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Yorke, C. (1992). Editorial. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 15(3):187.

(1992). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 15(3):187


Clifford Yorke

This issue of the Bulletin opens with two papers, each initially presented at the Centre: ‘Child Abuse and Treatment Examined’ by Leonard Shengold, and ‘Secrecy, Privacy, Survival, Repressive Regimes, and Growing Up’ by Sheila Melzak. The two are complementary. Shengold draws a parallel between the Nazi concentration camp and the family in which, from a child's point of view, concentration-camp conditions prevail. Melzak speaks of the effect of repression as social policy in all its hideous variety. Each has in mind situations that differ in form but are remarkably alike in both intention and effect. Both address treatment issues: Shengold, the psychoanalytic treatment of the adult who suffered from abuse in childhood; Melzak, psychotherapy adapted and appropriate to the patients’ experience.

The treatment, and treatment aims, are very different, but both attempt to ameliorate, if not to heal, the effects of malign endeavour. In this they point to the contrast between the dark side of human nature on the one hand, and a sustaining and mitigating impetus on the other. We would know nothing of either side of the divide, and the complex relations between them, without the insights of psychoanalysis. Shengold's opportunity to study these complexities while, at the same time, treating the victims, helps to extend these insights into the intricacies of the debased and the debasing. Sheila Melzak's paper needs to be read in the light of this understanding; but it brings to the reader's attention, in a way that individual studies alone do not, the vital, if chilling, social dimension to that outcome of development that we know as the human condition.

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