Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience and the Stories of Our Lives
The Relational Roots of Mental Health
Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience and the Stories of Our Lives: The Relational Roots of Mental Health offers a new understanding of identity and mental health, shining the light of twenty-first century neurobiology on the core tenets of psychoanalysis. Accessibly written, it outlines the great leaps forward in neuroscience over the past three decades, and the consequent implications for understanding mental health symptoms today.
Central to the book is the idea that the seeds of mental illness are discovered not in the individual’s own fallibilities, but in the complex relationships we experience from our very first moments. Integrating the latest neuroscientific research, it depicts the individual as inherently interdependent with their environment, their neurobiological and emotional foundations framed by the context in which they are raised. Integrating traditional psychoanalytic ideas with findings from neurobiology and neuroscience, it reframes the oedipal set up, examines clinical depression as the presence of absence, and revisits resistance and the neurobiology of denial. Weaving narratives drawn from clinical practice, and highlighting implications for contemporary lives, the book is a tour de force, smashing the myth that our minds develop separately from the world around us.
This clear, lucid book, providing a timely overview of emotional and neurobiological development, will appeal to both psychologists and psychoanalysts. It will be also be a key reference work for mental health professionals, particularly those working in early years services.
Table of Contents
Introduction; Chapter 1: What you see is what you get: The nature of perception; Chapter 2: Behaviour as communication: The theatre of the body; Chapter 3: It's not you, it's me: Oedipus framed; Chapter 4: Missing people: The presence of absence; Chapter 5: Getting your own back: Revisiting resistance; Chapter 6: It's not rocket science, it's neuroscience; Index
Dr Sarah Sutton has thirty years’ experience of working with parents, children and adolescents who have suffered adversity and are struggling behaviourally and emotionally. She is author of Being Taken In: The Framing Relationship (Karnac, 2014), and has co-edited the Journal of Child Psychotherapy. She is also the founder of Understanding Children and co-founder of the Learning Studio, teaching, writing and working on the interface between development research and psychoanalytic ideas.
"This book provides an innovative and impressive synthesis of neurobiological and developmental research with in-depth psychoanalytic thinking, a synthesis which has profound implications, both for clinical work but also for our understanding of life in general, a text for which clinicians and those generally interested in the challenges of being human, will be extremely grateful." – Graham Music PhD, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman Clinics, adult psychotherapist in private practice and author of Nurturing Children (2019), The Good Life (2014) and Nurturing Natures (2011)
"Sarah Sutton is a terrific writer. Her writing is full of seemingly casual but hugely powerful zest. She happens also to be a gifted artist and she somehow makes the links between these two, usually exceedingly difficult, subjects of psychoanalysis and science totally accessible, alive, exciting and beautiful." – Anne Alvarez PhD MACP Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist
"This accessible integration of psychoanalytic theory and interpersonal neurobiology puts relationships at the heart of development and the creation of personal meaning. Together these two approaches are used to open a creative perspective on the formation and workings of the mind and how, when needed, help may be offered. Babies employ the skills needed to relate from birth, although they do not know it, and relationships with parents sway the consolidation of important neural networks during infancy (and also, but less so, beyond) that are the foundations upon which the development of the psyche must build. When significant relationships are inimical to healthy development, or missing, small children cannot escape by themselves and so must endure and adapt. They know no alternative, and without intervention may eventually base their sense of self on this survival software. This is a matter of unconscious hardwired expectations of the moment to come that bias how the world is comprehended and generate a reaction before now is even noticed. A symptom has been distilled from a role that had to be played within a family drama. As this book shows, only with in-depth understanding allied with compassionate and considered relationships can such misplaced responses to a past environment of difficult relationships be changed." – Robin Balbernie, Infant mental health specialist; Child and adolescent psychotherapist
"This is the book we have been waiting for, a riveting work by Sarah Sutton, who is witty in writing about serious issues, law-abiding and revolutionary. She writes with respect about psychoanalysis and makes connections with ground-breaking neuroscience and relational psychotherapy, helping to fill the gaps between them. She illuminates the book with both poetry and science. She talks of ‘silent understanding’ and reading the book gives an experience of this. It is both comforting and inspiring. It confronts the modern dilemma that mental health difficulties lead to more referrals than can ever be met by clinicians, and optimistically shows that thinking relationally, not just individually, can take the pathology out of mental health, and generate a fuller understanding which helps regulation and recovery. The book helps us understand better not only ourselves, but also the communities we live in." – Dilys Daws, Honorary Consultant Child Psychotherapist at the Tavistock and Portman Clinics, Founding Chair of the Association for Infant Mental Health UK and co-author of Finding Your Way With Your Baby (2015), First Prize in Popular Medicine, BMA Medical Books Awards 2016