Milner's final text, Bothered by Alligators, came about when, in her nineties, she unexpectedly came across a diary she had kept during the early years of her son's life, recording his conversations and play between the ages of two and nine. With it was a storybook written and illustrated by him when he was about seven years old.
Whilst working on the material, Milner gradually realised that both diary and storybook were provoking questions she realised had scarcely been asked, let alone answered in her own analysis. Through her memories, her notebooks and by interpreting her own previously discarded drawings and paintings, she reaches a point of awareness that they were depicting things she did not know in herself, addressing her relationships not only with her son but also with her husband, her father, and in particular, her mother.
Like many of Milner's earlier books there is a deeply personal quality to Bothered by Alligators, but it is a quality that transcends the personal and reveals insights and conclusions that will be both interesting and useful to clinicians; and fascinating to readers from a psychological, a literary, an artistic or an educational background, and, in particular, those with an interest in psychoanalysis and autobiography and in Milner's work.
Table of Contents
Walters, Introduction. Part I: The Diary. The Diary and the Story Book. Part II: The Story Book. Part III: Thinking About The Story Book. My First Thoughts about the Story Book. Part IV: Towards a Change of Aim. Crosses, Trees and No Arms and Feet. Water, Tears and a Use of Gravity. Part V: Using My Own Pictures. Always Protecting Your Mother. Two New Free Drawings. Play of Making Collages from My Failed Paintings. Part VI: Different Kinds of Order. Words Made Flesh. The Incantation and "The Hidden Order of Art". Part VII: The Family Setting. My Father, His Breakdown and Recovery. My Mother and Us Three Children. Me Being Physically Ill and the Undine Story. Part VIII: D. W. Winnicott and Me. Being in Analysis with D. W. Winnicott. A D. W. Paper on Disillusion About What One Gives. D. W.’S Doodle Drawings. Part IX: Towards Wholeness. Towards Bringing Bits of Oneself Together. The Easter Story. An Area for the Play of Opposites. Useable Dreams. Appendix: Last Pages.
Marion Milner (1900-1998) was a distinguished British psychoanalyst, educationalist, autobiographer and artist.
"Bothered by Alligators is a fascinating addition to her bibliography. It combines the two primary strains in her writing – the making of diaries and the analysis of images. And as the most autobiographical of her books, it might be regarded as a summation, the last words and thoughts of a writer who was continually thinking with that lively, enquiring and deliciously quirky mind, and who was also willing to take risks in her writing, by spontaneously expounding her unexpurgated thought processes." - Margaret Walters, From the Introduction