#International Women’s Day

Q: How many men does it take to change a situation?

A: What situation?

How many men publicly say anything in support of women or the situation we continue to live in where women … (fill in the ellipses however you want: there are so many absurdly negative, infuriating choices)? Is it because the kind of men who’d say something have themselves ended up isolated or silenced? Or is that we don’t really care enough. I think it’s mainly the latter.

Most men don’t know how to care and a lot of men just don’t care.

Men: do something. Do something with yourselves, learn how to properly give a f*** and the rest will follow.

Associative Therapy: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy & EMDR

I was trying to describe the way that I work to someone – reluctantly, I have to say. The best psychotherapy seems to be spontaneous, guided by everything I’ve taken in before that point, perhaps similar to how I’d steer a ship in different kinds of weather. You wouldn’t want to go looking for the manual.

‘Associative therapy’ came to me as a way of suggesting what I do, and in the end I have to give other people a good idea of that. So … here are five ways of thinking about what I do:

  1. I’m a trained psychoanalytic psychotherapist and a fully qualified EMDR therapist. Associative therapy involves psychoanalytically induced EMDR.
  2. I am very interested in Derrida’s deconstruction, and my understanding of it comes less from books by other people about his work than from reading his work and being very close to people who worked with him. This gives me a particular, rather unscholarly, appreciation of his work. I’d say I have had more of a Derrida experience, than an education, and from that I have realised:
    • There is no simple presence. ‘I am’ never happens in the way I was taught. My life is complicated by things like ghosts: ones from the past 1 of the kind Freud described in terms of transference; and ones from other places 2.
    • Differentiating myself from what is not me leads to many of the things psychoanalysis has a theory about, for example displacement and repression, but always in a way that problematises relationship without often suggesting how one person might get along with another. Deconstruction has a lot to say about love, friendship and understanding.
  3. I came to working as a psychotherapist out of my experiences in writing, as a writer and a reader, and of working in various kinds of groups at Art Colleges and other creative places. Thinking about what happens to us in groups that doesn’t elsewhere, and whether groups really exist or whether we are all individuals always connecting and disconnecting from  different levels of experiencing others 3 forms the basis of a large part of my work with my clients.
  4. Given all of the above I hope it’s easier to appreciate why I consider association so important. Freud wrote about free-association and his ‘fundamental rule‘ guides all psychoanalytic work. EMDR establishes chains of association by desensitising traumatic memories. Dissociation occurs in many different forms: from ‘zoning out’ or ‘forgetting’ to losing touch with basic needs, a sense of reality, a sense of power, or a broad understanding of consequences (good and bad). It’s the way our bodies deal with overwhelming emotional moments. Psychoanalytically informed EMDR can include different kinds of conscious experience (experiences of transference, for example).
  5. Privileging speech, as ‘talk therapies’ generally do, can be misleading. Noticing things, similarly to the way in which I might read something, can be more important. EMDR suggests a number of different ways in which things might be noticed, or registered. Psychotherapy really needs to be about differentiation, distinction and unentangling. The ‘loosening’ suggest by the word ‘analysis’, if we look at where the word comes from and what it carries with it (the ancient Greek root suggests an ‘unloosening’ or to ‘loosen up’).

We’re all potentially messed up, in other words, and good psychotherapy sorts us out. Something like that. Associative therapy will keep you joined up.




Boredom’s a feeling of not being able to stay with something, and it usually feels like a choice. When I’m bored I can’t feel connected. I feel isolated. Bored to death means extinction: probably, originally, a fear of my own extinction because nobody had managed to convince me that disconnection, isolation wouldn’t destroy me.

Something in Me

While I was writing that last post on Dusty Springfield I remembered something I sometimes say to my clients. If you go to see a film, where’s it happening? Some people get straight into this, others remain a little baffled. Thinking about the question clearly and sometimes slowly enough to get to an answer is an exercise in itself – you wade through assumptions, things you haven’t considered, and whatever feels intuitively right or wrong. Then you get to a thought: it’s happening in you. If I watch a film, it’s happening in me. That’s why we can see different things in the same film: whatever I go to watch is seen in the company of me and my whole life, all my thoughts, feelings and unknowns. There’s the rubble of my unconscious and the summit of my achievements.  Something that happens may take place outside me – but it happens in me. Something that goes on, that’s something in me.

Dusty Springfield

I was listening to Spooky by Dusty Springfield the other day.

I’m not particularly interested in her music as a thing in itself, but as part of some kind of great, global soundscape she’s played her part the whole of my life. There’s an experience, a worldliness that lets me tale her seriously enough to let her in to whatever I’m doing when I come across one of her songs playing. There have always been singers like her, and singers who aren’t like her: ones who perform, but when they do it feels as if they’ve left their soul in a drawer somewhere. These singers sing ‘about’ things … they don’t just ‘sing’ something. I listen to Dusty Springfield sing ‘Spooky’ and something happens to me. She isn’t singing about anything, although you could talk about hers song and what it’s about if you want to; she’s singing something that’s in the words, the music and eventually in me.

I don’t know anything about Dusty Springfield. I don’t own any of her music. She’s a voice I hear on the radio sometimes and I always find myself listening.

I know that she died, but she feels alive.

Most of what I hear on the radio now sounds as if the station’s still broadcasting and and everybody’s dead. The world’s ended and the band keeps playing, worse than the Titanic; but at least that seems to have been consoling.  When I hear singers like Dusty Springfield I feel in touch with something living. When I listen to a lot of radio I feel a part of myself die.


Giacometti, Fear and Hatred

I went to see the Giacometti show at the Tate yesterday and found all the fear of the world in most of the things he made. I recognised, in my own unease as I walked through the gallery, the soul-substance of TV and the Internet. The many special forms of fear that drive viewers or users: jealousy, envy, competitiveness, loneliness and misogyny, each with their awful textures, like kinds of intention I could almost separate into different painful, hateful senses of space, time, distance and intensity.  I saw the actual forms of television sets and computers in his sculptures. There were also his tiny figures, framed so much like we are these days, in no broader context than a screen, and sometimes a very small screen. Not the Silver Screen but the greasy, smudged thing on a phone. I’m glad I didn’t go on my own.

no right

I have no right to be a parent. I have no right to be heard or loved. Life is contested, every moment. If I forget this I overlook its fragility and betray you.


It’s curious, but Theresa May appears to enjoy being disliked. I can’t see how she could do a better job than she is of making herself not so much unpopular, as unlikeable. Perhaps she feels more comfortable being ‘difficult’ and prefers to deal with that than the horror, to her at least, of being loved.