Myths and therapy

Morgan le Fay

Brendan McMahon:
The Princess Who Ate People:
the Psychology of Celtic Myths
Heart of Albion Press 2006

First, I have to say this is a wonderful title for a book, encouraging the reader to delve inside the covers. The author here looks primarily at Irish and Welsh mythical narratives with his psychotherapist’s eye, seeking for ways in which these old tales can help modern patients make sense of their own dilemmas and help restore integrity and identity.

Though Irish tales dominate his study, native British stories put in an appearance, including some Welsh Arthurian narratives. The commentary is critical of aspects of classic Freudian analysis, and here I wish McMahon’s concluding chapter, which encapsulates his approach, had begun the book.

Some stimulating ideas are here, therefore, even for those unsympathetic with Freudian theory, so I will only mention a couple of niggles. First up are the typos – I can’t believe that there wasn’t time to proofread the text before publishing – and secondly, I was disappointed that the striking cover by Ian Brown was not really as representative of Mis, the Irish princess of the title, as I expected.

The final word must go to the author: “The fact is that the psychological complexity of the tales, with their rich interplay between the internal, interpersonal and social worlds, debars any simple reductionist interpretation, Freudian or otherwise.” Amen to that, I say.


Repost of a review first published online 25th March 2013, and before that in the Journal of the Pendragon Society, in 2006

Autism, Bullying and the Child

Emily Lovegrove:
Autism, Bullying and Me.
The Really Useful Stuff You Need to Know About Coping Brilliantly with Bullying.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2020

This is not a review — but it is a notice about a useful and accessible self-help book for those who feel different, written by my partner and published tomorrow.

It’s not always easy to stand out from the crowd, especially if you’re a teenager. There’s a lot of information out there on how to deal with bullying, but a lot of it is contradictory or seems like it won’t work…

But this guidebook is different! Helping you sort fact from fiction, the book looks at the different forms bullying can take and debunks commonly held myths such as ‘bullying makes you stronger’ and ‘ignore it and it will stop’.

You’ll learn techniques to clear your mind so that you can respond to bullying situations calmly and confidently and be positive about who you are.

Finally, it’s packed with self-empowering strategies for coping with being autistic in a neurotypical world, and practical tips so you can handle any bullying scenario.

Emily is a psychologist whose doctoral thesis was on appearance and bullying, and on strategies to manage bullying. Being only recently diagnosed as autistic means she writes from experience and with insight on how feeling — as well as looking — different can affect how others treat you; and as a professional she’s well positioned to advise on how to cope positively to that treatment.

She previously authored Help! I’m Being Bullied (Accent Press 2006) which sold out its print run. She tweets and blogs as The Bullying Doctor — a passive aggressive title foisted on her, I should add!

Published by Jessica Kingsley
ISBN 978 1 78775 213 9
eISBN 978 1 78775 214 6

Published at £12.99 in the UK, it’s available from all good outlets such as indie bookshops (eg Book-ish, Crickhowell at http://www.book-ish.co.uk) so do support them at this difficult time, especially if they take online orders.*


* If you order from Book-ish you could ask for a signed copy with a personal message from Emily

Towards a neurodiverse world

https://openclipart.org/detail/229515/multicolored-jigsaw-puzzle-pieces
https://openclipart.org/detail/229515/multicolored-jigsaw-puzzle-pieces

Steve Silberman: NeuroTribes:
the legacy of autism and how to think smarter
about people who think differently

Foreword by Oliver Sacks

Allen & Unwin 2016 (2015)

I have to admit that this wasn’t quite what I was expected when I began it. I was looking forward to an updated discussion of what autism actually is and how people not actually on the spectrum can learn to think about those who are on it. Instead I found I was reading a 500-page doorstop of a book which provided complex case histories and followed a rigid but discursive timeline down from the 18th century. Much of the time I felt that the promises contained in the title and subtitle (particularly on describing autism’s ‘legacy’) and a confused impression about the book’s targeted audience (was it the general public or those directly affected by autism?) were being lost in a catalogue of contradictory opinions, varying terminology and distressing detail.

But then I realised that there was method in this apparent madness. By examining the general public’s confused reactions to autism’s manifestations over the centuries and the conflicting diagnoses and prognoses offered when individuals exhibited the condition Silberman was able to build up a picture of what autism was not; how those with the condition presented in a multiplicity of ways; and how — after many years seen as passive victims who might or might not be ‘cured’ — a significant number of those on the spectrum have started to self-advocate and be proactive in proclaiming its potential.

Continue reading “Towards a neurodiverse world”