Tell Me The Truth About Love

Susanna Abse

Tell Me the Truth About Love
  • Tell Me the Truth About Love
    • Susanna Abse
    • ‘A must-read for everyone wanting to understand more about what makes us fall in – and out – of love’ Philippa Perry

      ‘A charming, useful, kind book about the pains and hopes of relationships’ 
      Alain de Botton

      ‘Wonderfully wise… Susanna writes with clarity and warmth in a voice that is steeped in decades of experience and means we trust her. Her gentle humour is also a joy.’ Julia Samuel

      Drawing on over 30 years of therapeutic encounters with people facing hurdles in their love lives, former Chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council Susanna Abse takes us deep inside one of the most fascinating realms there is: other people’s relationships.

      Candid and captivating, each chapter is inspired by a classic, timeless story. Parents blow their straw house down; Rapunzel yearns for companionship but remains trapped in her castle. Couples strive to navigate the fall from Eden, the bitter taste of the poison apple and strangers in their beds.

      From dealing with infidelity to navigating our changing role within a single relationship over the course of a lifetime, Tell Me the Truth About Love sheds vivid light on the human heart, and its struggle to both embrace life’s greatest gift and protect itself from pain. Inside, you will find solace, wisdom and unparalleled insight into how, and why, we love.

Susanna Abse is a psychoanalytic therapist who has worked in private practice with couples, individuals and parents since 1991. She is the former chair of The British Psychoanalytic Council and was CEO of the charity Tavistock Relationships from 2006 until 2016. She has also recently been presenting Britain on the Couch for Channel 4 News. She has published widely on couple therapy, parenting, and family policy and how these areas need to be at the heart of progressive welfare provision, a subject on which she lectures and teaches. Susanna is a Senior Fellow of the Tavistock Institute for Medical Psychology, a fellow of the Centre for Social Policy at Dartington; a previous Leadership Fellow at St George’s House, Windsor Castle, as well as a Member of the Advisory Board of Couple and Family Psychoanalysis. She is also Co-Editor of The Library of Couple and Family Psychoanalysis for Routledge Books. Between 2016-18, she was a member of the University of Birmingham mental health policy commission, “Investing in a Resilient Generation”.

Guardian Masterclasses

Falling and staying in love: An interactive workshop with Susanna Abse

Psychoanalytic psychotherapist Susanna Abse leads a fascinating masterclass that examines the truth behind why we fall in love, and what makes it last

Online workshop
Date: Wednesday 15 June 2022
Time: 6.30pm-8.30pm BST

Wed 20 Apr 2022 13.56 BST

Couple relationships are compelling, mysterious things. Many of us yearn for a happy romantic relationship, and yet, as literature and music has been telling us for centuries, this longing can prove to be elusive, confusing, overwhelming or unrequited.

How we choose our partners, and how we form and maintain relationships is deeply influenced by our past. Everything from our upbringing, including our parents’ or carers’ relationships with one another, to how we interact with others in the playground, structures our deepest beliefs about intimacy. The partners we choose, and the longevity and happiness of these partnerships, shape what we call our ‘love life’.

In this lively, informative masterclass Susanna Abse, psychoanalytic psychotherapist for couples, will explore what makes us fall in love – and what makes it last.

You will discover how what draws us together can also be the thing that drives us apart, and why this is. You will also learn what we mean when we say ‘healthy relationships’, and how our family history shapes our love life. Susanna will teach you how to draw your own genogram and investigate the links between your past and present relationships, in this illuminating class.

Guardian Masterclass

This course is for …

  • Anyone with an interest in relationships – what makes us fall in love and what makes love last
  • Those interested in a career as a relationship therapist

Course content

  • The process of falling in love and getting committed
  • What influences are at work in our choice of partners?
  • What do we mean when we talk about ‘healthy relationships’?
  • Understand how our family history shapes our love life
  • Draw your own genogram

Professor Brett Kahr


“New Books in Psychoanalysis”

To mark the publication of Professor Brett Kahr’s newest book, Freud’s Pandemics:  Surviving Global War, Spanish Flu, and the Nazis, the Swiss psychiatrist Dr. med. Sebastian Thrul has conducted a full interview with Kahr, which offers insights into how Sigmund Freud handled the multiple pandemics of his own lifetime and how he would have advised our governments and our health care specialists had he been alive today during the twenty-first century.

This podcast is Kahr’s third appearance on “New Books in Psychoanalysis”.  The New Books Network had previously interviewed him about two of his other publications, namely, How to Flourish as a Psychotherapist and, also, Bombs in the Consulting Room:  Surviving Psychological Shrapnel.

The New Books Network has recognised that Kahr’s latest title will be of interest not only to members of the psychoanalysis community but, also, to those from other disciplines; consequently, the podcast has been posted not only on “New Books in Psychoanalysis” but, also, on “New Books in Biography”, “New Books in German Studies”, “New Books in History”, “New Books in Intellectual History”, and “New Books in Jewish Studies”.

Kahr’s book is the inaugural title in the new “Freud Museum London Series”, published by Karnac Books of London (an imprint of Confer Limited), in association with Freud Museum London.

To listen to the podcast, please click on either of the following links:

Susie Orbach

Recent article and book reviews

The Observer:

Working from home: how it changed us forever – Relationships The Observer 23 January 2022

Book chapter:

Eco Revenge in This Book is a Plant – How to Grow, Learn and Radically Engage with the Natural World, Wellcome Collection, Profile Books 2022

Book reviews:

Susie Orbach review of How to Do Things With Emotions: The Morality of Anger and Shame Across Cultures by Owen Flanagan – Don’t shout, let it all out The Observer, 9/1/22

Susie Orbach review of Something Out of Place by Eimear McBride – a satisfying feminist polemics The Guardian, August 2021

Professor Brett Kahr





In this compelling book, the first in the new “Freud Museum London Series”, Professor Brett Kahr describes how Sigmund Freud endured innumerable emotional pandemics during his eighty-three years of life, ranging from unsubstantiated accusations by medical colleagues to anti-Semitic abuse, the loss of one daughter to Spanish flu and the arrest of another child by the Gestapo, to his own painful cancer treatments and his final flight from Adolf Hitler’s Austria.  Freud navigated these personal and political tragedies while simultaneously creating a method of healing which has helped countless millions deal with unbearable trauma and distress.

Kahr argues that, by having created psychoanalysis, Freud not only saved himself from destruction but also provided the rest of the world with the means to achieve a form of psychological vaccination against emotional and mental distress.

The Freud Museum London and Karnac Books have joined forces to publish a new book series devoted to an examination of the life and work of Sigmund Freud alongside other significant figures in the history of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and depth psychology more broadly. The series will feature works of outstanding scholarship and readability, including biographical studies, institutional histories, and archival investigations.  New editions of historical classics as well as translations of little-known works from the early history of psychoanalysis will also be considered for inclusion.


“A vivid account of how Sigmund Freud coped with the great ‘pandemics’ of his time, from the Great War and Spanish Flu to cancer and the Nazis.  By assessing how my great-grandfather might have addressed COVID-19 – the pandemic of our own times – Professor Kahr opens up a series of insights into the life of the man who championed the radical innovation of actually listening to people suffering from mental affliction.  Meticulously researched, and written with real pace, this book is a timely reminder of the psychological roots of our response to national trauma.” – Lord Freud, great-grandson of Sigmund Freud and President of the Freud Museum London

“Never has there been a time when Freud was needed so badly.  Post-pandemic blues would not have been new to Freud as Brett Kahr describes in his phenomenal book, which I feel was sent to save us from confusion and turmoil. A must read!” –  Jane McAdam Freud, artist, and great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud.

“Brett Kahr’s immersion in Freud – the gift that keeps on giving – will help us survive the trauma of pandemics in our own lives.  Kahr draws insightful parallels from Freud’s own struggles and serves as a timely and fascinating reminder of the ubiquitous nature of pandemics and why suicide isn’t the answer.” –  Professor the Baroness Hollins, Past President of the British Medical Association, Past President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Professor Emerita at St. George’s Hospital Medical School, University of London.


Prologue: Fundraising for Freud

Introduction:  “Wouldn’t it be better if we all killed ourselves?”

