Author Archives: Charles Sharpe

About Charles Sharpe

Editor of the goodenoughcaring website and the goodenoughcaring Journal. Child care consultant Psychodynamic counsellor and psychotherapist

Me loves me: What is this thing called Narcissism? And resistance in Adolescence?

Farhad Dalai of Limbus has written to let us know about the next Limbus Lecture which will be held on November 9th, 2019, at Dartington near Totnes in Devon. Here are fuller details:

The lecture will be presented by Peter Wilson, who will speak about his theme:

Me loves me: What is this thing called: Narcissism? And resistance in Adolescence?

The lecture and discussion will take place between 10.30 am and 1pm, (arrivals from 10am).

The venue is Studio 3, The Space, Dartington Hall, Totnes
The fee is £20 and may be paid online at  Limbus or on arrival at the venue.

‘ Narcissism’ is a word that rings resplendently in contemporary popular culture. It seems everyone can be called narcissistic these days one way or the other, some with greater prominence than others. It is no surprise that we are left wondering at the end of it all,.what the word actually means. This paper is an attempt to make sense of narcissism from a psychoanalytic point of view, starting with Freud’s seminal work on the subject and following through to the views of Kohut and Kernberg, in the seventies in Chicago.
The clinical significance of the the concept will be discussed particularly in relation to adolescence – adolescents being immersed as they are in a time of life which is particularly preoccupied with questions of body and psychic identity and integrity. A number of case examples will be given to highlight the technical problems of dealing with what might be called ‘ narcissistic resistance’ in the psychotherapy of adolescents.

Peter Wilson is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist. He trained in child psychoanalysis at the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic (now the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families) from 1967 – 1971.
Since then he has held senior positions in the NHS, at the Institute of Psychiatry, Peper Harow Therapeutic Community and the Brent Consultation Centre and the Brandon Centre for adolescents.

He was the co founder and Director of Young Minds, the national child mental health charity and later the Clinical Adviser to the Place2Be charity that provides a comprehensive counselling service in schools across the country. He has been actively involved in policy developments in the field of child and adolescent mental health services and has numerous papers and chapters on a range of subjects relating to child and adolescent development and psychotherapy. He currently lectures and teaches in various institutions, including the Anna Freud National Centre, The Tavistock Centre, The Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education and,the British Psychotherapy Foundation.

Here are dates for future Limbus events to be held during 2020.

Feb 1, 2020 Denise Cullington Ten Things I Love About Psychoanalysis
June 6, 2020 Sarah Benamer Not So Hysterical Now?- Psychotherapy, Menopause & Hysterectomy
Oct 3, 2020 Fellicity De Zulueta TBA
Nov 14, 2020 Mike Tait Meeting and Matching the Moment of Hope

Full Details are available online at Limbus.

The next Limbus Lexture: Nick Sarra The Politics of Emotions at Work

Farhad Dalai has written to us about the next Limbus Lecture, after the summer break which will be on

Saturday, Sept 21, 2019

Nick Sarra

The Politics of Emotions at Work

Exploring the politics of emotion in the consulting room and organisations10.30 to 1pm (arrivals from 10am)

Studio 3, The Space, Dartington Hall, Totnes. 

Admission is £20 and can be booked online

On-line booking

or paid  on arrival.

Sept 21, 2019
Nick Sarra
The Politics of Emotion at Work.
Exploring the politics of emotion in the consulting room and organisations

Through a series of images, I will be looking at emotion as communicative,relational and political.I will argue that our feeling states are highly attuned to and co-created with those around us. Rather than conceptualise emotion as the province of the individual, I will explore a relational perspective in which  dynamics of inclusion, exclusion and performance may become embodied in the consulting room and in organisations as affectual experience which we come to call emotion.

Nicholas Sarra is a psychotherapist with a particular interest in group and organizational dynamics. Working primarily in the NHS but also on doctoral programmes at two universities (Exeter and Hertford). He is a Consultant Psychotherapist in the NHS also working privately as an organisational consultant and clinical supervisor. Qualified Group Analyst (member of the Institute of Group Analysis) and mediator. He has consulted to and mediated for numerous organisational groups particularly within healthcare both in the UK, Europe and USA. He has also been involved in a number of post conflict situations such as South Sudan and the aftermath of the Beslan hostage taking crisis in Ossetia. He lives and works in Devon but has also lived and worked in the Sudan,People’s Republic of China and Saudi Arabia.

