A room with a view: Thinking in therapy

On 31st of December 2013 I were on my way back from a trip overseas and as I approached boarding gate to embark, I stopped at a newsagent and purchased five different newspapers including a French and Spanish Edition of El Pais and Italian Corriere della Sera.

To my delight on page 17 of Corriere della Sera, I found a dear friend – we have known each other since my undergraduate years when my fascination with emotions were top item agenda of my psychology degree. Subtitle of the article were stating that “le emozioni non sono nel cuore” –accompanied by a beautiful sketch of Da Vinci on human body.

The article, a simple summary of findings from recent (then) research by a group of researchers in Finland aimed to produce a map of emotions with precise location on human body whilst dismantling belief that emotion and specifically love is located within human heart. The team of researchers led by Lauri Nummenmaa, published their study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the following year in January issue of that publication. Over 700 participants from three different locations reported associations of various emotional states with topographically distinct and culturally universal physical sensations.

It were as it still is a wonderful research that opens up and connects so many ways of thinking and or about “thinking” on how emotion is experienced, bringing to light experience on how specifics can be linked and connected. At same time, as reading the research article 24 hours after my landing in UK, I were preparing for exams on a postgraduate degree and writing proposal for a dissertation on affective and cognitive empathy for adult population on autism spectrum disorder.

At first read the above experiences would have nothing in common and yet, simultaneously starting with 2012, I were training in both Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and both long term and brief psychodynamic therapy, learning and practising/ applying theory such as W. Bion on linking and thinking (analytically).

As much as it felt and still does feel acutely mesmerising, five years on, I were working for the NHS as a staff counsellor with little credentials to my experience but much understanding on a theoretical field mostly enhanced by four acquired degrees and decades of experience in the field.

Today, I do wonder if anything in my personal life can constitute as experience and in a simple quest to answering that question, I were provided with a golden opportunity linking with several professionals during a 2018/2019 field trip to London on fostering opportunities for criminal proceedings. My case studies (below) form a succinct analysis of such encounters – needless to say that such experiences did not exist and if any of names spring to mind - they are rather unfortunately similar to real existence- such coincidences would only attest to diorders of a thought and I am certain that my readers would not be in such categories/January blog is completely oblivious to mind disorders and name shaming. 

So all that follows, steams out of possible possibilities during examples of psychoanalyses – Roger Britton describes them as Third space (psychically); the material produced by named individuals have been sources of analysis and completed in aiming to produce resolution on things evolved since. The quote from Bion is self-explanatory:

" From the material the patient produces, there emerges, like the pattern from a kaleidoscope, a configuration which seems to belong not only to the situation unfolding, but to a number of others not previously seen to be connected and which it has not been designed to connect" (Bion, 1967 p. 127).

Clinical Observations:

Rita Biddulph - insecure, identity issues, uses sarcasm and dejection = fear of “abject” - main protective system – truly a very insecure person and when it comes to action – third place. An acute need to “exhibit authority” – mostly because Rita does not really believe she is it or moreover that she disserve it. A mother with extensive family support and strong inclination to be obedient and overcome challenges from an authority family/cultural environment. Rita is very insecure and when put in position of power she will withdraw and not act until she feels “safe” – her work means everything to her in that sense.

Mimi Barbaro – a ring close to her heart – it looks like plastic – brown and auburn with clear nuances - it is bulgy and ugly but it helps to calm down her anxiety – probably generalised. Referred with a mental health diagnosis linked to confidence issues but unfortunately misdiagnosed as anxiety is in situ with her permanently. Being proactive and “knowing what is next” and preparing is key to her - anything else it would be equal with “non-performance” –unbearable to Mimi. Mimi needs to be good at what she does, and what she does is also very limited as to account for a perfectionist tendency. Mimi is not an workaholic, her past experiences have been extremely traumatic in terms of family issues. Mimi is incapable to have a larger view, she needs to see things in steps or follow up from one step to the next. Mimi seems interested in…. more than…..

