Counsellor Waterloo; Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, Counselling next to Southwark Tube in Comfortable and Peaceful Surroundings in Borough High Street, Waterloo and Harley Street
My name is Ajay Khandelwal. I am a psychotherapist.
I can see you near London Bridge, or near Waterloo stations in SE1; alternatively I can see you in the West End in W1. I provide a "talking/listening cure" for psychological difficulties. I have spent time living in both Eastern and Western cultures and this has shaped my approach in working with indivduals. If you are looking for psychological help, psychotherapy, counselling, or innovative psychoanalysis in South London or Central London please do get in touch.
I can help with the following problems:
Lack of Meaning
The Psychological Impact of health conditions
I carry out a comprehensive assessment over two sessions of fifty minutes each and outline what I think the difficulties are and propose a treatment plan. We can then discuss the best way forward. I offer both time limited and open ended psychotherapy.
I am psychoanalytical pscyhotherapist registered with the main professional bodies such as: BACP, UKCP, and College of Psychoanlaysts UK.
I read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University, and hold a PhD with research based on analysis intergenerational family dynamics. I have 25 years experience of helping people with mental health difficulties.
All sessions are confidential.
You are welcome to email me; however I recommend that you telephone and we speak in order to discuss any issues arising.
If am not the right person to help you I am happy to put you in touch with a counsellor in South London.
Some recent reflections
Hostiles: What this Film Tells us About Long Term Relationships
I recommend this powerful and tense film. I promise not to give away the story. But I will share the premise. An American capitain finds himself cornered into a situation where he has to protect a feared and hated enemy on an arduous and dangerous journey. Its my view that its an important aspect of what a long-term relationships is really like. Once the initial projections wear off, and you have face things that you have been blind to, but have been there along.
In our culture we are generally shown images of people getting along well on TV, in rom-coms, in adverts, in Sunday supplements. Isn't that model of e-harmony, a dating website that is supposed to match you with another person, just like you, based on a secret algorithm? Just answer the questions correctly, pay the fee, and in fifteen minutes you will be matched with your potential true love, or your money back. A life time of foot massages, bubble baths and "love you" notes awaits you.
But hang on a minute. In our heart of hearts we know this is an illusion. Lies, deceit, infidelity, incompatibility, irritation, boredom, hatred, contempt, despair, low level of warfare, aren't these actually a better description of major stretches in long term relationships? If only your partner would change, or die, or shut-up, or apologise, everything would be ok! Not that there isn't a great pleasure too, but it seems to be mixed in with the other stuff: the pensions, the laundry, the rota, the in-laws, the children, the extension, the gum disease!
Why stick with this. Why not leave. Or freeze them out. Or just have the most minimal contact on a need to know basis? Why not create impregnable defence systems? In the case of thre American captain travellling with his sworn enemy, maybe he should shoot him and be done with it, and create an alibi? There would be no witnesses, or he could get them all to go along with his story.
The analyst Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig reckoned that is worth sticking with it during these demoralising periods in relationship in the name of profound development. His thinking was that a genuine encounter with the things we find hard to bear in ourselves or others was a path to growth for the individual and the couple. Faithfulness and fidelity would make the experience of the encounter more painful, as there is no escape, but it would also be potentially more bountiful on the other side. The concern would be that if you just left or had an affair, you would be likely to repeat the same pattern with the new person, in a different form; the opportunity for development would be missed.
During periods of your relationship with partners and other family members it may very tough going. In the film, the Army captain and the Chief had others around them that supported them in truly engaging with one another on a deeper level. In modern life, we don't need to travel across country in dangerous convey for week and weeks. Yet, we do still need to travel psychologically, for even longer periods, as we live much longer than they did in 1892. We would do well to respect the difficulty of this journey, and draw on all the resources we can to survive and develop through it. This is where an analyst can be of great help. The analyst can help you pore over these intricate and seemingly insurmountable difficulties with a view to thinking about what is in you, what is in them, what has been created by you as a couple. Anyone can get along with sameness, but facing the opposite in yourself, or in your partner, opens the door to something much more.
Is Team Sky Corrupt? An Exploration of the Nature of the Human Shadow
Is Bradley Wiggins Evil?
No of course not. He’s a mod, with a nice beard, and he’s won lots of bike races. He’s a family man. Despite the fact his father was a violent alcoholic who left him when he was two years old, he seems to have turned out alright. He’s trained hard and competed even harder. He has true grit, and that’s what helped him win the Tour de France. It’s a gruelling race that requires a monastic preparation. Still, something is not right. Jung wrote wonderfully about the human shadow. Despite our best intentions, we all have a “shadow”. The shadow is all the stuff we can’t see, that we would deny about ourselves. It’s annoying, it’s messy, it can be a bit evil. It contains our instincts, sexuality, envy, greed, aggression, hypocrisy and plenty more. The more “civilised” we are, the more stuff we load into the shadow. Given the nature of modern life, we invariably have a long shadow.
