My Story

John Jolliffe, MA, PG Dip.
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some key issues

There’s much more to this winding path, but this is an abbreviated description of a few of the more pleasant issues – as outlined here.

Leaving School

I left school without any qualifications – in fact I left early before the time when  examinations were held. I had struggled with severe issues in the area of trauma – which I don’t intend to detail in this presentation.

I did through, complete 2 years in the CCF, engaging in army training studies, along with outdoor training exercises, passing all the relevant exams.

Casual work etc.

After school, I did a wide variety of casual labour type jobs – an extremely wide variety – but one job I had was as a lifeguard for one summer on Bournemouth beach (I had gained a life-saving qualification at school). In many ways, on reflection, this was probably one of the best jobs that I had ever had. I loved the fresh air walking along the beach – talking to the holidaymakers who were at that time mostly from the North of England – and I was delighted at how friendly and natural they were. It wasn’t all just walking up and down the beach seeing that everything was okay in the sea – for every evening there were three hours of fast pace deckchair collections to do – running them up from the beach to the promenade – 6 at a time – 3 under each arm – and stacking them securely. Admittedly – being a lifeguard did attract a little bit of female attention – which did wonders for my shaky foundations.

How to Get Whatever You Want Out of Life

In many ways I wish I’d stayed at that job for a few years. Nevertheless I moved on looking into other matters – later becoming a trans-continental truck driver – driving articulated lorries – and taking small yachts on low loaders down to the South Coast of France and Italy. Bringing cargoes of wine back – sometimes other goods. This was also an  extremely interesting job – and full of adventure – but again I moved on.

So many things took place – such as having two long term relationships, and living with a partner – eventually moving on and ending up trying my luck in Holland – when things weren’t working out. I first entered Holland in the winter – ended up living in a tent – and from there doing double shifts (the day and evening shift) in an engineering factory producing combine harvesters etc. This was a wonderful experience – and I could have stayed there too, but again I moved on – though now,  I moved on this time – with a purpose – for whilst I was living in the tent – having arrived in early March when the temperatures were very cold indeed – sometimes a few degrees below zero centigrade at night – and where when in Amsterdam – which was only about 12 miles away – I had purchased the book – ‘How To Get Whatever You Want Out of Life’, by Dr Joyce Brothers. This author had inspired me, and she had quite a curious history herself. The book was what one might refer to as a ‘popular psychology book’ – but to me it was worth its weight in pure gold. From reading that book – I came back to an interest that I had harboured as a teenager, but because of lack of qualifications and the like – and still seriously struggling with issues – I didn’t see a way forward in that direction. But it was whilst reading Dr Joyce Brother’s book – in a tent in absolute freezing cold temperatures – that somehow her inspirational words – gave me the courage and belief that I could in fact learn about, and become aware about psychological issues, and then move on to become a psychotherapist, in spite of everything at that time pointing to the contrary. Makes me somehow think of the American Dream – where one can – if one tries hard enough – achieve the apparently impossible, or at least make a better life for oneself, and also for others.

Nevertheless, I stayed in Holland for quite a while after that, and near the end of my stay there, I found myself working on a farm in South Holland whose main produce, amongst others, was potatoes. I drove the tractor, and did all sorts of general-hand duties – and I slept in a large barn – which had a rather dirty floor – with a few facilities hanging close by, and  a little table and chair. Again, during this time, it was also getting cold as this was October, with Autumn having definitely arrived – I slept on the ground – there was no bed – and I found myself waking up one morning having realised that I was sharing my sleeping bag with a little field mouse (having tiny round-shaped ears), and so at the time when I started to stir early in the morning – something ran out of the sleeping bag and disappeared into the darkness of a far corner. It was a very large barn indeed – and I couldn’t quite see where it went – but from then on we seemed to be nightly partners. I didn’t have the kind of sleeping bag where you could fasten it up tight – it had a loose open top – in fact I had one inside the other. Anyway, somehow I didn’t bother about this little furry mouse – I felt rather lonely – and curiously, I was rather glad of the company. I was often very aware of the furry little body against my legs – and curiously I became rather attached to it. I think one has to experience these things, under these conditions, to have these kind of realisations ¹. Experience teaches and tells one so much more – than that of just by thinking about things, or imagining things, or reading a book – and such that one would not be able to realise otherwise, without the experiential life – experiences that really engage one in their different aspects . Thus it was, that I knew by then – what my destination was to be – and understood too, that it was a kind of ‘mission impossible’, but yet, …”Somehow, Dr. Joyce Brothers, I knew that I was going to do it”. Thanks Dr Joyce Brothers. I never did get round to writing to you – to tell you how your book had changed my life – I should have done.

