This is the first of a set of three chapters to draw on selected psychoanalytic understandings that move beyond the confines of theories locating language in the central position of privilege. I am interested in particular psychoanalytic ideas that are relevant for systemic therapy and in harmony with its practices, and which meet and offer some thinking about processes that are not especially well met in the current systemic theorising. This chapter focuses on the process of attachment and introduces some ideas about the unconscious. Attachment and the unconscious are the first port of call because these ideas attempt to describe processes which I think show themselves again and again in the practice of therapy. I will use practice once more as a starting point, and then I will consider attachment and the unconscious in turn. This lays the basis for a discussion of the relationship of attachment and the unconscious to language, which brings the chapter back to practice.
A quick anecdote about the child I wrote about in Chapter 5, whom I had first seen when she was three in the context of a concern about sexual abuse. It is three years later and our second to last meeting. She draws a picture, borrowing an image from a TV commercial. A baby is in a pram which is rushing headlong down a hill toward a railway crossing, and there is a train coming full steam ahead up the track. The disaster is about to happen, but there are two good things which stop it. The very shape of the (and protects the baby, for there is a dip at the