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Stanton, M. (2017). Tessa Adams 1938-2017. Brit. J. Psychother., 33(3):416-417.

(2017). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 33(3):416-417


Tessa Adams 1938-2017

Martin Stanton

I first met Tessa Adams at the University of Kent in Canterbury in March 1991. Tessa had just presented a summary of her doctoral thesis, ‘Creative experience and the “authenticity” of psychoanalytic discourse’, to a graduate research seminar at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies (CPS). In her paper, Tessa focused on the process of abjection - Julia Kristeva's term for somatic horror produced by the collapse of meaning - to gain a contextual sense of the interface between terror and ecstasy that philosophers like Hume and Kant link to the sublime. A few months later, Tessa was able to discuss her new ideas directly with Kristeva at a CPS workshop on depression (Adams, 2010). In under a year, Tessa emerged from her doctoral research with a major life topic - the sublime - and the creative setting in which she might best picture it - the snowcapped mountain range in the midst of existential Winter (aka depression).

Tessa realized soon after that this project could never be long confined within her doctoral thesis. This was rather the start of a live adventure with a haunting melody: the mountain sublime. This was Tessa's Spring. This was her steep upwards climb. Tessa clearly held all the peaks firmly in sight and mind. Nothing was going to prevent her from reaching them. Nothing did stop her until she was tragically struck down by Pick's disease in her final years.

Post-Kent, Tessa launched a clinical training in psychoanalytic counselling at Goldsmiths, University of London.

[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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