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Recent eLetters

Displaying 1-10 letters out of 30 published

  1. The Therapaeutic Imagination

    A book written by Jeremy Holmes, Psychoanalyst,(which I came across on the web) aimed mainly at psychotherapists, 'The Therapeutic Imagination' has used a novel approach to deepen understanding of the two way process involved in understanding self and others, by applying extracts from poetry and novels to explore 'what goes on' from a psychological perspective in a professional relationship- in order to better understand another's situation and experience. Though written from a psychoanalytic perspective I would think It can be applied to other than therapy situations both by people whose work involves making relationships with clients (and also outside professional relationships). The book could be paradoxically , helpful both for those who do not have a great imagination to start with as it is not a book to be read or analysed simply as a novel but can be applied as a learning tool and for those who do value the imagination already it can be enjoyed as a way of developing it in more focused ways that would benefit practice. The problem is possibly that in the present climate there is so little time to read and reflect that that practice will become even more dehumanised and the message in such books will not be heard widely enough..

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  2. The Wonder of Sonder

    When children come up with unique words they do not just show a stage of the technical development of language but also their unique understanding of aspects of their lives. Parents or those who look after them often 'get it' whilst nobody else does just because they are tuned in. These words are often kept as unique memories of a child's inner world.

    I would like to offer one of my own. 'Imaginating' which has features of 'imagination' but is experienced as a state of a more active development to a stage of 'what is' rather than 'what if'. Maybe if taken too far even 'false memories' of all sorts of things could be created this way.

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  3. Leaping Forward

    The changes to the aims of Humanities described in the Editorial by Deborah Bowman - and to the articles published in this edition are so enormous it seems as though the Journal has been incubating and is now emerging into a new, more exciting form! This is so interesting, thank you for such stimulating reading.

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  4. Shame on them

    This is an awesome article...thank you for it. I had supposed previously that the practices exposed here would be in contravention of Codes of Practice/Codes of Ethics of psychology and therapy based organisations so it is shocking to find they are explicitly implicated in the humiliating and dehumanising practices described. Surely professional codes state in various forms the obligation 'to do no harm'? (physical or mental). Thousands of people have been harmed. If quasi legal avenues of redress for those who wish to make complaints are closed by psychological organisations who are condoning coercive behaviour on behalf of the state - there needs to be a higher authority than the state which claimants can turn to. Not knowing enough about this I would like to know if there has been any action by campaigners to overturn the practices exposed here, by maybe individual complaints to psychology organisations or against individual psychologists who participate in harmful behaviour,appeals to the Court of Human Rights when conditions under which citizens are forced to live are dehumanising and intimidating. Maybe NGO's from other countries such as Scandinavia or areas where these conditions are not imposed on citizens,should come to Britain to investigate and make reports. It would also be interesting by the way to have a similar work undertaken from the perspective of those who feel it is legitimate to treat their fellow citizens in such ways.

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  5. Owning the body

    I was interested to read that only one person wished to read transcripts which described such an intimate part of their lives. Do you think if given another opportunity later when the experience was not as raw the chance may have had a higher take up? I wonder if anybody has asked to read the published article? I had a friend who used to cut his arms. He decided not to request access to his notes as he mistrusted how he would have been described ie he would not have been understood and worse it may have been offensive. (Many people are still too anxious to read their notes where others' opinions about them are recorded ]. His decision was realistic. When rushing him up to hospital after the cutting went too deep he was obliged to go through a door labelled 'Poisons Unit' - it was used for all sorts of self harming including pumping the stomache. The nurse in an aside which he could clearly hear stated that 'We don't make people feel too comfortable as they will only keep coming back'. It would be useful if people were given the opportunity to add their own account to their notes. He claimed that he had the right to do what he wanted to his own body. The scars were a kind of badge almost like a tattoo. Although the article is hugely respectful to the participants it may be that to read the transcripts in such a format would be embarrassing or even a bit of a betrayal. My friend is no longer around but he would have been respectful of the attempt to understand in such a compassionate way.

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  6. Just a note

    I was really interested in the Corrupted Blood incident and I want, first of all, thank the author for this article.

    I only wanted to write a little note about two in-game nouns that are used in the article:

    1) The name of the new playable area released by Blizzard Entertainment in September 2005 is called "Zul'Gurub", not "Zul'Gurunb";

    2) the final boss of Zul'Gurub is called "Hakkar", not "Hakka".

    I know that these nouns are not that important for the global content of the article, but I thought it could have been useful to inform you about these little "mistakes".

