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Sayers, J. (2013). Bothered by Alligators by Marion Milner. Published by Routledge, Hove, 2012; 272 pp; £80.00 hardback, £18.99 paperback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 29(2):257-258.

(2013). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 29(2):257-258

Book Reviews

Bothered by Alligators by Marion Milner. Published by Routledge, Hove, 2012; 272 pp; £80.00 hardback, £18.99 paperback.

Review by:
Janet Sayers

‘Poor Sara, are the alligators bothering you?’ Mindful of this question, asked of the family home help, Sara, by her young son, John, in the 1930s, the psychoanalyst Marion Milner (1902-98) worked on her now posthumously published book, Bothered by Alligators. As with most of her previous books, this is based on Milner's self-analysis via her free associations to experiences recorded in her diaries and to doodles, drawings, paintings and other visual images. In this instance her self-analysis centres on her free associations in her 90s to a diary she discovered she had begun keeping about John when he was a toddler, and to a story book he wrote and illustrated at school when he was 7.

Milner introduces this diary and story book by explaining that, due to his severe asthma, John's writer and engineer father, Dennis Milner, was unable to work. Instead she became the family breadwinner and, soon after John's birth in January 1932, she left him in the care of a childminder, Star, while she went out to work. Her diary accounts of John include his reaction to Star looking after him while Milner was away with Dennis in Spain in February 1934. She also notes his reaction to losing Star as his childminder after Star was knocked down by a car and hospitalized that July. Other incidents include John drawing a wrecked train, a dragon, and Milner on a liner with something to stop her falling into the sea when she was again away in Spain, this time without Dennis, in January 1936.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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