Stephanie Dowrick reminisces...and makes new connections and discoveries.
It was with great interest, then, that I read a description, quite late in the book, of the psychoanalytic writing that supported Winterson during a bleak period of her adult life. I have also read my way over many years into greater well being and insight, through bleak times and better ones. Not all of her reading, or mine, has been explicitly psychoanalytic, but her choice was strong and I found myself eager to comment on it.
Winterson describes how, not in London but in Oxford at the famous Blackwells Bookshop, she discovered books by a writer who became unusually helpful to her understanding of her emotions, choices and behaviours. "I found Neville Symington," she writes, "a priest turned shrink, who had a simple direct style and was not afraid of talking about the spirit and the soul - not as religious experiences but as human experiences - that we are more than body and mind - and I think we are."
She continues, in her lovely, plain and so-effective way: "Symington helped, because I was getting well enough to want a framework in which to think about what was happening to me."
At the time I wrote my own first major non-fiction book, Intimacy and Solitude, I too was very interested in Neville Symington's writing. I haven't read his work for some years, but now will do so again, and am particularly keen to discover his more recent writing.