Giles Andrew De Brassey Clark

17 December, 1947 — 23 March 2019


Zarathustra’s Rundgesang
Friedrich Nietzsche

Giles Clark was a Jungian analyst, anthropologist, philosopher, historian of ideas, with vast erudition across a range of fields. He also studied art history and architecture. He loved classical and contemporary music, literature, poetry, film, politics, spit-fires, shirts, cricket, nature documentaries … and Hippos, whose visceral muckiness, growls, wheezes, and chuffs he managed to weave into clinical writing on primitive psychoid and borderline states and associated embodied counter-transference experiences.

Giles was born in London in 1947 and grew up in rural Essex. He was sent to boarding school at a young age, matriculating to King’s College, Cambridge to study anthropology. This had him setting forth with youthful folly to do preparatory field work on the Jains and then Zoroastrians in India. A spinal neurofibroma led to emergency repatriation back to England. Chronic spinal pain dogged him throughout his life and drew him to Nietzsche, psychoanalysis, Jung, Spinoza and Santayana and a lifelong concern with mind-body problems.

Unexpected and tragic death from cancer in March 2019 leaves behind an aching hole in our hearts. As well as a good friend, wise analyst and exceptional mentor, he was a devoted  family man.  He is sorely missed by his family, in-laws, out-laws, extended family, godchildren and circles of family friends. They speak of his kindly eye, his twinkling eye, his perceptive eye that knew when to intervene and went to sit back, watch and wait, his generous eye that knew just what gift would really make the recipient’s heart sing. They remind us he was not just an influential analyst and armchair philosopher, but had a great sense of humour. He loved British sketch comedy, such as Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. His children recall with nostalgia the wonderful road trips taken to the tunes of Talking Heads and, aptly, Hot Chocolate’s ‘Heaven’s in the Back Seat of My Cadillac.

He was well known for his humility, kindliness, friendliness and generosity of spirit. A deep thinker, he listened with the ‘third ear’ of intuition enabling Baruch Spinoza’s ‘knowledge of a third kind’ to emerge. Those who sat in his presence,  those whose path he crossed — whether patients, supervisees, students, colleagues, friends, children of colleagues, shop-keepers, book-binders, strangers, homeless beggars, café owners — all felt a chord of connection, their unique essence valued.

He was an avid collector of rare books, as well as antiques, old clocks, works of art, well-wrought  objet d’art. Such mementos transmitted a story: of the one who made it, the who gave it, where it was found and what it symbolised.

Although not ‘religious’, nor even ‘spiritual,’ (he had a healthy distrust of modern usages of ‘spirituality’ as implying philosophical mind-body dualism and etherealising), he was a true contemplative in the tradition of Santayana. His  love of architecture particularly focused on cathedrals.

He was  also deeply concerned about political and social injustice, the plight of the oppressed, environmental devastation and climate change.

Turning now to Giles’ professional self, his analytic practice spanned over 40 years, from 1975 to 1994 in London and from 1995 to March 2019 in Sydney. He took a vital clinical role in analysing, supervising, lecturing, writing,  training.  His contribution to the development of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Jungian Analysts (ANZSJA) was pivotal, working tirelessly as both a training analyst and Convenor of Training from 1995 to 2004. He gave papers at analytic conferences world-wide, including England, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Russia, Canada and Denmark, also for Temenos in Canberra, Jung Societies throughout Australia and New Zealand, the University of Western Sydney and elsewhere.

Giles intended to publish his life’s work, terminal illness sadly intervening. He was consoled by an undertaking of members of his writing group to have this collection published posthumously. His oeuvre covers such topics as: ‘The theory and clinical treatment of borderline and narcissistic disturbances; psycho-somatic contagion and psychoid states in the analytic field; the role of insight, reason, interpretation and capacity to think analytically in the midst of destructive borderline attacks; the symbolic, pre-symbolic, and developmental failures in symbolising function; the analyst as wounded healer recycling (putting to good use) their own (hopefully) analysed/resolved madness; the jouissance grid. The influence of German Romantic antecedents on Freud and Jung was exemplified in lectures on ‘Depth Psychology, the History of Ideas’. Another passion was ‘The Mind-Body problem in  philosophy and  dynamic psychology’. His collected works also analyses the relevance of Spinoza, Santayana and the German Romantic philosophers to psychoanalysis and analytical psychology, not merely in historical or theoretical terms but as a vital resource to guide clinical practice.’ This list by no means does justice to Giles’ clinical innovations, revealed in due course with this proposed publication.

Inspired by the spirit of Herder’s heteropathic Einfühlung, Giles crossed disciplines, cultures and analytic divides, seeking to bring together members of diverse psychoanalytic, philosophical and cultural lineages. In Sydney his pioneering meetings with members of different psychoanalytic groups paved the way for what later became PACFA and The Australasian Confederation of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies.

The reader is referred to the excellent in-depth obituary in the Journal of Analytical Psychology by Warren Colman, Sue Austin and Leon Petchkovsky, June 2020, Volume 65:3l pp. 609‑614, (click here).

Judith Pickering© August 2020