibility of understanding the dynamic meaning not only of my dreams but also of forgetting, lapsus linguae and lots of puzzling behaviour.
I longed to know and understand more.
A.H.Martin introduced us to experimental psychology - individual differences, perception (demonstrating things like colour-blindness, and optical illusions) and to various measures of intelligence and special aptitude. Gibb led us in seminars on a range of personality theorists including Freud, Jung, Adler, Cattell, Allport and many others. Somewhere in here there was also an attempt to come to grips with William James writings on the self as knower and the self as known and with William McDougall on the self regarding sentiment - and concepts like instinct and habit.
I also joined the honours stream in Anthropology, where A. P. Elkin (Australian Aborigines) and lan Hogbin (Law and Order in Polynesia) gave fascinating lectures. I gained insights into how greatly growing up in different cultures influences beliefs, rituals and much of our behaviour.
At the end of my 3rd BA .year (1941) mobilization for World War II supervened. On the basis of my training in psychology I was put in charge of an aptitude testing section in Sydney aimed at minimising wastage in
army training schools. At about the same time moves were afoot at Army HQ in Melbourne to set up the Australian Army Psychology Service and I was assimilated into that. Assessment problems loomed large in
the army: screening new recruits to weed out those who were mentally deficient, recommending those with special capacities to go for specialist training, assessing soldiers under detention for serious military offences,
aiding hospital psychiatrists who sought diagnostic help from projective tests where diagnosis was problematic, advising on selection for officer training schools and advising on rehabilitation of soldiers about to be discharged. It was a fantastic internship for which we were not really adequately trained; but we did the best we knew how. Much was inevitably learning-on-the-job in wartime.
In 1946 I was discharged and was invited first to a junior teaching position at Sydney University, Later I became the Counsellor to the many ex-servicemen on campus with substantial adjustment problems. In that
clinical job I largely flew by the seat of my pants. Like others at that time I turned to Carl Rogers book on Counselling and Psychotherapy for broad principles like - be empathetic, show genuine respect for the client,
reflect and clarify feelings. All important in their way; but I often felt rudderless. I needed more.
At that time there were no formal clinical psychology training courses in Australia, and no PhD programs. For those you had to go to USA or UK. By good fortune the opportunity came to compete for an Overseas Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme fellowship, and I was successful in landing one. I had America in my sights, so applied to half a dozen graduate schools of standing, and selected Yale largely because in a detailed three page reply to my letter of enquiry, the Director of Graduate Studies, Irvin Child, answered all my questions, and offered me a part-time research job (to help cover living expenses). He also told me that Yale admitted only l2 graduate students each year, since they valued close staff-student contact. (Some other universities admitted 40 or 50 graduate students, which sounded ghastly). Yales orientation sounded good, and I accepted post haste. I have never regretted it. It paved the way for all sorts of very positive later developments. Child also told me that living accommodation would be available in the Hall of Graduate Studies. This turned out to be a good place to meet a cross section of graduate students
from other disciplines and countries. Those I remember best were doing graduate degrees in Political Science, Sociology, English, Philosophy and Pharmacology. I mention this because that kind of interaction with other disciplines inevitably helped to broaden my perspectives - sometimes people, as they deepen their immersion in one particular field of specialization, become too insular and isolated from the rest of society,
and from differing viewpoints.
So I registered in Yales PhD Clinical Psychology program. There was a HUGE mandatory seminar component - a general colloquium where each faculty member had 2 hours to discuss some aspect of his/her special interests and relevant research techniques; a statistics course introduced us to analysis of variance and covariance, factor analysis, and non parametric statistics; and necessarily a basic course on learning, emphasising the drive-cue-response-reward (reinforcement) Yale line (given by Neal Miller). Other seminars I attended included Personality, Research Design, Abnormal Psychology, Projective Techniques, Mental Deficiency, Individual Testing and Introduction to Psychotherapy. It was a rich diet! I lapped it up and was awarded a Sterling Fellowship for my efforts.
Of special relevance to my odyssey towards psychoanalysis was the attempt being made at Yale at that time by John Dollard and Neil Miller to apply their drive and reinforcement - based learning theory principles
to the understanding of personality development and the process of psychotherapy, Both spoke of having had personal contact with psychoanalysis (reckoned in months rather than years) and dedicated their book to Freud and Pavlov and their students.
