Posts Tagged ‘psychoanalysis’

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mindapples: a wonderful idea

November 29, 2008

A good friend of mine is kickstarting a debate about mental health via the rather lovely concept of ‘mindapples‘ – asking people to talk about what their mental equivalent of 5-a-day is. It’s fitting for an idea like this, that *just makes sense*, that Mindapples is beginning to generate all sorts of interest.

I find it oddly moving to read other people’s submissions. There’s a Theodore Zeldin-esque quality* to what people say: we gain new insights about aspects of people’s minds and emotions that usually remain hidden. Making these things public leaves us readers with a warm glow about being human (well, that’s what it does to me anyway).

Visit the website to find out more, and to submit your own 5-a-day. A has asked that we all share our own 5-a-day, so for what it’s worth, here are mine.

  1. Having my hair stroked
  2. A teenage-length phone call with an old friend
  3. Telling someone they are brilliant and amazing
  4. Exploring new stuff – ideas, places, people
  5. Reading in bed with tea, in blissful silence

If I could have a sixth it would have to be some combination (but not together) of porridge/wine/coffee…

* to illustrate what I mean, I can’t resist posting Zeldin’s chapter headings in my all-time favourite book of his, The Intimate History of Humanity:

  1. How humans have repeatedly lost hope, and how new encounters, and a new pair of spectacles, revive them
  2. How men and women have slowly learned to have interesting conversations
  3. How people searching for their roots are only beginning to look far and deep enough
  4. How some people have acquired an immunity to loneliness
  5. How new forms of love have been invented
  6. Why there has been more progress in cooking than in sex
  7. How the desire that men feel for women, and for other men, has altered through the centuries
  8. How respect has become more desirable than power
  9. How those who want neither to give orders nor to receive them can become intermediaries
  10. How people have freed themselves from fear by finding new fears
  11. How curiosity has become the key to freedom
  12. Why it has become increasingly difficult to destroy one’s enemies
  13. How the art of escaping from one’s troubles has developed, but not the art of knowing where to escape to
  14. Why compassion has flowered even in stony ground
  15. Why toleration has never been enough
  16. Why even the privileged are often somewhat gloomy about life, even when they can have anything the consumer society offers, and even after sexual liberation
  17. How travellers are becoming the largest nation in the world, and how they have learned not to see only what they are looking for
  18. Why friendship between men and women has become so fragile
  19. How even astrologers resist their destiny
  20. Why people have not been able to find the time to lead several lives
  21. Why fathers and their children are changing their minds about what they want from each other
  22. Why the crisis in the family is only one stage in the evolution of generosity
  23. How people choose a way of life, and how it does not wholly satisfy them
  24. How humans become hospitable to each other
  25. What becomes possible when soul-mates meet

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why psychoanalysis

September 2, 2008

This book by Elizabeth Roudinesco was top of my holiday reading list. What a loser I am. Anyway, thank god it was a small book, and despite some very annoying habits on the part of the translator, I enjoyed it.

Her main argument was that over the course of the 20th century, the development of psychopharmacology (i.e. drugs for mental health issues) led to the separation of medical and psychotherapeutic approaches to tackling mental illness. In her view this is a bad thing, leading to an over-emphasis on external factors that cause disorders, rather than accepting the role of the kinds of things that Freud wrote about – sexuality, the unconscious and transference.

Best quote comes from Stephen Rose, when he talks about the discovery of the so-called ‘gay gene’:

A catastrophic loss has affected the Western world in the last few years. A loss of hope in finding social solutions to social problems.

Regardless of the implication that gayness is a social problem, I think his point is a profound one.