Paradigms of Practice/1 CPJA 1
By way of introduction, let me tell you a short tale. Twenty-five years ago today, a few of us were trying to get all the band to play.. So, in this actual venue, a meeting was held, probably long forgotten, with the title: ‘The Making of Analytic Psychotherapy – Varying Perspectives’. H.W (a fellow-conspirator at the time)and I were invited to contribute and my offering was entitled :’ The Emperors Clothes – looking again at analytic paradigms’ At the time, we barbarians spoke for the fringe, unsanctified analytic tribes, those unblessed by metropolitan hegemonic holy waters.
There has always been a debate as to what properly constitutes psychoanalytic practice. In alliance with elements of The Guild, AGIP & other ‘liberal’ organisations, we were trying to widen, indeed diversify the range of organised p-a practice in what were pre-UKCP days, in a field that was very exclusively organised in ritual, incestuous obeisance around The Institute. Hence the sub-title on that day. It is a longer tale, but one not only for the archive: history, like food, repeats.
Now, looking for an apposite phrase in very different times I consider plus ca change , plus c’est la meme chose but, things are not quite the same, even if the comment underscores what is often ironic about apparently progressive change, and signifies the importance of history, taking a ‘ long view’ regarding a current zeitgeist, or any uncritical conformity to the flavour of the day..
At that time, as now, sub-texts,politics, are at play. Then, the ‘radical’ tendency was to widen the net, extend the brief, allow in some of the Barbarians from the outer encampments (not a wholly altruistic move, as this would in turn strengthen a power base, assist economic imperatives, in squabbling London town houses). But, that’s politics, and organised psychotherapy did change.
Yet change is ironic, and dialectic, and often unintended; my comments today suggest other consequences in psychotherapy culture ,and in turn a response that is now, necessarily, more ‘tradical’ than radical !
To briefly explain this shift. Now, we inhabit, in wider culture as it impinges on psychotherapy culture, different, but not necessarily progressively better times. Leaving aside the problematic ‘regulatory mind’, we almost over-subscribe to values of ‘inclusivity and diversity’, which may have undesirable consequences as far as a homogenous, clearly differentiated psychoanalytic model is concerned. Ironically, the old guard, zealous keepers of the flame, upped sticks to form a higher temple elsewhere, leaving a vacuum, fertile for doubters, to ‘develop’, deconstruct, or maybe dismantle the integrity of the model – a model already under external threat in Nice Times. (I note tendencies, by the way, not conspiracies !)
The confidence in the model seems to have wavered for some, who as a result, have experimented, with techniques, derived from other models. This is not necessarily ‘adapt and survive’, any more than any crisis is nuclear – it is more like anxiety, or at worst panic. There are two interacting factors:
Adaptive responses to external pressures in form of NICE, IAPT, contractions in NHS and trainings, coincident with a translation of the ideology of diversity into shifts in practice technique, so as to resemble a more mixed portfolio, some more strings to the practitioner bow, because, well, we need to reflect and embrace diversity, rather than anything that whiffs of exclusiveness, elitism, even specialism. I am suggesting there is evidence of muddled, if well-meaning thinking, which has contributed to doing a disservice to a confidently held psychoanalytic paradigm. Thanks.