My clinical work in psychotherapy was often observed from behind a one-way screen and always recorded for later breath-by-breath dissection by John Dollard or his assistant Frank Auld. The focus was on principles
derived from the book Personality and Psychotherapy. It was a challenging but immensely enriching and instructive experience. Dollard seemed to like my work, and, shortly before I was to return to Australia, said to me one day something like Ian, you have real talent for this work but one day you should make friends with psychoanalysis. Of course that would have to wait!
(It should be noted that the Yale Psychology dept was viewed as a premier experimental school, but the faculty positively encouraged students to seek personal analysis. At least four or five faculty members had themselves been in analysis and spoke from the background of personal experience - a very different climate from what typically prevails in Australia! (It is interesting to note, however, that the Australian Psychological Society now has a POPIG special interest group - Psychoanalytically Oriented Psychotherapy Interest Group).
Yale accepted my army experience in lieu of an adult clinical internship, but, as part of the clinical program, I did a child internship in the Yale Child Study Centre. Formerly the preserve of Arnold Gesell, well known for his charting of developmental milestones, The Chi ld Study Centre then had many psychoanalysts on its staff - eg Milton Senn and Samuel Ritvo. The psychiatric registrar was Al Solnit, later to become a significant figure in American Psychoanalytic circles and associated with publication of Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Ernst Kris occasionally attended, and case conferences were psychoanalytically oriented.
In the research area at Yale I was a bit opportunistic - working first with Irvin Child on the effects of frustration on constructiveness of behaviour (in university students). This was to extend the well-known effects of
frustration as an antecedent to aggression, regression and withdrawal. Then there was an opportunity to work on aspects of the effects of prefrontal lobotomy - a topic which was at the time (1950) being actively
explored internationally. For me this involved devising a method of measuring responses based on food seeking and experimentally induced fear (deemed to equate with anxiety) in monkeys (!) The lobotomies were performed by Karl Pribram a neurosurgeon.
While I was at Yale, Prof. ONeil (from Sydney University) and Prof. Oeser (from Melbourne University) each came visiting, to see Yale and what I was doing. When an offer came from Oeser of a Senior Lectureship at Melbourne I jumped at it. At the University of Melbourne my principal task was to run the second year course focussing on child development. I drew inspiration from Dollard and Miller, of course, but extended to Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, Erik Erikson, John Bowlby, Al Bandura, Robert Havighurst, Jean Piaget, Robert Sears and many others!
In my second year of lecturing at Melbourne I was asked by Dr Donald Buckle, a psychiatrist teaching the psychopathology course, to help in the Outpatient clinic at Prince Henry's hospital - doing some assessment
work and giving an occasional projective test. As we talked about cases at the clinic I was mightily impressed by his psychodynamic insights and by the contribution which he said a personal analysis had made for him. Soon my mind was made up to seek personal analysis and psychoanalytic training.
So my first formal steps towards psychoanalysis began, in 1955 when I was 34 and really ready for deepening my understanding of self and others.
At that time Dr Clara Lazar-Geroe, a Hungarian, was the only training analyst in Australia. She was to say in her first annual report in 1941 that "it is a comforting fact that at a time when so many of the psychoanalytic
institutions in Europe have had to close down, here in Australia, psychoanalysis has found a new home". (Dr Geroe had been given special authorisation from the British Psychoanalytic Society to carry out training in
Australia under its auspices.)
We had preliminary conversations and I found out the requirements. These included a second screening interview with another analyst (Dr Andrew Peto -in Sydney), and then if accepted personal analysis 5 days a
week, and weekly seminars (at night). Later I would be supervised in the analysis of two 5 times-a-week cases (these were provided, in my case at least, by the Melbourne Institute clinic and were seen at the Institute's
premises - all fees went to the Institute.)
