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“WHEN MUMMY WANTS YOU TO DIE”: CAN INFANTICIDAL WISHES BE SURVIVED? with Professor Brett Kahr

About the event

Do some parents really hope that their children will die?

Although Sigmund Freud wrote extensively about death wishes in the family, he devoted far more attention to the child’s desire to kill the parent and, also, any unwanted siblings, rather than upon the parent’s desire to murder the child. Donald Winnicott elaborated upon parental death wishes, especially in his classic essay “Hate in the Counter-Transference”, albeit rather briskly. Building upon these foundational psychoanalytical contributions, Brett Kahr will draw upon his work with psychotic and forensic patients and, also, with normal-neurotic individuals, to explore the many ways in which maternal and paternal death wishes and death threats towards babies and children become internalised over time and, ultimately, contribute to the development of severe psychopathology.

In this special event for the Wimbledon Guild, Professor Kahr will explore the concept of the “infanticidal attachment”, examining how early death threats can damage the very foundations of the ego structure, resulting in psychosis, suicidality, criminality, severe eating problems, life-threatening addictions, and a host of other extreme psychological states. Drawing upon extensive case material, he will consider how intensive, long-term psychoanalytically orientated treatment can contribute to the neutralisation of such toxic “infanticidal introjects”.

The speaker

Professor Brett Kahr has worked in the mental health profession for over forty years. He is Senior Fellow at the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology in London, and, also, Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis and Mental Health in the Regent’s School of Psychotherapy and Psychology at Regent’s University London. He is, additionally, a Trustee of the Freud Museum London and of Freud Museum Publications, and, also, a Trustee of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy, as well as Chair of the Scholars Committee of the British Psychoanalytic Council.

Author of fifteen books, including the best-selling Sex and the Psyche, as well as the popular books Tea with Winnicott and Coffee with Freud, he has also served as series editor for sixty further titles. His most recent books include: Bombs in the Consulting Room: Surviving Psychological Shrapnel; Celebrity Mad: Why Otherwise Intelligent People Worship Fame; and Dangerous Lunatics: Trauma, Criminality, and Forensic Psychotherapy.

He works full-time in independent practice and as a Consultant Psychotherapist to The Balint Consultancy.