Frontiers Summer 2018 – The Other Edition

Welcome to the Summer 2018 edition of Frontiers! Last edition was centred around the theme of narcissism, and perhaps this next issue focusing on the Other can be seen as the companion theme: that which is the opposite of the narcissistic reflection; the escape from the echo chamber which our interactions seem to be more and more driven (herded?) towards. Instead of this homogeneous mirror image, in this edition we are confronted with the different: that which does not reflect a comforting image of oneself, but which is unavoidably Other. This magazine was set up with this problem in mind – I was aware personally of what was not being approached or given space in my psychotherapy training, and wanted to create a place where this ‘otherness’ could be encountered without censorship.

the ‘wild man’ from a medieval bestiary

For me personally as a practitioner this is the fundamental and foundation issue of psychotherapy – as an encounter with Otherness is where real therapy happens; where real communication happens and from which real growth (not just mimicking imitation of what a narcissistic authority wants from us) can emerge. The Other and otherness is paradoxically treated with violent reactions from within the power structures of our increasingly narcissistic society, which often seeks to maintain a static and idealised order in the face of any challenge to it’s hegemony – and the other is forced to carry the ‘shadow’ of this society in different ways. For this reason, much of the content of this issue has a dark and shadowy edge. There is anger, exclusion, violence, despair and isolation.

First of all Suzie Chick talks about experiencing the political views of a close relative as ‘other’, how she comes to terms with this seemingly insurmountable and anger inducing difference, which we are confronted with more and more in our daily politics. I follow this by exploring some mythology around the Other – some contrasting stories of creative and disruptive anti-heroes, contrasting them to the conquering heroism which is often espoused as the route to happiness by our society.

Chris Opyrchal provides some artwork in his sculpture of the hermit, a figure which he uses to show how he separates himself from society and becomes ‘other’. This creative piece is accompanied by a short piece of fiction by Sam Bloxidge, exploring the pain and isolation as well as the feelings of insurmountable entrapment that the other experiences.

Next I review ‘Critique of Black Reason’ by philosopher Achille Mbembe, who explores how one of the most powerful means of ‘Othering’ that of race, was created and historically employed as ideology. Finally we have our dilemma page – following up on the book review this is centred around the theme of race, and how we might deal with this in the therapy room.

We hope you enjoy reading this edition of Frontiers

Nick Opyrchal (editor)

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