The Fifth Principle

Author(s) : Paul Williams

The Fifth Principle

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The Fifth Principle is the first of three books that take as their subject aspects of the author's life. This book reflects upon a period between birth and eight years of age; the second book will address adolescence and the third, adulthood. It would be misleading to consider what follows to be autobiography, or the "case history" of an individual. The author of the book, and the individual written about, are not the same person. It is a piece of literature that furnishes an account of the methods of a mind in its efforts to prevail in oppressive circumstances.

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One might say that the author has undertaken, on behalf of the subject, to provide a faithful, intelligible account of unintelligible events. The mind in question, in so far as it resembles other minds, will speak to the reader in ways that are recognisable, though some of the things that are written about may be unfamiliar. The extent to which the narrative finds a home in the mind and the imagination of the reader will be the measure of its worth.

'The Fifth Principle is an unassuming literary gem. The writing is spare, highly charged, quietly explosive. Williams looks unflinchingly into his experience as a child, finding there a soul struggling to survive, or perhaps more accurately, trying not to allow the little bit of life that remains to be extinguished.'
- Thomas Ogden

'Paul Williams writes of a childhood devastated by lovelessness, disconnected from the real world, under the sway of fear and rage. His searching and deeply affecting confession deserves a place on the bookshelf beside Marie Cardinal.'
- J. M. Coetzee

'The mystery is that he survived, and what is more survived as a talented, intelligent, resourceful person. A masterpiece.'
- Eric Rhode

About the Author(s)

Paul Williams is a training and supervising analyst with The British Psychoanalytical Society and a member of the Royal Anthropological Institute. He was a consultant psychotherapist in the British National Health Service, retiring in 2010. From 2001-2007 he was Joint Editor-in-Chief, with Glen O. Gabbard, of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. He has published widely on the subject of severe disturbance. He lives and practises in Hampshire, UK.

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