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Stokoe, P. (2013). James Fisher (1937-2012). Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 3(1):120-124.
(2013). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 3(1):120-124
James Fisher (1937-2012)
An Appreciation by Philip Stokoe, BSC, MSC, CQSW, F.Inst.Psychoanal
Jim said, “Intention, conscious intention, is not the everything we might wish, or fear, it to be”.
With that characteristic warning in mind, I would like to thank his wife, Mary Adams for suggesting that I write something to mark Jim's passing. I am grateful to my friends Noel Hess and Warren Colman who spoke at Jim's memorial service for making their comments available to me for this obituary; some are quoted directly and others have been absorbed into the text.
It is not possible to write about Jim without a terrible pang of loss, the imagined future encounters, continued conversations, and times relaxing together. Jim has died at a point when he still had even more to give as a psychoanalyst, couple therapist, colleague, and writer.
To me, Jim represented the essence of a psychoanalyst, being with him was an experience of constantly being brought back into touch with reality. He looked this world straight in the eye and was not intimidated; he was curious. This was a quality he brought to his life and to his work.
Jim was from a military family, his father an American serviceman who is buried in Arlington Cemetery. The eldest, with three younger sisters, much of his early years was spent on military bases in Europe and US.
Jim and I trained together, in the intake of 1982. I first met him at a social gathering for the new intake—it was custom in those days for this to be hosted by someone from the preceding year, hence we met at Simon Archer's house in East London. I probably met many people that night, but the only one I remember was a tall, good looking, bearded man with a soft American accent, smartly dressed in a tweed jacket, tie, and Oxford shirt (very Jim, as I was to learn). He seemed to me at the time such a sophisticated and impressive figure and I remember thinking, “That's what a psychotherapist should look like”. I can't remember what we talked about, but I recall him saying that he had come from Boston with his English wife, to train, and that his background was in philosophy.
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