Destination London~ whilst on the way to Bristol

My destination was Bristol, England, UK – but I had to wait two hours or so for the coach to take me to Bristol after I had arrived at Victoria Station, in London, having left Holland from the port of Vlissingen, Zeeland – and arriving at Sheerness dockyard at Sheerness (a small town on the Isle of Sheppey), and then taking a coach to Victoria Bus Station in central London, in order to change to another coach at Victoria that left for Bristol – intending to book myself into a guesthouse – one that I had yet to seek out when I had arrived there. As it was, I didn’t fancy waiting around two hours or more that it was – so I took my single small black bag that I had with me and put it in a locker at the coach station, in order to have a little walk around – intending to be back within two hours.  After about 45 minutes – I found myself walking down The Cromwell Road – an extremely busy 6-lane wide main road, well known in London – and then – on the side of this road, I saw a hotel called The London Hotel – and all of a sudden upon seeing this, I felt rather weak, as well as tired. I had got up so early that morning to get ready – to get to the small town to catch the boat over to England – and I just suddenly thought to myself, ‘I’m gonna put myself into that hotel’ –  I had quite a lot of money on me, and in the bank, by this time – so from this point of view this was not a problem. It so turned out – that I didn’t leave London for more than 23 years, and that I never did go to Bristol, after all.

Every therapy theme under the sun

While I was in London, I attended all the courses related to counselling, psychotherapy, and the many various alternatives, such as different schools of yoga, meditation, and in these eager times, also engaging and partaking in a variety of expressive arts therapies – in fact, all that I could find and fit into my life – whilst ongoingly reading a vast array of writings. Early on in these endeavors, I arrived at attending courses given by The Philadelphia Association (founded by R D Laing and others) – where they were presenting lectures in the most curious of buildings. It was a multi-story, fascinating, somewhat mysterious, octaganal shaped building – covered in ivy – on the very edge of Regent’s Park, London. There I learnt about radical alternative ways of running residential therapeutic communities – alternative provision for peoples’ issues, which included people that had left psychiatric hospital in order to try their luck on a different pathway, or who had arrived by word of mouth seeking help with their lives – hearing that something different and also adventurous, was on offer. It was an amazing and wonderful learning experience – with lectures given by some of the most interesting characters that I had ever come across – British, American, Canadian, and others of unknown origin to me, all presenting unique and fascinating ideas. This course even included weekly group psychotherapy for those attending the course. This was run by two psychotherapists from out of  ‘the group of co-founding psychotherapists and philosophers’ that had founded The Philadelphia Association. The Philadelphia Association comprised a diverse collection of properties, run as alternative residential therapeutic communities, in different parts of London. The group therapy – about which I have already given mention of – was provided once a week – lasting for a year – and was for the most part, but not entirely, based on the same approach as that provided for the residents in the therapeutic communities, though in their case it was actually provided at twice a week.

