From Christopher Reeves, Director, Squiggle Foundation
20th July 2010
Dear Fellow Member,
Since my last newsletter in March we have had three excellent Squiggle
lectures, all devoted to examining the continuing relevance of Winnicott’s concept of
the ‘antisocial tendency’, but from slightly different angles.
In March Adrian Ward considered how the current language of national
policy guidelines in respect of the residential treatment of young people
requiring care, with its overriding emphasis on control and the use of terms
like ‘conduct disorder’ and ‘behaviour management’, was in conflict with
one of Winnicott’s cardinal principles for responding appropriately to the
antisocial act, namely the importance for the adult carer of registering what
is being communicated by means of it, and why in order to respond to it
In May Judith Trowell and Jenny Sprince jointly presented a lecture in the
form of a dialogue in which they examined how within a therapeutic
community catering for young people with extreme behavioural and
emotional difficulties the balance has constantly to be monitored and
maintained between containment on the one hand and the need to engage
therapeutically with them on the other. Much of their mutual reflecting focussed on
the potential for the splitting of parental roles within the staff provision in such communities.
Because such splits, they argued, could all too readily replicate a young person’s earlier
experience of parental dysfunction, active reflection by staff on their respective roles and
functions need to be a paramount focus of consultative work within such institutions.
Finally, in late June Richard Rollinson gave a wide ranging address in which
by means of copious examples he highlighted the difficulty facing young
people today of being able to find within our fractured society the sort of
helpfully challenging yet tolerant responses to what Winnicott called the
‘nuisance value’ of much low-level antisocial behaviour to prevent it turning
into hardened delinquency.
The overall impression left by this year’s themed series of five lectures was
that there remained much in Winnicott’s formulations of fifty years ago
that was acutely relevant to our current situation in regard to the care and
management of young people. The general consensus was that these lectures had been of a
uniformly high level, and it is hoped that they may in due course by published as a new volume
in the Winnicott Studies series. The only disappointment has been the low audience turnout,
something already alluded to in my previous newsletter, and which continues to be a matter of
For the present we are persevering with the pattern of Saturday morning
lectures. These do not start too early (10.45), so this ought not to be an insuperable obstacle
for those having to travel into London from further afield. The new venue, Avenue House, is a
congenial place for lectures, being set in its own spacious grounds. Parking is not a problem,
and access by public transport is quite reasonable, with Finchley Central station on the London
Underground (Northern) being about 7 minutes walk away, and a direct bus service (82)
operating from Victoria via Marble Arch, Baker Street and Swiss Cottage to a point within a mere
3 minutes walk of Avenue House. Please do come and support our lecturers if you are able to.
However, if there are reasons that regularly make it impossible for you to attend at this time
and venue, even though you might otherwise have chosen to do so, (and especially if you were
in the habit of attending Squiggle lectures in the recent past), please let either myself or our
Administrator, Vicky Raingold, know and we shall see what changes can be made to
accommodate you better.
The last lecture in our 2009-10 season, this year’s Madeleine Davis lecture,
has had to be postponed until mid October. It will be given by the very well-known
psychoanalyst and writer on matters relating to pregnancy and childrearing, Professor Joan
Raphael-Leff. We are very grateful to her for her readiness at fairly short notice to replace our
originally planned speaker, Dr. Margret Tonnesmann, who for reasons of infirmity is now unable
to fulfil this engagement. You will see from the enclosed flyer that our speaker on this occasion
has chosen a topic central to her primary area of interest, concern and expertise, and we
anticipate a large audience for this event. Do make a note of the October 16th. date in your
diary, and perhaps use this as an occasion to acquaint yourself with the pleasures of Avenue
House for the first time, if you have not already done so.
Finally, my predecessor as Director, Bernard Barnett, has kindly offered to
conduct a day long workshop to be held on a Saturday in November. This will
be devoted to the topic of ‘Ego and Superego – Self and Conscience’. He will be using his
recently published (and highly recommendable) book “You Ought To!” as a starting text for this.
This Workshop will be dependent on numbers. Anyone interested in applying or obtaining
further details about this event, please contact Vicky by email or on the Foundation’s number
May I end by wishing you all a relaxing summer, and I look forward to
meeting as many of you as possible at our lectures in the autumn.