Freud Conference 2023: Indigenous voices- Psychoanalytic listening 17 June 2023 ( in person and online)



The Freud Conference is reconvening after the years of Covid lockdowns in Melbourne, Australia as well as the rest of the world.

It will be held at the Melbourne Brain Centre in Royal Parade, Parkville on 17 June 2023 – in person and online.

The presenters include Ken Lechkeitner Pangarte, Craig SAN Roque, Pamela Nathan and Melinda Hinkson. Later this year Australians will be voting in a referendum which, if passed, will ensure voices of First Nations will be heard. It is an acknoweledgement that Australian history is over 60,000 years in the making…

Here is the link for more information

“TROVE” the National Library of Australia’s jewel, has been saved!!!


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Late in 2022 the National Library issued bleak news. It’s online archival resource, TROVE would close down in mid 2023 if it did not get substantial funding. The politics are complex, but briefly, it has taken a change of national government for the value of this resource to be properly acknowledged. For just this morning the announcement has come through. TROVE would be re-funded to the tune of 33 Million dollars over four years.. enough to go on with.

Here is that link.

TROVE has been instrumental in the development of this blog. I began with a question. What did ordinary Australian folk know and think about psychoanalysis during the twentieth century? The perception abroad was ‘not much’. And why would they? the argument went. These were the legendary Jack and Jills of all trades, the egalitarian bushman was assumed to be anti intellectual.

Nothing could be further from reality. TROVE threw up some answers. How the ‘Kalgoorlie Miner’ published a piece on Freud’s dreams in 1903, or republished it from the magazine Household Words; how the Workers Education Association ) WEA found its most popular choice of subject was psychology. During the 1920s and 1930s people living places as far away from the metropoles as the mining centres of Rockhampton and Charters Towers in Queensland, Broken Hill in far west New South Wales. These were the towns of the workers, and a particular political force in Britain well as Australia. People in the cities Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth read about Freud and his ideas in their local newspapers. Even the Catholic Advocate, speaking against psychoanalysis, based its argument on a knowledgeable reading of Freud. Interest in psychoanalysis was not limited to the medical profession in Australia. Nor was Australia too far away from developments in Europe. The overseas cabled news networks and Australia’s overland telegraph saw to that!!

Then there was the discovery and recovery of Ivy Bennett, Australia’s first trained lay analyst, a participant in Anna Freud’s first training program commenced in 1947. Bennett, an Associate of the British Psychoanalytical Society, practised in Perth from 1952 until 1958 when she returned to England to gain her full qualification with the British Psychoanalytical Society thus making her eligible for membership of the International Psychoanalytical Society.

Freud’s rescue from Vienna in 1938 was widely reported across the Australian nation as was his arrival in Paris on 6 June 1938. The famous photographs of him with Anna Freud, smiling from their train carriage window, were published in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ in Sydney, and Brisbane. Editors in those days did not spend so much money on images unless they were sure of recovering their costs.

TROVE’s rescue enables deeper study, interrogation of detail, and investigation of important historical questions in Australian psychoanalytic history, and certainly in other cultural arenas. We need accurate histories to understand where we come from, and how cultural institutions were formed.

Clara Lazar Geroe’s contribtion: Fetschrift for Ferenczi: “Soul analysis studies. Theses on the main questions of psychoanalysis by Members of the Hungarian psychoanalytical association” Edited by Sigmund Freud, 1933


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In 1933, well before the Hungarian Society suffered the ravages of war and dispersion all over the world, Sigmund Freud invited members of the Hungarian Psychoanalytical Society to contribute to a Fetschrift for Sandor Ferenczi. The great man was ill and would die before the year was done and the volume published.

Freud had gathered the cream of the Society to contribute: Alice and Michael Balint, Istvan Hollos the Society’s Secretary, Imre Hermann, the President, Vilma Kovacs, Geza Roheim, Lillian Rotter, Laszlo Revesz, Mihaly Eisler, Kata Levy and her husband, Lajos, Lily Hadyu, Endre Almasy, Fanny Hann, Sigmund Pfeifer and finally, Klara Lazar.

