Postscript to post of 30/6/19

Shown: memorial tablet in All Saints Church, Kingston upon Thames.

The Topographical History of Surrey (1844) terms this “The old Church at Kingston, which is one of the largest in Surrey”. It goes on:

“Immediately in front of the communion table, is a capacious Vault belonging to one of the oldest and most respectable families in Kingston, namely, that of Roots, which has been located here for two hundred years. In this vault lie the remains of GEORGE ROOTS esq. M.D., who died on the 29th of October, 1830, in the eighty sixth year of his age, beloved and respected by all that knew him; after having been in the full and skilful exercise of his profession in this town and neighbourhood for more than sixty years. Also, Ann his wife, of the Shuckburgh family, a lady of great personal attraction and rare talents, who died on the 11th of June, 1835, aged ninety two. In the early part of her education she had the advantage of receiving instruction in the classics from her father’s intimate friend and associate, Dr. Samuel Johnson; and her subsequent conduct through life exemplified the fact, that superior mental acquirements, even in the female sex, tend only to enhance the value of domestic worth.”

Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, writes:

“Members of the Roots family came to England with William of Orange in 1688 (the name was originally de Rutz), and settled in Kingston. The Shuckburghs were also an old family, one member being Master of the Kings Buck Hounds under Henry VIII, a circumstance that apparently explained the adoption of the hunting horn as the family crest.”.

The entry adds that in the same vault lie the remains of the eldest son of George and Ann, George Roots (died aged 58, in October, 1831); also those of Mary, wife of Wm. Roots, esq., M.D. “She died on the 11th of October, 1842, to the great regret of all who had the pleasure of her acquaintance, and the irreparable loss of her disconsolate family.”.

A footnote records: “Entombed in the same vault are, also, the remains of some younger branches of the family, namely, Astley, Arthur, and William, the three sons of Sudlow Roots, esq. of this place, who were prematurely cut off in June 1839, within a few days of each other.”.

An online search suggests that Cecilia Roots (1810-58), nee Bligh, became the wife of William Sudlow Roots (1805-76). They had five children: Lucy (1845-87), who became the wife of Colonel John Delves Broughton (1836-90) on 15th April, 1876; Astley William; William H; Arthur; and Isabella.

The Medico-Chirurgical Transactions of October 1860 show William Sudlow Roots, F.L.S., Fellow elected 1829, as Surgeon to the Royal Establishment at Hampton Court.

The 1844 History of Surrey 3(1) records under Kingston Hundred:

“CANBURY HOUSE is the old family residence of Sudlow Roots, esq.

Nearly adjoining is SURBITON HOUSE, now in the possession of Alex. Raphael, esq.

Near the Richmond entrance to the town is the very elegant Villa of Gen. Sir John Delves Broughton, (the 7th baronet of his family).

“A jolly good collaboration”

On the Web of Stories website, Professor Richard Gregory (1923-2010) talks about his “jolly good collaboration” with Sir Ernst Gombrich (1909-2001) on the Illusion in Nature and Art exhibition at the ICA, London in 1973. It was initiated by the Surrealist artist, Sir Roland Penrose. Gregory praises his art historian colleague’s rare integration in his work of the study of perception and, specifically, what is going on in the brain and the mind.

Richard Gregory himself was between 1970-88 Professor of Neuropsychology, and Director of the Brain and Perception Laboratory of the Medical School, University of Bristol. You can hear him talk about his life and career to Sue Lawley, on an archived 1993 edition of the radio programme Desert Island Discs, via a BBC podcast.

His sixth choice (of the regulation eight) of recorded sound is the Shepard Tone, from his friend Roger Shepard’s “Auditory Illusions and Experiments”. Christopher Hooton wrote about it for The Independent on 27th July, 2017 (complete with link to the Vox explainer video):

“Super composer Hans Zimmer used the Shepard tone extensively in the Dunkirk score and it is also found in several other (Christopher) Nolan films.

He is clearly fascinated by it (its illusory nature feeling akin to his general obsession with the non-linearity of time and space) and even influenced how he wrote the screenplay for Dunkirk (2017), a film which consists of three storylines that you could think of as three octaves.”.

On his website, Carl Gombrich pays tribute to his grandfather Ernst. In April this year, Carl joined a new university, the London Interdisciplinary School, as Academic Lead and Head of Teaching and Learning. He writes: “I don’t think he would have liked the word (interdisciplinarity) much; perhaps he might even have gone along with the idea that the degree is “dumbing down” in some way. But if that were the case it would be ironic because in some ways he was one of the great (and early) interdisciplinarians of the 20th Century.”.