Compared with the ideal, there were some features which would no doubt not have been tolerated were it not for the exceptional circumstance of getting things going in Australia. All the training roles I have mentioned,
yes all (personal analysis, seminars, supervision) were at first carried out by the one person-Dr Clara Geroe. No doubt this distorted and limited what could develop in the transference, but at the time it was Hobson's choice. Perhaps because Michael Balint had been her analyst and his model was to require all his analysands to do an additional supervised training case with him, possibly Dr Geroe's approach was just a natural extension when no other option was available. (The seminar group was small - typically just another analytic student, Dr Ian Martin, and for a time Mrs Vera Roboz a Hungarian analyst newly arrived in Australia and later to become a training analyst).
Looking back on outcomes from my personal analysis I think there was a freeing up of energy - I seemed to gain in freedom to think, freedom to utter and freedom to examine uncomfortable thoughts, both in the analytic
session and when alone; freedom, too, to disagree, and I began to understand personality dynamics. I developed a capacity for uncompromising basic honesty, Im sure my lectures improved! And I learned patience - in an early supervision session with my first patient Clara Geroe made a comment something like "lan , too active, too active, let the baby be born! Yet I also had to be willing to intervene, through transference
interpretation if possible, or lose the plot.
Some university colleagues teased me, saying that analysis would destroy my critical capacity! I felt it enhanced it and helped me to form fair-minded balanced opinions based on adequate evidence. I remember being very taken with Freud's statement The teachings of psychoanalysis are based upon an incalculable number of observations and experiences and no one who has not repeated those observations upon himself or upon others is in a position to arrive at an independent judgment of it. To me this meant that appropriate evidence was certainly needed. It linked up with discussions in the Yale research design seminar which had endorsed giving a place to studies of single cases as naturally occurring experiments and as
appropriate sources from which to generate hypotheses for further examination, or for rejecting a flawed generalization. I return to this issue of evidence-based work later in a brief snapshot comment.
In those years in Melbourne the seminars on psychoanalytic theory with Dr Geroe focused principally on careful examination of Freud's papers especially those on dreams, metapsychology, technique, three essays
on sexuality, case histories and group psychology. Anna Freud's Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (quite a favourite with me) was also there and Otto Fenichel's slim volume on technique as well as the larger
tome. Those come first to mind. The kind of pattern I have outlined was to provide the groundwork for all Clara Geroe's analysands of that era. All of these later in their own way added other significant dimensions.
For example, two (Dr Frank Graham and Dr Rose Rothfield) went on to have a second analysis in London, this time a Kleinian one; in due course they were to return and become training analysts in Melbourne. In
my own case I had not yet qualified as an analyst in Melbourne when, out of the blue, (probably sponsored by my Yale mentors), I was invited to spend an academic year at a think tank the Centre for Advanced
Study in the Behavioural Sciences, overlooking the Stanford University campus at Palo Alto, California. Naturally I accepted with alacrity. It was great to interact with behavioural scientists across the range - for me especially with some of the psychologists (Michael Argyle and Charles Osgood) and anthropologists (Raymond Firth,, Cora Dubois, Mel Spiro, Meyer Fortes) , psychiatrist Jerome Frank and sociologist Michael Young. There were many others on the periphery Robert Sears was on the Stanford campus and people like Gregory Bateson came visiting. A notable assembly!
While it was great to read and think and talk with other Fellows at the Center, I was also able to add, in San Francisco, another dimension to my psychoanalytic training. On receiving the surprise invitation to the
Center I wrote to John Bowlby, at the time one of the Joint Training Secretaries of the British Psychoanalytic Society and responsible for overseeing the Australian Study Group. I sought his advice on the feasibility of my linking up somehow with the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute to continue at least my theoretical training. (Bowlby had been at the Centre the year before I was to go.) His reply encouraged me to approach
the San Francisco Institute. They were very accommodating. I could take my pick from a number of the seminars they offered their candidates. So I soon found myself driving the 50 miles into San Francisco twice a week to participate. I attended seminars with 5 different analysts, including an examination of concepts of the therapeutic process, ego psychology, theory of technique (Menninger and Fenichel oriented), child development
and a continuous case seminar. They were mostly orthodox Freudian in orientation. And while I was there Anna Freud visited and gave a faultless delivery on negation - without a note! I felt I was part of one large world psychoanalytic family - they passed me on to others. For example Emmy Sylvester, who ran a fascinating seminar on the psychoanalytic theory of development passed me on to Robert Wallerstein at the Menninger Clinic, to Rudy Lowenstein in New York and to Erik Erikson and David Rapaport at the
Austen Riggs Foundation at Stockbridge. All went out of their way to find a spare moment; for two of them that was the breakfast hour!
When I duly returned to Australia in 1959 and my job at the University of Melbourne I started my psychoanalytic case work - a male hysteric whom I saw for 6 years, supervised by Dr Geroe, and a borderline schizophrenic with obsessional features, whom I saw for 4 years, supervised by Dr Frank Graham.
A brief deviation here to mention some developments occurring elsewhere in Australia at this time. It had been hoped that psychoanalytic training might begin in Sydney, my city of origin, when a Sydney Institute of Psychoanalysis was signed into incorporation . It was initially proposed that, Dr Andrew Peto, a Hungarian analyst, would initiate the training, but unfortunately he relocated to New York. So Sydney had to wait until
Australians might be ready for the task. Thus , Prof Reg Martin (trained in London) and Mrs Janet Nield (trained by Dr Geroe) became the first training analysts for the Sydney Branch -- later to be joined by two others who had also trained in London (Dr Ron Brookes and Mr David Buick). Later Dr Alan Bull and for a time Dr Win Childs (both trained in Sydney) also became Training analysts. In Adelaide Dr. Harry Southwood at that time alone held the fort. The Sydney group were to be joined for a period by Dr David Rowlett ( from Seattle), and Dr Helmut Junker (from Germany); later by Dr Craig Powell (Toronto) and later still by Mr Neville Symington and Dr Joan Symington (from London) . The Sydney analysts thus came from many different international training centres. Diversity can give added strength, and it did; obviously at times it meant that there were differences to be worked through!
Fast forward now to 1965 when I sought academic advancement by putting my hat in the ring for the newly established Macquarie University Chair of Psychology and Head of the proposed School of Social Behavioural
Sciences. No doubt the fact that for many years I had been crossing boundaries between disciplines was a factor in my winning the prize! It was wonderful to be in at the early planning stages of a new university; it grew from zero students to 15,000 while I was there. I am proud of the great team of psychologists, anthropologists and sociologists we assembled and of their accomplishments. I had a big administrative role, but I particularly liked teaching courses on development, personality dynamics and psychopathology, and established a masters degree program in clinical psychology.
While at Macquarie I started work at home at 7am daily to fit in a couple of hours work with psychoanalytic patients before my university job. I met with other psychoanalysts in weekly peer review of our work and regularly at Psychoanalytic conferences. In 1966, based in part on consideration of a written paper on my first independent case, I was admitted as an Associate Member of the British Psychoanlytic Society. Four years later, in 1970, I presented for full membership a paper on one of my unsupervised Sydney cases, during the visit of Dr Lois Munro, then a member of our Sponsoring Committee from the British Society .
1971 was in many ways a special celebratory year. It was the year of the 27th Congress of the IPA and the first occasion when the IPA had met in Vienna since World War II. In the report of that conference Dr. Frances
Gitelson is recorded as presenting to the President, Dr. Leo Rangell, the names of 3 Australians , Professor I K.Waterhouse (for Direct Membership of the IPA) and Dr. R.S. GILLEN AND Dr. J.L. Linnane (for Associate
Membership). Dr. Rangell Commented These three individuals have been known personally by Dr. Limentani and me ever since we made a site visit to Australia a few years ago and have been followed very closely in their development. Clearly there was much interest in the development of psychoanalysis in Australia, and this nurturing from overseas has been vital!
Much later I was to meet many other members of the world psychoanalytic community at other IPA conferences - e/g in Rome and Montreal.
In the early days a conference meeting of everyone in our newly established Australian Psychoanalytic Society would have probably been 12 analysts .Today it is something more like 80 members and 15 students .
How we have grown! What a tribute it is to the dedication of so many! With such large numbers and different training experiences (many of our current members trained outside Australia) and the fact that there are now three different Australian training Centres (Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide) it is only to be expected that there are at times divergences of viewpoint . But we all share the same goal of fostering understanding of self and others through psychoanalytic education and practice.
