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Rosenthall, J. (2014). Memories of James Fisher. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 4(1):4.

(2014). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 4(1):4

Memories of James Fisher

Joanna Rosenthall

I remember first meeting James; we were seeing a couple as co-therapists together. He was new and I was almost new—I had been at the Tavistock Marital Studies Institute for a year or so. He seemed like such an unknown, someone you get to know slowly. His American button-down shirts, his long intelligent face, and dense, carefully trimmed beard. In those days, he seemed to think nothing of a ten mile jog around Hampstead Heath before work in the mornings.

He did not really know what couple psychotherapy was, and yet he conveyed the sense that he was drawing on all his past experience, as a teacher of philosophy, and a family and individual therapist, to puzzle away at finding a new way of thinking, of understanding, and of working with people. Sometimes I felt I was in touch with a mind that was not just open, but was seeking, grasping, reaching out for new concepts, new experiences, feelings, things that could expand him and his thinking.

James was impressive, kind, voluble, serious, funny, inventive, modest, thoughtful, and generous. He could also be obtuse and at times remote.

Co-therapy with James felt stimulating and organic. We easily made room for each other, complemented each other—I think we were a good team. But if I am honest what I remember most about being with James was not to do with the work, but our interesting conversations about literature, creativity, and his generous interest in my creative writing. The other thing that has stayed in my mind was being “ill buddies” with James.

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