Dee Aktar – OCD – not sure if in any way or any time diagnosed but existent for a long period of time.

Methodical, smart but canny – no ethics and no morals – Ms. has no real sense of work as a way of being compassionate. is an workaholic she is trying very hard to compartmentalise but it is very difficult – an older brother comes to mind and competition – blurry distinctions. survival from an young age – second generation – she needs to be in constant move – others from same profession are looking up to her as they want to be her - able to manipulate and arrange things for what she wants – but lacks expertise and knowledge – she is good at applying templates and achieving what she wants. She never makes mistakes – except that she is a see /through for anyone with a little insight in what she really is. A girl who made it through her boarding school mainly because she managed to trick everyone around her –everyone that matter at the time. Dee hates to be disconfirmed – in sending an email just to say you see I am in the wrong – she expects others to bait to it – not everyone does.

Megan Rothman – Megan is on the up probably close to achieving a different status - but makes major mistakes just so she can prove a point she can – indeed she can. Megan needs to be seen – she is working diligently towards that and there is also a clear need for her achievements to be recognised – not sure if because such a need has not been nourished for quite some time. Lost in literally following a case to the letter – she is ready to make that call just so she can prove herself – that is her idea of advancement at this moment in time. Megan seems a good person to work with and she is really someone who can be trusted to complete her tasks but unfortunately when left on her own, she will make wrong decisions if not truly supervised on cases “bigger” than her expertise. Megan does not bring her family to work but if a parallel is to be made it is clear that she has a good network support outside the work environment but there, too she is not number 1 for decison making.

Olivia Piercy – Olivia has very little time or very little interest in specific cases – which shows that she has very strong interests in her work role and otherwise and she is constantly prioritising. Olivia delegates and has very succinct ways of addressing that-wonder about a medical condition rather than anything else… The more is left out the more it comes in – appears that Olivia can become almost hidden and that is of question in cases of who she represents.

Anne Aitken – A son late 3os with a history of drugs or something even more acute – her experience as a mother marked her beyond cases she has seen.

Never happy in her marriage – she can appear very determined and frightening but truly quite naïve and gentle at heart – that has not changed and that is her biggest achievement.

Eve Forresteir – never had a chance to appear! Probably that is her exact experience in this case and in general.

Lionel Bailly – without looking

Observations from one encounter – arriving slightly later as to ensure he is last and everyone awaits for him rather than other way around – anxiety – and yet after so long. Or there is perhaps the setting itself – what is it to be an expert for court -

Countertransference – evoking abandonment – also never resolved Oedipal - most probably so much more…use of interchangeable ideas on personality traits with mental health – what colours certain behaviours – responses.

His long coat and unkempt appearance ways of protecting – cultural symbolic defences. Probably hardly ever can be described as trendy – but certainly hiding for fear to be “judged”. Not married and no confidence, dislikes odd whereas odd should be familiar to him.

Language of report not corresponding to anything familiar certainly not Lacanian. An attempt on attachment theory, another on personality - describes nothing of his encounter/ actual interview itself – use of references that are not relevant to bring an argument – events/ non relevant when indeed is what triggered trauma/ not within a clinical setting and not in an appropriate environment.

Mature defences – laughter – in his goodbye almost OK, interpretation of “mother” – silence interpreted as hostility – traditional/ classic interpretations nothing too “intellectualised” – use of “the other” – inversion of gender – nothing Lacanian -= more an amalgam of non-transcribed psychoanalysis with infantile interpretations. Can still hear, disappointment and regret – failure of achieving what was intended. Socially inadequate – this is how his phantasy goes -

Conflictual relationship and clinically depressed – exactly who? Conversely who is the “other”?

Examples and countless examples can follow but enough of thinking  - target aimed and target achieved - like with anything but mostly love, emotions are to be processed not by heart but by a cortex...