Future Events

Next lecture
Nov 9, 2019     Peter Wilson ‘Me loves me: Narcissism & Adolescence’
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This year’s Limbus programme


Limbus Talks for 2019, dates for your diary

10.30 to 1pm (arrivals from 10am)
Studio 3, The Space, Dartington Hall, Totnes

June 8, 2019   Robert Tollemache ‘We have to talk about… Climate Change’
Sept 21, 2019 
Nick Sarra ‘The Politics of Emotions at Work’
Nov 9, 2019     Peter Wilson ‘Me loves me: Narcissism & Adolescence’

For more details visit<< Limbus

A letter about John Cross from Noel Howard


Noel Howard, of Social Care Ireland and the editor of CÚRAM, the Irish care magazine, has sent these comments about John Cross and the book Charles Sharpe has written and compiled about John.
The Irish Journal of Applied Social of Applied Social Studies will be a publishing Noel’s full review of the book in a forthcoming issue.

Dear Charles,
Congratulations on the publication of A Shared Experience. It is hard to believe that you only met John in 2008 because reading the book I get a feeling that somehow, you knew each other for far longer.

I think this book comes at a good time for those who work caring for children because, to use a phrase I’ve used elsewhere, the essence of caring is not about commodification but about relationships. In Ireland at any rate, social care workers are more than ever subjected to the jargon of supposed certainties which benefit no one, least of all, children with difficulties.

I find, in reading your book, that John was the real antidote to what now can tie social care workers up in knots – on the one hand regularly encouraged to use their professional judgement and yet when they do, even with positive results, can find themselves facing a bureaucratic nightmare. There was a time, and this is perhaps another example of my dinosaur status, when one could write in a log book, “Tom had a very good morning”, safe in the knowledge that those you worked with and worked for knew what was meant. Now, on good authority, I believe you must detail how and why Tom had a very good morning. The very core of the ebb and flow of life in residential care is now subject to the latest buzz words, one of which at the moment here is “journey”. Everyone, from the cat to the King has to be on a journey of some sort. But enough of my meanderings and back to the book.

The saddest part for me has to be the boy saying to John on his being withdrawn from New Barns by his local authority, “John, you said I could always live here.”
The most infuriating part was of course the story of the trial which kept bringing Arthur Miller’s line in The Crucible to mind…”You are pulling down heaven and raising up a whore.” Most striking of course is your description of John’s lack of bitterness and resentment and in that I think he was a  better man than most. I know, in fact, I’m certain, I would be very far behind him in that attitude. Also, it was lovely to read of Jim Nichol being so impressed by what Eve Foster and Maureen Ward had to say. It struck me that they perhaps were the best inspection service a unit might hope for, somewhat removed but imbibing all that was good around them.
The anecdotes from those who worked with John were, as with most anecdotes about people in this kind of work, quirky and revealing. Of course his innate modesty and true sense of justice were what most come through in the book as well as a thorough delving into what constitutes the therapeutic task.

Interesting you mention that John had no great reliance on theoretical matters and yet there is a very evident theoretical base in his conversations with you and the extracts from his writings. Also, you get across the idea that he was always about with his cup of tea and that can’t be said of many managers now pressurised by all kinds of bureaucratic demands.

Applicable I think to John also and to many who worked with him are those lines from Wordsworth:
That best portion of a good man’s life
His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.

I hope, Charles, that the book gets the readership it richly deserves and well done in bringing John’s life and times to us.

This letter has also been published as a permanent article in the goodenoughcaring Journal.
A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writing by Charles Sharpe, published by Abbeyhill Press Totnes in 2018. Price £7.995
To request a copy of this book email
All the proceeds of the sale of this book go to sustaining the John Cross Archive currently maintained by PETT at the Barns Centre, Toddington, Glos.

A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writing

A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writing by Charles Sharpe is now published.

Following his National Service, John Cross was heading for a career in politics until, in the early 1950s he arrived as a summer volunteer at Bodenham Manor School, a therapeutic community  established by David Wills, which educated children who had suffered early deprivation. At once John knew that what was going on at the school was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

In 1965, he with others of kindred spirit  founded a therapeutic community where the children and adults lived together. The community flourished until 1992 when the school closed in controversial circumstances and some members of the therapeutic team were put on trial. They were found not guilty but the pain of these events is still felt today.

John Cross knew and conferred with those who were considered pioneers of the therapeutic community movement. He eschewed the role of charismatic leader. He believed in the essential goodness of groups and teams of people. Given what the children, the adults and John achieved in their shared experience, it might be argued that the community of New Barns deserved the accolade “pioneering”.

Throughout his life John enjoyed sustenance and support from his family. He was a Quaker, a psychotherapist and served for many years as a magistrate in the youth justice system. After the closure of New Barns he became the executive of The Planned Environment Therapy Trust at The Barns Centre. John retired in 2011and still spent most of his days helping at the Trust until the his final illness. This book details the story of John’s life and records some of his thinking and his writing.

A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writing : by Charles Sharpe, published by Abbeyhill Press, Totnes; ISBN 978-0-9560438-1-8, 327pp £7.95.

To order a copy of this book or to express an interest in it email


Remembering John Cross: news of a book about his life, thoughts and writing.