Chapter 1:  The Fraudulent Jewish Pervert:  Navigating Decades of Collegial Hatred

Chapter 2:  The Great War and the Spanish Flu:  An Imprisoned Son and a Dying Daughter

Chapter 3:  From Compulsive Cigar-Smoking to Deadly Carcinoma:  Freud’s Battle with Physical Pain

Chapter 4:  Death Wishes and the Nazis:  How Freud Escaped from Austria

Chapter 5:  Freud’s Recipe for Creativity and Survival:  The Writing Cure and the Role of Penetrativity

Conclusion:  If Sigmund Freud Could Have Supervised Anthony Fauci


Scholarly Clarifications




Publisher: Karnac Books

Published: September 2021

Format: Paperback

Pages: 300

Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.73 x 23.4 cm


Karnac Books Shop.

Freud Museum London Shop.

Susie Orbach

Five Book recommendations on by Susie Orbach

Contemporary Memoirs by Women

The best contemporary memoirs by women

Susie Orbach Author Of Bodies By Susie Orbach

Who am I?

Memoirs have crept up on me as favorites. I could list many more. Please let me! As a psychoanalyst, I listen to the pains and struggles of individuals trying to become more at ease with themselves. They engage with their demons and try to make sense of how to manage the way their personal history has created their worldview and how to expand it enough to enter a present. Memoirs are another way of addressing such struggles. They have an elegance and a universality that emerges out of their individual stories. We learn about the other and we learn about ourselves.

I wrote…


By Susie Orbach


What is my book about?

Susie looks at how we get the bodies we have. We think of them as predetermined and unfolding but in reality our bodies reflect the familial, cultural, geographic, raced, gendered, and classed positions we are born into and develop from.

Bodies looks at cultural differences – that the Kaypoo bite where we would kiss for instance; at the importance of touch; at the earliest body to body relationship between infant and carers; at the meaning of clothing, of body shape. The democratisation of beauty and the selling of the western and body as a way to enter modernity produce huge profits for the beauty, fashion, food, and diet industries which Bodies discusses. Bodies looks at all the themes through her clinical work with individuals as a psychoanalyst.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Books I Picked & Why

Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country

By Gillian Slovo

Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country

Why this book?

Gillian Slovo’s mother was assassinated by the South African Govt. Her father was considered public enemy #1. She reflects on being a child of revolutionaries, leaving her home suddenly and arriving in England on her 12th birthday and seeing snow for the first time. This is a book of making sense, acceptance, confrontation, and truths, Beautifully written, compelling, and gives us a way into a world very few people will experience and yet will want to know about.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love

By Lisa Appignanesi

Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love

Why this book?

Lisa’s husband dies as he is being treated for cancer. She writes about the first year after in which grief, madness, confusion, isolation, and fury coincide with Britain’s beginning Brexit madness. Nothing can be made sense of and yet we need words to express what’s happening. And then words provide for consoling and managing.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

By Jeanette Winterson

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Why this book?

Jeanette returns to her life story twenty-five years after Oranges are the Only Fruit. She escapes the religious cult she grew up in and finds solace and excitement in sexuality and learning. And she takes us on the journey of discovering her routes, her biological mother, her acceptance of Mrs. Winterson, and her struggles to live with the wounds of displacement, of being the wrong child, of bringing joy to those who love her words.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Red Dust Road

By Jackie Kay

Red Dust Road

Why this book?

Jackie and her brother were adopted by a loving working-class family in Glasgow. They were communists and thoughtful about the adoption process. Jackie becomes a beloved poet and a wonderful public performer. She was recently made the Poet Laureate of Scotland – The Scots Makar. In this book, she traces her childhood and her quest to meet her father in Lagos and to discover her biological parentage and story. It’s a story of belonging and of not belonging. Of finding, fitting, and not fitting. It moves and uplifts us.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging

By Afua Hirsch

Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging

Why this book?

