Psychoanalysis and History

In 1993, I left St Bernards Hospital, which had in the meantime transformed itself into a part of Ealing Hospital. Having been there too long, in my view. My career had been developing for a longish period, and its future development was getting correspondingly shorter. As perhaps for everyone, history slowly becomes more interesting than ambition. A number of papers about the history of psychoanalysis have emerged since then. In response to this turn, I founded a third journal, Psychoanalysis and History, in 1998.

1990 Virginia Woolf and psycho-analysis (letter)
International Review of Psycho-Analysis 17: 367-371
This brief letter indicated the onset of a series of questions about the place of psychoanalysis in Britain from the early days. Given that Virginia Woolf was both emotionally disturbed at times, and was well-acquainted with Freud (she and her husband Leonard Woolf, set up the Hogarth Press, and became Freud’s publisher in England), why did she not avail herself a psychoanalysis herself?

1991 Psychodynamic psychiatry before World War.
In German Berrios and Hugh Freeman (eds), 1991, 150 Years of British Psychiatry (London: Gaskell/Royal College of Psychiatrists)
This paper was fairly exhaustively researched as part of my interest in the history of psychoanalysis in Britain, which continued with the 1995 paper. There were all kinds of embryonic developments within psychiatry, inspired by a hew hope in treatment effectiveness which was enhanced by the new psychoanalytic ideas, entering the field from the 1890s.

1995 The myth of the British compromise.
Published in German (as ‘Der mythos vom britischen Kompromiss’), in Ludger Hermans (ed) Spaltungen in der Geschicte (Tubingen: Diskord)
The outcome of the Controversial Discussion in 1943-44, was something of stalemate which led to a prolonged living-together of diverse and in some respects incompatible points of view. This has given the British Psychoanalytic Society the reputation for compromise and tolerance. However the reality may be different.

1995 Psycho-analysis in Britain – points of cultural access 1893-1918.
International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 76 135-151.
The fact that the cultured persons of the British Psychoanalytical Society, upper middle class, Oxbridge educated, and vaguely anti-semitic, in the 1920s, took to their hearts a middle European, Jewish woman without a University eduction, Melanie Klein, led me to wonder in more general terms what provoked an interest in psychoanalysis in Britain. In the 25 years after psychoanalysis was first noted, I believed I could describe seven points of entry into British cultural and professional life.

1997 The elusive concept of ‘internal objects’ and the origins of the Klein group 1934-1943.
International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 78 877-897. German translation, 1996; Spanish translation 1997
In the Melanie Klein archives at the Welcome Library in London, there are a number of sets of notes from around 1940 which address the question of what an ‘internal object’ is. The obscurity of the meaning of the term led to considerable confusion, contradiction and eventually ennui. Following the Controversial Discussions, post-1944, the term become emblematic of Kleinian psychoanalysis and the Klein group.

1998 Organising psychoanalysis in Britain.
History and Psychoanalysis 1 97-102
My strength of interest in history and psychoanalysis led me, with Andrea Sabbadini to found a new Journal to be called Psychoanalysis and History; Andrea edited it and I published it (on the strength of my work with the International Journal of Therapeutic Communities, and the British Journal of Psychotherapy). In this paper in the first volume, I wrote about the development of those organisations which first sponsored the practice and the teaching of psychoanalytic ideas. I was interested too in certain social factors, such as the numbers of woman entering this new profession in the 1920s.

2006 Melanie Klein and repression: Social and clinical influences apparent form an examination of some unpublished notes of 1934.
Psychoanalysis and History 8 5-42.
Another delving into the archives at the Wellcome Library, produced an extraordinary set of notes written by Melanie Klein in 1934 on what she called early repression mechanisms – which later evolved into her paper, in 1946, on schizoid mechanisms. That she was already working on these ideas in 1934 is hinted at in the later published paper, but is still remarkable. It is remarkable, not least because she obviously interrupted this train of ideas by her elucidation of the depressive position.

2013 Bion’s Sources: The Shaping of his Paradigms (Editors: Nuno Torres and R.D. Hinshelwood)
London: Routledge and Kegan Paul

At this time there is a widespread interest in, even fashion for, the work of Wilfred Bion. His work is often treated as if he were a guru. In this book we have gathered contributors who examine carefully where Bion searched for ideas that he could use to do the jobs he needed in the various phases of his career. It is the beginning of an attempt to implant Bion and his ideas within the intellectual and psychoanalytic context in which he worked and wrote.