Interview with Senior ACP member, Isca Wittenberg

Isca Wittenberg, ACP honoured member, has been interviewed by Mind in Mind. The ACP talked to Ricky Emanuel, ACP Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist about Isca.

This is what Ricky said: 

"Isca is one of the last remaining child psychotherapists still alive who trained in one of the first cohorts of the child psychotherapy training at the Tavistock set up by John Bowlby and Esther Bick. She was a refugee from Nazi Germany coming to this country when she was 16. She worked as nursery nurse where she developed her interest in babies which she has never lost. She found a home for this interest in her life long devotion to infant observation, as well as her ability to find the infant in her  patients and in  the infantile aspects of group functioning. She trained as a social worker in Birmingham where she excelled at her studies and was invited onto the staff to teach shortly after her qualification.

She found her way to the Tavistock to train as a child psychotherapist and entered analysis with Wilfred Bion. He has been very influential in her work especially in his encouragement to find her own voice and be her own person. She embodies Bion’s concept of ‘K’ more than anyone I know, the desire to understand or get to know which is an ongoing process never completed. Isca has always been interested to find out more, to learn new things and to develop her mind. She has deep seated conviction about the value of connection, and she lives her life this way. Even at the age of nearly 98 she is still wanting to connect and share her ideas with others as well as hear from them what is happening “out there”.

Her last book on Experiencing Endings and Beginnings is being republished and she felt she wanted to add to it about her experience of the last years of life, a profound ending  experience, when there can be a sort of return to infantile dependency for physical care. How this is managed is so dependent on early beginnings and other endings throughout the life cycle. Despite everything she has gone through and witnessed she says she never has given up hope and this quality is so evident even in these last years of her life. Bion's maxim is that the purpose of development (or analysis) is to enhance the person’s capacity to experience experience. Isca is still developing in this sense, experiencing endings and beginnings as fully as she can. She is an inspiration to all of us."

Watch the video produced by Mind in Mind.