Personal Disorder and Family Life

While on staff of England's Cassel Hospital, a leading therapeutic community, Peter Lomas had the rare opportunity to study mothers suffering from post-partum breakdown together with their babies and, at times, the entire family. Given the media attention paid to family in both Britain and the United States, it seems odd that the close relationships between childbirth and the dynamics of family life have been only minimally addressed. Drawing from the Independent school of British psychoanalysis, particularly that of Donald Winnicott, and borrowing from existentialist thought and the family studies of Gregory Bateson, Lomas gives us a glimpse into the fascinating, often disturbing, intersection of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and the family at critical junctures. The family is the focal point of Personal Disorder and Family Life, a series of Lomas' collected papers written between 1959 and 1996. Although he concentrates on the family, Lomas covers a variety of themes. An Interpretation of Modern Obstetric Practice explores the effect of the maternity ward on the psychology of the mother. He also critiques contemporary psychotherapeutic theory, practice, and teaching, in particular the excessive preoccupation with technique at the cost of spontaneity. Psychotherapy, he believes, can only be properly understood in the context of morality. Brave, honest, and outspoken without a hint of intellectual pretension, Lomas has produced a powerful book at the crest of new thinking on the family as an organizing premise. As such, it will be of interest to professionals in the fields of psychoanalysis, analytically oriented psychotherapy, and individual or family counseling, as well as general readers.