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Wrottesley, C. (2012). An Interview with Prophecy Coles. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 2(1):99-106.

(2012). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 2(1):99-106

Meeting the Author

An Interview with Prophecy Coles

Catriona Wrottesley, M.A.

Prophecy Coles trained as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist at the Lincoln Clinic and is a member of the London Centre for Psychotherapy. Author of many articles, her first book, The Importance of Sibling Relationships in Psychoanalysis (2003), was followed by Sibling Relationships (2006), a collection of papers she commissioned and edited. Now, a year after her retirement after thirty years in private practice, comes The Uninvited Guest from the Unremembered Past: The Exploration of The Unconscious Transmission of Trauma Across the Generations (2011). All three books are published by Karnac.

Right at the start of this latest book, Coles makes clear her emotional investment in her subject matter:

When my brother and sister and I were quite young, our mother left us in the care of our father and went off with another man. She returned later carrying this man's child, and we were all told that our mother and father were reunited and that the child was theirs. We grew up with this lie. (2011, pp. xi-xii)

A paragraph of fairytale-like simplicity, without emotion, until that punch — ‘this lie’, and it is with lies, and secrets, that Coles concerns herself here.

Poignantly, Coles dedicates the book to her brothers who both died while she was writing it, an acute loss which fuelled her task: ‘I needed more urgently than ever to write of my sense that perhaps they went to their graves carrying unacknowledged griefs’ (2011, p. xii).

Ancestral ghosts are in every nursery, Coles writes, but ‘In particular, the ghosts who disturb the present are the carriers of past trauma’ (2011, p. xvii). Silently, the pain is transmitted across generations, until one day the cycle is finally broken, usually by a family member who begins the task of attempting to discern the presence of these ghosts. By giving them a form and voice, what was previously unknown and unthinkable may become known and thought about, thus laying them to rest.

Prophecy Coles generously agreed to an interview for Couple and Family Psychoanalysis to talk about the ways in which her life and in particular her own ‘ancestral history’ informs this book.

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