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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Drawing from Life: Psychoanalytic Pictures of Psychiatry

Drawing from Life: Psychoanalytic Pictures of Psychiatry


Patient and Professional Life Lines

Drawing from Life illustrates some aspects of my work as a medical psychotherapist. I trained as a psychiatrist and as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and see the integration of these in functioning as a psychoanalytic psychiatrist.

I see patients for assessment and psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and since 2000, I have offered a medical psychotherapy consultation service to other professionals about patients they are struggling with. From my own clinical work and these applications of psychoanalytic thinking, I have become convinced of the crucial place of creating spaces for professionals to reflect on their counter-transference, the emotional impact of their work on them, to enhance patient care.

Patient and professional life lines converge in the work, both may be in need of a life line and one that can be offered is in drawing from life with the aim of finding mutual meaning.

Dr. James Johnston, Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Leeds


How the application of psychoanalytic thinking can foster understanding for professionals in the interests of the patient’s potential recovery of parts of their mind which are like the missing pieces of a jigsaw, lost through projection.

Keeping Mum

Consider some of the salient psychoanalytic features of depression, self harm and suicide in terms of early development, loss and longing in the echo of infancy in adolescence and adulthood.


Psychic Warrior


This series of cartoons shows an imagined psychotherapist and patient in an unfolding narrative of mirrored experience of love and loss in the transference and counter-transference as a Psychic Warrior becomes a Psychic Worrier.


Borderline Professional Disorder

This series of cartoons show the emotional impact on an imaginary professional of a patient who segues from seeing him as Freud to becoming a fraud, between being idealised and being denigrated as a humiliating fall from grace.

Piece missing by Dr James Johnston

Baby with bottle and stick by Dr James Johnston


The Psychic Warrior by Dr James Johnston

Borderline Professional Disorder by Dr James Johnston

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