CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ix SERIES FOREWORD Brett Kahr xiii FOREWORDS R. Horacio Etchegoyen xvii Brett Kahr xx Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC xxiii INTRODUCTION James Gilligan xxv An interview with Estela V. Welldon, July 1996 1 CHAPTER ONE The true nature of perversions 25 CHAPTER TWO Perverse transference and the malignant bonding 50 CHAPTER THREE Babies as transitional objects: another manifestation of perverted motherhood 60 vii.
SERIES FOREWORD Brett Kahr Centre for Child Mental Health, London T hroughout most of human history, our ancestors have done rather poorly when dealing with acts of violence. To cite but one of many shocking examples, let us perhaps recall a case from 1801, of an English boy aged only 13, who was executed by hanging on the gallows at Tyburn. What was his crime? It seems that he had been condemned to die for having stolen a spoon (Westwick, 1940).
FOREWORD R. Horacio Etchegoyen I had the privilege of writing the Foreword for the latest version in Spanish of Estela Welldon’s Mother, Madonna, Whore, a book that has travelled the world, gaining a well-deserved eminent place in psychiatric and psychoanalytic bibliographies. Through the ideas developed in that book, we now know much more about the complex relationship between mother and child, and about the deep traces transmitted from one generation to another. Following this wise, auda- cious, and enduring book, there is now another—Playing with Dyna- mite—which extends and deepens the author’s original insights.
FOREWORD Brett Kahr F or the last forty-seven years, Dr Estela Valentina Welldon has occupied a path-breaking place in the ﬁelds of psychotherapy, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and mental health. A native of Argen- tina, she trained as a medical doctor and as a psychiatrist in Mendoza and at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, and then subsequently in group analytic psychotherapy. Welldon arrived in London in 1964 and began to work with psychiatrically disturbed offender patients such as murderers, rapists, paedophiles, and others who had commit- ted grave crimes. Although many of her senior colleagues in the ﬁeld recommended simply incarceration and punishment for offenders, she soon discovered that such patients, known as “forensic patients”, would respond very successfully to psychological therapy, speciﬁcally psychoanalytically orientated psychotherapy.
FOREWORD Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC I have known Estela Welldon both socially and professionally for over thirty years. In many ways our friendship sprang from our shared interest in the human condition and our fascination with society’s demands for normalcy, its ability to wrap sexuality in taboo and secrecy, as well as its desire to punish deviation. That conversation of our early days has become lifelong, richer and more diverse as time passes. It has also never been without wit and laughter.
INTRODUCTION James Gilligan I can understand the feeling of pleasure and intellectual enlighten- ment that readers of this book who are already familiar to one degree or another with Estela Welldon and her clinical, theoretical, and educational work will experience, because that was my own initial reaction to this text—and I had already known the author, and worked with her, since 1993. It is very gratifying to encounter here the further development of many of her most original and productive insights. One of these is her groundbreaking theoretical understanding not just of the psychodynamics of female perversions and violence, but of the very existence of this category of psychopathology—a form of destructiveness and self-destructiveness the recognition of which had been seriously neglected, if not denied, by many psychoanalysts prior to her opening it up for examination and analysis, the irony of which is that this is a ﬁeld one of whose whole raisons d’être is the overcoming of denial. Freud may have taught us to see how much of Oedipus there is in all of us, but it took Welldon to show us how much of Medea there is in the mothers among us—including the Medeas’ own mothers. Apparently it has been easier for those in our profession to face the castration anxiety that is a universal feature of our own and our patients’ psyches than to tolerate the even deeper terror of recognizing that one of our most hallowed and idealized images— that of motherhood—is so often the locus of the most horrifying cruelty and sadism towards their own infants and babies and those of other mothers—a horror that is often avoided by replacing both the denial and the idealization with an equally unhelpful and distorting xxv.
An interview with Estela V. Welldon, July 1996 B RETT KAHR: Estela, it’s a very great pleasure to interview you, and I thought it would be useful if we could begin with how you came to the ﬁeld of forensic psychotherapy, and really how you sculpted this ﬁeld and made it your own. It would be very interesting for readers if we could ask you some questions about the inﬂuences in terms of your own per- sonal life and in terms of the teachers you had—because I know you worked with some rather distinguished teachers in the psychiatric and psychoana- lytic worlds—to see how you came to be the forensic psychotherapist you are today. So let’s start at the beginning: you were born in Argentina . . . ESTELA V. WELLDON: I really don’t want to believe that I’m the creator of forensic psychotherapy, or the person who has sculpted it either. I believe that the inﬂuence of my teachers has been essential to the inter- est or even passion that in a process of identiﬁcation I’ve developed in this ﬁeld, and in the way that I’ve contributed to the training of young people, people who are enormously courageous and extremely skilled in their own ﬁelds and who are then able to develop and to gain an awareness of unconscious mechanisms that had been unavailable to them before. . . . You asked me about Argentina, and I’m already talk- ing about the present. It’s difﬁcult at times to ﬁll in the gaps because it’s not only a long life, but also a rich life, so I have to talk about the essential stages of my own training.
CHAPTER ONE The true nature of perversions History of the term “perversions” F reud, using instinct theory, classiﬁed sexual perversions into two groups, according to the sexual object (e.g., in paedophilia) or its aim (e.g., to inﬂict or experience pain, as in sadomasochism). Perversion is different from a classical neurotic or psychotic condition, although the three terms have been interlinked in the history of psy- choanalytic thinking. Freud’s famous axiom that the neuroses are “the negative of perversion” (1905) was later taken up by Glover (1944), who under the inﬂuence of Klein suggested that perversions were the negative of psychosis. This view was supported by Melanie Klein’s followers, who saw perversion as a defence against psychosis.
CHAPTER TWO Perverse transference and the malignant bonding I t was Etchegoyen (1977) who ﬁrst introduced the concept of “transference perversion”, characterized by the erotization of the therapeutic relationship with a peculiar type of narcissistic object- relation. The patient permanently tries to create a delusional sub- ject–object unity, provoking excitement and impatience in the analyst. Etchegoyen also made us aware that these processes must be uncov- ered in order to solve potential problems dealing with the dissociation of the ego, subject–object confusion, and the transformation of desire into ideology.