Author Archives: Charles Sharpe

About Charles Sharpe

Editor of the goodenoughcaring website and the goodenoughcaring Journal. Child care consultant Psychodynamic counsellor and psychotherapist

Childhood : Alice Miller gives us pause for thought.

“Every life and every childhood is filled with frustrations; we cannot imagine it otherwise, for even the best mother cannot satisfy all her child’s wishes and needs. It is not the suffering caused by frustration, however, that leads to emotional illness but rather the fact that the child is forbidden by the parents to experience and articulate this suffering, the pain felt at being wounded; usually the purpose of this prohibition is to protect the parents’ defence mechanisms. Adults are free to hurl reproaches at God, at fate, at the authorities, or at society if they are deceived, ignored, punished unjustly, confronted with excessive demands or lied to. Children are not allowed to reproach their gods – their parents and teachers. By no means are they allowed express their frustrations. Instead, they must repress or deny their emotional reactions which build up inside until adulthood, when they are finally discharged, but not on the object which caused them. The forms this discharge may take range from persecuting their own children by the way they bring them up, to all possible degrees of mental illness, to addiction, criminality, and suicide.”*

Alice Miller wrote the above in 1980. Her interpretation of childhood  may have been  open to question even when she wrote these words, but would they hold true now ?  Are children allowed to be their true selves? Certainly some would argue that the nature of parenting and teaching nowadays has become even more prescriptive, giving less space for children to express themselves freely.


*The text quoted  is an extracted from page 254  of Alice Miller’s book For Your Own Good Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearingThe Roots of Violence  published in 1980  by Virago Press, London.


A Fair Chance in Life : Helping Children Flourish The next Limbus lecture

Farhad Dalal informs us that the next Limbus lecture will be on Saturday, June 9th from 10.30am to 1pm at Studio 3, Dartington Hall.

The Lecture, A Fair Chance in Life: Helping Children Flourish will be given by Sue Gerhardt, the author of the deservedly praised, ( in my view, [ed] ), and influential book Why Love Matters : how affection shapes a baby’s brain published in 2004 by Brunner  – Routledge.

On Line Booking through the website

Or come and pay at the door.
If you intend to pay at the door, please arrive well before 10.30 to avoid holdups.
Full Details of the event are on the Limbus  website:

The Magic Years of Selma Fraiberg: Clinician, Researcher, and Writer. San Francisco Conference



The Sanville Institute for Clinical Social Work & Psychotherapy & the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work (AASPCW) celebrate the centenary of the birth of Selma Fraiberg with a conference on Saturday March 24th,  at San Francisco State University Seven Hills Conference Center 1600 Holloway Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94132

The conference awards 6 CE credits for LCSWs, MFTs & Psychologists.




Discounts for Sanville community members, AAPCSW members, new professionals, and students. Lunch included.



Selma Fraiberg’s integration of social work and psychoanalysis had a profound impact on infant mental health, child development, psychoanalysis and the larger community. Beginning with group work with disadvantaged children and an unconventional psychoanalytic training, Fraiberg’s interventions with blind children, her groundbreaking innovations in infant mental health and her proli c writings — including her classic works, The Magic Years and Ghosts in the Nursery– have left a lasting legacy.


The Magic Years of Selma Fraiberg: Clinician, Researcher, Writer

9:00am-9:15am: Introduction
The Sanville Institute, AAPCSW, and Lisa Fraiberg 

9:15am-10:30am: Selma Fraiberg, Her Life and Work Joel Kanter, MSW, LCSW-C 

Based on archival research and interviews with a diverse array of colleagues, trainees and relatives, this presentation will review Fraiberg’s professional training in social work and psychoanalysis, her early clinical work with children’s groups, her emerging psychoanalytic expertise,
her diverse literary contributions and her important clinical research on blind infants and at-risk infant-mother dyads. The lasting impact of her contributions will be summarized.

10:30am-10:50am: Coffee Break

10:50am-12:00pm: Ghosts and Angels in the Nursery:
The Lasting Impact of Selma Fraiberg’s Legacy 

Alicia F. Lieberman, PhD 

Selma Fraiberg taught us to create a holding environment where the clinician enables parents and baby to feel safe to experience the full
range of their emotions, to explore how the past is coloring the present, and to build enjoyable new ways of relating to each other. Her most in uential contribution involved the understanding of the intergenerational transmission of psychopathology from the parents’ childhood fear and pain to their attributions to their baby in the here and now. This talk will highlight her continued in uence and the new applications of her thinking in current infant mental health practice

12:00pm-1:15pm: Lunch

1:15pm-2:10pm: Selma Would Never Have Called It Mindfulness, But That’s Exactly What She Showed Us 

Michael Trout, MA 

Is infant mental health a strategy, or a way of being with? This keynote
will consider the origins of our eld, which was originally fueled by a deep scienti c and psychoanalytic curiosity about the nuances of infant-parent interaction, the meaning of early experience, the remarkable transferences between parental early experience and relating to the child in the present. What is most important to us, now? What would Selma say? She taught us mindfulness without ever using the then-unknown word. She taught us the bliss of modesty and not-knowing, of attunement, of following, of holding. She required the discipline of self-knowing, and resulting self-regulation.

