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Hewison, D. (2016). Growing Up? A Journey with Laughter by Patrick Casement, Karnac, 2015Learning from Life: Becoming a Psychoanalyst by Patrick Casement, Karnac, 2014. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 6(1):100-102.

(2016). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 6(1):100-102

Book Reviews

Growing Up? A Journey with Laughter by Patrick Casement, Karnac, 2015Learning from Life: Becoming a Psychoanalyst by Patrick Casement, Karnac, 2014

Review by:
David Hewison, D.Cpl.Psych.Psych.

Taken together, these two books provide the reader with an insight into the life and the development of one of Britain's most original, creative, and independent contemporary psychoanalysts. The first book, Growing Up? A Journey with Laughter is a collection of anecdotes by Patrick Casement about the first forty years of his life during which, he suggests, he had “no settled idea” of what he wanted to do other than—perhaps—engage in a fierce resistance to anything that anyone else wished to impose upon him; resistance that stems from the family expectation that he would follow his father, his brother, his uncles, and his father's father into the Royal Navy. The cover of the book has a picture of him and his older brother Michael dressed in matelot's whites, standing to attention and saluting the photographer. As Casement points out in both of these books, not only is he halfway out of the frame of the picture, but his salute is performed wrongly and with the wrong hand. His brother Michael, in telling contrast, is doing it perfectly. Casement's wry analysis about himself is that, in effect, he was searching to be met by someone who could see him for who he was rather than who he should be.

Growing Up? gives a very clear indication of Casement's experience of not having been properly met by his mother when he was very young and of its impact on him subsequently. Born into an upper-class family in the mid-1930s, with a succession of nannies taking care of him, home tutoring until the age of eight when he went to boarding prep school, which provided him with a much-needed sense of security and continuity of place that was otherwise missing as the family moved frequently, his account of his early childhood is partly bucolic and partly austere. On the one hand, we get a good sense of his curiosity and fascination with the world, but on the other, we get an overriding sense of distress at the gap between his internal world and the world in which he finds himself, summed up by description of being beaten with a hairbrush by someone (possibly his mother or his long-suffering nanny, Tuckey), catching sight of his own screaming face in the mirror and being shocked by it.

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