to return to the contents page.
#[p34] Chapter 3. The Eric Harvey approach and attention seeking.
My interest in areas of practice, in particular the Eric Harvey approach, introduced in chapter 1, was the trigger for the project. Beginning with a description of this approach to working with parents (further illustrated in the accompanying tape), the current chapter goes on to a brief exploration of attention seeking, using the article "Attention Seeking" (Mellor 1997b). The concept forms, for me, a key idea in the understanding of the needs of some children displaying emotional and behavioural difficulties. The book "Attention Seeking" (Mellor 1997a), placed in appendix A, written for teachers during the course of the project, provides a fuller description of the concept.
The chapter also explains how this book met some practical needs in day to day work, for instance, in getting across possibly threatening ideas to teachers who may be stressed, in a sensitive manner. The final section introduces some criticism of the book from my own perspective. However, arguments contained in the publications around attention seeking and my description of the Eric Harvey method are not offered as part of the arguments of this thesis; the ideas are introduced (briefly) in this chapter to continue the explanation of how this research, and certain of my concerns about practice, came about. I hope EP colleagues will engage in debate with me about such topics in other settings.
1. The Eric Harvey approach.
There are potentially a great number of ways of tackling issues arising from "children displaying emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD)". There might be no direct intervention at all with the children or their families (seeing the "problem" as no problem at all, simply part of "normal" development). It is also quite possible to take a perspective that any "challenge" the behaviour presents, can be a jumping off point for the school or the LEA to examine its systems. The psychologistís role might then be more as consultant.
In those instances when direct intervention is the chosen vehicle (and that choice may be influenced by a variety of personal, social and political factors) the site of intervention #[p35] might be the child, the teacher, the family or any combination, with input from a variety of other agencies (social services, learning support, speech therapy, school medical service and so on). These interventions might range from little more than some brief, sympathetic listening to full-blown programmes carried over many months, within a broad choice of perspectives: cognitive therapy, behaviour therapy, family therapy, counselling (of various persuasions), social skills training etc. In some cases medication may be recommended; in some cases, formal assessment and special provision.
Psychologists may work at all these levels depending, in part, on skill and interest, custom and practice, and negotiation with the school (one current colleague for instance carries out no casework in one of her 13-18 high schools, she just provides in-service training). Although I try to maintain some expertise in a mixture of styles of working, my preference is for a variety of individual casework that I call the Eric Harvey approach. It is a way of working that I am at home with:
Each model [of family therapy] possess an internal logic to guide the therapistís actions. This logic serves as a beacon through the strong winds and seas of therapy sessions... consistency on the therapistís part projects to the family a confidence of belief, a sense of Ďknowing what I am doingí. The therapist acts with a confidence that is crucial to engaging the family. (Worden 1999 p.48)
"The Eric Harvey method " is no recognised label which will be found in the literature. It is broadly a form of "family therapy". Family therapy can be classified in many ways. Barker (1986) describes a number of "schools", some of them "based very much on the work of a particular therapist" (p.55), such as psychodynamic, behavioural, group therapy, extended family systems therapy, communications theory approaches, structural approaches, strategic therapy. At a loose level, almost any kind of work with the family may be described as some form of "family therapy" but the term is most commonly used for a variety of systems based approaches where the family and not the individual is the focus.
In teaching Ericís approach I stress the extent of the systems which the concept of attention seeking (see below) may lead us to address: the child in the family; the child in the classroom; the child in the school (and the LEA). Each of these presents unique opportunities for change, particularly when we can see causation as circular.
#[p36] encouraging us to tackle any and all parts of interlocking interactions, seeking "the difference which makes a difference" (Keeney 1983 p.153). Unfortunately, those embroiled in such circular interactions, often find it extremely difficult to see their own need to behave differently. It can be painful to accept the need to alter when we feel hurt ourselves. Eric concentrated on the parents. In my recent practice I have tried to work with the child, the parents, the teacher and the school. The parent work is at the heart of Ericís approach, however.
Eric was a social worker, but one who rejected what he saw as the conventional, often long-term, social work style interventions of his training in the early 1970s. He drew strongly on behavioural influences (but also the Adlerian school - see Mellor 1997a for an Adlerian perspective). His cases could be described as "behavioural family therapy", this would, however, miss the point. In my understanding of Ericís work it was the style, as much as the content, which worked. He was human. He told jokes. He told stories. He swore. He had great empathy with the parents. Parents (or at least the mothers) often cried. He had honed his technique to perfection; he gave them confidence, he "knew what he was doing". He was an excellent communicator (a point I return to in chapter 12). There is much to examine in his interviews beyond the advice for handling children. They fit no simple label - I will just refer to "the Eric Harvey approach".