Bradley Wiggins belonged to Team Sky, a machine-like sports team that was intent on winning the Tour de France at all costs. Interestingly, they claimed to be “whiter than white”, and set out to put the chequered dope splattered history of professional cycling behind them. They were the team with no shadow. The cycling team was going to be made up of saintly spiritually enlightened cyclists who drank Evian and ate broccoli to get them over mountain ranges at supersonic speeds. Yet, as Jung noted, the more we try and claim our purity, the darker and inkier the shadow. Team Sky claimed to be drug free and “clean” team. Yet, the whole thing was a sham. Many commentators intuited something was wrong, and disliked their team bus, with its blacked out windows, which was nicknamed, “Dark Star.” We now know that Team Sky exploited the medication rules ruthlessly. Bradley Wiggins was administered a very strong medication, aimed at very sick people, in order to enhance his performance: specifically to lose weight whilst keeping strong. This is exactly what professional cyclists need to race in the high mountains with their leg sapping gradients. Professional cyclists, with their huge heart, lungs and thighs, are extremely fit; the last thing they need is medicine intended for ill people. He took the medication with perfect timing, just before his big races. He was given large doses by injection; yet in his autobiography he conveniently omits this fact. We blank the shadow out and deny all knowledge of it. Yet, like the psychologically astute story of Jekyll and Hyde, every time you drink the potion, it’s hold becomes stronger, until your very constitution is altered, and you can’t change back!
We are always quick to deny our shadow material. It’s usually buried deep in our unconscious and whilst we see wrong doing in others, we are unlikely to see it in ourselves. This was perfectly illustrated by Bradley Wiggin’s team mate, the taciturn Chris Froome. Chris was a vocal critic of Bradley Wiggins use of medicines to enhance his performance. Yet, in the most recent twist in the saga, he has recently failed a drugs test himself due to the use of an asthma medication. I imagine Chris Froome was unaware of his own behaviour (which is currently being investigated); yet he could pin point it with laser like accuracy in a team mate. This is the way of the shadow; we can’t see it in ourselves, but it is glaring obvious in others. We tend to project our own shadow material outwards and remain oblivious to it ourselves.
In the next few days Bradley Wiggins and team Sky will try and deny the accusations against them and defend their battered reputations. Still, the damage has been done. They felt they could exploit and manipulate the rules in order to gain an unfair advantage against their competitors. They have indulged in exactly the dubious and unethical practices that they have set out to denounce. Whilst their infractions might not be of the same magnitude of the king of cheats Lance Armstrong, they are surely in the same deceptive spirit.
This may be the toughest challenge of all. It is extremely distasteful for a person to face and accept their shadow; it is even harder to digest and learn from shadow material. Bradley Wiggins has the opportunity to accept what he has done, and use it as an opportunity to develop. Whilst this would be a blow to his ego it would help him develop as a person. The shadow can be a source of great energy and creativity. Yet, if he continues to deny any wrong doing, which seems likely, there will be no chance to develop. He will remain stuck seeing everything bad out there in the world, and viewing himself as a flawless victim. This form of projection can work for a while, but tends to break down. Despite what he says, his unconscious mind knows what he has done.
Bradley Wiggins is not evil. Like all of us he has struggled with ethical dilemmas. In his case, he has followed the rules, but that is not the same as thinking for himself about what is right. For him the “shadow” resides in the parliamentary committee that he sees as conducting a witch hunt against him; but like all of us, he would do better looking closer to home. This is maybe the most distasteful work in life. It is almost impossible to do oneself. You can explore it in therapy, but you may continue to delude yourself there too. However, if you really want to know about your shadow, ask your longstanding friends, or partner, and they will prove very useful. It may not be very pleasant to hear, but if you can stick with it, and acknowledge your fuller nature, warts and all, you may find it an enriching experience. The shadow holds a great deal of potential energy and if you are able to engage and create a dialogue with those murkier aspects, you may be able to find new life. Bradley Wiggins has tried to reinvent himself as skier (fractured his leg); and a indoor rower (slower than he hoped); but greater than any physical reinvention, he needs to reinvent his approach to life.
Should I Depend on Others? Eastern Versus Western Notions of Self And Independence
The Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi wrote the non-fiction book The Anatomy of Dependence (甘えの構造 Amae no Kōzō) in the 1970s to explore the issue of dependency. He argued that the ideal relationship was that of parent / child, which obviously has heaps of dependency built-in; and that this type of relationship should serve as a prototype for all other relationships. Forget equality and being responsible for yourself! No, according to Doi, deep satisfaction comes from really depending on another, sometimes in what we might think of as childish ways.
Trying to get your partner to pick you up from the station when you could walk home, or a cup of tea in the morning, these are all extremely important things to aim for. Make them feel guilty, sulk, act helpless, do whatever it takes. Equally important is to indulge your partner’s desire to depend on you in this fashion. In this version of living we are creatures with our own unique desires and quirks; and we need someone to accommodate them, indulge them.