After we became an independent Australian Society, Site Visiting Committees (SVC) came from IPA. on 2 occasions to help to keep us on track and check on our progress as an independent society. The first SVC
was chaired by Dr. Ed. Joseph (New York) accompanied by Dr. E McLaughlin and Dr. R Moses (Israel), the second was chaired by Dr. Arnold Cooper (New York) with Prof. Joseph Sandler ( London). They were eager to see us make progress.
In 1971/2 I had sabbatical leave from Macquarie University and spent it at the Tavistock Institute in London .There I attended seminars given by John Bowlby, and immersed myself in learning from experience about group behaviour in both small and large groups. I was greatly stimulated by the lectures on group processes given by Pierre Turquet and attended an in-house Tavistock weekend conference directed by him. This was based on the classical Leicester conference model of studying group processes, by experiencing groups at work, in a small group, a large group and in inter-group events. I was to find Bion's analysis of group processes especially meaningful, and later went on to do a week-long event at Leicester. It was useful to learn, as Robert Young later described it, that at the heart of Bions ideas about groups is the observation that, although groups are normally set up to pursue sensible and realistic goals - Bion calls this the work group - they inevitably from time to time fall into madness, which Bion calls basic assumption functioning. Bion specified three types of basic assumption functioning, dependency, pairing and fightflight, which interfere with effective pursuit of a groups formal work goals!
So helpful did I find the Leicester experience that, in thinking about administering the large School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University, (with a team of about 100 staff in Psychology, Anthropology
and Sociology), I later returned to seek to understand better some of the powerful forces at work in groups.
I will not cover all the intervening years of my odyssey, but just a few highlights which illustrate that searching for deeper understanding of the psyche has continued as a lifelong pursuit!
My sabbatical, in 1971, offered further opportunity to add new dimensions. I attended several Postgraduate seminars with the British Psychoanalytic Society in London, notably Betty Joseph's continuous case presentation
seminar, Esther Bick's seminar on infant observation and Isabel Menzies seminar on the work of Bion. And I visited Anna Freud at Hampstead Nursery and Clinic.
Later, back in Sydney, I was helped in my clinical psychoanalytic work by supervision from visiting analysts- Sidney Klein, Betty Joseph, Edna O'Shaughnessy, Irma Pick, Eric Brenman, Dinora Pines and Anne Marie
Sandler come particularly to mind . (In those days we used to have a regular Overseas Visiting Analyst programme whenever we could arrange it.) Other continuing learning came from small weekly peer review
groups; and in addition I sought supervision for a period from my Sydney colleague Ron Brookes.
After retirement from Macquarie University in 1986 it was great to be fully engaged in analytic work for a period; I became a training analyst and involved in significant administration of the Australian Psychoanalytic
Society/serving a term as its President . Distance between training centres at times proved a problem as the Australian Society grew. We tried to sort out points of difference on important issues through live personal contact - and, when the conference time that could be allotted was too brief, tried specially convened meetings at an airport. Later at times we made progress by telephone conference hook up without the need to travel.
SOME REFLECTIVE GLIMPSES AT THE PRESENT
Now, in the autumn of my life (at 88), I often sit and think, or simply sit and gaze ! How wonderful the scene below our house - the adjoining national park, the wildflowers, the morning clouds settled in the valley, and the birds calling to one another! And at our coastal retreat I enthuse on views of azure blue seas, tumbling surf , wheeling pelicans and swallows, scudding yachts , and occasionally whales spouting in the distance! I could wax poetic as I marvel at such wonders of nature. And, after travelling overseas with Marie, I reflect on world beauty spots we have visited and marvel both at the wonders and the awesome accomplishments of man in art, architecture, medicine, science, communication, industry, transportation,
music, cities, agriculture, and so on - fantastic!
BUT when I listen to the news, or watch Television, I am aghast at the devastation wrought by so many cataclysmic natural disasters - earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, typhoons, firestorms, and droughts. Seemingly inevitable!
