The Freud Museum

Events Archive

10 November 2011

Playing with dynamite: A personal approach to forensic psychotherapy

A talk by Estela Welldon

A podcast is available for this event on our iTunes page.


Estela Welldon discusses her personal understanding of perversions, violence and criminality based on her many years experience at the Portman Clinic and her latest book Playing with Dynamite.

'Estela Welldon has taught a whole generation of clinicians to question their idealisation of the mother-child relation. In this superb new study, she challenges both popular and professional preconceptions about perversion, violence, and crime. Drawing on years of research and clinical practice, she shows us the importance of thinking before blaming, and gives us the clinical and conceptual tools to do so. A brave and deeply humane work, this invites us to go beyond gut moralism and to enter the minds of those it is always easier to incarcerate than to understand.’ Darian Leader, psychoanalyst

Estela Welldon is a psychotherapist who worked for many years at the Portman Clinic and in private practice. She is the founder of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy and a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. She is most famous for her book Mother, Madonna Whore: The Idealization and Denigration of Motherhood (1988) which quashed the myth that ‘perversion’ was largely a male preserve and opened up a whole new field of therapeutic enquiry. She is the author of Sadomasochism (2002) and principal editor of A Practical Guide to Forensic Psychotherapy (1997). Her latest publication is Playing with Dynamite: A Personal Approach to the Understanding of Perversions, Violence and Criminality (Karnac, 2011)

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