We don’t want to be using all our capacities all the time like some worker drone machine. Doi thought that “amae” was more prevalent in Japanese society; but perhaps it is just as prevalent in the West but is more hidden. Everyone is busy strutting about showing off their “independence” (until they get ill, or lose their job, their partner, or get struck down by some other blow). Perhaps people express their dependence in private, to their therapists? Exhausted by being resilient and independent, I wonder if therapists provide an arena where it is ok to bring this shadow material?
Let me give you some more examples. Your son is five years old, and he asks you to do up his laces. Fair enough, he needs your help. This is normal dependency, because the child lacks the capacity to do his own laces. Imagine that your son is eleven years old and she makes the same request. You can either respond by saying “do it yourself”, or you can indulge him and say, “of course, sit down, I’d love to help you with that.” This second approach embodies the spirit of “amae”: your son experiences the feeling of pleasurable dependence. He has the ability to tie his laces, but he would rather you did it.
Doi argues that children are always trying to get their parents to indulge them, through this type of dependency. Similarly, adults may seek to be indulged in this way, by their employer or spouse. Your partner comes home drunk and asks you to help them undress. You could say, “do it yourself. I am not responsible for your drunken state”; or you can carefully undress them and help them into their pyjamas.
For many people the second approach feels like a living hell. Remember all those books about co-dependency. Aren’t you simply enabling an alcoholic? Isn’t it pathological to try and get someone else to meet your needs in such a way? Isn’t it better to just look after your patch, your life and leave others to tend to theirs? Aren’t we supposed to be independent and resilient? Indulging your children/partner will lead to incapacitating them, stunting their growth and development. Well, yes, these are all valid points. Perhaps you need to give your partner a jolt, an ultimatum, and there is a better life without carrying their luggage.
But Doi convincingly argues that we all have a desire to depend on others and it’s better to notice it and give it some space. There are more or less painful ways to do this. The western myth of the self-made man / woman is just that, a fantasy. All of us are interdependent on others. Yet, perhaps we find our profound levels of dependency on others too much to bear, so we try and hide it. We act as if we can take care of ourselves, alone. We can diagnose ourselves over the Internet, and we can create our own treatment plans. Perhaps we can track things on an app? We can remove our need to depend on a living, breathing other.
Nowadays patients are sometimes called service users, or clients, or analysands. The term patient often evokes too much passivity and we like to think of ourselves as empowered active participants in our mental health. There is a great deal to be said for this, and of course, in therapy, you are doing most of the work. If you were passive, nothing would change. However, whether you see yourself as a patient or a client, you are depending on your therapist. Is that so bad? The experience of depending on another person can allow you to explore areas of your life that would be off-limits alone. Nowadays, dependency is devalued. If you go to your GP you have five minutes, and you don’t want to be a burden. You will have done some Internet research before your appointment. However, there used to be a tradition of psychotherapeutic doctors, such as Michael Balint, who would meet with his patients after the surgery closed. He would like to get know all about their families and lives. He believed that he could only understand their difficulties in the context of their entire lives. He would allow his patients to depend on him.
This is becoming more and more difficult in modern healthcare. We know that 1/3 of GP appointments are not for any specific biological problem, often termed as “medically unexplained symptoms”. But how can the doctor get to the heart of the matter if they only have six minutes to spend with the patient? It puts both the doctor and the patient in an very difficult position. Both parties have to stick to surface niceties, even if there are much deeper things going on.
Psychoanalyst Darian Leader and David Corfield (Why do People Get Ill?) did some research and found that people often go to the GP on the anniversary of a significant bereavement, such as the death of spouse or parent. It’s understandable the patient may not be feeling well, but it’s unlikely the doctor will have the space to find out the reason. Six minute consultations limit the ability of the patient to express their dependency on the doctor and really think about what it going on.
Our health and ill health are likely to evoke extremely powerful experience of dependency. Doctors, nurses, medical staff and psychotherapists seek to attend to such primitive anxieties and provide a container for them in the therapeutic relationship. In order to do this, they have to be “dependable”, and the patient / client has to be able to depend on them.
Perhaps those people who enter therapy are in fact more independent, through seeking help, than those people who think that they don’t depend on anyone else. Many people depend on substances and process to get through the day, but perhaps we are better off depending on other people? Some people depend on destructive relationships and need to find new relationships. People in recovery from addictions often demonstrate this when they attend 90 meetings in 90 days. Historically people in analysis might go 3,4 times a week to see their therapist. Addictions are often very lonely experiences, with a fantasy of not having to rely on another person. Therefore, when a person stops using, they may be faced with very high levels of dependency which are unbearable on their own. Therapy and groups provide a way to experience and vulnerability and support, to truly take the risky, yet enriching path of depending on others.