This insightful and beautifully written work explores nonlinear processes of recovery of the loss of Self. The inherent healing power of hard-earned, wholehearted self-acceptance is conceived through the authority of tenderness.
The book is the final volume in The Fifth Principle trilogy (the second book being Scum), which chronicled, through the course of one boy’s lifetime, the methods of a mind which is not a mind, in its efforts to prevail under oppressive circumstances. The Authority of Tenderness comes at the end of the journey, is written by the adult self of the child, and uses poetic vignettes, references to foundational psychoanalytic literature and analyses of critical treatment situations to convey the experiences of someone who has been both patient and analyst.
The book offers a vivid psychotherapeutic perspective for clinicians, trainees, students and general readers alike.
"In the trilogy that concludes with The Authority of Tenderness, Paul Williams proves himself a fearless explorer of some of the darkest reaches of the human psyche." – JM Coetzee
"This third book of Paul Williams’ trilogy—a book at once fiction, nonfiction and memoir—is like no other work I have ever read. Williams’ use of language unobtrusively achieves the music of poetry and the enlightened absurdity of Beckett. Even in the most dark, most disturbing parts of this book, there lives a thread of hope that is safeguarded by the potential of the human spirit for ‘the authority of tenderness’. This book offers an experience in reading not to be missed." – Thomas Ogden
"This final volume in the trilogy by Paul Williams is a searing journey into the heart of darkness. As a psychoanalyst who has treated disturbed patients throughout his career, Williams shares his unique and brilliant way of being with these individuals that helps them to live with themselves and with others. His creative use of the concept of tenderness is novel and original in this context. I highly recommend this gem of a book for all psychoanalysts and psychotherapists of patients who struggle to emerge from the darkness." – Glen O. Gabbard, MD
"Each sentence of this book is constructed with exceptional depth and acuity. Traumatized individuals bear the unbearable, the authentic self exposed to unthinkable anxiety. Paul Williams reflects on his experience and that as a psychoanalyst of severely traumatized patients. His path to the patient’s authentic self through the authority exercised by the clinician’s tenderness is profoundly moving, of great clinical value not only to psychoanalysts but to all individuals who wonder about the problematic nature of human existence." – Franco De Masi
"Donald Winnicott wrote of a state of inward being that requires the utmost privacy. Intrusions into this most intimate of places can result in a violent destruction of personality. The result can be a total catastrophe. This is surely among the most important themes in psychoanalysis. Paul Williams, writing out of personal experience as well as out of a long-time experience as a psychoanalyst, considers what Yeats called ‘the deep heart’s core’ with a sonority and depth of feeling that puts me in mind of masterly music making." – Eric Rhode, author and retired psychotherapist
Table of Contents
Solitude 2. Isolation Revisited 3. Terror 4. Feral 5. Strokes of Fortune 6. Gone 7. Shame 8. Pacts 9. Fuck It 10. Fuck It All
About the Author:
Paul Williams trained as a psychoanalyst with The British Psychoanalytical Society where he was a training analyst and, from 2001 to 2007, joint editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. He was a consultant psychotherapist in the National Health Service in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Since 2016 he has lived and worked in private psychoanalytic practice in Northern California. He has published widely on the subject of severe disturbance. The Authority of Tenderness follows The Fifth Principle (Routledge, 2010) and Scum (Routledge, 2013).