LudlumNybergTheoretical and Clinical Studies

Edited by Molly Ludlum and Viveka Nyberg

“… a most welcome, refreshing approach to a field of growing importance in the application of psychodynamic principles to couple’ conflicts… a theoretically stimulating and clinically valuable book that is highly recommended to all psychotherapists working in this area.”
Otto Kernberg, MD Cornell University, NY


The couple relationship is at the centre of this book. The complex nature of the couple attachment is emphasized, drawing both on psychoanalytic concepts and on attachment theory. The chapters aim to integrate theory with practice and can be seen, both separately and together, as offering new insights into the intricate web of psychic fantasies, shared unconscious anxieties and external realities that shape the attachment between the couple. This book will be of great interest to all practitioners involved in couple work and can be used as a well-referenced teaching aid. It however has a much wider appeal and is to be recommended to anyone with a wish to further their appreciation of attachment as it manifests itself in the couple relationship.

This collection of papers includes several chapters by TCCR staff, fellows and associates.


The book is divided into four sections. The first focuses on ways in which the couple identity is shaped, perceived and presented. It does this through looking at how images of the couple are formed by the couple itself, the therapist, the artist, the writer and society at large.

The following section explores the impact of some of the developmental challenges that couples may encounter as part of family life, such as dealing with adolescent children, the childless older couple, and managing sibling relationships.

The third section investigates what can happen to the couple relationship when an emotional and psychic imbalance is altered, for example by encompassing racial differences, through the impact of mental ill health and the power relationship involved in prostitution.

Finally, the fourth section focuses on the importance of theory as a resource for the couple psychotherapist, outlining ways in which clinical practice can be underpinned by theory and research.

The authors are all experienced practitioners, several of whom are involved in ongoing research, attempting to further scientific understanding of couple interaction and its vicissitudes.


'The present collection of original contributions to the Edinburgh Congress on “Couple Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy” is a most welcome, refreshing approach to a field of growing importance in the application of psychodynamic principles to couples’ conflicts. This volume presents a broad spectrum of contributions within the common frame of a psychodynamic approach, with particular emphasis on contemporary developments in attachment theory and in object relations theory. The various authors combine in different proportions and with different, innovative approaches these two major trends within contemporary dynamic treatments. Several papers illustrate very clearly the application of attachment theory, particularly in its focus on dysregulated affect communication, and on the vicious circles derived from dysregulated affects in one or both partners, as well as the specific therapeutic approaches geared to help a couple correct and resolve dysregulated affect communications. The mostly attachment theoretical approaches also integrate, with some frequency, cognitive behavioral measures that represent an original synthesis between psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral psychotherapeutic approaches. At the other extreme of this spectrum, the relatively “purer” psychoanalytic object relations approaches rely on contemporary Kleinian and Fairbairnian thinking, and focus on the unconscious repetition in a couple’s relationship of past, pathogenic familiar relations, the unconscious repetition, in the here and now, of unresolved conflicts from the past in an unconscious effort to reactivate them with the longing for their resolution in the present. The psychodynamic approaches linking all these contributions also include, in many contributions, the consideration of the psychosocial and cultural frames within which a couple functions, and their consideration in the analysis and therapeutic approach to a couple’s conflicts. The fact that a broad variety of approaches utilizing these theoretical formulations in different proportions, clearly presenting their conceptual backgrounds as well as highly practical applications of them makes this a theoretically stimulating and clinically valuable book that is highly recommended to all psychotherapists working in this area.'
- Otto F. Kernberg, M.D.


‘Students and practitioners alike will find enormous enrichment and learning from this international collection of papers. Integrating object relations and attachment perspectives, this volume represents contemporary thinking and practice in psychodynamic couple therapy.The contributing authors are all authorities in their field and their perspectives, though emanating from different continents, have a pleasing coherence which makes this an engaging and enjoyable read.’
- Susanna Abse, Director, The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships, London


Section One: The couple in the mind: shaping, perceiving and presenting the couple identity

Section Two: The couple in the family: developmental and contextual perspectives

Section Three: Couples in rivalry: power imbalance in couple relationships

Section Four: The power of theory and research: the psychotherapist’s aid to thinking about the couple


Philip A. Cowan, Carolyn Pape Cowan, Molly Ludlam, Viveka Nyberg, James V. Fisher, Adrian Perkel, Elspeth Morley, Jody Leader, Barbara Bianchini, Fabio Monguzzi, Noela Byrne, Jenny Berg and Penny Jools,
Christopher Vincent, David Scharff, Jill Savege Scharff, David Hewison, Gullvi Sandin, Anna Kandell
Rika van den Berg, Christopher Clulow, Una McCluskey, Timothy Keogh, Maria Kourt, Charles Enfield, Sylvia Enfield

About the Editors

Viveka Nyberg is a Full Member of the SCPP and a Senior Member of the British Association of Psychotherapists. She is a Visiting Clinician/Lecturer at TCCR and works as a Couple Psychotherapist in the Adult Department, Tavistock Clinic, and as a Principal Psychotherapist in the City and East London Mental Health Trust. Her published papers include “Shadows of the Parental Couple” (in Grier, 2005, Karnac Books) and “The Fragmented Couple” (Kahr, Karnac Books, published 2007).

Molly Ludlam MA is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with individuals, couples and parents in private practice and with SIHR clinical teams. An Associated Member of SCPP, her interest in couple, family and parent-child relationships stems from experience as a secondary schoolteacher and a social worker in an NHS Child and Family Mental Health Team. She is a former chair of the Council of SIHR. Her recent publications are ‘‘The Parental Couple: Issues for Psychotherapeutic Practice”, “In Sexual and Relationship Therapy”, (2005) and “Psychotherapy for the Parents as a Couple” in D. Scharff & J. Savege Scharff, (Eds.), 2006.


Editor (s): Molly Ludlam and Viveka Nyberg

Publisher : Karnac Books

Published : 2007

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Karnac Books