The interviews were carefully structured, leading from less threatening to more threatening material, in cycles. Emphasis was very much on the practical, the here-and-now, rather than searching for past causes. The questions asked were "on the ball", they often elicited a comment such as "you must have been to our house". By the time the advice-giving stage was reached, parents were already won over. They seemed to "believe in" Eric and were motivated to try. Which may all sound terribly manipulative. I have no real defence against that charge, some justification, however, is offered below.
Parents often seemed to bring to sessions a confusion of cognitions and emotions. One mother exemplified this mixture of attempts at understanding:
He can be good but has 'radgie' days. I wonder if it was the food. With his weight and glasses, they're skitting him all the time. Last year his grandma died . He just likes being the centre of attention . Can't we hypnotise him? (Mellor 1997a p.13)
#[p37] In many cases there seemed to be a relatively unformed, but nevertheless powerful, medical model in the background: the problem was somehow part of the childís make up, with current popularity of notions such as ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and its associated drug treatments. Broadly speaking this label refers to :
... children with problems of paying attention (to their work) not problems of demanding attention (from their teachers), together with associated difficulties in being overactive and impulsive. These are children who cannot concentrate and who may be constantly restless. (Mellor 1997a p.19, emphasis in original)
Given case load demands, given the need to bring about a radical change of attitude in a very short time, my defence would be the very pragmatic one, does it work? I hope to explore issue around such an attitude in due course, arising from comments on the training pack for psychologists now in preparation (Mellor forthcoming a). For now, the enclosed tape  (placed at appendix A) may give the reader some more understanding of the approach; perhaps some appreciation of my commitment to it (and consequent ambivalence about change, see later); and evidence of the resolution of my emotional struggle over making such material public (see chapter 9).
2. Attention seeking.
The key concept in the Eric Harvey approach is that of attention seeking. One of its strengths, I would argue, lies in the shift of emphasis it entails, from a within-child explanation of behaviour difficulties to an interactional model, although this shift may be one that the adults find difficult to accept, for reasons outlined below. The definition, even the existence of "attention seeking", is not, however, without controversy. This short account will attempt only to introduce some of the issues, not resolve them. Further details are to be found in Mellor (1997a).
Attention seeking is a slippery phrase which appears intermittently throughout the educational and psychological literature yet rarely has any prominence. It appears little in the relevant psychiatric literature for example (the phrase does not rate an index entry in Rutter et al's 1994 mammoth and apparently highly regarded text on child and adolescent psychiatry and is not conspicuous in the body of the work). There appears to have been no publication specifically devoted to attention seeking. While researching for #[p38] the book "Attention seeking", much of the material (mainly non-medical) was found by laborious means: simply reading endless books and articles on behaviour problems. A computer search of electronic databases, for instance threw up only six items and not all of these were relevant to children.
The phrase, however, constantly crops up in discussion in schools and with parents and others. I found it to be part of a very powerful vehicle for bringing about change in families where children had been referred for emotional and behavioural difficulties, yet it had very little status academically and practical applications were, to say the least, diffuse.
The article below (published in the journal Young Minds, 1997) illustrates some of the nature of the concept and the work in this area, with regard to school-based interventions, for those unfamiliar with the topic. It highlights the behavioural roots of the approach. As mentioned above, however, the work with the parents in particular is far from traditional behaviourism.
3. Attention Seeking (Mellor 1997b, published in Young Minds, 31 (October), 1997 p.16)
Crawls under desk. Flicks ruler. Makes pig noises. Mixes up coats on pegs. Picks nose and puts into dinners. Bites hands. Tells Ďwhoppersí. Paints hair purple. Steals. Cries. Refuses to work ...
What do all these have in common? The answer is, they bring massive amounts of attention: counselling, threats, punishments, advice, shouting, arguing, reasoning... And thatís what the attention seeking child thrives on.
Although used in conversation a great deal and by some accounts a very common problem, attention seeking has been little researched. It can be mistaken for almost any other difficulty (ADHD, attendance problems, stealing, self injury etc.). There is no check list of "symptoms". The best guide is simply the adultís own feeling, in this case, intense irritation. As one teacher commented about a very attention seeking 10 year old "I veer between wanting to strangle her and give her a cuddle. She irritates me beyond words, then I get irritated because of that" (Mellor 1997a p.10).
