Psychotherapy and Biography: Unnatural Bedfellows?

Freud Museum London: Psychoanalysis Podcasts show

Summary: <br> A joint event between the Freud Museum London and the British Psychotherapy Foundation (BPF)<br> What is a successful biography? How can inner lives of others be satisfactorily explored and explained? Join a panel of writers looking at the fascinating process of writing biography using psychoanalytic thinking to understand psychoanalysts. Three authors, two of them psychotherapists, will discuss with professional biographer Frances Spalding the differences between analysis and writing biography, both practices which try to make sense of individual lives.<br> The discussion will be chaired by Frances Spalding, who has written acclaimed biographies of Virginia Woolf, Stevie Smith, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Gwen Raverat, among others. The speakers and their subjects are Marion Bower on Joan Riviere, Dee McQuillan on James Strachey, and Emma Letley on Marion Milner.<br> Speaker Details:<br> Marion Bower is a BPC registered adult psychotherapist in private practice. She previously worked as a Consultant Social Worker at the Tavistock clinic. She has edited a book on ‘Psychoanalytic theory for social work practice’ (Routledge) and has co-edited ‘Addictive states of Mind’ (Karnac). She is writing a biography of Joan Riviere.<br> Tall brilliant and beautiful, Joan Riviere (1882-1962) was a patient of Freud and his favourite translator. She also wrote ground breaking papers on female sexuality and patients who respond to getting better by getting worse. She was a highly respected psychoanalyst and her patients included Donald Winnicott and John Bowlby. Joan was a close friend and colleague of Melanie Klein and a brilliant expositor of Klein’s ideas, some of which she anticipated in her own work.<br> At 17 she spent a year in Gotha where she learned fluent German, which she later used to translate Freud’s writings. On her return she engaged in a whirl of balls and dances and met her husband to be, Evelyn Riviere, a barrister. Her parents arranged for her to be apprenticed to the dressmaker of Ellen Terry and Henry Irving where she was able to indulge her passionate interest in clothes. Joan’s aunt Margaret Verrall, who was one of the first lecturers in classics at Newnham College Cambridge, introduced her to the society for Psychical Research which is where she first encountered psychoanalytic ideas. A depressive breakdown led to her going into analysis with Ernest Jones who sent her some of her first patients.<br> Dr Emma Letley is a writer and psychoanalytic psychotherapist. After more than 20 years as a lecturer in Literature, she trained with the Arbours Association, works in private practice in London and, for many years, at King’s College London. Her publications include a study of 19th Century Scots Literature and a biography of Maurice Baring. Her biography of Milner, Marion Milner: The Life was published by Routledge in 2013 and she is Series Editor of the newly-issued works of Milner (Routledge 2012-1010). She is also on the Editorial Board of the British Journal of Psychotherapy.<br> Emma Letley discusses Milner as a biographical subject, her influence on the author’s own clinical work, and Milner’s own contributions to creativity. As biographical companion, an artist, psychoanalyst and educationalist, whose life spanned the whole of the twentieth century, Milner brings with her ‘the riches of world culture’. Milner’s contributions to creativity focus on her great book On Not Being Able to Paint, a book as relevant today as it was in the year of its publication (1950).<br> Dee McQuillan is a mature student with a background in features writing and editing. Her first degree was history, some time ago in both senses. She is a voluntary mental health worker, has an MSc in Theoretical Psychoanalytic Studies and is in the third year of PhD study at the Psychoanalysis Unit, University College London researching James Strachey's life and work.<br> James Strachey was the youngest of an upper middle cla