At once autobiographical and psychoanalytic, The Hands of the Living God, first published in 1969, provides a detailed case study of Susan who, during a 20-year long treatment, spontaneously discovers the capacity to do doodle drawings.
An important focus of the book is the drawings themselves, 150 of which are reproduced in the text, and their deep unconscious perception of the battle between sanity and madness. It is these drawings, linked with Milner’s sensitive and lucid record of the therapeutic encounter, that give the book its unique and compelling interest.
With a new introduction by Adam Phillips, The Hands of the Living God is essential reading for all those with an interest in the fields of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy and, more widely, to those involved in therapy and the arts.
"[This is] a book about art (and writing about art), about emptiness, breathing, ordinary language, mysticism, the body, the sexes, childhood, parenting, impersonality, God, theory, exchange, change, tact, forms of inattention, belief, scepticism …" – Adam Phillips, from the Introduction.
Winnicott, Foreword. Preface. Phillips, Introduction. Part I: The Years Before She Began to Draw. Her History. The Beginning of the Analysis: Her First Two Dreams. Unable to Grow Spiritually or Mentally: Blocks in the Maturational Process. The Dream of Water Behind the House: Need for the Self-created Environment. Daydream of a River and Logs: Her Devil as Seducer to Destruction? A Change in Technique: Attention to the Threshold Between the Articulate and the Inarticulate. Her Lost Background: The Undifferentiated Sea of Inner Body Awareness. She Begins to Turn Up as a Person: First Recognition of Self-projection Via her Cats. A New Experience of Breakdown: When her Foster Home Breaks Up. Part II: The 1950 Drawings. She Makes Contact by Doodle Drawings: Faecal Symbols as Devils or Chrysalises. After the Easter Holiday in Hospital: The Bottom’s Eye View of the World. After the Consultation: The Turd-baby and Strangled Feelings. The Sleeping Goddess: Premonitions of Waking up to Face Disillusionment and Loss. Many Kinds of Nests: Beginning to Conceive of a Holding Environment. The Summer Holiday in N.I. Hospital: Ego Nuclei, Early Body Memories and Archaic Body Images. She Tries Physiotherapy: The Delusory Body Image and the Real Body Image. Part III: The Years From 1951 to 1957 and the Background Theory. The External Situation: Learning to Cook and Attending a Psychotherapy Group as well as Analysis. The Post-E.C.T. Drawing and the Circle: A Symbol of Fusion of Mother and Child. Ways of Communicating Feelings: Confusion of Body-openings and The Creative Surrender. Haloes, Traps and the Devil: Delusory Cocoons and Identification with the Exalted Ego-ideal. Part IV: The 1957 to 1958 Drawings and Her Re-entry Into The World. She Uses the Symbol of Water: Premonitions of Re-birth. The Little Duck Gets Ready to Come Out: But to Come out Means to be Eaten? Her First Landscapes and Drawings of the Inside of the Mouth: Beginning to Realize that her Attacks can do Harm. Her Use of the Diagonal: Experimenting with Ideas of Duality and an Interface Between Opposites. The Day her Head Stops Turning: Recognition of a Gap, A Sense of Loss, a ‘Hole in the Heart’. The Proudman Dream and Return to the World: Accepting Limitations to Loving and Discovery of Communion. Part V: What Followed. A Crystallization of Theory: Breathing and Primary Self-enjoyment. Her Mother’s Death and After: Finding a Mate and Towards Re-finding her Feet. The Saliva in the Cup: The Place of Transformation.