Attention seeking - the problem.
#[p39] Children behaving like this are almost impossible to ignore and the most caring teachers and parents are those most vulnerable to the tactics. What causes the greatest strain is that normal solutions donít work: "Some children ... seek punishment, because it is at least one way of gaining attention" (Laslett and Smith 1987 p.221)
Adults may be used to a medical model: that problems reside "within" the child. When embroiled, we can all find it difficult to see our part in the circular interactions at the heart of attention seeking. This is particularly so when feeling stressed. And the children make it very personal! They learn very quickly which buttons to press. As one teacher exclaimed: "He blocks me from all the other children ... He drains all the compassion out of me ... I feel like itís my fault. Iím just drained at the end of it" (Mellor 1997a p.6)
Staying in the present.
The parents we see also feel very upset and confused. They may be looking to events in the past for an explanation. But searching history is usually a recipe for piling up guilt. Occasionally one clear trigger can be identified: the arrival of a new baby for instance. The first child, used to total attention, suddenly becomes "dethroned" and acts out in order to regain this lost attention. This simple chain is rare. The crucial point, however, is not what began the spiral ten years ago but what to do about it now. As with the teachers we talk to, the approach must be positive and practical and, above all, sensitive. There is no "magic pill" solution, just careful strategies applied consistently. Some of these are familiar: ignoring, praising, punishing. Some may already be in use. The trick is both to get the balance right and to make them all effective, at school and at home: "Many teachers who believe they are "ignoring" behaviour may, in fact, be inadvertently reinforcing [it]" (OíLeary and OíLeary 1977 p.57).
Making techniques effective in class.
Ignoring, for example, sounds such a very obvious and simple procedure. But itís not. It is a skill which requires close analysis and practice. Many teachers worry about the effect on the rest of the class of ignoring one child (this is not usually such an issue for parents at home). Special planning is needed to overcome this difficulty. In addition, matters tend to become worse before they improve and all adults have to be prepared for this.
Rewarding and punishing are also full of pitfalls : "The other children felt that it was not really fair that he should be rewarded whilst he was behaving so badly" (Merrett 1993 p. 102) "Punishments donít seem to bother him ... He wants my reaction" (Mellor 1997a p.10). Positive attention must be given, but appropriately. Punishment must be carefully chosen...
These topics need to be handled in a very non-threatening way. Given the limited time professionals have with teachers in school, a practical text is one solution...
#[p40] 4. Attention seeking: interactional "problem" or "having a laff"?
To begin I would like to stress that, although the concept of attention seeking generally enters discourse around distressing issues, it is clear that the "problem" is not necessarily a barrier to later success, taking Mark Twain as one example:
By the time he was five, he had become exceedingly mischievous and had a passion for practical jokes...he began another practice - the telling of stories...real whoppers that often threw his mother and neighbours into an uproar ... he ran away frequently, often to go play near the dangerous and forbidden creek... He would have rated highly on ... attention seeking... as an adult Sam was almost invariably the center of attention ... and he is recorded as having openly sulked when he could not keep the stage ... he demanded constant attention and was annoyed when he failed to get it (Sears 1961 p.11/12/30 writing about the life of Sam Clemens/Mark Twain )
It is, however, impossible to say what might have happened to any child, in terms of "having a successful career", had his or her attention seeking been, or not been, dealt with. I saw my job as practitioner very much to do with relieving present distress, for the adults but most importantly, for the children. The children, as I discuss in the book, seemed unhappy and often isolated and friendless.
The teacher stated, "I couldn't say [Debbieís] got a friend. Nobody wants to let her into the line. She winds everyone up." (quoted in Mellor 1997a p.9)
At school [Elizabeth] was spiteful and aggressive towards other children. She would also run off from school or have tantrums... There had been instances of her urinating in various containers around the classroom (Wade and Moore 1984 p.27).
Samantha had unpleasant habits such as "licking her nose" (Montgomery 1989 p.152). Samantha "alienated herself from her peers. She delighted in making them feel sick" (ibid p.152)
In the following, much abbreviated discussion, I rehearse one of the arguments of Mellor (1997a) that attention seeking can be distinguished from other difficulties, although the outward signs of the behaviours may appear very similar.
