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Rycroft, C. (1998). The Making of a Psychotherapist by Neville Symington. Published by Karnac Books, London, 1996; 220 pages; £18.95. Brit. J. Psychother., 14(3):396-397.

(1998). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 14(3):396-397

The Making of a Psychotherapist by Neville Symington. Published by Karnac Books, London, 1996; 220 pages; £18.95

Review by:
Charles Rycroft

When I first read the title of this book I expected and hoped that it would be an autobiography recounting the experiences, subjective and objective, that had made the author into a psychotherapist. But, in fact, it is a conflation of papers originally read to mental health professionals, especially psychotherapists, over an eight year span in Australia and New Zealand.

But nonetheless the book has an autobiographical flavour. As Anton Obholzer points out in his Foreword, Neville Symington's career has been characterized by social dislocation. It has taken him from the port wine trade into the Catholic Church, and then later to the Tavistock Clinic and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, and from Portugal via England to Australia. And The Making of a Psychotherapist does indeed record, although in a haphazard and disorganized fashion, the various impressions and opinions he has gathered and formed during his career as an analyst and psychotherapist, but without any explanation as to why he moved from the Catholic Church and Portugal to the psychoanalytical movement and London. As a result there is something tantalizing about the book: it arouses one's curiosity as to why the author left the Catholic Church and why later he left London for Australia, but fails to satisfy it.

In Britain Symington is accounted a member of the Independent Group of analysts and, as with so many members of this group, his attitude towards theory is idiosyncratic.

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