Articles by Camilla Nicholls

Doctors Dissected: What are Doctors really Thinking?

Doctors Dissected: What are Doctors really Thinking?

As I sat down to write about the relationship I have with ‘my GP’ I realised I couldn’t. Last summer I had cause to visit a general practitioner several times, I am asthmatic and although my condition is manageable day-to-day sometimes I need additional care. I saw three different doctors in the space of six weeks. One was a locum covering for holidays the other two were regulars at the surgery.  All were professional, helpful, concerned. But they, like their approaches, were all different and that was just over one short season. Even if we live in the...
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Culture Tip: PJ Harvey's 'Recording in Progress'

Culture Tip: PJ Harvey's 'Recording in Progress'

PJ Harvey’s collaboration with Artangel and Somerset House, Recording in Progress, is an extraordinary insight not just into the recording of music but the making of it too. It is probably one of the most absorbing cultural experiences in London right now. An ‘architectural installation’ by Something & Son with one-way glazing allows groups of up to 45 people a 45 minute session watching PJ Harvey, her musicians, engineers and producers record her ninth album. The slight figure of Harvey stands beneath a bespoke coat of arms engrossed in her work. Her...
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Culture Tip: Grayson Perry's Who Are You?

Culture Tip: Grayson Perry's Who Are You?

The Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry talking recently about Who Are You?, his display of new works at the National Portrait Gallery in London, commented that, “identity is one of those words that gets used a lot particularly in political terms and it always seems a slippery term to me”. In this diverse collection of 14 portraits shown in the Gallery’s nineteenth and twentieth century rooms Perry uses his fierce intelligence and particularly winning aesthetic to try to pin that term down. The works have all been made in response to meeting...
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Edna O'Shaughnessy: Melanie Klein's Handmaiden

Edna O'Shaughnessy: Melanie Klein's Handmaiden

The leading Psychoanalyst Edna O’Shaughnessy is 90 years old today. For many this will be a cause for celebration of one of the UK’s leading psychoanalysts. For Mrs O’Shaughnessy (as she is more respectfully known by her colleagues and students) it will be just another day in the office as she leads the weekly clinical seminar of the Fitzjohn’s Unit at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Mrs O’Shaughnessy is a Distinguished Fellow and Training and Supervising Analyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society. She came to psychoanalysis from a...
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Culture Tip: Pride

Culture Tip: Pride

When watching Pride, written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus, a warm, witty and timely film based on true events during the miner's strike of 1984, I was reminded of one of my favourite protest posters of the late twentieth century: 'If Thatcher gets up your nose, picket'.  I was taken back to a period of my life when bucket-waving and badge-wearing were everyday occurrences. I recall a time of political certainty for myself and my peers. We knew we wanted 'Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, Out, Out, Out!' We didn't want to go to war. We didn't want...
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Therapists and Pets: Is Three a Crowd in the Consulting Room?

Therapists and Pets: Is Three a Crowd in the Consulting Room?

When therapists talk about providing a ‘safe space’ where clients feel able to open up we are usually speaking metaphorically. We mean to indicate that the consulting room will be a place where everything is treated confidentially and judgements are on hold  regarding what is said or done by the client. But ‘safe space’ took on quite a different significance for the unsuspecting client who, towards the end of her session and in mid-thought, was attacked by a Manchester therapist’s cat. The feline who broke the therapeutic boundary had slipped unnoticed through an...
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Culture Tip: All in the Mind

Culture Tip: All in the Mind

I had to stop the car when I was driving home from the Tavistock clinic recently. There was nothing wrong with me, or the car, I just needed to focus on what was happening on the radio. A young woman, Sally, suffering from long-term depression and what she described as a ‘constant state of disassociation’ was telling presenter Claudia Hammond why she was nominating her friend, George, in the individual category for the BBC All in the Mind 25th Anniversary Awards. She read out part of the email she had sent to the programme in support of her nomination. Anyone who...
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Culture Tip: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Culture Tip: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

This week's Culture Tip is the first, and may possibly be the last, to incite in me an urgent need to increase dental flossing. Joshua Ferris’s new novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour follows anti-hero, Paul O’Rourke, who is a Red Sox fan, an avowed atheist and an acclaimed New York dentist with a thriving practice. He is a man who cares deeply about oral hygiene and his pain at his patients’ dental deterioration is palpable. He is impotent in the face of a prolific alter ego who, it seems, might just be a kinder, nicer and far from agnostic him. Paul...
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How Much Should I Pay for Therapy?

How Much Should I Pay for Therapy?

Whenever a friend consults me about starting therapy the second question after “How do I find a good therapist?” is usually “How much should I pay?”. It is a fair question. None of us like to feel we are being taken for a ride, but there is also the concern that lower fees may mean the therapist has less experience or is, simply, less good. It is not necessarily the case. Quite often the most experienced, most highly trained therapists charge the most reasonable fees. This could well be because they are psychoanalysts who traditionally charged a relatively affordable rate...
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Culture Tip: The Pale Fox at Chisenhale Gallery

Culture Tip: The Pale Fox at Chisenhale Gallery

The Pale Fox, the first UK solo exhibition of the French, New York-based artist Camille Henrot, is currently on show at Chisenhale Gallery a publicly funded space that garners awards and frequently punches above it’s weight in terms of its programming and outreach work with local communities. On the day I saw the show there had already been a visit by members of the East End Women’s Institute and the gallery was filled with comprehensively tall-haired students from Wimbledon College of Arts. Henrot was awarded the Silver Lion for most promising artist at the Venice...
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What Does a Therapist's Consulting Room Look Like?

What Does a Therapist's Consulting Room Look Like?

The use of promotional photographs of a therapist and/or their consulting room is a relatively recent development. Many argue that to be seen before a first meeting will affect the ‘transference’ of a client. Transference is the process by which the patient displaces on to their therapist feelings and ideas that derive from previous figures in their life; loosely speaking, it is the patient’s emotional attitude towards their therapist. Exploring the transference is central to the work and although the psychotherapist’s presentation of themselves as a ‘blank...
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