A child displaying attention seeking in my experience is often, as the above quotations illustrate, not popular. I would argue that such a child is not generally "one of the lads" "having a laff" with his mates, as in Willis (1977). Although superficially much of their #[p41] behaviour may appear equivalent to Willisí "lads" (and, of course, many "lasses") the motivations appear different: much more personal, tied up with their own pattern of interacting with adults, rather than arising from any "counter-culture" (although at times the two might overlap). It is instructive to compare two similar descriptions of behaviour, by Hargreaves et al and Willis, in making this claim. In Hargreaves et alís account, the boy is described by his teachers as attention seeking and "different"; in Willis, he is just "one of the lads", fitting into a sub-culture. This is not simply a change of labels. The overt behaviours are very similar, the messages they give are radically divergent. In one case I would argue it seems reasonable to tackle the individualís problems, in the other it is perhaps the culture clash which needs to be addressed. The descriptions of the obvious behaviours give only part of the information needed to interpret the problems.
He's different in many ways from the rest of his peers...He will interfere with someone else's activities. He'll either pinch them, push them, have a kick at their legs as he walks past... At the back of the class he can be making various noises... All kinds of minor disruptive behaviours that you can think of, Fritz has done them... all the little classroom annoyances (Hargreaves et al 1975 p.178)
...the kid still marooned from his mates crawls along the backs of the chairs or behind a curtain down the side of the hall, kicking other kids, or trying to dismantle a chair with somebody on it as he passes (Willis 1977 p.12)
At this stage there is much more research to be done in clarifying the issues around making such a distinction. The book is, in one way, simply a starting point from which to generate discussion, future publications will consider this in more detail in the light of Toddís (1998) review of the book.
While attention seeking could be a result of abuse, emotional deprivation or rejection at home, the parents we saw seemed to be extremely involved with the children, committed and often desperate for a better relationship, not abusive or neglectful. The difficulty seemed to occur in otherwise quite "normal" families, as evidenced by their later return to "normality" after intervention. and appeared to be no particular respecter of class, educational background, age, sex or marital or financial status. Apart from published sources referred to in the book, the children mentioned as case examples were all white, reflecting the ethnic make up of the areas in which I worked. Most referrals were boys (see Mellor 1997a p.72 for further discussion of these topics).
#[p42] Dawson (1985 p.2) identifies five causes for attention seeking which appears in school:
*Developmental delay or faulty training - the child who is very dependent .
*As part of hyperactive or inconsequential behaviour - "the pupil is uninhibited in seeking attention from the teacher" (p.2).
*Anxiety - particularly for new pupils .
*Rejection by parents.
*Rejection by peers.
It is obviously vital that these conditions are recognised and addressed. Part of the job of the educational psychologist is to try to see the whole perspective (see for instance Mellor 1997a p.19-22 on teasing out some of the distinctions). Even our much maligned psychometrics may have a part to play, for instance in uncovering an unrecognised learning difficulty behind the surface behaviour difficulties. In many cases, however, it seems that the attention seeking is (or has become) the problem:
...the bizarre behaviour was the problem; his 'disturbance' was no more nor no less than the bizarre behaviour, and was not some separate underlying entity that we should assume existed as well ( Morgan 1984 p.3 emphasis in original)
And that problem can be extremely difficult to resolve. Hence my felt need to write a book.
4. Writing the book.
Apart from an initial wish to record Ericís work in some way, the motivation for writing a book (which was later to turn into the first part of a trilogy) was very practical. As I explain below, creating the time and conditions necessary to talk to teachers is a difficulty which constantly beset me. A book which teachers could read at their own time of choosing was one solution.
I was pleased with the content of the book. It said what I wanted it to say, in the way I wanted it to. In the discussion which follows my intention is not to criticise the publishers, they were, in fact, extremely keen and helpful. They have my gratitude, and the publication has been a success . The comments which follow arise from my own idiosyncrasies: I was not so pleased with the layout of the book*. To an extent, it offended my writerís sensibilities. I had not realised it would be a "book", the publisher had until then produced spiral bound work-book type material. I had not thought in terms of
#[p43] "chapters"; it was not well broken up. I felt the cartoons were dull. There were many mistakes in the first print run. To save time and money the publisher had not sent me a proof copy. He intimatedthat authors tended to "mess around with the text too much" and, as a small firm they could not afford many type-setting alterations; they would do the proof reading themselves (final corrections were made in the second print run). I take responsibility for this situation, however, and at the time, did not complain. My point in any case is not one of complaint, but one which arises later in the thesis, of identity: identity as a writer, taking pride in my work.
