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Number 9: Winter 2013

About suffering they were never wrong the old masters

Jane Haynes

In this paper1 I focus on what happens when the analyst, or a member/members of their nuclear family, whose private life remaining private is, or has been, a vital pre-requisite of traditional psychoanalysis, or psychodynamic therapy, becomes a traumatic object of public scrutiny and reportage. When my autonomy and private sense of self was stolen away by fate and the media. My situation grows more controversial as a result of the fact that several years later I chose to write and publish a book, which was memoir, rather than theory.

My son in law Jay’s death happened almost fifteen years ago now, although due to the criminal complexities of the case and to the legal complexities of his manslaughter and the failure of care by the police we only had the inquest, which lasted for three weeks, in October 2011, by which time my grandchildren who had been children at the time of his death were now both adults, which introduced other complexities. Both in relation to their legal statuses vis-a-vis the inquest and their emotional responses to further inevitable publicity and the arbitrary opinions expressed in the media, from which as minors they were hitherto protected by law and their mother.

Death came to Jay without warning; quite literally as a bolt from the blue. It was in Brighton, late at night, outside of a nightclub. He was about to enter a taxi but he never got into that taxi because unprovoked, between one second and the next, he received a blow that flattened him to the granite curb. He never regained consciousness and died one week later in my daughter’s arms when she made a decision to turn off his life support machine. Jay was half Nigerian, he knew life could be dangerous and as a young man had trained in martial arts. He was a third Dan black belt, and a man of immense physical power. But he did not get a chance; when he fell to the ground his hands were still in his pockets. There was not even the chance of a fight for his life. No altercation, not even a raised voice. There was just one fate-filled and fatal blow. His assailants were white, middle aged family men. Would they have acted in the same way if Jay had been white? Maybe. I really could not say. And the police even post McPherson and Stephen Lawrence, forgot, no, chose not to ask.


  1. Auden, W.H. (2010). W.H. Auden Selected Poems, Faber and Faber: London