Welcome to my website. I set this up as a convenient place to store ideas and papers that I had written over the last few years. I hope you find something of interest and value here.
If you have logged onto this website in a state of stress or distress you may like to look immediately at the article on the right of your screen “A Five Minute Stress Reduction Note.
And – excuse the dramatic note if it doesn’t apply to you – the Samaritans are on 116 123 or email@example.com
Back to a less dramatic tone…
A bit about me: For over 30 years I have been a solicitor, initially with a more general practice, but for a long time specialising in childcare work – which with tragic irony actually means legal work around child abuse and neglect.
I have written a certain amount about that, run some workshops and contributed to various government enquiries. That material is tucked away at the very end of this website.
About 15 years ago I also trained as a psychotherapist with Spectrum Therapy and I started to bring some therapeutic aspects into my work with legal clients as explained in Article in Family Law September 2010 I have also offered those to people through working one-to-one with clients, many of whom are lawyers. My most recent development is running workshops for lawyers – see below
Even more recently I have been writing articles for legal journals and one of those interested my friend Steve Biddulph who has recently published a new book called “Fully Human“ which contains many of his really interesting and valuable ideas. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/jun/03/supersense-secret-steve-biddulph-become-healthier-happier-more-fully-human
He has kindly given a bit of a plug to some of my ideas and it is possible that someone looking at this website might have come here because of that reference.
He says “One of his most intriguing ideas is that trauma does more than just cause massive anxiety it also may act as a break in our development. Trauma can freeze us at the age when it took place, at least on some dimensions of maturation which requires trust, learning and physiological calm to proceed well. As a consequence we see many adults today who are emotionally frozen in an infantile stage of development, for example, or an adolescent one. If this is very widespread, then the whole society can be skewed towards certain kinds of immaturity.… we have a somewhat adolescent culture today.“
This is a partial summary of some ideas which are contained in one of the articles on this website – “Our culture of permanent adolescence – anger, stress and other addictions.“ Please click on it on the right-hand column.Our culture of permanent adolescence – anger, stress and other addictions. However I am very aware that this article is long and dense. Too much so for a website.
So, by was of a summary – although again probably too long for an introduction:
I think Steve only summarised some of the idea. Essentially, I see that it isn’t just trauma in childhood that causes the problems in later life. “Adverse Childhood Experiences” are very widespread in our culture. That is a good phrase which has become well established and avoids the shocking and for many people off-putting word “trauma”. It even has it own acronym (initialism) “ACE.” Check it out online. The checklist is quite down the trauma end with a certain picture of exceptionally dysfunctional homes – abuse, alcohol misuse, parents in prison, but it does hint at or allow the concept of a spectrum of adversity which I would like to explore more,.
And from the child’s perspective Adverse Childhood Experiences are essentially failures of a good attachment experience with parents. That is obviously in the case of actual abuse but also from the child’s perspective neglect / failure to protect even with well intentioned parents and average homes.
How can this possible be “widespread?” Even with well intentioned parents? Is this a shocking idea?
The possible answer: The best idea about parenting is that “it takes a village to raise a child.” This captures the instinctive wisdom that this is the healthy way for a child to be socialised – but we do not normally look into that very fully.
Socialising children means to some degree them being controlled, frustrated as well as encouraged and inspired. And when that is attempted mainly by one or two parents then we could see that as “overparenting” – claustrophobic and over intense compared with being socialised by mixing with other children of all ages.
That would mean being told what is OK and not OK by older siblings, cousins, friends as well as having aunts and uncles and grandparents to guide and if necessary comfort the child.
And crucially, avoiding the simply negative controlling aspect, this offers models of behaviour to copy by siblings and cousins and friends.
A second major point is that in such an extended family / village situation, the child themselves soon has the responsibility and the healthy power to help care for and socialise younger children – a real role and quite different from being the relentlessly powerless one in a home with parents.
And the result of this “over-parenting” in a nuclear family is often to trigger greater resistance, anger and separation than would occur in a more community situation. These are normalised and thefroe seen as inevitable.
And they are particularly associated with puberty and coming of age. Therefore reaction to overparenting in the nuclear family causes a child to move prematurely into an adolescent stage: to display the separation anxiety and often the resulting anger and grasping that marks adolescence – and also to seek attachments with peers in prematurely romantic and sexual terms. One obvious result is the high level of sexual activity often angry, grasping and abusive now in schools.
And the real problem is that because this happens prematurely, people in fact get locked into adolescence ongoingly and never really mature.
And the next stage is that the society and culture reflect that and then encourages it with a culture so widespread it is just accepted of anxious anger, insatiable ambition, consumerism, yearning for prolonged youth, hyper-sexuality and sometimes workaholism . You may have noticed that we are currently ruled by overgrown schoolboys in governments worldwide and elsewhere in business. The result could hardly be more serious as it is obviously linked to the insatiable hunger for growth which is unsustainable and spells global disaster!
Any ideas for a solution?! It would be reasonable to ask what I suggest can be done to assist us in moving out of adolescence and into a state of greater maturity.
On the logic above it looks like we need to be able to process the Adverse Childhood Experiences that we have had.
Some of those are relatively obvious and would qualify as abusive and even traumatic. But many people have not had such clear experiences and the problem lies in the much more pervasive, normal – and therefore much harder to notice – issue of over parenting and the claustrophobic nuclear family situation.
It is generally understood that the ongoing damage resulting from an adverse childhood experience has to be understood as the severity of the damage multiplied by the degree to which it is covered up, denied and ultimately repressed by the person themselves. This covering up does not need to be oppressive and brutal – it can be the result of the sheer normality of the unhealthy situation as outlined above.
The obvious analogy is with a physical wound. The ongoing consequences reflect the seriousness of the wound in the first place and then the degree to which it has been covered up and allowed to fester and go gangrenous.
And the obvious implication of that is that the healing begins when we uncovered the wound very carefully and let light and air get to it – and drain off the pus. This is otherwise known as therapy and involves saying the previously unsaid and unsayable and thinking of the previously denied and unthinkable and feeling the previously numb.
I am working on ideas about how therapy can address these issues and I’m still in working on an unobvious which starts with bereavement counselling, which I have done for many years now, and how the lessons I have learnt from that are valuable in therapy in general.
I am working on writing a couple of articles on those issues which I will add to this website soon I hope.
This idea fed into my note about parenting on this website. Having benefited hugely from attending a parenting course many years ago, I went on to train and deliver such courses at various schools and organisations. The notes that I used and offered to participants are at Some ideas about parenting
The most recent development has been running workshops. These were initially within my own firm and subsequently for other firms and barristers’ chambers and national organisations like the Association of Lawyers for Children and the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA).
These offerings were initially along the lines of a somewhat simplistic “stress management model“. Please see the various articles here on stress busting or “How to be a Happier, Healthier, more Efficient and Ever Youthful Workaholic!” Stress and looking after ourselves – a 15 minute read
Most recently the workshop for the FLBA was recorded and is the first article on the website My first webinar 6 May.
As it says at the beginning, this is my first webinar and is really amateur, with rather unhelpful interruptions by various people and some really retro visual aids – paper and felt tip! (The next one had PowerPoint which can be a mixed blessing and happily wasn’t recorded.)
Finally I have written some articles for the FLBA Journal including for the Christmas Issue examining the emotional side of the law and asking “Why are we family lawyers anyway?” (Answer in brief – we are fascinated by family dysfunctionality in other people and we hope to bring order to it because of our own formative experiences in childhood; experiences that we are in denial about and that is why the article will make such uncomfortable and unacceptable reading for many people.)
I would welcome feedback to me at firstname.lastname@example.org