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  7. The use of the Homeric epics to imagine a move from martial to pastoral metaphors

    The use of the Homeric epics to imagine a move from martial to pastoral metaphors is a fascinating project. While the utility of this reading in no way depends on the intentions of the original composers of the epics, there seem to be compelling arguments to suggest that these poets would not have agreed with it.

    Any thematic changes between the Iliad and the Odyssey are not conscious changes by a single poet. The core components of the epics were sung by a number of itinerant performers who travelled around the Greek world before the advent of a writing system. Their songs were collated several hundred years later - perhaps by a single editor whom we now know as Homer. It is likely that the Iliad and the Odyssey were originally composed many decades, or even centuries, apart. A shift from martial to domestic themes between the two reflects gradual cultural change.

    Although it is suggested that the narrative of Achilles demonstrates the channelling of anger into reflection, moral courage and productive pity, this seems to run counter to his professed motivations. His actions are best understood in the context of the choice he is given by the Fates as a young man. He is asked to choose between a long and uneventful life, and a short but glorious one. He opts for the second. So, when his prize is taken from him, Achilles feels that this choice has not been respected. His speech to Odysseus seems to make clear that thoughts of returning home are motivated by expediency alone.

    Likewise, Achilles' treatment of Priam is best understood in the context of his choice. He is eventually moved to pity by Priam's appeal to think of his own father. When Achilles does so, he reflects that his father was fated to have only a single son, and one who has chosen to die young. Pity comes from empathy. Anger is only tenuously replaced - when Priam asks for Hector's body back straight away Achilles warns him not to press the issue or he will kill him.

    It seems, then, that there is little in the Homeric epics to demonstrate the rejection of the martial for the pastoral. This is not to criticise the use of the epics to illustrate such a rejection, but it is likely to be a project that their poets would not have identified with.

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  8. Changed contact details

    Please note author's change of email address.

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  9. Modern European Mysticism and Psychological Thought

    It is not widely known that the analysis of psychoanalysis and psychology is a developing field of study. One which covers the topics of empathy, consciousness, subtle interactions and topics of interest to people wishing to increase awareness is on line through the Coursera Network, see Title above. It is a serious study of the history of mysticism and religion and it's influence through the practices of various schools of thought such as Kaballa or Christianity and Communism on psychology. The Coursera Courses are free on line through the MOOC Network which is a network of universities running courses globally as part of an ethical approach to providing higher education to anybody with access to a computer. One huge advantage to studying the course is that individuals with high degrees of scholarship and knowledge also input through open forums. The degree of empathy and integrated thinking by individuals from many backgrounds and disciplines is extremely interesting.

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  10. Performance and palliative care: a drama module for medical students

    We are impressed by Dr Jeffery and colleagues' innovative styles of medical education in the context of communication skills, self-awareness and ethical thought1. However, it is difficult to be convinced that short theatre workshop alone would affect the same results across an entire cohort of medical students for reasons we will detail here. The module does however offer a refreshing method in critically engaging students in the complexities of the patient-doctor relationship.

    A primary limitation in this study is that selection of the SSC drama module was voluntary. The students who have chosen this drama module are therefore not likely to be reflective of the medical student population in general. In addition the numbers participating are small, with only nine students across two years of enrolment, two students of which had expressed the option to be "a mistake" or their "last option". This highlights underlying obstacles to participation which have not been explored in the context of this article; the ability to engage medical students in what many regard as "soft skills" in comparison to other areas of their curriculum. Furthermore the article details that within this arguably atypical group, the primary concern on the first day was that of assessment criteria. This is reflective of the pervading culture of medical schools which is often focused towards passing exams. Therefore in this case formal assessment may guide input and direct student learning to that which students feel will impress the examiner. It is therefore very difficult to make objective assessments on what the students gained without subjective bias of the module convenors.

    We feel this SSC module is a step forward in addressing this deficit within medical education and in a new and enjoyable way. It starts a process of critical thinking amongst the students which if, as the author recognises, can become embedded in clinical practice, will benefit both patients and doctors alike. We believe the focus on increasing self- awareness in this module should form part of the mandatory curriculum. Medical schools as an institution thus need to adopt anthropological approaches, whereby they cultivate young doctors who consider social relationships, cultural norms and the micro and macro politics that influence health and well-being and the experience of illness.

    1.Jeffrey E, Goddard J and Jeffrey D (2012). Performance and palliative care: a drama module for medical students [in] Medical Humanities, (38), pp110-114.

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