Spotting an old friend at the theatre

“…I came on a tall man leant to the wall with his head touching the ceiling like a Caryatide – to all appearance asleep, or resolutely trying it under most unfavourable circumstances! “Alfred Tennyson” I exclaimed in joyful surprise – Well! said he taking the hand I held out to him and forgetting to let it go again. “I did not know you were in town” said I – “I should like to know – who you are”! said he – “I know that I know you but cannot tell your name”! – and I had actually to name myself to him – Then he woke up in good earnest, and said he had been meaning and was still meaning to come to Chelsea.”

Chamberlain, K: “Jane Welsh Carlyle”, p192.

Harry Guntrip (1901-1975)

Donald L Carveth, in “Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis” (2007): “Despite his background as a Christian minister and his years of analysis with two of the most creative analysts in the field (Fairbairn and Winnicott), Guntrip managed by the end (in my hypothesis) only a paranoid understanding of himself as a victim of a murderous mother, rather than a man crippled by a need to punish himself for his disowned murderous wishes toward a brother who died and toward the mother he hated and blamed.”.

Hans Beihl, in “Failed Parental Love and the Lost Self” (2013): “The internationally recognised psychoanalytic psychotherapist, Harry Guntrip, was a victim of failed parental love.”. Dr Henry Guntrip was described by Dr Jock Sutherland (Medical Director of the Tavistock Clinic 1967-8) as “one of the psychoanalytic immortals”.

Harry was born into a lower middle class family in South London. His mother’s draper’s shop failed. His father loved evangelical ministry but was obliged to earn his living as a coal factor’s ledger clerk in the City and was a lay preacher in his spare time. Harry’s mother had already played the part of careworn “little mother” as the eldest daughter of eleven siblings and did not want any children of her own when she married Guntrip’s father, an eloquent and protective Methodist preacher, in 1898. Towards the end of her life, Harry’s mother told him: “I don’t think I ever understood children. I could never be bothered with them.”.

Carveth: “(Harry) had been told by his mother that at age three and a half he had walked into a room and saw his brother Percy lying naked and dead on his mother’s lap: “I rushed up and grabbed him and said: “Don’t let him go! You’ll never get him back!”. She sent me out of the room and I fell mysteriously ill and was thought to be dying. Her doctor said: “He’s dying of grief for his brother.”.

Peter L Rudnytsky writes in “The Psychoanalytic Vocation”:

“In Guntrip’s teenage years, he was told by his mother that she had breastfed him because she believed it would prevent another pregnancy; when she refused to breastfeed Percy, her husband blamed her for Percy’s death. After Percy died, she refused further sexual relations with her husband.”.

Rudnytsky is the author of “Redefining the Revenant: Guilt and Sibling Loss in Guntrip and Freud”. He writes:

“…Guntrip convincingly argued that “it seems that our theory must be rooted in our psychopathology,” and instanced as proof of this interplay between personal suffering and scientific insight “Freud’s courageous self analysis when all was obscure”….part of (Guntrip’s) purpose was to investigate the continuing effects of an analysis after termination in order to assess its therapeutic efficacy…

…Freud was profoundly affected by the death in infancy of his younger brother Julius, at a time when he himself was just under 2 years of age.”.

Vera J Camden comments on Rudnytsky:

“In line with the object relational theorists he espouses, Rudnytsky’s recognition of the gap exposed in the compromises of our language is finally more developmental than ontological. Feelings of anguished separation do not so much signal a fundamental lack in our being as recall infantile experiences of deprivation and abandonment.”.

The word “revenant” is freshly in circulation following the release of the 2015 film by that name. Professor Jon T Coleman reviews “The Revenant” for historyextra, and comments of its historical discrepancies:

“The assault that took Glass’s beloved Pawnee wife and set the stage for his revenge seeking was a fiction sprinkled with bits of true Indian history from a future period.”.

And David Appelbaum, in “Jacques Derrida’s Ghost: a conjuration” (2008), explores three of Derrida’s favourite themes: the other, death, and the work of mourning. In the Introduction he writes – his quotation is from Derrida’s “Spectres de Marx” (1993) –

“Only a limited view would locate the specter in the past. More precisely, its roots lie in the future, the to-come. The paradox of the apparition thus is expressed: since in arrival, it comes back, the ghost is revenant, the returning one or the returning, period. Inherently, the life lesson of justice, taught by the ghost, would be a “politics of memory, of inheritance, and of generations.”.

