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Orbach, S. (2016). In Therapy, Everyone Wants to Talk about Brexit. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 10(3):vii-ix.
(2016). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 10(3):vii-ix
In Therapy, Everyone Wants to Talk about Brexit
We are a week in, and every therapy session has started with Brexit. They have stayed with it, too. The shock, the fear, the dismay, the feelings of shame, of being unsafe, of being misplaced and unwanted. Notions of what the UK has stood for in people's consciousness are being shredded. The vote experienced as an assault on senses of self, of identity and community that people didn't know they carried inside of them and relied upon until the vote shattered it.
People express anger and despair. The image of where they lived, and what the country has meant to them, is pushing them to consider what kind of fantasy they (and, of course, many of us) have lived with until it came crashing down a week ago. Were they delusional, some ask, to not see the level of alienation and despair that has gripped so much of the country? Were they living in a fairytale in which despite the woes of the last years, it all works out in the end? Were they themselves complicit in a make-believe in which politicians can kick the EU and then expect people to support it? Has Britain become the kind of family in which one side is not talking to the other? There is too, a dirtiness, a sense of having cleaved to an alliance with people they didn't necessarily like while disdaining the political rhetoric of the other side. Yes, these are Remainers, for the most part. But lest you wonder, my practice is metropolitan, cosmopolitan, London-based, but it is not essentially middle-class or Guardian-reading.
The alienations and sorrows that drove people to therapy in the first place are writ large in Brexit. Questions of insecurity and belonging are uppermost; do I have a place, do we have a place, how unbearable that others don't feel they have a place. These sentiments from the consulting room include a concern for self, rage, and worry, mixed with concern for those on the other side.
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