The above activities, lead on to my later experiences as a visitor to those communities, in order to assist as a volunteer in a variety of ways. Anyway, in terms of courses, after that course, which I had attended for around a year and a half, I attended The Integral Therapy Association run by Dr Leon Redler , where I was a participant in a weekly therapy group  (Dr Leon Redler was a co-founder of The Philadelphia Association).  I also continued to attend other peripherally associated groups and activities in this as-it-were movement, and from there I eventually moved on to attend a group ‘unspecified in description’, run by R D Laing himself. Although, the group could have been understood, for those who need to tie things down, or confine matters to ‘some sort of definition’, as being within the area of the ‘existential- phenomenological approach’. Also, I might add, the reason why Dr Leon Redler – who had been a medical doctor in New York City – had come to London to live – was because he was much inspired by R D Laing’s revolutionary writings and ideas, and also with Laing’s extremely radical 5-year experimental residential community at Kingsley Hall, East London. The film ‘Mad to be Normal’, starring David Tenant playing R D Laing, re-lives the story of Kingsley Hall, and to which I was an investor – that is – an investor in the film, and where I visited the main film site – Kingsley Hall,  and had various conversations with the actors. Anyway, as I was saying, Leon wanted to come to England because of this, as others did, so as to be involved with this – as-it-were – ‘movement’. I was continuing on this learning curve of fascinatingly different ways of going about things, of making sense of and of understanding matters – and also for the most part – primarily from my time in these experiential groups. I later had an article published on a description of R D Laing’s last ‘Tuesday Group’, which I shall include on another page of this website. Anyway, from there I was introduced to a few others, and asked if I would be interested in co-founding a small residential therapeutic community, in London – which after some considerable hesitation, I said that I would be. This community ran for almost 25 years. At some point – when it had got into financial trouble – I volunteered to take it over as manager (the job description was – Coordinator) with no pay – to bring it back ‘on board again’. Fortunately I was successful at doing that – and ended up running every aspect of this small community¹, and which by this time could afford to pay me a wage.  It was just a relatively small community of residents, with what could be described as working with various emotional and life problems. The average stay being two years. It provided contemporary community group therapy, as well as individual therapy. The theme was on existential awareness and responsibility, roughly speaking. I received an award in The City of London, on behalf of this community. During this time, I did a post-graduate four-year intensive training in attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapy. This was in fact a different development of ideas, and was being adapted to pioneering a quite radical approach to in-depth psychotherapy². I considered this to be a revolutionary approach, and to which, I also contributed in my own way, from my own perspectives in my written work. I was originally accepted on this postgraduate course, because of the experience that I had had, from the very many years of volunteer work that I had undertaken, even if I had no other relevant qualifications at that time. The Attachment Theory application to psychotherapy was an approach that especially suited me right down to the ground, but I did also, in other fields, learn and experience over very many years, the traditional ways of working with in depth-psychoanalysis as well. Later I studied at post-graduate level, Infant Psychiatry and Mental Health, with a cutting edge innovative organisation, which adopted ‘the whole family unit’ approach. I continued with this for a few years – and from there went on to complete an MA in Psychotherapy and Counselling³. These courses I felt were also especially enlightened in their approaches – and I was most fortunate to have some of the very best supervisors and consultants in London, in my opinion. One of whom is now very well known, and was made a Professor in the field, receiving a number of awards.

I had come a long way with the help of these excellent teachers.

Nevertheless ~ from my experiences ~ I also realised ~ that of course psychology and the like, is not a new science or pursuit as some may often think – it has been the message of the sages down through the ages – as in the message ~ to look more deeply into who one is, and who one has become. Seen in such writers such as in Socrates ‘to know thyself’, or in regards to Tolstoy in ‘Resurrection’.

And back in Holland in that remote farmland area, I had the sense – that although I was alone there – there was a curious and serene feeling that I also had – of having come home – not home in the literal sense of a place – but home in terms of its primal essence sensed within my own spirit, as somehow transmitted from the very structure, architecture and layout of this modest village, and to which the farm whose land I worked upon, was by the side of – an area that in fact had been engaged with lands that were once separate isolated little islands, before they had been joined up to the mainland by the ingenious dams of the Netherlanders.

A sense of the primal structure, and of basic human reality.

Implicitly – I was able to recognise this – but I knew that in automatically ~ spontaneously having done so – that I had in fact shifted to a different level of what I might described as a more benign apprehension of reality.  In doing so, I found that I had in this remote as-it-were time-past-place ~ become sure-footed.

This was also the beginning of my realisation of the significance of a sense of time in regards to one’s reality.

Eulogy to Dr Joyce Brothers

So, Dr Joyce Brothers – was born in Brooklyn, New York – 5 foot tall with darkish-blonde hair. I always can visualize her picture on the cover of the tattered copy that I kept, that I had read, and which had inspired me, in the tent, back in those days. She had won the $64,000 Question (on the 1950s game show competition in the USA). Her specialist subject of her own choosing – was boxing. She had won this competition, and thus the $64,000, which was one hell of a lot of money in those days. It was apparently with this money that she paid for the various courses and trainings that she did, in order to become a highly qualified psychologist in the USA. So, this also brings me back to the American Dream – where there has been the freedom to try your hand and make something of yourself in any field, within what is possible for one – and this has always intrigued me. And to some extent, though to somewhat a lesser extent, this has been possible in the UK, well at least from the 1970’s. Although of course, it must also be added, that it is not always possible for everybody to do this – where sometimes one’s problems are so bad – one’s life situation so difficult – that even with great opportunities available – things might not go so well.

Courage, Inspiration  and Fortune

I guess, as well as a certain amount of opportunity, inspiration from Dr. Joyce brothers, I was also rather fortunate, in a variety of ways.

So that’s it in a nutshell.

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 Notes.

1.  The community was a member of The Association of Therapeutic Communities, UK.

2. I was registered as a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy.

3. The MA was ratified by City University London.

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John Jolliffe ~ Bournemouth, Dorset.