Session 1: The Fundamental Driver for Seeking Analysis presented by Dr Malcolm Rushton

I’ve come to believe that every patient comes to see me for one underlying reason – They have never been able to form a safe, secure primary attachment. This has left them feeling profoundly alone in the world. They may have a relationship, children, many friends, but there is still that sense of un-connectedness at the deepest level.

I spent thirteen years in analysis, and although it helped me in many profound ways, this sense of being isolated remained.

Parents who are not available for this attachment, because they have never experienced it themselves, will abandon or impinge, and this will result in defensive strategies being put in place where the child withdraws and becomes a “dormouse” waiting for summer to come, or a “lemming” frantically rushing around to find a solution and eventually falling over a cliff. Both of these reactions lead to a distancing from the central task of being attached, of not being alone.

Analysis is often very good at providing a safe environment where many of those defences can be dismantled, but often not so good at addressing this deeper need of accessing a good primary attachment.

I believe this need has driven spirituality/religion from very early times and I would like to give some examples going back to our neolithic ancestors. My own exploration of Christianity many years ago was driven by a need for a “better” family where I might be able to make the attachment I longed for.

I will share clinical examples of how, through the opening of a portal to an unconscious world, opening a transitional space between the ego world and the collective, the clock can be wound back, undercutting the trauma, and the rudiments of a second bite of the cherry, a new primary attachment can be attempted.

This has often happened in extremely surprising ways in my practice. This will always originate from the unconscious of both patient and analyst which will subvert the need for control.

Borderline/borderland patients with their thin skin to the unconscious world can often give themselves to this process in particularly remarkable ways.

Session 2: Individuation, relationship, and the ‘tremendous void’ in Jung’s 1944 visions presented by Professor Roderick Main

In this presentation I shall examine Jung’s involuntary unconscious journey into the void during the visions accompanying his near-death experience after a heart attack in 1944, as related in Chapter 10 of Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

As well as attempting to understand the nature of the non-ordinary state of consciousness in which Jung found himself, I shall draw on his wider narrative, his publications and letters, and some biographical details to consider the implications of his visions, especially his experiences of the ‘tremendous void’ and the sacred marriage (hierosgamos), for his understanding of the aims of individuation and the value of relationship.

I shall bring this experience of Jung’s and its implications into dialogue with Malcolm Rushton’s insights into the importance of merged experiences in an ‘inner void’ for establishing interpersonal connectedness (a good primary attachment) at the deepest level.

Session 3: A Different Conception of the Analytic Frame presented by Dr Malcolm Rushton

The primacy of the opening of this portal to the unconscious world, this transitional space, I believe, requires a rethink of what constitutes a healing setting.

I would like to explore, with clinical examples, ways of working which are more in line with merged experiences between infant and mother in a dream space, where patient and analyst can increasingly let go of control and dive more deeply into the swimming pool of the unconscious, with the analyst keeping only one foot attached to dry land/the ego world.

In this regard I would like to question certain aspects of orthodoxy which I believe may indeed be retraumatising to the patient, and inhibit growth in this fundamental area.

I would like to explore a number of ways which we might approach the frame quite differently when working with patients who have borderland experiences.