Afua’s father is from a Jewish refugee family, her mother is Ghanian. She grows up in an affluent middle-class suburb of London. As she explores her Black and Ghanian identity she looks at what it means to be British; the political heritage, race, and identity from the inside of a loving mix raced family. It is an important commentary on her experience of being in more than one place at the same time.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Random Book Lists

The best books about the First World WarAdam Zamoyski Author Of Warsaw 1920: Lenin’s Failed Conquest of EuropeAdam Zamoyski

The best books on science, mathematics, and philosophyMario Livio Author Of Galileo: And the Science DeniersMario Livio

The best books on secret agents and espionage in WW2Shrabani Basu Author Of Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat KhanShrabani Basu

The greatest epicsNicholas Jubber Author Of Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of EuropeNicholas Jubber

Copyright 2021 –

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by Professor Brett Kahr

            Professor Brett Kahr published his fifteenth book earlier this year, entitled Dangerous Lunatics:  Trauma, Criminality, and Forensic Psychotherapy (Confer Books, 2020;

            One of the inaugural titles released by the new psychotherapeutic press Confer Books – Publishers of the Mind – this book examines the nature of criminality across the centuries.  

            Drawing upon his interest and training in both psychoanalysis and history, Kahr examines the ways in which our ancestors have treated criminal offenders from ancient times until the present day, exploring the growing humanisation of forensic mental health.

            In olden times, criminals would be tortured and executed; fortunately, nowadays, many countries have adopted a more compassionate approach to treatment and rehabilitation, facilitated by the developments in the fields of forensic psychotherapy and forensic psychoanalysis, which offer in-depth, ongoing treatment, in an effort to help offender patients to work through the traumata which have propelled them to commit violent crimes.

            This book reached the Number One spot on the Karnac Books best-sellers list shortly after its release.

            Herewith we include the Table of Contents for interested parties, as well as kindly endorsements from two of the United Kingdom’s leading forensic psychoanalytical specialists:



The Man Who Shot His Mother and Father in the Face.

Chapter One.

Torture and Execution:  Ancient Remedies for Perpetrators.

Chapter Two.

The Medicalisation of Insanity:  Hereditary Taint and the Criminal Brain.

Chapter Three.

The Freudian Challenge:  Towards a Humanisation of Offenders.

Chapter Four.

The Growth of Forensic Psychotherapy:  From Punishment to Treatment.

Chapter Five.

Paedophilia:  The Sexualisation of Trauma.

Chapter Six.

Murder:  The Castration of Safety.


Blue-Sky Thinking:  The Future of Forensic Mental Health.


“Only Brett Kahr could produce such a masterpiece as Dangerous Lunatics.  Written in a stunning literary style, Kahr’s book combines his unique expertise as a clinician and as an historian to tell this vital tale about how we have treated criminals throughout the ages and how we might do much, much better in the future!”

Professor Estela V. Welldon, Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Portman Clinic, London, and Honorary President for Life of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy.

“What a magnificent book!  A carefully researched ‘tour de force’, encompassing a history of criminality and madness through exquisitely described stories.  It offers hope that one day we might actually rehumanise the dehumanised, making the world a safer place for all.”

Dr. Carine Minne, Consultant Psychiatrist in Forensic Psychotherapy, Portman Clinic and Broadmoor Hospital.

New Book by Professor Brett Kahr

BrettKahr_DangerousLunaticsIn the pre-modern era, those who committed serious crimes would invariably be treated with extreme cruelty – often punished, tortured, eviscerated, and executed in the most grisly, sadistic fashion. Over time, the treatment of offenders has become more enlightened and more benign. But have we really progressed sufficiently in our approach to the rehabilitation and cure of vicious perpetrators of savage acts? This book considers the intersection between madness and violence across the ages, and investigates how Sigmund Freud and the early generation of psychoanalysts and psychotherapists challenged the more primitive, punitive models. Professor Kahr also discusses some landmark projects, which help to humanise serious criminal offenders and further our understanding of the ways in which severe early childhood trauma plays an important role in the genesis of extreme criminality.

Credit: Image and text from promotional flyer by Confer

Of Quill Pens and Keypads: On the Psychological Urgency of Life-Writing

brett-colourOne of our Consultant Psychotherapists, Professor Brett Kahr, has been invited to write a short piece for the website of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing, based at the University of Oxford, as part of a special COVID-19-related project, spearheaded by Dr. Katherine Collins of the Department of Education, to help people to express themselves at this time of great global distress.  This posting grew out of Kahr’s talk at Oxford in 2019 on psychoanalysis and autobiography.  Please click on the link: