Psychotherapy Books:


Why Psychoanalysis?
By Elizabeth Roudinesco
Far from contesting the efficacy of new medications like Prozac, Zoloft and Viagra in alleviating the symptom of any number of mental or nervous conditions, Roudinesco argues that the use of such drugs fails to solve patients’ real problems. From the man who takes Viagra without ever wondering why he is suffering from impotence, to the woman who is given anti-depressants to deal with the loss of a loved one, to the adolescent experiencing a variety of mental disorders, who is simply prescribed Ritalin, Roudinesco sees a society that is obsessed with efficiency and desperate for the quick fix. In contrast, psychoanalysis testifies to human freedom and the power of language.

Wool-Gathering or How I Ended Analysis
By Dan Gunn
This is a personal and humorous account of the last month of personal psychoanalysis, principally Lacanian in orientation, taking place in frenetic and strikebound Paris. A diary account, interspersed with a commentary on the analysis, Wool Gathering is not only a highly entertaining memoir, but also an academic account of a process, opening up a world normally kept private in a new and engaging way. I cannot recall enjoying a new book as much as this for a long time. It is beautifully written, immensely engaging, very funny, very informative and, by the end, moving. Professor Steven Frosh, Birkbeck College, London.

Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of the Self
By Peter Fonagy et. al.
In a brilliant examination of the frontiers of human emotion and cognition, four prominent psychoanalysts combine the perspectives of developmental psychology, attachment theory, and psychoanalytic technique. The result of this marriage of the disciplines is a bold, energetic, and ultimately encouraging vision for psychoanalytic treatment. Historically, human emotion has been marginalized within the philosophy of the mind. Fonagy, Gengely, Jurist and Target argue instead for the importance of attachment and emotionality in the developing of consciousness, employing an extensive body of recent literature to support their claims.

By Adam Phillips
We would all like to think of ourselves as freedom-loving, egalitarian and democratic. Yet Freud has taught us that everything we do and say is rich in ambiguity and ambivalence: we are driven by conflict and antagonism, within and without. But if it is true that our inner lives are one unflagging drama of desire and dependence, of greed, rivalry and abjection, then how can we ever assume to know what might be good for someone else? In these essays, Adam Phillips examines such topics as fantasies of freedom, the nature of inhibition, and the social role of mockery. Throughout, he demonstrates how psychoanalysis allows people to speak and be heard.

Other Psychotherapy Books:

Chodron, Pema. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. Shambhala Classics
Formani, H (1990). Men – The Darker Continent. Heinemann, London
Herman, Nini (1988). My Kleinian Home- A journey through four psychotherapies. Free Association Books, London

Herman, Nini (1987). Why Psychotherapy? Free Association Books, London

Try Astam Books in Stanmore if you wish to purchase these books as they are hard to get (Phone: 9550 3855)


Later Childhood Books:


Rethinking ADHD: Integrated Approaches to Helping Children at Home and at School

by Ruth Schmidt Neven, Vicki Anderson, and Tim Godber

Review by Roy Sugarman, PhD, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales
The tiny book is packed with crisp and clear analyses of the nature of the problem. References to such luminaries in the field as Russ Barkley abound, and overall there must be more than 350 references in the 23 pages at the end of the book, as well as a comprehensive index.

Their approach homogenises a variety of thoughts we all have on this contentious issue, in many ways akin to the controversies in the autism spectrum, or perhaps any condition in childhood which presents somewhere between average behaviour and grossly unusual behaviour.

As the coming epidemic of mental illness threatens progress in the modern world, all of us in the West have come to question if the demands of modern capitalist life are not incompatible with wellness.

In 1995 and again in 1997, Christopher Green and Kit Chee wrote in their best-selling volume Understanding ADHD (London: Vermillion):

Certainly the “talking cures” have a place in managing the emotional problems of some parents, but not in treating ADHD. Formal family therapy is generally unhelpful, though clever psychiatrists use a less structured approach to help all members of a family work together to support their ADHD child…(p. 118)

A programme on which they appeared, on Granada television in the UK, logged over 7000 phone calls immediately. Such was the concern of parents then. But since then, as the Australian authors note, several truths have emerged:

  • ADHD aetiology has no Royal Road, but a multitude of paths lead to a common symptom
  • It’s not a syndrome, it’s too variable, resulting in variable rates of diagnosis
  • Different cultures see the problem differently
  • Even tight DSM-IV and ICD-10 formulations still allow for interpretation and subjectivity, with different rates of diagnosis
  • Stimulant medication improves performance in all children, not just ADHD, the extent of the improvement is what varies, not whether there is or isn’t change
  • These changes do not reliably have an outcome in the school setting
  • The primacy of the medical model has retarded progress in treatment, with no objective diagnostic methodology holding true
  • Current treatment approaches have run the risk of isolating the child, disempowering the parents, and ultimately the misdirection of treatment
  • Various forms of attempted diagnostic tools have proved unreliable and with questionable validity
  • There are gender issues in the historical feminisation of society
  • There is a bias towards diagnosis of minorities and lower socio-economic status groups
  • “Talking cures” are a valid part of the treatment, not just the disabilities that flow from the impairment
  • Medication is more readily dispensed to those in institutional care
  • Geographic area appears to influence diagnosis statistics
  • Small numbers of practitioners account for disproportionately large numbers of prescriptions for stimulants
  • As an illness of our time, ADHD may indeed reflect child rearing practice in a society which has changed considerably under the influence of modern capitalist demographics, including dependence on day care which may not meet the understood needs of children at various stages in their lives, depending on various stages of brain development

The authors quote a leading Australian commentator who notes that the minute you see such variations like this in medicine and mental health, you are looking opinion-based, not evidence-based medical practice.

What the authors do in this book is try to move away from linear approaches such as the narrowly defined medical model, to a more cybernetic, second order system which would see the psycho or neuropathology as embedded within the interactions between child and social substrate, not within the skin of the child. Hence the blind application of a germ or disease-centred medical model, using curative medication or intervention, would fail, given the multifactorial picture they paint.

Instead, and in keeping with modern psychiatric philosophy, they advocate for a bio-psycho-social model in the Engel sense. This would answer the questions different, viz:

Not what a single causative agent makes this child ill? (what diagnosis?), but rather:

Why has this child produced these symptoms at this stage of his/her life?

However, the authors make it plain that we should not fall into the linear epistemological trap of assuming that the environment causes the child to become ill, or its genes cause it to become ill, or some milieu events cause it to become ill. This is again, linear, cause-effect relationship, anathematic to circular second order cybernetic feedback thinking.

In the interaction of the genes, the family, the school, the world, the thoughts, the endocrines, the stem cells, the cytokines, the chandelier cells, the loud words, absence, separation, working parents, lousy child care, grief, emigration, loud TV, and any one of the hundreds of causal chains and context markers, a pattern connects which represents how this child, at this time of its life, demonstrates the symptoms of ADHD, and communicates this in producing symptoms.

The medical or other linear models thus produce and represent punctuation points, or father focal points in a complex system, descriptions, not explanations, which result from a cross-sectional slice approach to diagnosis, rather than a developmental framework. The authors here are advocating a much more comprehensive series of interventions. The epistemology above certainly represents the thinking of Family Therapy, of a more global determinism than the biology, or social or psychological domains of development would represent. We must remember that in neuropsychology, a concatenation of symptoms does not represent a syndrome, nor does linear definition of test outcomes provide meaningful data.

This is not war on the medical model, but a call for intervention from multidisciplinary teams. If one cannot eliminate the complex chain of events ending with the phenotype of impairment represented by ADHD, then one must intervene within society, avoiding a disposal diagnosis, recognising that medication is not the cure, avoiding coalitions against the child, containing their anxiety, accepting psychodynamic principals that all, including bad, behaviour is meaningful, the need for appropriate authority and the knowledge of the important of containing and supporting boundaries, working as partners with parents and teachers, improving child care arrangements, bridging the gap between home and school, dealing with separation and divorce, making positive changes in the school environment, supporting boys in the face of the demands of modern and future societies, and most critical, working with prevention in the wider social and political context.

This is a most important work, and with a wide audience, readable by everyone, even the damned parents. It really is a crucial reading, given its evidence base, that psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers, general practitioners, magistrates, judges and politicians become aware of the problems facing those who rear and mind children in the 21st Century, not just for ADHD, but the whole wide and varied spectrum of mental disorders.

This book is really well done. The last chapters need a great deal more detail and planning if the advocacy of such an approach is to go ahead. The post-modern view is really overdue, and the deconstruction of the terms we use is now a demand of the biopsychosocial model, and of the consumer.