Andrew Samuels

pic book 3 Sept 13Andrew Samuels is an influential political and social commentator. He is an Honorary Fellow of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy and, according to Wikipedia, has evolved a unique blend of Jungian and post-Jungian, relational psychoanalytic and humanistic approaches. We hope that he will visit Harris Westminster when we open so that he can explain what this means (as well as answer the questions we forgot during the interview – see below).

What kind of pupil were you like at school?
I was extremely rebellious. I refused to serve in the Combined Cadet Force (sort of army training unit) even though it was compulsory because I had objections. I stood as the Communist Party candidate in our mock elections and came last by miles.

What would have made your school days better?
I was sent to boarding school at the age of 8 so the one thing I would have liked was not to have been sent to a boarding school! I found the petty rules annoying. For example, only prefects could put their hands in their pockets.

Do you remember any wonderful lessons from school? What was the best lesson you recall?
I loved politics and economics and I vividly remember a lesson on the crucial importance of local government as opposed to central government. Later, I worked as a community worker and remembered this lesson often.

What was the best thing about University?
I got a scholarship to Oxford but dropped out after about three weeks. I could not see the point. It was in 1967 and many of us thought there would be a social revolution and academic qualifications would not be important! I had been working for the Colonial Office in Africa between school and uni (gap year) and this convinced me that academics was not important. (I always found school studies easy; it was the meaning and importance of them that caused me problems).

What makes you angry?
Hypocrisy in people in authority. Religious or any kind of dogmatism. People who enviously smear and diminish the achievements of others.

If you could direct one play in one theatre which one would you choose and where would you put it on?
I’d like to create a play on the psychological relations between leaders and led and do it in the House of Commons.

What is the most important lesson you've learned since leaving school?
Get a good work-life balance. I am very bad at this.

If you could give one piece of advice to your sixteen-year old self what would it be?
Stop worrying about what other people think.

Can you sum up Jungian theory in one sentence?
Personal emotional distress does not only come from our backgrounds in the family.

Do you think the internet has made a difference to our ability to communicate?
Everything hangs on human choice, as in most areas of existence.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
Watching soccer. I am an Everton fanatic but have to watch Spurs because I live in London. My elder son is a Spurs fanatic. I love fusion music, especially including African elements.

Do you think therapy helps society as well as the individual concerned?
Not nearly as much as it could do – see http://www.andrewsamuels.com/

If you ruled the country what would be the first policy change you would make?
75% rate of tax for incomes over £150,000.

Do you have any ambitions left to achieve? If so, what would they be?
This is an emotional answer. I worry that people don’t like me and would like to feel differently about it.

What question should we have asked you that we haven't?
Who are or have been the important people in your life, Andrew?