In this issue of Inside Out it is interesting to note how often our contributors have referred to the “political” in one way or another. Since much of our work is usually located in the sphere of the interpersonal, it is useful to be reminded of the reality of the “field” around our clients and ourselves.
In a country where for so many centuries there was an ongoing struggle for self government, self realization and the right to vote, we might wonder at the disaffection of so many young people from our political system. Bronagh Starr’s article exploring the intrapsychic development of the adolescent in the light of the history of Northern Ireland, recent and not so recent, begins a train of thought about the young people here in the South. It seems that for a large part of our past, we in the South shared exactly that same experience, and it is only relatively recently that we diverged from it to experiences peculiarly our own. The first few decades of our independent history were dominated by the power of the Catholic Church, while recently we have gone to the other extreme in the mostly secular land of the Celtic tiger. How have we weathered the loss of spiritual certainty, the journey into relative freedom and – this begs the question – how do our adolescents negotiate their internal development and identity within these pressures? Most particularly, how do we support the adolescents in the communities on the margins of our affluent society?
The relentless press towards material gain can leave many young people with a sense of exclusion, failure, and great difficulty with “meaning making ”. The phrase “feeding the soul” is frequently used in this context…it seems most apt. In this regard poetry and art, as that of Imogen O’Connor and Spark Deeley, reaches towards doing just that. Self definition in a country which now tends largely to accept money as its measure of success is at the very least problematical. The humorously satirical voice of “Ferret and Moale” resonates accurately in this climate. For us as psychotherapists, the business of attaining, as Paddy Logan quotes in his article:“integration in the wholeness of body, feelings, intellect, psyche and spirit, and in relation to other people” for both ourselves and our clients becomes ever more pressing. Val Mullally’s article fits well into this whole debate. Supporting parents is an excellent way to create more open communicative space for young people.
Angela McCarthy has been a member of the Board of Inside Out since its relaunch in 2003. She has been ever enthusiastic and energetic in her work for Inside Out, and for her colleagues she has been the solid voice of reason and wisdom over the years. Angela will be very much missed, and we want to offer her our heartfelt thanks and wish her success in the future. Special thanks are due to Jane Clancy, IAHIP administrator for her ongoing input and support, which are invaluable in all our work.