I like Gordon Ramsay; ok, his blaspheming is gratuitous rather than articulate, and I suspect he has highlighted hair, but actually, when you get down to brass tacks, his cooking is sublime, and his restaurants a real experience.
So, a part of me is very sad this week to see the state that his family has descended into, with open letters in the press, accusations and counter accusations flying around. Mixing business and in-laws was always going to be tricky, but for Ramsay there must be a particular poignancy.
By all accounts he had a difficult relationship with his own father, and what he has described as an itinerant childhood, with constant moves around the country. His attempts to help his addict brother have also been well documented.
A lack of physical and emotional stability is a difficult environment for any child to grow up in. Kohut writes about the importance of a strong and reliable parent who the child can rely on in a crisis, thereby fostering the development of their own sense of ability and confidence. Similarly the child who learns that they are valued and enjoyed by their parent, will carry this feeling with them. Gordon Ramsay may have got all of this from his mother, but it seems likely that his father's input was less positive.
Kohut described the reparative value of the "corrective emotional experience", more simply, that "a 'second chance' at normal childhood development" (Clarkson) can be healing. Ramsay's father-in-law gave him the opportunity of a relational experience he missed with his own father, a sense of security and of self worth. This emotional element must make it even harder to bear the loss of the business relationship, apart from the sight of his wife becoming estranged from her own father and family; a reality which must have it's own impact on their marriage.
The danger as I see it is that Ramsay is left with only his public following for positive mirroring. Given that his public persona has eclipsed his actual talent and probably his true self, it seems he is in a difficult place from which to make new relationships, a place which I imagine is also lonely.