Interview transcript – Professor Adam Phillips
University of York
4th March 2009
Jennifer O’Mahony (JO) interviews Adam Phillips (AP)
JO: Can I have some basic biographical information, I found some but if you could just map out your career for me, (AP: As an adult? Not from birth? Or do you want the whole lot?) as an adult, since graduating, because I know what you did at university.
AP: I read English at university, then at that stage I got in to do a child psychotherapy training, but because I was very young they said go away and grow up, so I did a year’s research at York, and I came to York because my then girlfriend was here Hugh Haughton was one of my best friends and I was interested in doing the research.
I had no plan to do a PhD, but I wanted to use that year as pleasurably as possible so I came here. Then after a year we moved back to London and I did a three, or was it a four year, a four year child psychoanalytic training and I did that basically at the Middlesex Hospital department of Child Psychiatry where I had a training post, and I had seminars at the Hampstead Clinic and the Tavistock Clinic which meant I had a genuinely eclectic psychoanalytic training.
The training involved being in analysis four times a week for four years, then I had supervision, then I saw all those children aged nought to 16 and after that when I qualified I worked in Guy’s Hospital, in the Department of Child Psychiatry, in a school for what was then called maladjusted children called Beremond (sp?).
I worked in Camberwell Child Guidance Clinic. I worked in Charing Cross hospital Department of Child Psychiatry. I did that for 17 years, that was the health service child psychotherapy work, and then I went into private practice where I am now, and then I just saw adults. So I see adults four times a week and I write one day a week. That’s my professional life.
JO: OK, So you’ve never actually been an academic of English literature?
JO: Because obviously I know you’ve done things for editions of John Clare…
AP: Yes, but I’ve never actually taught literature in a university, apart from now.
JO: So would you consider doing that in the future?
AP: Not full time. I love doing this, (JO: yes)… sort of doing in briefly. I don’t want to be an academic and I didn’t want to be an academic, partly because I really love reading and I wanted it to be a private pleasure, I didn’t want to have to talk about it.