The publishers wanted me to use the phrase "attention needing", rather than "attention seeking", which they saw as derogatory. I was torn. I agreed with their sentiment, but my instinct was to seek effective change in behaviour. Attention seeking is part of the common discourse in school, I felt I could harness it. It presents, possibly, a greater challenge to the adult than some alternative labels: "maladjusted", "emotional and behavioural difficulties", "ADHD" , "disruptive". However, this challenge may be in a disguised form. First, attention seeking is seen not as a "within-child" problem, but part of an interaction, where causation is circular:
Western philosophy has been heavily influenced by notions of linear causation (Dell 1980). Circular causation is much more difficult to grasp, particularly when we are part of the circle. While we seek a "cause" or try to figure out the deep seated reason behind some unusual behaviour, while we think in terms of a problem "within" the child, we overlook the dance we have become unwitting partners in (Keeney and Sprenkle 1982). This book is tribute to that multitude of teachers (and parents) who have been able, without feeling criticised, to see their part in the cycle and lead the child out of the dance. (Mellor 1997a p. 92)
Second, and most importantly, although superficially labelling the child, the implication of using the label attention seeking is that, in effect, the adult has to change. The adult has to be engaged as the major agent in disrupting the cycle (although, of course, from a systems perspective, change can arise from any part, and my current practice is to work with child, parents, school and, where possible, wider systems).
There could be, however, many barriers to overcome in harnessing the adultís work. The very personal nature of attention seeking interactions, for instance, often lead to teachers feeling very upset:
#[p44] He blocks me from all the other children. I've tried all sorts of ways of dealing with him and I get nowhere. He absorbs my energy, my attention. I give him so much and he gives nothing back. I start off feeling compassionate, I'd like to spend more time with him, then frustrated, then angry. He drains all the compassion from me. I feel like screaming. I feel like its my fault. I'm just drained at the end of it (art teacher discussing Michael Platt age 13 in high school, quoted in Mellor 1997a p.6).
Ros [the teacher] described [Debbie] as irritating: "She's got me just about tearing my hair out, I can't think of one redeeming feature. I go home and I think I should be nice to her and I will try really hard with her...
She irritates everyone, she is late to lessons, she is always late to first lesson and hasn't got her things. You could forgive her if it was out of the blue but it's every morning"...
Ros said, "I veer between wanting to strangle her and give her a cuddle. She irritates me beyond words, then I get irritated because of that". (quoted in ibid p. 10)
While under stress suggestions that the adult should change are fraught with difficulty. Caricaturing the setting to emphasise the dangers: a hurried discussion over a cup of coffee at break time is just the right situation to bring about the wrong result - a resentful and hurt teacher who feels threatened and criticised; one who has trusted you as colleague to observe her class, and then has seen that trust apparently betrayed in a hopelessly brief conversation which seems to identify her as the problem. The book, hopefully teacher-friendly, sympathetic and practical, to be read at leisure, I saw as one solution to this difficulty. There are others (see chapter 4 on other efforts to change practice) although the simplest solution of all, finding more time for the teachers to be released from class for undisturbed discussion, has, unfortunately, rarely occurred.
The order of materials in the book was unconventional but carefully chosen to appeal to practitioners: practice first, theory last. As one teacher noted:
The case studies catch your interest [then] what to do about it. Youíre hooked by the case studies, you want to know what to do about [the problem] then you look at the theory ... If you havenít got a lot of time - teachers want to get straight [to the practical]. (diary note 27.11. 97)
Reviews of the book have been very positive. The most useful, critical comments have come from Todd (1998) and these will be addressed in Mellor (forthcoming a).
5. Attention seeking and research.
#[p45] Unearthing material for the book on attention seeking was slow but, as "research", the process was relatively straightforward: I seemed to be simply "giving voice" to what, at one level, I already knew. I could speak with the "authority of experience" (Russell 1998 p.6). Had the collection of material from the self-study group been available (Hamilton 1998) I might well have followed their path, studying practice using a "methodology in which researchers and practitioners use whatever methods will provide the needed evidence and context for understanding their practice" (Hamilton and Pinnegar 1998 p.240). Doubtless my practice would have been all the better for this. And at the completion of the current project it is to practice that I will return in a more direct manner, with two further works in preparation, hopefully informed by criticism arising from material recently produced (although, in one way, casework issues, for instance to do with ethics, continued to flavour the research which did eventually develop. This is the subject of the remaining chapters).
