Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lea's Thinking

I apologize: this post was put out about six weeks ago but somehow ended up put back into simply draft form. When I posted it just now, it has been inserted at the top of the posts, even above the one that I have just posted today after a six week hiatus. The print of the entire blog has shrunk also. I will see if I can change this. Brenda.

In tracking the changes in Lea's thinking about her practice of therapy in the second half of the 1960s and into the 1970s, it is helpful to examine the books that she was reading and recommending to her students and clients. There may have been others than those I will mention here but these are the ones that I recall. To my standard group she would often refer to a particular Catherine Cookson book that she had just finished. Cookson was a contemporary of Lea's, born in 1906 and living until 1998. She began writing about 1950 and published over 100 novels. Her stories are set in an England familiar to Lea; they showcase romance, class struggle , "wickedness," and often, the triumph of good. The stories are quite readable. They would make a point that Lea was perhaps stressing in her work with someone in the group. This type of reference was quite in tune with Lea's method of working in the group at that time. She rarely, if ever, used academic or psychological terms, and she did not give analyses according to any school or theory. Rather she would invite a person to speak about their trouble -- for example, conflict with a spouse or a boss. She would ask for an example to illuminate the way that the conflict was typically acted out. From this example she could often reach an understanding of the roots of the trouble in the group member, in the other party, or both. She made use of her knowledge of the person, her experience with and understanding of relationships, and, her intuition. Simply being in the group was a learning experience as one observed her moving quite organically from the confusions of the speaker to a clearly enunciated understanding of what was happening. The results could be quite moving as the work sometimes opened the speaker to another level of feeling and awareness of him or her self.

Lea would speak of Freud, though certainly not in terms of any particular theory of his. She encouraged the reading of his works, in particular the New Introductory Lectures, a most readable account of the basic workings of the conscious and unconscious mind. Another book that she recommended was Man's Presumptuous Brain: An Evolutionary Interpretation of Psychosomatic Disease by A.T.W. Simeons, MD. I had had courses in human anatomy and physiology so the base information of this book was not difficult for me. Simeons' interpretation made enormous sense as a base for conceptualizing the power of body work which some of us took on after CAG was founded in 1968. Karl Abraham was a colleague of Freud's who was also suggested. I found his writing somewhat heavier going. We read also Robert Lindner's set of case studies in the Fifty Minute Hour: very interesting.

When Alexander Lowen's book The Betrayal of the Body was published many of us read it, again on Lea's recommendation. I saw in it a future of work which went beyond Freud's "talking cure."

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