“It is important to society to know whether Mesmerism is true”*

Portrait of Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815)

*Harriet Martineau, writing in the Athenaeum, 1844.

The prolific author Harriet Martineau claimed in her Athenaeum articles that mesmerism, originally termed animal magnetism, had miraculously allowed her to recover from years of illness (apparently caused by uterine tumours). Jane Carlyle’s views on the subject would lead to a cooling in their correspondence. According to Charles Buller, it was Jane’s opinion that a “long course of Iodine” Harriet had taken earlier, not mesmerism, had been responsible for her so called miraculous cure.

Kathy Chamberlain’s biography of Jane Carlyle tells how, one evening in late 1844, Jane encountered “a distinguished Magnetiser” at Mrs Buller’s house. Jane wrote to her uncle:

” – flash – there went over me from head to foot something precisely like what I once experienced from taking hold of a galvanic ball – only not nearly so violent – I had presence of mind to keep looking him in the face as if I had felt nothing…

…When my insane friend (Richard Plattnauer) was in this house he said many things on the strength of his insanity – which in a mesmerized person would have been quoted as miracles of clairvoyance – “.

Jane concluded her letter by saying that she regarded “Animal magnetism” as “a damnable sort of tempting of Providence which I “as one solitary individual” will henceforth stand entirely aloof from – “.

Kathy Chamberlain writes:

“But Jane remained open to what she later referred to as spiritual magnetism. In 1861, writing to the American actress Charlotte Cushman, who had asked if she believed in that concept, Jane responded, “Most assuredly! I believe in it absolutely and entirely! It is the Great Central Fact of the Universe for me! – The concentrated Essence of Life!” By spiritual magnetism Jane appeared to mean a kind of mental telepathy practiced by kindred spirits, “one human will having power over another even thro’ some miles of other human beings.”.

Potato Quixote

Kathy Chamberlain, in her biography of Jane Welsh Carlyle (“and her Victorian world”) tells us that, in August 1844, Jane became concerned about a German friend of hers named Richard Plattnauer. He was an attractive, witty, and personable young man, aged about thirty, who had come to London in search of adventure.

Disturbed by a letter she received from him, Jane tracked young Richard down to the Accordium, Ham Common, Surrey. This vegetarian community was apparently associated with the Alcott House school nearby, which in turn was named after Branson Alcott.

Alcott, father of the author of “Little Women”, had founded Fruitlands, a short lived cooperative vegetarian community near Harvard, Massachusetts. Annoyed that the idealistic Alcott when in England had proselytised tediously about adhering to a diet of vegetables, Jane’s husband Thomas had called him “a good man, but a bore,” and liked to use his London nickname, Potato Quixote.

Chamberlain continues: “Ham Common, land that had survived an ancient enclosure, was possibly symbolic to the Accordium’s founders of communal property and happier days, and redolent for Richard of the utopian ideas that had seized and excited him…

….As Thomas Carlyle explained it (seeming to refer to the Accordium), the place offered the water cure or hydropathy, that popular Victorian remedy for every sort of ailment, which involved drinking of plenty of fluids and being wrapped in ice cold body packs.”.

Following a breakdown, Plattnauer was removed to the Wandsworth Lunatic Asylum. He was seen there by Sir Alexander Morison, the inspecting physician of lunatic asylums in Surrey, who happened to meet Jane Carlyle while she was visiting her friend.

Not long afterwards, Morison called unannounced at the Carlyle home, on a Sunday afternoon:

“Mr Plattnauer had “appeared before the Committee on the previous day (and) been pronounced cured.”. As Jane wondered how the transformation could have come about in so short a time, the physician gave an additional urgent reason for this visit. The young man had proved ready for release, “but,” he demanded abruptly, “where will he go?”….

….Jane kept Richard stable until arrangements could be made to send him to his family in Silesia.”

(The naturally occurring element Lithium was first discovered in 1817, and was first used to treat the arthritic inflammatory condition, gout. At least one doctor, in fact, concluded from this that gout was the cause of mood disorders. It was first used for mania in 1871, with Denmark leading the way. In 1949, Australian psychiatrist John Cade published the first paper on the use of Lithium in the treatment of acute mania. On 13th September, 2014, the New York Times published a piece by Dr Anna Fels entitled “Should We All Take a Bit of Lithium?”.)