Just over a year ago on July 10th, 2017, John Cross, the former Principal of New Barns School and the one time Executive Director of the Planned Environment Therapy died. To mark his life and his ideas, a new book, A Shared Experience John Cross, his life, thoughts and writings is to be published soon. It has been compiled and written by Charles Sharpe who met with John in conversation on a number of occasions during the last eight years of his life. The book is based upon these conversations.

The exact date of the book’s publication will be announced here within the next few weeks.

To express an interest in this book email

News from Limbus – Rex Haigh – Therapeutic Communities: The Radical Edge

Farhad Dalal has sent us news of the next Limbus lecture which will be presented on September 15th,  2018 by Rex Haigh and is entitled Therapeutic Communities: The Radical Edge. The venue is  Studio 3  Dartington Hall The cost is £20.

On-line booking    for this lecture is now open.


Therapeutic Communities: The Radical Edge
In the 1300s, the village of Geel in Flanders used to welcome ‘mentally afflicted pilgrims’ and supported them to work on the land, saving them from early death as outcasts from society; in the 1790s, William Tuke founded The Retreat in York and started the ‘Moral Treatment’ movement, in which people with mental illness were no longer chained up and kept as animals. In the Second World War, the group therapy experiments with battle-shocked soldiers brought the name ‘therapeutic communities’ into psychiatric practice. All these endeavours challenged the established exercise of power and the traditional nature of relationships.
This paper will explain what therapeutic communities are standing up for and challenging in contemporary times: why they are still at the radical edge of psychiatry and mental health services – and need to be. It will cover themes including the politics of data and evidence; biomedical and pharmaceutical dominance; fluid hierarchies; immersive training experiences; how patient safety can become a health hazard; taking control of quality; and toxic environments.

Rex Haigh studied social sciences as well as medicine as an undergraduate, being particularly interested in critical theories of psychiatry. After working as a GP, he trained as psychiatrist, then as an NHS medical psychotherapist and group analyst – and became a consultant in Berkshire in 1994, where he has been based since.  He received a mid-career award from the Health Foundation in 2002, and became Clinical Advisor to the English Personality Disorder Development Programme until it closed in 2011. At the Royal College of Psychiatrists, he was the founder of ‘Community of Communities’ quality network in 2002 and the ‘Enabling Environments’ award in 2008. He was on the NICE guideline development group for Borderline Personality Disorder, and is involved with several third sector organisations in the Personality Disorder field. His particular clinical interests are modified therapeutic communities, ecotherapy, critical psychiatry, and service user partnership. The social enterprise he chairs, ‘Growing Better Lives’ won the 2014 sustainability award from the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He was appointed as Honorary Professor of Therapeutic Environments and Relational Health at Nottingham University’s School of Sociology and Social Policy in 2015.


Childhood : Alice Miller gives us pause for thought.

“Every life and every childhood is filled with frustrations; we cannot imagine it otherwise, for even the best mother cannot satisfy all her child’s wishes and needs. It is not the suffering caused by frustration, however, that leads to emotional illness but rather the fact that the child is forbidden by the parents to experience and articulate this suffering, the pain felt at being wounded; usually the purpose of this prohibition is to protect the parents’ defence mechanisms. Adults are free to hurl reproaches at God, at fate, at the authorities, or at society if they are deceived, ignored, punished unjustly, confronted with excessive demands or lied to. Children are not allowed to reproach their gods – their parents and teachers. By no means are they allowed express their frustrations. Instead, they must repress or deny their emotional reactions which build up inside until adulthood, when they are finally discharged, but not on the object which caused them. The forms this discharge may take range from persecuting their own children by the way they bring them up, to all possible degrees of mental illness, to addiction, criminality, and suicide.”*

Alice Miller wrote the above in 1980. Her interpretation of childhood  may have been  open to question even when she wrote these words, but would they hold true now ?  Are children allowed to be their true selves? Certainly some would argue that the nature of parenting and teaching nowadays has become even more prescriptive, giving less space for children to express themselves freely.


*The text quoted  is an extracted from page 254  of Alice Miller’s book For Your Own Good Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearingThe Roots of Violence  published in 1980  by Virago Press, London.


A Fair Chance in Life : Helping Children Flourish The next Limbus lecture

Farhad Dalal informs us that the next Limbus lecture will be on Saturday, June 9th from 10.30am to 1pm at Studio 3, Dartington Hall.

The Lecture, A Fair Chance in Life: Helping Children Flourish will be given by Sue Gerhardt, the author of the deservedly praised, ( in my view, [ed] ), and influential book Why Love Matters : how affection shapes a baby’s brain published in 2004 by Brunner  – Routledge.

On Line Booking through the website

Or come and pay at the door.
If you intend to pay at the door, please arrive well before 10.30 to avoid holdups.
Full Details of the event are on the Limbus  website: