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Life of the mind: seeking safety

"It struck me that having a safe mind to turn to is what psychotherapy is about"

We all study faces for potential hostility. In normal life we smile at each other, raise or take a hand and do our best to seem benign and avert aggression. “Don’t worry,” we try to say, “you’re safe with me.” A baby inevitably scrutinises mother’s face all the time and, ideally, equates that face, the touch and smell of her skin, the sound of her voice and her capacity to feed him or her, with safety. If the mother (or primary caregiver) is, to use post-Freudian psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott’s phrase, “good enough,” then baby goes out into life with a…

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