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Partridge, S. (2012). Child Hood—The Real Event: Royal Academy of Arts 13th June-22nd July 2012. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 6(3):258-263.

(2012). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 6(3):258-263

Child Hood—The Real Event: Royal Academy of Arts 13th June-22nd July 2012

Review by:
Simon Partridge

The other Olympics: Soothing Kids in the Inner City

If I had a dinosaur I would walk to school every day.

Anon child from Child Hood—The Real Event exhibition

Camila Batmanghelidjh, as I guess for many, had flitted across my horizon as a colourful figure in a TV interview regarding the plight of inner city children, unmistakable but rather too flamboyant for my British reserve. That started to change in May 2012 when I went to the conference “Social Consequences of Poor Infant Attachment … Two is Too Late”,1 where she spoke—brilliantly without notes, (she is dyslexic)—about “the long term results of neglect”. It was clear from what she said that she considered the damaging psychological and emotional effects as a result of neglect to be (usually) more severe than that resulting from, for example, physical or sexual abuse. That rang a strong bell with me and I took the opportunity at the end of the conference to ask her personally why she thought neglect was so damaging. She looked at me a trifle surprised and said without pause, “Because abuse however awful has a beginning, a middle, and an end, for a child, neglect goes on forever”. D'oh, yes—so that's what really distinguishes “complex” from “acute” trauma (not that the latter cannot also be devastating). In a flash it seemed as though I had permission to take my own complex traumas generated by private boarding school and the deadening, desiccated, stiff-upper-lippery of my privileged provenance with the utmost seriousness they deserved.2

Then my summer copy of the Royal Academy of Arts magazine came through my letter box with a spread about Camila and the joint Kids Company (the London charity she founded in 1996 and now directs3) and Royal Academy (RA) exhibition. The exhibition is the result of four years of patient and close collaboration with the RA's Learning Department and is given over to art work, in various media, created by some 400 of the most troubled children and young people Kids Company works with.

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