Back to contents
Number 1: Spring 2008

Review: Speaking from the Belly

Sylvia Cohen

Who is it that can tell me who I am?: The Journal of a Psychotherapist. (2007) London: Jane Haynes ISBN 9 780955 057984

One of the ways I found once to transmit to a group of trainees some sense of the phenomenological aspect of Jung’s theory was to show them postcards from the Brancusi exhibition I had just visited. Brancusi’s work, it seemed to me, is grounded in the material from which it is created in a very particular way, which follows and enhances the material itself. So context and the background matrix are vital for the process of creation. Jung’s work was confused in terms of his background philosophy: he often contradicted himself, swinging between positive empiricism and heuristics or hermeneutics. Nonetheless threaded through much of his writings is a phenomenology which privileges the embodied psyche, so to speak, and the grounded context from and in which human beings try to conduct their lives.

Jane Haynes’ book I think follows this thread. It is a narrative that comes up from the ground of her own experience of analysis interwoven with her working with patients. Throughout the book we are allowed to experience with her the impact of the work on her own emotions and perceptions, and the curious way in which patients’ material and life events can find a parallel in our own stories.

Even more intriguingly, in some ways, we are also given narratives written by the patients. Of course it is difficult to assess how far transference was still at play in their accounts, but that is less important it seems to me than a relatively rare glimpse into coherent expression of a patient’s perspective on their treatment.

These are very positive aspects of the book, which together with the author’s intriguing style and imaginative use of metaphor (which would have warmed the cockles of Jung’s heart) make reading it both pleasurable and for the most part gripping.