LIFE BECKONING: A thematic analysis of change in a deprived boy in long-term foster care, during intensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy

Prof Doc Thesis

Ryan, Emily 2011. LIFE BECKONING: A thematic analysis of change in a deprived boy in long-term foster care, during intensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsRyan, Emily
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This research is based on a single case study of psychoanalytic therapy with a young
adolescent boy in care. It is part of a growing movement to identify research methods
for exploring the place of unconscious expectations, emotion and affect, in
relationships. It experiments with methods for testing out psychoanalytic theory and
contributing findings to evidence, modify or expand theory in new directions.
The patient Simon, had a history of deprivation and showed many features of ADHD
and oppositional conduct disorder. The research locates him in a “family” of children
who share histories of early traumas and serious behavioural difficulties. Therefore
findings, while grounded in clinical material from a single case, and restricted in scope,
are of relevance to work with a very needy and challenging population of children, who
are often a major cause of concern to their carers, teachers, social workers and to mental
health professionals.
The research examines clinical material through the framework of Bion’s theoretical
claim that identifies thinking as at bottom an emotional process, and relates symbolic
capacity to early emotional experiences of communication and containment. The
framework was selected because of its relevance to the particular features of the patient,
which emerged through the detailed study of session records. The analysis of patienttherapist
interaction follows Bion in looking at thinking and learning, side by side with
the sort of internal objects active in the therapeutic relationship, and the emotions
connected to them. Through a detailed focus on these aspects of clinical material, the
author assesses some current ideas about what interferes with a deprived child’s
capacity to think and learn from experience; and what are the factors in a therapeutic
relationship that can help a child’s capacity in these areas to grow.

KeywordsADHD; Opposititional Conduct Disorder; Psychotherapy
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PrintDec 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited02 Apr 2013
Publisher's version
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