Mind reading: Tolstoy’s Oak Tree Metaphor: Depression recovery, and Psychiatric ‘spiritual ecology’

17 December 2014

Jeremy Holmes is a psychiatrist and Professor of psychotherapy at the University of Exeter.  He is best known for his work in Attachment Theory and its applications to psychotherapy and psychiatry.  He also has written extensively on the relationship between literature and psychiatry, most recently in his book The Therapeutic Imagination: Using literature to deepen psychodynamic understanding and enhance empathy.

Summary:

Tolstoy’s life and work illustrate resilience, the transcendence of trauma, and the enduring impact of childhood loss. I have chosen the famous ‘oak-tree’ passage from War and Peace to illustrate recovery from the self-preoccupation of depression and the theme of ‘eco-spirituality’ – the idea that post-depressive connectedness and love applies not just to significant others but also to nature and the environment.

 

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