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Sinason, V. Mitchell, D. (2018). Grenfell: Friendly Fire? A Personal and Professional Journey. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 12(1):vii-xiii.

(2018). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 12(1):vii-xiii


Grenfell: Friendly Fire? A Personal and Professional Journey

Valerie Sinason, Ph.D., MACP and Dehra Mitchell

16:30 on a November evening in 2017, light shines from the core of Grenfell Tower. Two hours later, it is dark, and the building disappears into the night. “No one is thinking of the dead,” said one survivor.

18:30 on a Thursday evening in September 2017. People gather for a Silent Walk to commemorate those who lost their lives in Grenfell Tower. We greet friends, stand around and wait. The walk starts to wind its way through the streets of North Kensington. Up Ladbroke Grove the traffic stops, and a bus driver gives a “thumbs up” gesture to the walkers. Left turn. Down streets where multi-million-pound houses stand silent. Most have their curtains drawn even though it is still light. Embarrassment? Irritation? Some gather at their windows to watch this strange parade of sorrow.

16:00 on 15th June 2017. I can return to work. The roads are still closed, and the tower comes into sight from the train. some people are trying to take photos and selfies … The smell of smoke, dust and the dead are still powerful and there is debris everywhere. Seeing the burnt-out building on TV is one thing. Standing close to it is something else.

01:00 on 13th June and I can't sleep. The BBC is reporting a fire at Grenfell Tower. My first thought is that my office is at the foot of the tower.

Community, family, location, objects. These are all things we use to define ourselves. But, what if all that is lost? What then do we cling to? One has lost a diary and tie … all they had to remember a father who was lost years ago. Others, a best friend, a niece, a child, a view, a marriage, a home.

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