Book Review: The Psyche in the Modern World: Psychotherapy and Society

Bk1Editor: Tom Warnecke
Published by Karnac London 2015 I
SBN 978-1782200468

Reviewed by Anne Colgan MIAHIP

Tom Warnecke has put together nine essays which explore contemporary psychotherapy. It is a brilliant read for those of us in practice and for those outside of psychotherapy. The authors come from different ways of working and challenge us to look at the way in which we practice psychotherapy. It also provides validation in how the reader can identify with other psychotherapists and feel less isolated in the work. It provides great diversity and knowledge.

In the first chapter Tom Warnecke looks at how the Psyche as a soul is not simply some brain-based phenomena. He explores where we are in the world; how the world can require that we keep our needs and vulnerabilities hidden from others and even ourselves. However, by attending to the Psyche, which may lead us towards dark aspects of our lives, we may retrieve ignored, rejected or forgotten parts of ourselves. The Psyche may be a function of our entire organism, and must include our social world. Our world, Psyche, Soma and Angora are inextricably bound to one another.

Alan Corbett asks if society avoids working with clients with disability because of the fear that somehow low intelligence is contagious. He states the work can be chaotic and messy and can lack the excitement of working with someone who is full of ideas and thoughts. It can force us to look at ourselves and how we see intelligence as power. Consent is an area where the client’s confidentiality can be challenged by well-minded carers.

Camila Batmanghelidjh shares her experience of working with vulnerable children; children on the edge of society who have ended up living under bridges and have turned to crime. She writes that while psychotherapists in their own lives believe that kindness, generosity, encouragement and resources are ways in which vulnerable children can be restored to dignity, they sometimes struggle to retain the truth of their feelings when they get into the public eye.

Alison Bryan asks “Why Aren’t We Educating” in a way in which the public will understand the benefits of psychotherapy? There are a few psychotherapists who have written accessible books for the public. There is also the question of whom do we want to educate, the public or government policy? Unless we learn to position ourselves, society will not know and not benefit from what psychotherapy can offer; that which our culture urgently needs.

Mary MacCallum Sullivan and Harriett Goldenberg‘s “Psychotherapy, Relationality, and the Long Revolution” explores how psychotherapy can contribute to and participate in change in society outside of the consulting room. It also discusses how the practice of relational psychotherapy has a part to play in such a Long Revolution. In addition to the consulting room, we need to come together with others creating new structures and ethical rules and insisting on the importance, for social and political life, of complexity and subjectivity and of relationality and interconnectedness.

Michael Musalek looks at the journey from eminence-based medicine, to evidence-based medicine, to human-based medicine. Human-based medicine can be perceived as an extension of evidence-based medicine and can be integrated into the treatment plan in dialogue with the therapist and the patient. The goal is to work with the patient to find new ways to have a better life, for instance, to work with programmes which incorporate beauty and joy, pleasure and delight and the possible.

Theodor Itten in “Routes out of Schizophrenia” says we need a holistic approach out of mental illness that brings together research from many sources. He suggests that we focus on the symptoms that point like route- markers to the issues that trouble (mostly unconsciously) rather than labelling them with diagnoses. He states that psychosocial interventions are better suited to treating mental disorders in a safe way, without causing injury, than the medicinal, pharmacological variety.

“Counting the Cost” by Claire Entwistle looks at the cost of becoming a psychotherapist. This cost included the course, personal therapy, supervision 64

and travel. The medial training fees and the median additional cost of training as a psychotherapist in Britain today appears to be around £25,500. Her second question was did students calculate the cost before taking on the training? Her responses went from knowing and being able to afford it, borrowing half way through, getting help from parents and selling possessions. When asked about earning back the costs, most didn’t consider it but were motivated by a desire to help people.

In “How Broader Research Perspectives can Free Clients and Psychotherapists to Optimise their Work Together”, Peter Stratton looks at how psychotherapists can see using research as a benefit to everybody. Our clients inhabit a modern world where research is readily available. This chapter contains research findings which you, I believe, will find valuable and if you haven’t considered using research before it could lead you towards that path.

In this review I hope I have given you an appetite to read this book. It is full of information and experiences. Reading it has reminded me that I am not alone in the work. I found it both inspirational and comforting.