Following Richard’s departure on 20th September, 1844, Jane received two letters from him, “the first highly satisfactory, the second more flighty.”.

Inverted hallucinations

Dr William Van Gordon will lecture at 6pm on Thursday 11th July, at the University of Derby campus, on “Inverted Hallucinations: a public health barrier to healthy and smart communities”. He was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning (07.42h) about his subject.

Dr Van Gordon will argue that inverted hallucinations give rise to states of maladaptive mind wandering, blunt an individual’s perception of what is happening in the present moment, and lead to the spread of “small mindedness”.

The term “negative hallucination” first appeared in “Psychical (or Mental) Treatment” (Freud, 1890), an article relating to hypnosis. Freud wrote that it was possible to suggest to a hypnotised subject that he or she not see a person or thing that would be present to the subject upon awakening; in such cases the object appears to be “thin air”. Freud borrowed this notion from Hippolyte Bernheim, with whom he studied to perfect his hypnotic technique. (Read more of this in the International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis.)

Why not take 2m44s to watch Professor Richard Wiseman’s Colour Changing Card Trick on YouTube?

Not if you’re supposed to be paying attention to something else, though.

Harry Karnac (1919-2014): “The prince of psychological bookselling”

Of all the places to find the above titled obituary for Harry Karnac by Professor Brett Kahr, the Karnacology blog is perhaps the least surprising, followed by the website of the British Psychoanalytic Council. Karnac’s great nephew, Daniel Schweimler, penned the obituary for The Guardian.

At the end of 1993, Joseph Gallivan had reported on Karnac Books for The Independent: “In 1984 Cesare Sacerdoti, an eccentric Italian, bought the store…”. Last year, The Bookseller noted that Karnac Books, “one of London’s oldest independent bookshops”, had moved to its fourth address since 1950, leaving 118, Finchley Road to relocate 200m away at New College Parade.

Back in 2006, Kahr wrote for American Imago, “I Suffer From Karnacitis”, mentioning that, just the year before, he had read the obituary of Susan Sontag, the American intellectual. He learned that at the time of her death she reputedly owned some 15 000 books in her Manhattan apartment. “I thought to myself, … “Hooray, I am not alone.”.

Professor Kahr’s obituary of Harry Karnac relates that he developed a warm acquaintanceship with many leading figures in the field of psychoanalysis, most especially with the paediatrician Donald Winnicott; the great man’s visits to the shop on Saturday mornings often resulted in hours of chatting and the purchase of several biographies:

“When Karnac asked Winnicott how he could plough through so many biographies so quickly, Winnicott laughed and confessed that he read only the first chapter of any biography – the one devoted to early childhood – explaining to Karnac that by the second chapter, he had lost interest!”.

Wandsworth’s only Grade I listed building

Peter Ackroyd deals, in Chapter Eight of his biography of the radical visionary William Blake, with Blake’s marriage to Catherine Boucher:

“In July of 1782 he moved to Battersea, and stayed with his relatives for the four weeks required to become a resident of the parish; he declared himself “Gentleman” in the Marriage Bond, which was then an unusual description for a working engraver. On 18 August 1782, they were married in the church of St Mary; Blake pressed his signature down very hard in the register, while his wife inscribed simply an “X”, which implies that she was either illiterate or unskilled at handwriting. She came from a poor family, and was one of many children; her father was a market gardener whose fortunes had declined, in a period when people were frequently and swiftly “ruin’d” or “destroyed”, “fallen to decay” or “forced to break”. So it was by no means a marriage of convenience. It must, after all, have been a marriage of love.”.

William Boyd, author

“Battersea Park is the park that is closest to where I live in London and the one that I know best – I walk briskly through it almost every day. I love Battersea because, alone of all significant London parks, (with the exception of Kew Gardens), it incorporates London’s river, its north side being defined by the Thames. You can walk along the wide promenade between Albert Bridge and Chelsea Bridge on the Battersea shore, with the broad river on one side and lofty plane trees on the other. The riverine light seems fresher and brighter, as if the air is washed and cleansed by the Thames’s tidal flow. The sense of not being in the city – yet knowing full well you are in its heart – is particularly intense. This, fundamentally, is what a park in a city is all about.”

From The Guardian of 20th June, 2009.