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Brearley, M. (2020). Neville Symington. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(4):805-808.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(4):805-808

Neville Symington

Michael Brearley

Neville Symington was travelling in a taxi from the airport in Aarhus, Denmark, to the town centre. The driver asked what he did. He told him he was a psychotherapist. The driver then recounted a recent experience. A man had got in the taxi late on a wintry night and asked to be taken to the harbour. It became clear that he intended to jump into the freezing water and drown himself. As soon as the driver realized this, he locked the doors centrally and stopped the car. He told his client that before he would let him out, he (the passenger) had to talk him through what had happened and what he felt. The passenger told him that both his wife and his daughter had died recently, within a week of each other; his wife from cancer, his daughter in a car accident. They talked for two hours. By then the bereaved man no longer intended to kill himself. The driver had turned his cab into a consulting room, and himself into a sensitive but firm listener. Something therapeutic had happened. Neville's suggestion was, I think, that this encounter was more analytic than some of what happens in kosher, five-times-weekly sessions.

Neville was a charismatic person, with his slightly roguish charm, his generosity, his frankness and his willingness to make links within and outside psychoanalysis. Physically too he was a considerable presence: a tall, big man, dome-headed in early baldness, imposing but also somehow self-effacing. He spoke with quite a pukka, old-fashioned English accent, both forceful and attentive.

[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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