2:10pm-3:00pm: Re ections on The Magic Years by Clinician-Mothers Today 

Elizabeth (Beth) Kita, PhD, LCSW Rebecca Mayahag, MSW, LCSW-C Christina Papanestor, LCSW, BCD 

Three clinicians who are also mothers of young children will re ect on their reading of Fraiberg’s classic The Magic Years as it impacts their current parenting experiences.

3:00pm-3:20pm: Coffee Break

3:20pm-4:10pm: Selma and Me:
Master Teacher and Trauma-obsessed Trainee 

Lenore Terr, MD 

From 1964 to 1966, Terr attended Fraiberg’s Continuous Case Conference on child treatment at the University of Michigan Children’s Psychiatric Hospital as well as presentations on Fraiberg’s research on blind babies. She will share her recollections about these interactions, discussing how she absorbed Fraiberg’s ideas and methods as she pursued her research on childhood trauma.

4:10pm-5:00pm: Video of Selma Fraiberg and concluding panel with Lisa Fraiberg and presenters 

5:00pm-5:30pm: Wine and Cheese Reception


Joel Kanter, MSW, LCSW-C: Faculty, Institute for Clinical Social Work; Distinguished Practitioner, National Academies of Practice; Author, Face to Face with Children: The Life and Legacy of Clare Winnicott

Elizabeth (Beth) Kita, PhD, LCSW is a clinical social worker in San Francisco, California. She completed her MSW at UC Berkeley and her
PhD at Smith College School for Social Work. Beth has worked within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for the past 15 years providing mental health treatment both in prison and on parole. Beth also has a
private practice in Hayes Valley, teaches in the MSW program at UC Berkeley, and is Chairperson of the Coalition for Clinical Social Work. 

Alicia F. Lieberman, PhD, is the Irving B. Harris Endowed Chair in Infant Mental Health; Professor and Vice Chair for Faculty Development at the University of California, San Francisco, Department of Psychiatry; Director of the Child Trauma Research Program at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. 

Rebecca Mayahag, MSW, LCSW-C is in private practice in Rockville, Maryland. She received her MSW from the University of Maryland
and is a graduate of the Modern Perspectives in Psychotherapy at the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis. She currently serves on the board of the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Social Work. 

Christina Papanestor, LCSW, BCD received her MSW from the Smith College School for Social Work, and was awarded post-graduate fellowships by Stanford University and the American Psychoanalytic Association. She completed advanced training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, and maintains a private practice in San Francisco where she works with adults and couples. 

Lenore Terr, MD: Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, Winner of the Ittleson, McGavin, and Marmor Awards, American Psychiatric Association; Author of Too Scared to Cry, Unchained Memories, and Magical Moments of Change: How Psychotherapy Turns Kids Around.

Michael Trout, MA: Director, Infant-Parent Institute; Founding President of the International Association for Infant Mental Health. 

Of ce: 2198 Sixth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710 

CPA Accredited: The Sanville Institute (CPA PAS SAN 150) is approved by the California Psychological Association (CPA) to provide continuing professional education for psychologists. The Sanville Institute is an entity recognized by the Board of Behavioral Sciences as a provider of continuing education for LCSWs, MFTs, and LPCCs (pursuant to Division 18, Title 16, Section 1887.4.3, of the California Code of Regulations). The Sanville Institute maintains responsibility for this program and its contents. 

CEUs will also be provided by the AAPCSW, a national social work organization whose CEUs are recognized by the Boards of Social Work in many states. 


Selma Fraiberg’s Magic Years

The first two parts of Joel Kanter’s series of articles about Selma Fraiberg are now available to read in the goodenoughcaring Journal.

In his introduction Joel Kanter writes of Selma Fraiberg:

Selma Fraiberg was a social worker, a psychoanalyst, an author and a pioneer in the field of infant health. She devoted her career to understanding the developmental needs of children, to creating programs that promote infant mental health, and to reaching parents and policymakers through her clear, persuasive prose. In her brief 63 years, she accomplished enough to fill three careers.

The first article Fraiberg Remembered Part One The Magic Years can be found at Fraiberg Remembered Part One The Magic Years

The second Selma Fraiberg’s Magic Years Part Two “An unconventional Analytic training” can be read at Fraiberg’s Magic Years Part Two An Unconventional Training

John Cross, 1931 – 2017

John Cross

John Cross, for over 60 years an influential figure in the field of planned environment therapy in therapeutic communities for children has died aged 85 at his home in Cheltenham. He retired from his role as Director of the Planned Environment Therapy Trust in 2012. Until the onset of his illness in the autumn of 2015,  John continued to be  involved in the daily life of PETT at Toddington in Gloucestershire.

