We are gradually moving into the summer months with the hope of recharging our batteries after a long chilly, wet winter of discontent. Even with the sun shining, the global malaise is set to continue as the recession bites ever deeper and moves on through the stages of shock and denial to burst into the disturbing realms of blinding reality. A similar process takes place in the therapeutic space where so much hinges on the intensities of beginnings and endings and somewhere in between where the drama that encapsulates a life is played out. A parallel process is brilliantly mirrored through a conversation between Frank McGuinness and Mary de Courcy. Frank wrote the screenplay for the television drama A Short Stay in Switzerland, a true story with Julie Walters enacting the harrowing and intensely moving life of Dr. Ann Turner, who chose euthanasia (to die well) when faced with a horrible, hereditary disease. The Conversation not only reveals the unfolding drama, tragedy and suffering of the Turner family but also evocatively weaves in descriptions of Frank McGuinness’s own journey; his childhood in Donegal and particularly the influences of his mother and grandmother who taught him not to judge but rather to listen. His observations on the Irish psyche and understanding of its people show remarkable insight and compassion. He concludes by musing, It’s going to take a long time to see how deep the censorship has got into our psyches and how do we uproot that instinct for censoring?’
We witnessed an example of this censorship recently when Professor Len Doyal visited Cork as a guest speaker in a debate on euthanasia. Such was the vehemence of opposition to his opinions the entire debate was abandoned. Mary Stefanazzi calls for more debate in her article on ethical issues. The debate still continues around Statutory Regulation. Richard Reeves and Phil Mollon warn that through State regulation we may be ‘sleepwalking to disaster’ and point out that the ‘industrialization and manualization’ of the profession will reduce the process to mere procedures.
As psychotherapists we are constantly challenged by the suffering that enters the therapeutic space and by our own limitations. How can we tolerate that space and hold the paradox when feelings of judgment, disgust, prejudice or intolerance threaten our empathy and compassion? Jude Fay reflects on whether she really meets her clients’ needs and Eileen Finnegan honestly reveals her personal journey and its difficulties in working with sex offenders. Attending supervision is a mandatory part of our self-regulatory system so essential that it be both supportive and challenging. Annie Sampson provides interesting research into this whole area.
We are all seekers of meaning and healing. Tony Freegrove in his review of Alice McLaughlin’s Complete Union tells us that ‘the sexual area of human suffering is still hidden in Ireland’. Maria Moran points out that many people still carry a generational legacy and wounding from their ancestors. The primary relationship between mother and daughter is always material for drama. Caroline Burke explores this deeply internalised relationship and expands on themes of attachment, sexual socialization and restitution.
In face of a global crisis it would seem vital that we learn the lessons of our collective greed and hubris and not try and recreate the paradigms of the past. Obama has shown us a broad visionary style of leadership, which keeps the bigger picture in mind. We are reminded in this publication that in the midst of chaos it is the relational that keeps us grounded in our humanity. So it is, therefore, comforting to note that there continues to be a demand for and maximum attendance on workshops on mindfulness, spirituality, care, compassion and community.