Distraction, Evasion and Development

Book tickets

Organised by:

British Psychotherapy Foundation

03 February 2024

Time: 23:00 - 12:30

Price: £25

Location: online


Speaker: Anne Alvarez
Chair: Ellie Roberts, Child Psychotherapist

Saturday 3rd February 2024

This event will be held online via Zoom

Cost: £25.

The distinguished philosopher, Richard Wollheim, introducing us in 1971 to the work of Freud, asserted that the emphasis on defence is really the beginning of psychoanalysis and was part of what was meant in the talk of psychoanalysis as a dynamic theory of the mind. There is a deep truth contained in this model of psychopathology of the mind, which sees thoughts and emotions as acting on each other forcefully, but it cannot explain every change of subject which we encounter or produce in our conversations with other people or with ourselves. Moving on is sometimes creative, not evasive.

What Anne Alvarez and many others have been trying to explore over the years is the tendency to see defences as somehow false, and the underlying feelings being defended against as true, where this could lead to a rush to analyse away the defences, a haste to unmask. However unproductive and stunting of development they may be, we may find that defences can themselves contain an element of rightful need (for safety say) and, therefore, an element of truth, too — and, therefore, they need to be given more respect. Three clinical examples are cited where two of the therapists managed to do so and one did not.

About the speaker
Anne Alvarez, PhD, M.A.C.P is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist (and retired Co-Convener of the Autism Service, Child and Family Dep’t. Tavistock Clinic, London, where she still teaches). She is author of Live Company: Psychotherapy with Autistic, Borderline, Deprived and Abused Children, and has edited with Susan Reid, Autism and Personality: Findings from the Tavistock Autism Workshop. A book in her honour, edited by Judith Edwards, entitled Being Alive: Building on the Work of Anne Alvarez, was published in 2002. She was Visiting Professor at the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Society in November 2005 and is an Honorary Member of the Psychoanalytic Centre of California. Her latest book, The Thinking Heart: Three Levels of Psychoanalytic Therapy with Disturbed Children, was published in April 2012 by Routledge. A book by Galit Gampel on Alvarez in a series on influential thinkers in psychoanalysis is in preparation for Routledge.

If you have any queries, please contact Elizabeth Edwards by email at bpf.wessex@gmail.com

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