A few words from Susie Orbach, psychotherapist.

Right now, I would like to turn down the volume on email. Too, too much of it. I try to clear it, only to wake up to more. It's relentless.

They are usually silenced or ignored but we should be hearing more of ordinary people doing their jobs, being human, helping others, welcoming refugees, clearing up rubbish. Not being celebrities, but being their admirable selves.

If I was on the couch I would express my current state of mind as like everyone's. Parts of me are very content, other bits harassed. I love what I do, but I need a 10-day week to make it work.

So call me delusional, but I think that would do the trick.


I'm blithe spirited hanging out with friends, cooking - I find that restful and pleasurable. Walking, too. I love walking alone or with friends, with Jeanette [Winterson, Orbach's wife] at weekends and off the internet.

Fashion changes. What's new today is that kids from 6 to women in retirement homes are encouraged to be preoccupied by their bodies. There is age compression at both ends: the 6-year-olds play cosmetic surgery apps imagining the bodies they will create when they are older, teens want to look like 20-year-olds, 40-year-olds worry about losing their looks and when it comes to my age group we are supposed to look 20 years younger. That's madness and only profits the style/beauty/fashion/diet/food industries. They are big industries - make no mistake about it - and they have increased their profits by selling to younger and younger people, to men, and by exporting the Western look around the world as though it was a way to belong to modernity. The intensity of it is new.

If I was a word, I would be curious ... I'm curious about life.

I have been moved to tears by a book. I thought Han Kang's Human Acts was remarkable. In truth, though, I can get the weepies quite easily at the movies. I'm also deeply moved in my work as a psychotherapist by how individuals struggle with the issues that beset them.

I cannot imagine living in another time in history. I am too much a creature of my generation - post-war, brought up with socialdemocracy and hope. Then the 60s happened - the civil rights movement, women's liberation and the Vietnam war. I couldn't imagine anything else.

I'm not sure I feel powerful, if that is the right word to use, but I love it when work and friendship and family are going well. I guess I'm with Freud on this: love and work. As for being inspired, I'm frequently bowled over by human endeavours, the wonderful things we do.

The people who have gone, who I would like to talk to are my parents. I'd be fascinated to meet them now I'm so very grown up and having lived in a different historical moment to them. I'd be interested in finding out about the struggles they faced from their perspective, not from how I saw it as a youngster.

Susie Orbach is a guest at the Auckland Writers Festival. Feminist Days, Friday, May 13, 1pm; Creativity and Craziness (with Jeanette WInterson) Friday, May 13, 9pm and Saturday, May 14, 3pm.