Eileen Toibin MA Psychotherapist


Why should you choose a psychoanalytic psychotherapist?

Because this form of analysis is not offering a superficial remedy. The pain caused by emotional conflicts is real and the states of mind associated with mental pain are often debilitating.

Because an analytical therapist looks at your problems in great depth and offers a different understanding of your personality, by acknowledging internal struggles, with, for example, the containment of extreme emotions, e.g., rage, sadness, jealousy and loss. This approach takes time and care before coming to any formulation of a problem.

Because the outcome may mean you gain an insight into feelings and thoughts that you had previously not understood - this often brings a profound feeling of relief and relaxation, and gives you a stronger sense of who you are. This is usually the first step towards living a life that is truly one’s own.

We only have one life so getting to know yourself is crucial.

The psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion In his book ’Evidence' offered this wise and essential guidance for all clinicians. He said:
"No one can tell you how you are to live your life, or what language you are to use
Therefore it is absolutely essential that the analyst should forge for himself
the language which he knows, which he knows how to use, and the value of which he knows".

You need to ensure the person you select as a therapist has developed a 'language' after having had a comprehensive training that allows them to know themselves, alongside a knowledge of the mind and how it works and, very importantly, has a knowledge of his or her own limitations.

Thoughts on Creativity:
In 2014 I wrote a paper in which I outlined my theoretical understanding of the creative process based on my clinical experience with people who were writers, actors and musicians. I never published this paper as the evidential basis for the ideas I had rested on confidential material. It remains the case that the clinical work that assisted my thinking will not be published. However, I can include a few extracts here that are general in nature and that capture clinical presentations without compromising confidentiality. These extracts reference my observations of what leads creative people to seek psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

The question is often asked: will analysing how I am destroy my ability to be creative? It is a complex question and the answer is not a certain one. Deep contemplative states, incredibly focused concentration and dark moods are often the territory that foreshadows a creative period. There is no reason why this should change with the analysis of troubling circumstances in ones personal life. Indeed these states of mind are the hallmark of a thoughtful considered life.

“What I have found in my work at BAPAM and with some of the patients I have seen in private practice is that their wish is not in line with the usual request from prospective patients. They do not come to treatment asking for relief from the symptom, the anxiety, the depression, or the addiction. Instead the request is to help them to get on with their work: to help them to continue writing their books, or composing their music. All of these patients considered their symptoms a secondary problem despite the severity of their respective suffering”.

“I often wonder why these patients are so dedicated as they invariably suffer in order to have an engagement with their imaginations. All of the creative patients I have worked with for long treatments have conveyed a solid sense of knowing something, and that they are looking for that something, and that is what their lives are about, sometimes solely, sometimes in part – looking for that thing, and they know that only they will recognise it when it comes into view. No other mind will recognise the thing they are looking for. I am always struck by how alone my creative patients are in their endeavour. These patients cannot name the thing they are looking for. They are looking for the signpost that will reveal memories or feelings that reside in the unconscious - looking for the key that will open the new form – the book, play or piece of music”.

“The frequently present idea I observe in creative patients that there is something they need to find and they will know it when they find it, runs alongside what at first may look like a paradoxical notion - a deep feeling of not knowing what they are doing, or where it is leading. They need an audience and they feel they do not know anything until the book, or play, or piece of music, exists outside of them and can be viewed as a thing in itself, separate from its creator. Once the notes are found, or the story is written, it seems to me that they see it for the first time and know it for the first time. They can then find a faculty that allows them to judge their own completed work. My experience is that they are often fair critics – I don’t see an overly severe superego involved in judging the work. They seem realistic. I never find conceit in these patients in respect of their completed work. For me this point is very important as it is usual for patients to make extremely severe, sometimes crippling, judgments about aspects of their own behaviour or personality, but, I find in patients who are engaged in creative endeavours their work is not mutilated by this level of criticism. The search for the right notes, or the right idea, may, and usually does, involve high levels of severe criticism – feelings that they are not working hard enough etc. But, once they have the idea, and they are threading it into its finished form, the attitude of mind that I have observed in all of these patients seems freer – playfully alive, thoughtful, with an incredible level of concentration.”

The audience.
“I feel the audience sense there is some deep experience in the writer or musician – lets say loss – but the writer or musician never says this, so, possibly, the audience feels the frustration of a door that is closed and members of an audience do not have certainty – instead the writer tells them a story or the musician plays a piece of music, but the audience feel the loss of something – they do not know what, but in that gap, members of an audience, connect to their own losses and become more real to themselves.”

The unique contribution of the creative artist
“Civilised cultures are grateful to the writer, the playwright and the musician and prize them highly for they provide a route to a deeper knowledge of oneself. Yet, great artists – in all the artistic forms - put us in touch with troubling and uncomfortable uncertainties - with the knowledge that our consciously held worldview may be incomplete. Although it is the case that as psychoanalytic therapists we use our creativity in challenging our patients’ worldviews, and introducing uncertainty; the work of the writer, or the composer, is in some important sense different from that of the analyst. A powerful novel leaves open may doors and many possibilities - the book can actively avoid offering a solution. Its strength may lie in presenting many possibilities. Although it is not the stated aim of analysis to offer a solution by settling on an interpretation; analysis is a different kind of activity.”

Psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy aims to introduce uncertainty into a patient’s thinking in the hope that a creative spark will ignite in all patients and create a new way of being that involves a fuller appreciation of life. The truly creative artist may, or may not, share this wish for their personal lives; but, they undoubtedly have the creative potential to create a piece of art that can inform and transform the lives of their audience, and, by extension, the culture that gives meaning to all our lives.


NORTH LONDON PSYCHOTHERAPY in CROUCH END - in a safe and confidential setting - and surrounding areas in North London or Central London; near to ISLINGTON, HOLLOWAY, MUSWELL HILL, HIGHGATE and ARCHWAY. Nearest Tubes: FINSBURY PARK, ARCHWAY, HIGHGATE and TURNPIKE LANE

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