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A Hard Act to Follow: Living in the Shadow of the Parent
Burke, Jonathan (Edt)
Routledge / Karnac Books / Softcover / 2018-11-01 / 1782205470
Psychoanalysis / Psychoanalysis and Art
reg price: $55.90 our price: $ 47.52 (may be subject to change)
248 pages
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Psychoanalytic Perspectives on the Shadow of the Parent explores the psychological challenges faced by the offspring of either famous or notorious parents.

Beginning with parental legacies found in mythology and the Bible, the book presents a series of case studies drawn from a range of narrative contexts, selecting personalities drawn from history, politics, psychoanalysis and literature, all viewed from an analytic perspective. The concluding section focuses on the manifestation of this parental shadow within the field of fine art, as written by artists themselves.

This is a lively and varied collection from a fascinating range of contributors. It provides readers with a new understanding of family history, trauma and reckoning screened through a psychoanalytic perspective, and will appeal to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, counsellors and anyone interested in the dynamics of the family.


"Jonathan Burke deserves thanks from this generation, and from future generations, for compiling this masterful collection of writings on the shadow (and light) cast by parents upon their children, who in turn provide a refraction of that illumination to their own children. For better or worse, this is our psychosocial fate. A clear message from Burke's book is that psychoanalytic perspectives take us very near to an understanding of these often ineffable, inevitable, and inescapable intergenerational influences."

—Howard Steele, PhD, professor and chair for clinical psychology, and co-director of the Center for Attachment Research, at the New School for Social Research, USA

"This is a deftly edited collection from a compelling group of contributors on a remarkably interesting topic. What do we inherit from being parented? From private memoirs to clinical studies to scholarly essays on mythology and literature, the book takes on an unusual aura of its own. Readers will rethink how family life is intrinsically traumatic and how we are all invited into the compelling challenge to put the shadow of that experience into differing forms of narrative."

—Christopher Bollas, PhD, psychoanalyst and author of China on the Mind and Catch Them Before They Fall: Psychoanalysis of Breakdown

Table of Contents

About the Editor and Contributors. Foreword, Margot Waddell. Preface: A Hard Act to Follow, Jonathan Burke. Introduction, Jonathan Burke. I. Perspectives 1. In the Shadow of Violence: Isaac and Abraham, Stephen Frosh 2. Hard Acts Hard to Follow: Sophocles, Hofmannsthal, Strauss, and Elektra, Christopher Wintle 3. Under the Shadow of Silence: On Speechless Love in King Lear, Steven Groarke 4. "Madness, Yet There’s Method in It": The Shadow of the Doctor in Hamlet’s Mirror, Paul Heritage II. 'I'-Witness Accounts 5. ‘Derealization’: In the Shadow of the Son, Faye Carey 6. Her Mother’s Footsteps, Marion Bower 7. A Tragic Inheritance: The Irresolvable Conflict for Children of Perpetrators, Coline Covington 8. Making My Way Out of the Shadow Into the Sun: A Painful Confrontation with My Past, Martin Miller 9. Closed Doors, Sylvia Paskin, with Coda by Sara Collins 10. Kafka: 'Parental Superiority' As the Act That Feels Hard to Follow, Steven Mendoza 11. Attachment and Doubt in the Work of Stanley Cavell, Robbie Duschinsky and Serena Messina 12. The Eye Begins to See: Personal Reflections on a Fragmented Father-Son Relationship, and Other Related Matters, Howard Cooper 13. Shadow, Colour, Glass: The Family I Knew and the Family I Never Knew, Ardyn Halter 14. Paddle Your Own Canoe: Negotiating the Shadows, Jane McAdam Freud

About the Author:

Jonathan Burke first trained in social work and later became a hospital administrator before moving to London where he took up a post as a health planning consultant to UK hospitals and ministries of health abroad. His professional interest in the cancer field began with strategic studies he undertook examining the organisation of services for cancer patients in Cyprus. He is the author of the 'Enfield Cancer Directory', funded by Macmillan Cancer Relief, and for six years he managed the Cancer Life project on behalf of Enfield Disability Action before training as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. He has facilitated a range of seminars on cancer related issues, most recently helping develop the "Topic of Cancer" Seminar Series at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. He now works as a psychotherapist in private practice.

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