Review of M. Masud R. Khan (1988) When Spring Comes: Awakenings in clinical Psychoanalysis.
Some years ago I started reading the biography by Linda Hopkins (2006) False Self: The Life of Masud Khan. Early in the biography, the author referred to a book she describes as scandalous. The title was When Spring Comes; a book I happened to have in my bookshelf, due to a gift from a friend who had quitted her education in psychoanalysis and had given me all her books on the subject. So Instead of continuing reading the biography, I stopped and instead started reading When Spring Comes. Then, after reading about hundred pages, I stopped reading the book and instead worked with some of my other constant projects och book reading pleasures.
A couple of years later (2017), I come a cross this half readed book When Spring Comes in my bookshelf and, remembering how good and inspiring the book was, so I continued reading it to the end.
The scandalous thing that earlier was mentioned, was that Khan has expressed some antisemitic interpretations; but those was mentioned mainly in one of his cases (the book consists of seven case stories), with a homosexual jewish patient. He was criticised for this, by his colleagues, but I think they missinterpret the point; because in its context (as a part of a case description), the antisemitic ramblings are understandable and not disqualifies Kahn as a responsible analysts. A man with a strong love for his patients and a unique ability to understand and heal the deep powers within his analysands. In his book he clearly show that he truly loves people with all religious believes; ha makes no differences in his approach to them and treat them all well.
During the time passing (and the book was safely resting on the shelf) I have started an account on Instagram, and at some point during my rereading of the book, I got the idea of writing a review and posting it on Instagram. This fantasy starts to build up inside me, and after that I continue reading the book from the reviewers point of view. Seeing the coming text building up inside my head.
A problem is that the writing space on Instagram is rather short, so instead I started to fantasise to first put it on my blog – and maybe afterwards copy and paste some of it to my Instagram account.
I also wanted to try to write directly in English, instead of first write it in Swedish, and then translate it to English with google translate. (So I apologise for my bad english, but I have the hope of learning more and write better in the future.)
It was a strong experience to read When Spring Comes, written by a passionate psychoanalyst, on the brink of his coming death. The book was published in 1988, and the year after Masud Khan was dead, 65 years old.
Khan was a wealthy Pakistani who came to London to study literature in the forties, started psychoanalysis, continued to himself become an analyst. He stayed in London until his death four decades later and became a well known psychoanalyst, author and editor of psychoanalytic journals. Khan was a heavy smoker and in the seventies he had got lung cancer. In When Spring Comes, he describe how he underwent a lot of operations in the lungs and larynx, but seems to have worked hard with his patients until the end.
The title of the book was, first planned to be Transgression: Passion, Pain and Solitude. A title, more in line with the content. Because transgressions there are; transgressions from the normal psychotherapeutic neutral stance. Khan takes patients for dinner, pay dem tickets for travelling, stay with them during child delivery, and after det become godfather to the newborn child. For some of his patients, he learn to know their families and for some becomes a friend to theirs families. But it helps; he describes seven ”impossible” cases, who many of them already had tried standard therapy and failed, but in the charge of Masud Kahn became healed.
The book was written during the eighties, before the bloom of cognitive behaviour therapy and other eastern influenced techniques – even if some of the techniques from our time are mentioned in passing. Like the psychoanalysts Ronald Laings experimenting with Yoga and Mindfulness or some references to aversive therapy.
During the time when his case stories was written, psychoanalytic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis was the only methods of treatment. But Kahn uses his own brand of the method, where a true and naked meeting between analyst and patient becomes the cure. He has no goal for the therapy, no covert striving for health, he only helps his patient to wake up, to come to life, and let the life flow through the body and consciousness. As if he had waken up the sleeping Cinderella. And he is the master in this trade. His patients blooming, get in contact with their passions, get alive and start to live lives full of meaning; compared of the earlier lives lived in relative stalemate, they wakes up and the spring warms up the death of their souls. It is a pleasure to read this inspiring case studies, especially the last one, with a Pakistani woman who Kahn get almost totally involved with. When reading this case story, one can really feel the flow of life in his meeting with her, one can almost see the color, smell and feel the rush of life coming to live between the words in the text. It’s difficult to describe, but this last case of therapy with Aisha is really inspiring and make one passionate about his way of working with his patients. Maybe one can let oneself get influenced by this passionate interests his extremely talented analysts shows.
At the same time, this book is written from a man who where near his own death. He knows that this book gonna be the last one he gonna write. So he really try to deliver a text who gonna stay after he has gone. It’s a book written at the verge of the grave. Before entering the eternity – but also in the middle of the everyday life, with telephone calls, dinners, travelings and appointments.
After I have finished When Springs Comes I felt a strong interest to continue deepen my curiosity and interest in this extraordinary therapist, so I put the other book, the biography, in front of me and continue to rereading it. For this man, Masud Khan and his stark storytelling, has really waked up to the feeling of the passionate sense of life, of lust, of passion. He has show me a blood filled interest in the deepest of the human consciousness. The bringing of life into life.