However, using for now a journey metaphor, although practice was the "launch pad", my travels took me into regions remote: a study of how to study. At a barely conscious level I seemed to have nagging questions I could not quite grasp. I eventually stepped off from the secure world of "science" with little more than a wing and a prayer, with a curiosity, a determination to explore whatever came up, and an unformed appreciation that the tools of exploration would need to be fashioned as I went along. Most importantly, I determined to make a faithful record of the passage, to be honest. I was done with the tidy fabrications of my previous studies. The next chapter begins this record.
6. Key points emerging from the chapter.
My preference for tackling many emotional and behavioural difficulties is what I call the Eric Harvey method. This is not described in the literature. Ericís style of working was very idiosyncratic, based around a behavioural approach but carefully tailored to the parentsí understanding and emotional needs. He was an excellent communicator.
#[p46] The approach employs the concept of attention seeking, which is not adequately addressed in the literature. I use the idea, while acknowledging its potential disadvantages. It embodies a notion of circular causation. Adults may have many, often confused, explanations for the childrenís behaviour, in particular they may subscribe to within-child factors. Attention seeking interactions may lead the adults to experience very personal feelings of upset and these create potential pitfalls for the psychologist. Writing an accessible book (for teachers) was one way round these.
The book, I felt, carried the message well but I had misgivings about its form. I return to this issue later in discussing identities (chapter 10). The arguments of the book are not the arguments of the thesis and criticisms of the book, arising from a review, will be addressed elsewhere.
Researching for the book was relatively straightforward. Researching researching, which the book and the practice surrounding it formed the entry point to, turned out to be anything but. The following chapters explore this.
 I use the term emotional and behavioural difficulties, EBD, as a convenient shorthand, while acknowledging its problematic nature. I do not intend to explore these problems here. I will, however, refer not to "EBD children", but to "children displaying EBD", emphasising that first and foremost, these are children.[BACK]
 Unfortunately the label "systems work" has itself been used in a variety of ways, as Fredrickson says "to describe anything and everything which a psychologist might do ... other than interacting with children" (Fredrickson 1990 cited in Osborne 1994 p. 31).[BACK]
 See for instance Barker (1986) or Dowling (1994) for a longer description of this concept. See also related discussions in appendix B.[BACK]
 This topic, parentsí (and professionalsí) beliefs about the "causes" of behaviour and how it should be tackled, offers a rich area for research. My growing feeling is that a tangle of partially digested ideas is as difficult to alter as one clear, fixed belief such as "itís in the blood". The nebulous nature of such tangles seems to render them immune to change, and, paradoxically, all the more powerful for being unclear. As an interesting
#[p47] parallel, I found the tangle of ideas surrounding "science" a particularly difficult one for me to disrupt. Hydra-headed yet fuzzy it seemed to spring back from unexpected quarters just when I seemed to have tied it down. See later chapters.[BACK]
 Prior (1997) provides a summary of views on ADHD. For further information see, for example, Taylor 1994, Green and Chee 1995 or O'Brien 1996. Prior cites statistics of up to 1 in 25 children being medicated for behavioural reasons in parts of the USA. Others dispute such figures, nevertheless, I am concerned about the medicalisation of behaviour difficulties and the resulting recourse to drug regimes (see Slee 1995).[BACK]
 The parents have given permission for the tape to be published, I would, however, ask the reader to "listen with respect" and to value the parents for their courage in releasing this.[BACK]
 I will not pursue what we might mean by such a term as "normal". The point I am making is that after intervention the families, and of course, particularly the children, seemed to "settle down", to be more positive about each other, to raise less concerns in the eyes of professionals, and themselves; in all respects, no longer to stand out. What negative impact quite "normal" families may have on children is not a topic I intend to explore.[BACK]
 I understand that over 1,300 copies were sold from mid 1997 to the end of 1998.[BACK]
 A few years previously I had been closely involved in the production of a collection of poetry, from the choice of the paper and the type face to the page lay out and the cover design. I was working with printers and graphic artists who trained me not to try to tell them how to do it, but to say what I wanted - a subtle but vital distinction. I was very conscious of the need for the form of the book to reflect its content and, as a writer, I felt the eventual product was right, in both form and content. It delivered its message to my satisfaction. It was not, however, much of a commercial success.[BACK]
Added December 2001, not in the original thesis
* I want to stress here that I am not criticising the publishers, who have served me very well. My latest book with them is excellent. I am just trying to be honest about some of my own feelings to explain this sense of writer identity. I apologise unreservedly for any offence which may be caused.[BACK]
** These comments are to the best of my recall and may not be a full and accurate account of the publishers views either then or now.[BACK]
to return to the contents page.