And I hate to hear almost daily of wars and piracy and devastating bomb attacks across the globe. Though I turn for possible enlightenment to the letters Freud and Einstein wrote to each other (Why War?) I see no
realistic solution. I readily endorse Freuds view that anything that encourages the growth of emotional ties between men must operate against war, but any glimpse of a Utopia based on sufficient common
identifications still eludes us. And I am appalled by the frequency of reports of violence, assault, murder and rape in the local Australian community. To me it seems there is an increased incidence of violence, but some say Im wrong and that the statistics are otherwise. Perhaps they are thinking of percentage incidence and I am thinking of absolute numbers? Anyhow, why so much violence and raunchy behaviour? Is there an upsurge of powerful primordial instinctive drives such that the usual dams (Freud) are ineffective against them?
If so, how might we MINIMISE the negative influences? Does psychoanalytic theory have answers? I ponder this question with a mnemonic, MIDU, which stresses 4 assumptions:
Multiplicity of factors likely to be involved; typically
Interacting and modifying one another,
Developmental contributions throughout life, and
In thinking about this kind of problem I turn also to another mnemonic I used when lecturing at Macquarie. Back then, I adopted the portmanteau word LE-SO-CU-PE-THY, which Murdock the anthropologist coined to describe an approach which might integrate data and theory from several approaches - Learning, Society, Culture and Personality TheorY, (for me this was especially Psychoanalytic theory in its full metapsychological form i.e. including dynamic, economic, structural, genetic, and adaptive considerations). Today I would want to be explicit about possible contributions from even more areas-- in particular from what might be called a Biological group of influences and a Cognitive group. So the portmanteau word I would use today to remind me would become Bio-Cogno-Le-So-Cu-Pe-THY. Of course each part of this portmanteau word would subsume many others for example Bio- would stand for any Genetic, Physiological , Neurological or related Biological approaches. And Cognitive would include full awareness of changes in cognitive capacity related to age - as expounded for example by Piaget - and the changes with age in capacity for storing representations of the events of living. Cognitive factors would of course also include the immense role which language can play in crystallising insight, thus enabling transfer to new situations and in helping to discriminate between similar seeming ones.
So, excessive displays of violence may certainly arise from biological deviations (e.g. a brain dysfunction or a neuro-chemical deviation), or develop when a person is fired by an excessive binge on alcohol, or by
intake of drugs. But it is to the range of possible social and developmental influences that I ordinarily give primary attention in seeking deeper understanding of such behaviour. The kinds of things for example that
Freud seems to have had in mind when he referred to dams against instinct as connected with some aspect of education in the course of growing up. I assume Freud was probably referring here to internalisation
of role models or sanctions coming from parents, siblings, school, peers and/or the wider culture - indeed from all factors that influence an individuals superego development and ego control. Are some children
in effect taught the model of excessive release of instinctual aggressive urges when they daily experience a shouting match between their parents? Or even the model of actual physical attack on others? Does haranguing from fanatic fundamentalists lead to suicidal terrorist attacks on those deemed to be infidels? Will such models be copied, or questioned, by the child? Are different models available and do children have a chance to reflect on them? Again, might some uncontrolled aggressive and sexual behaviour be related to excessive exposure to TV aggression and sexual lust, (often rated as M for Mature), and presented as suitable for entertainment? Might too much TV and movie exposure promote a culture of sensation seeking and unbridled release of instinctual impulses?
In contrast to these models of excess there is the model experienced by other children whose parents themselves display and promote benevolence, reason, responsibility, containment and control? I am aware of some wonderful modelling by parents and peers and community leaders - but is society falling down at times by failing to explore sufficiently issues of morality and ethics in behaviour?
In order to increase the likelihood that appropriate dams will exist and be adequate it has been suggested that some kind of regular secular moral and ethical component should be a part of our education. Is there a case for a continuing review, adjusted to the maturity of the growing person, of basic moral issues? Not only throughout the earliest years of socialization - in home, school and peer groups but indeed wherever there are significant influencers who might provide role models? How else might we hope to attain the goal embodied in Freuds dictum Where id was there shall ego be ?
I add below a few further brief snapshot reflections
Mentalising: Recently there has been interest shown by psychoanalysts (eg Allen et al, Fonagy) in a therapeutic approach called mentalising - promoting awareness of mental states in ourselves and others as we interact with one other - i.e. making clear the desires, needs, feelings, reasons, beliefs that we have ourselves and that we ascribe to others. At the Menninger Clinic a special program is devoted to instilling
this mentalising approach as a therapeutic tool. For Fonagy the development of mentalisation is intrinsically linked to the development of self-regulation, and language is the prototypical capacity which facilitates
symbolic interaction. A key factor in developing mentalisation appears to be the nature of the attachment being experienced and the caregivers attention to developing self regulation in the child. To me this seems a promising approach in child rearing.
Related to this is also the question as to whether mindfulness has been developed as part of early maternal-attachment experiences; and how far the capacity for empathy and reflection on interpersonal activities can become an integral part of the growing child s experiences and of the mother (eg Salo) .
Sometimes I have been asked whether I have felt there is any conflict between psychoanalytic theory and learning theory?
Absolutely not! I think they complement each other. For example learning theory principles help us to understand why some habits (which would include defences), are so entrenched. Important here are principles
like primacy, (critical stage learning), repetition, and drive reduction (reducing anxiety, or avoiding it, is often very rewarding and consolidates defences.)
But there is a difference in what is targeted for attention. The learning theorist typically targets a selected conscious behaviour - the analyst tries to make conscious the unconscious determiners; and these only
become gradually revealed in the transference, or in dreams, or in the free association of a session. Underlying this is the belief that in the course of analysis there will be a repetition, or recollection, which will then
be worked through over time (Freud).
I believe that acquisition (and extinction) of responses can happen automatically and unconsciously. .This is supported, for example, by Doidge, who cites FMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to indicate
that passion, reason and conscience involve differing areas of brain activity and that brain scans now show that thought processing goes on beyond awareness, and that desires, emotions and emotional conflicts
can actually be unconscious; and further that we can have guilt without being aware of it, or anger or attraction towards others that we dare not face .
Evidence based therapy I endorse the view, often expressed today, that therapy should in principle be evidence based. Sure, but there are some difficulties in meeting some of the gold standards achieved in some forms of experimental research. I do not think for example that we could readily set up two groups of meaningfully matched pairs of patients to be randomly allocated, one group to analysis and the other to no treatment or some alternate treatment. I think both therapists and patients would oppose this!
To me it would in any case be more appropriate to focus on process and progress (or otherwise) in detailed before-after comparisons. It would be important to know the general analytic frame and demand characteristics of sessions and for research to provide enough detail of within session events to be able to track what is occurring in important areas. For example changes in such items as defences, urges, sensitivity,
reactions to stress, mentalising, and their relation to therapeutic interpretations or other events. And there should be stocktaking from several independent viewpoints - ideally from the patient, from the therapist, from others close to the patient (e.g. family members) and maybe another therapist - looking for evidence of growth and change. So I would like an accountingof presence or absence of change, and of the
actual events of therapy. This is in fact the kind of thing that often occurs as part of regular peer review.
Throughout life I have often been guided by a Latin slogan Perseverentia palmam obtinebit translated perhaps as Persevering will gain the winners palm wreath. This was engraved on a stained glass window in a country boarding house where I spent several pre-adolescent summer holidays. Later I learned that something very similar was embodied in a quotation of US President Coolidge:
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful
men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
Add too Patience this is not only a virtue but often quite essential to attain our goals. And add also the need for lots of hard Yakka as Australians often say! (Yakka is a very tough Australian wood).
Explanation So, what is an adequate explanation of anything? When do we know it is adequate? Bridgman had an interesting operational definition here. Explanation consists in reducing an event to elements with which we are so familiar that our curiosity rests. From my odyssey I now have many resting points. But I still have a restless curiosity about so much!
To sum up, my odyssey has, been characterised by openness to new ideas without premature judgment. Breadth is important, but so is depth in some areas. All knowledge is partial; typically it is essential to aggregate many part-solutions and be prepared to cross boundaries in our quest for an adequate explanation of most phenomena.
My journey is still in progress -- internet excursions beckon daily,. I am at times quite Google-eyed !
Some Final Snapshots:**
I have been asked to say something about what it was like to grow up in a place like Eryldene which has become a national heritage house and garden, documenting the combned work of architect W Hardy Wilson and my fathers landscaping. Put simply it was great. I was very lucky!
