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Welldon, E. (2008). Isabel Menzies Lyth 1917-2008. Brit. J. Psychother., 24(4):526-527.

(2008). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 24(4):526-527

Isabel Menzies Lyth 1917-2008 Related Papers

Estela Welldon, FRCPsych

Isabel appears vividly in my mind in our first proper social encounter in 1988, which gave us the chance to exchange views and feelings about having our first books published (Menzies Lyth 1988; Welldon 1988). Although our books were almost simultaneously published and shared the same publishing house, Free Association Books, Isabel was already a seriously recognized and prominent author whereas I was completely new and my work unknown.

Her ideas about the functioning of social systems as a defence against anxiety had been published in several papers and had been widely acknowledged, recognized and profusely used. I was quite anxious about meeting this formidable thinker, whom I had assumed and initially expected to be proud and excited about her great success, but to my delight I was surprised to find the most charming, warm and sympathetic human being. She candidly and immediately confided in me that she felt highly frustrated by the enormous demands involved in the writing of a book. According to her, this was taking her away from her friends. She told me of her resentment at spending her time writing and having to comply with deadlines, as opposed to being able to talk, drink and share meals with her friends. Here was somebody devoid of any pomposity but a genuine human being who thought her time would be far more valuably spent with friends, never mind the wide breadth of knowledge she could share with the world.

Her modesty, complete lack of self-importance and the way she presented herself was in complete contrast to my meetings with other authors, who usually took themselves very seriously.

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