In 1952, his early ambition to take up a place at Durham University and  to become a politician faded on the completion of his National Service when the direction of his life was altered by a summer placement at Bodenham Manor School where David Wills was the Warden. John decided that what was going on at the school felt right and that shared experience in a therapeutic community would provide the pathway for his life. In the following decades John was engaged in the community life of Bodenham Manor School, Herefordshire, Ashley House Remand Home, Worksop, New Heys Reception Centre, Liverpool and New Barns School, Toddington.

At the same time as he was engaged as a member of the group of children and adults at New Barns John became a psychotherapist, served as a magistrate in the Juvenile Justice System, was the Chairman of the Youth and Family Courts and  Vice Chairman of the Gloucestershire Probation Committee.

John maintained his relationships with those who had been with him and his colleagues at New Barns. Over the years he became a ‘best man’ at their weddings and a godparent at the christening of their children many times over.

John played an influential role in a number of other organisations. He was a founding member of the Association of Workers with Maladjusted Children (AWMC) which later became the Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Association (SEBDA) and for over 40 years served on its Council. Prior to his death was John was the only living founding member of PETT. He was a founding member of other groups too including the Charterhouse Group, Young Minds and the Child Care History Network.

Over his career John wrote and presented a number of influential papers about therapeutic communities and planned environment therapy and he co-authored the controversial 1979 Quaker publication Six Quakers Look at Crime and Punishment: A Study Paper.

John was a Quaker. He was a man modest about his achievements. For him achievement was the shared experience of a community. John is survived by his two sisters Sybil and Cynthia. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by so many of the people with whom he shared experience and a community life.




Here is the text of an interview with John from 2010 and this is the article he wrote for the goodenoughcaring Journal in 2012, Some tentative thoughts on the concept of planned environment therapy is at

School failures and rebels, something else to ponder

In a recent issue of The Atlantic Daily Ashley Lamb-Sinclair writes

“that Albert Einstein was bad at school, but less known is that he was also bad in school. Einstein not only received failing grades—a problem for which he was often summoned to the headmaster’s office—but he also had a bad attitude. He sat in the back of the class smirking at the teacher; he was disrespectful and disruptive; he questioned everything; and, when he was faced with the ultimatum to straighten up or drop out, he dropped out. That’s right: Albert Einstein was a dropout. And yet, he grew up to become one of the greatest thinkers in human history.”

“One can write off Einstein’s accomplishments as an exception to the rule; they can reason that his behavior was actually a symptom of being so smart that school didn’t challenge him, which is probably somewhat true. But what if what made Einstein a change agent was his rebellious nature rather than his intelligence?”

The full text of Ashley Lamb-Sinclair’s article The Case for the Rebel  can be found  here

Next Limbus Lecture : Sally Weintrobe – Climate Change and the New Imagination

Farhad Dala has reminded us of the next Limbus Lecture in two weeks time (details below). You can book and pay on line via the website.

May 20, 2017
Sally WeintrobeClimate Change and the New Imagination10.30 to 1pm. £20
Studio 3, The Space, Dartington Hall

Or come and pay at the door.
If you intend to pay at the door, please arrive well before 10.30 to avoid holdups.
Full Details on our website:
Sally Weintrobe
Climate Change and the New Imagination

Abstract: Sally Weintrobe argues that current dominant culture serves neo-liberalism. The culture drives the false belief that we are entitled not to have to face a particular reality. This is that neo-liberalism has led to climate change and social instability and we are caught up in its structures. This talk aims to help open up a conversation that allows us to think together about needed changes in a way that recognises that change may be disturbing, troubling and difficult as well as enlivening.

Sally Weintrobe is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society. Currently she is writing a book on the culture that promotes disavowal of climate change. She edited and contributed to (2012) Engaging with Climate Change, shortlisted for the International Gradiva Prize for contributions to psychoanalysis.
Some of her talks can be found at:

2017 programme

May 20, Sally Weintrobe  Climate Change and the New Imagination
Sep 16, Paul Zeal          Breath, Gender and Nature’s Dreaming
Nov 11, Sue Mizen         Metaphor Making in the Relational Brain

This month’s author : Cynthia Cross

Each month during 2017  we are highlighting articles of authors who have contributed to the goodenoughcaring Journal over the years. The first author featured in this series is Cynthia Cross. The articles we have selected are  Acceptance,  Winnicott and Residential Work and Defensive Adults.
There are a number of other excellent articles written by Cynthia to be found in the goodenoughcaring Journal. Cynthia welcomes discussion of the issues she raises and comments about them can be mailed to