Tantalus: Favoured by the Gods, Banished from Joy. The Dynamics of Tantalisation in Psychotherapy

Saturday 13th March 10:15 - 12:45


Myths are symbolic stories that have survived a long time, with a fluidity and amenability to cultural variety that allows them to transcend their historical roots. I think those stories that survive are those that convey psychological truth. This paper explores the myth of Tantalus – a crucial story for our time, dealing as it does with excessive consumption, the failure of satisfaction and the resulting agony of perpetually longing for something beyond reach. Drawing on material from clinical practice, I will explore how tantalisation may become established as a core dynamic in the psyche, resulting in tortured states of mind, including those found in eating disorders and extreme anxiety. How might psychotherapy reinforce or relieve this suffering?