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Holmes, J. (2019). Postscript. Brit. J. Psychother., 35(2):287-289.

(2019). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 35(2):287-289


Jeremy Holmes

Evolutionists (among whom I number myself) have trouble with grandparents. Post-reproduction, where's the selection pressure to maintain adaptation, or even life itself (Medawar, 1952)? The answer lies in inclusive fitness (Hamilton, 1964), that is, the ‘grandmother effect’. The persistence and know-how of post-reproductive elders improves the chances of their children's children's survival and flourishing. In hunter-gatherer societies grannies know where to forage for the best roots, while in AIDS-ravaged South Africa, grandparents ensure that their grandchildren survive even when both parents have succumbed. In economically - if not emotionally - developed societies, grandparents provide an essential backstop when parents are ill, separated, work-or poverty-stricken.

Grandparentally-speaking, I've now retired three times: from the NHS, from private psychotherapy practice (Holmes, 2018a), and the University - although I'm still (minimally) working. Each time, it's been good and bad. On the one hand, liberation and relief - hurrah, no more meetings! On the other, a sense of emptiness, of life slipping imperceptibly away: ‘was that it?’ As one of my patients put it, ‘what are you going to do without your weekly soap-opera?’ So when my friends and colleagues Richard Mizen and Nicholas Sarra generously offered to arrange a two-day ‘Holmes festschrift’ (or Peripheral Visions as I prefer to call it), I found myself, after a couple of half-hearted refusals, saying ‘yes’.

[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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