The Friday Clinical Group is one of several peer review groups of the Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis. For the last decade or so, proceedings of the group have been recorded in haiku-like summaries. This is in recognition of the fact that no matter in how much detail a clinical session is described, the emotional essence remains beyond words. The haiku-like summaries, with their brevity, invite participation in the experience.
Haiku were traditionally the opening verse of a longer poetic dialogue. They retain that character in inviting and stimulating the reader to poetically participate. Haiku are typically written in 3 lines with a 5-7-5 syllable structure. They have characteristic minimalistic simplicity, ambiguity, playfulness and sometimes end with a concluding “cutting word” to stimulate a strong follow-on response in the reader. Haiku deliberately eschew abstraction, long complicated words, rhyme and steadfastly refuse to talk about anything other than ordinary everyday objects. The summaries here are “haiku-like” in that their subject matter is an emotional dialogue with often a degree of abstraction, but they still seek active participation from the reader in a very simple direct manner.
The photographs convey everyday life as it is, which is open to interpretation. They are monochromatic to allow maximal interpretative freedom. The haiku are summaries of real clinical situations discussed in the peer review group, which by their very nature respect the privacy and confidentiality of both members of the psychoanalytic couple.
Shahid Najeeb is a psychiatrist and training psychoanalyst living and practicing in Sydney. He has interests in the relationship between Buddhism and Psychoanalysis on which he has given a number of lectures and also an interest in haiku and photography. But his main interest is in that multidimensional, mysterious and ineffably beautiful thing called life, which he tries to understand through these different lenses.