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Haughton, H. (2014). The Milner Experiment: Psychoanalysis and the Diary. Brit. J. Psychother., 30(3):349-362.

(2014). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 30(3):349-362

The Milner Experiment: Psychoanalysis and the Diary

Hugh Haughton

The paper reviews what I have called Marion Milner's ‘experimental autobiographical quartet’ of books ‘written under the sign of self-analysis’, A Life of One's Own (1934), An Experiment in Leisure (1937), Eternity's Sunrise: A Way of Keeping a Diary (1987) and Bothered by Alligators (2012). It explores the relationship between self-analysis and psychoanalysis in Milner's complex, unclassifiable texts built around diary-keeping, diary reading and diary interpretation. It situates them in the context of the modernist notion of what Virginia Woolf called ‘moments of being’, reading Milner's various meta-diaries as ‘experiments’ in relation to the work of other modernist women diarists like Woolf, Nin and Mansfield, as well as the writings of British psychoanalysis. It argues that Milner's project is based on a unique commitment to multiple versions of ‘experiment’, literary and psychological, as well as a conflict between the urge to integration and disintegration played out in psychic and aesthetic terms.

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