The British based child psychotherapist, Lydia Tischler, is an editor of the classic text: The Family as In-Patient: Working with Families and Adolescents at the Cassel Hospital. The Cassel Hospital in Kingston upon Thames, was originally established for the treatment of shell shock patients during the Great War. Under the directorship of psychiatrist Tom Main who developed the practice of psychosocial nursing, the work evolved into psychoanalytically orientated inpatient treatment of families.
Tischler and her group also had an effect in Melbourne, Australia. During the late 1980s the Melbourne Clinic in Richmond in Melbourne under the directorship of Dr Brian Muir, a psychoanalyst, who came from Britain and the Cassel Hospital for the job. He was the head of the adolescent and family unit there during the 1970s. Joan Christie then the Clinic’s Director of Nursing, and a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, was also involved. Patients with multiple and complex problems can need the supportive structure of the hospital in their psychotherapeutic journey. At least for a time. Some people with complex presentations cannot be worked with without such support. Their emotional world, so fractured by early, and accidental experiences, requires the consistency and availability of a safe secure environment. As Marion Milner noted in her book, ‘The Hands of the Living God, an account of the analysis of a woman lasting more than twenty years, psychoanalytic treatment can enable the living of a productive life. Otherwise means a considerable demand on the public purse. It is one part of a complex policy debate over treatment efficacy, evidence and as others have pointed out, the reluctance of psychoanalysis to represent itself.
The workings of the Melbourne Clinic project and the factors contributing to its ending are matters for historical research. I get the impression, at least as far as my memory goes, that this was an exciting and hopeful moment for psychoanalytic practice in this country. Why it ceased I do not know.
These musings and memories surfaced at the moment when I discovered Lydia Tischler’s interview online. Published in 2017 she speaks of her early life, the family’s arrest by the Nazis and the loss of her mother. Mengele’s nod to the right was enough to seal Lydia’s mother’s fate. Lydia Tischler was nodded to the right.
‘They could not take my soul’, she says.
Here is this most moving of interviews. https://youtu.be/3lpTceEE3d8