In my young days the property was almost an acre in size; later a portion we called the paddock was sold off to fund gardening help. The large property was wonderful for playing games like hide and seek .There were climbable trees and a swing, just the thing for boys to work off excess energy. And we could ride bikes around the perimeter of the house. In this garden paddock, screened off from general view by a row of loquats, there was a fine array of vegetables and elsewhere there was a huge variety of fruit trees a veritable Garden of Eden with lots of oral temptations to taste and try! And we learned to help our Mother to preserve and bottle many of them.
Although we almost took it for granted then, we only gradually came to appreciate the artistry of the outside garden rooms which our fathers landscaping hobby had created as a complement to the aesthetic furnishing inside the house. We helped a little occasionally, with things like weeding, clipping a hedge, and sometimes mowing or trimming the lawn.
A central place for action was naturally the tennis court, originally a hard court of sand and antbed, only later to become a grassed court. There, in fantasy, all sorts of ournaments would take place in fantasy play we would re-enact world tennis matches, and cricket tests. Though today there are no fences around the court to contain the balls, in those days we erected fishing nets to serve that function.
The tennis court was also a great place for birthday parties for us as kids, or for our parents in garden parties. When young we would be expected to be seen but not heard, at least not very much; later we would be expected to hand round cups of tea and plates of sandwiches, and cakes and engage in conversation with guests. The tennis court also became in the early days a venue for a home fireworks display when that was still permitted it was exciting to see the court and tea house lit up by a Mount Vesuvius, a roman candle, a catherine wheel or a rocket. Part of the essence of living at Eryldene came of course from what our parents brought to the equation. Both had academic backgrounds in modern languages - they had met in Paris and were dedicated to one another and to their 4 boys. My father was a Goethe specialist for whom the good, the beautiful, and the true held a primary place. He loved fine arts, both inside the house and its equivalent outside in selection and placement of shrubs. He was a gardener artist in his hobby hours. Our mother likewise had great artistic talent her Ikebana flower arrangements were legendary.
Both parents set high standards for themselves and for us - if a thing is worth doing it is worth doing it well; Give of your best! This must have been well assimilated by me. I was caricatured once, as a sergeant
in charge of the aptitude testing section in Sydney, with finger raised saying That wont do, its not good enough. Growing up with 3 brothers I learned from my parents too the importance of sharing and co-operating with others, and waiting my turn for one-on -one attention from a parent. Greedy impulses were to be curbed. In todays language it was cool to be controlled and responsible.
In early childhood there was help in the house - later we all had to pitch in. It was important to pull ones weight, for example, inside the house in chores like washing up (in a basin on the kitchen table - we had no
dishwasher or hot water tank in those days), vacuuming, waxing the wooden floor boards, and washing windows; and outside in marking the tennis court lines, rolling the tennis court and erecting the ball retaining
nets, cleaning out and renewing the water in the fish pond. Helping to hand-water (with hoses) the plants somewhere in the garden was almost a daily chore. Catching snails would be rewarded at a premium rate.
Musically the greatest influence was from Dad who loved his collection of composers like Beethoven, Haydn Wagner, Bach all on 78rpm records. He greatly appreciated the offer of a son to wind up the gramophone and change records while he relaxed on a couch after a day at the University. From time to time he took us to a Gilbert and Sullivan production and we would rehearse the songs at home. I learned the flute, diverted thence from thoughts about playing a trumpet; Though I gained no great expertise, I did
participate in a school concert.
There were lots of books. Initially Dads study was in the house; he worked there on his lectures until I arrived as the fourth son. He then sought refuge in the garden study built to escape the noise and tussling of a rowdy family. Both study rooms were lined with shelves of booksthose in the house were mainly English classics by writers, like Shakespeare, Browning, Keats, Dickens, Scott and the like - many had been earned as prizes by my father. In the house study there were also books of kids stories, eg by Kipling and the Dr Dolittle series. There were also some books on art, architecture and gardening The books perhaps most regularly referred to by us were the dictionaries, atlases and encyclopedias (e.g. Chambers). The general point to be made here is that Eryldene was a very favourable learning environment. Our mother happily supervised our homework while Dad got on with his lecture preparation.
So Eryldene was a great place to grow up; and we were very luck!!