A.H. Brafman (2016) The language of distress: understanding a child’s behaviour

Brafman is a Psychoanalyst and Child Psychiatrist who draws on experience of the child and adolescent mental health clinic and the analytic consulting room for this, his sixth book. The language of distress focusses principally on the ways in which children’s emotional conflicts may be expressed through physical symptoms and how parental responses can inadvertently perpetuate these symptoms. His approach is to seek to help the child understand more about their underlying fears and sadnesses and to enable parents to take this into account in their responses. The book is a series of varied case studies which illustrate through their clinical material how Brafman became involved in the children’s lives and how he engaged with them and their families: the use of children’s illustrations, including their Squiggles, brings added life to the already lively interchanges he describes.

This is a practical book in terms of demonstrating how Brafman applies his psychoanalytic understanding. It is not necessarily always fully clear how his formulations arise from the immediate clinical information and interactions or from his theoretical framework but it nevertheless offers an interesting and important insight into the consulting room. It is a book which will be useful to parents and professionals wishing to understand more about how children can be helped by seeking to understand better how difficulties which manifest are produced by what is happening ‘under the surface’. Practitioners wishing to develop their ability in therapeutic consultations / child and family mental health consultation and those training child mental health and social welfare professionals will also benefit from it by exploring the cases to examine Brafman’s approach and formulations, the theory underpinning these and how his insights can be incorporated into their own practice.

The Language of Distress is one of seven titles by Abe Brafman, the seventh of which will be published in 2018. His books are addressed to parents and professionals and offer insights into how psychoanalytic understanding can be use to help in everyday parenting as well as when problems arise. The full list can be found at http://www.karnacbooks.com/Author.asp?AID=1201

Squiggle members receive a discount of 15% off Karnac titles and 5% off all other titles when ordered online or in the Karnac shop.