Eleven years later in 1944 Hungary became Hitler’s target. it was a cruel fate: Jews were rounded up, shot into the Danube, or deprted to certain death at Auschwitch. By then some of the analysts, aided by the Ernest Jones resettlement fund, had departed for other parts of the world.

Klara Lazar was one of these. She migrated to Australia in 1940. Others remained, defending psychoanalysis as best they could.

For Klara Lazar the rupturing experience of forced migration, meant that part of her was left behind, even though she returned to Hungary once more in her life, for a brief visit in 1961. Migration, unlike tourism, means there is no return home. Word of her contribution to this volume is not known in Australia. Yet, upon reading it, one is delighted by her liveliness and ability to relate to the young people in her care. Does she anticipate some of Winnicott’s later work with parents at the Maudsley Hospital in London?

Luckily, or is it sadly, the Fetschrift for Ferenczi has finally made its way to the online platform, The full edition can be found here. For those who cannot read Hungarian Google translate will assist access to a group of fine thinkers.

I have used Google to translate Klara Lazar’s piece, Nevelési tanácsadásEducational Counselling.

It’s not perfect but you will get the drift..

Here is the translation –

“Ever since Freud showed how important childhood situations, the parental home, and the behavior of parents and educators are in the development of adult neuroses, the desire for prophylaxis has stood side by side with our curative efforts. This directed the attention of analysts to childhood. In our imagination, it is evident we should try to prevent the onset of neuroses in childhood. In practice this has significant difficulties. The causes of neuroses are the harmful experiences that the child has through parents, educators, and the adult environment, which, due to his vulnerability as a child, his biological and spiritual structure, he can neither avoid nor process. These indicate two paths for prophylaxis:

1. to teach adults to behave in ways that it exposes the child to the least amount of shock and illness;

2. to help the child recover with as little damage as possible.

We know that the behavior of the parents with the child it is very difficult to influence, because the principles of education and the behavior towards the child (and these two very often do not overlap!) are only apparently arbitrary. In fact they are determined due to deep reasons. On the other hand, it is very difficult to influence the child directly, due to his deep connections with his environment. Despite these difficulties, psychoanalysis started on both paths of prophylaxis. The first path led to analytical pedagogy, the second to child analysis.

In order to develop the basic principles of analytical pedagogy and actual child analysis, we first had to learn the language of the child’s soul. For about 10 years, only data collection took place. From the observation of healthy children, children’s dreams, the manifestations of childhood sexuality, from the registration of “bad habits” and “unconscious” childhood manifestations, we see confirmation of everything that was known from the analysis of adults. In the beginning, in our therapeutic vision — if it was a child — the adult, nurturing person was also included in addition to the child. Apart from the real difficulties, the reason for this was that, being adults ourselves, it is an easier task for us to understand and influence adults. As the development of psychoanalysis expanded our knowledge of the child’s psyche, and its structure and characteristics became more and more clear, analysts learned to return to childhood impartially through the recollections and self-analysis of their adult patients.

In literature, Freud (Analyse der Phobie eines fünfjáhrigen Knaben) and Ferenczi (“A cock-loving boy” [AKA Little Hans] were the first to report cases of child neurosis. An acquaintance of Ferenczi’s refers to the the little “cock-loving” Árpád. Freud only controls the course of treatment for his little patient from the background, the treatment is carried out by the father himself. These indirect child analyzes are the first indications that the analytical technique can be transferred to the treatment of children. Freud even believes that no one but the father could have succeeded: “…the technical difficulties of a psychoanalysis would have remained insurmountable at such a tender age…”

Hermine Hug-Hellmuth was the first to open the door to the children’s room and cutting off the mediators. She began to regularly analyze children with the aim of healing. She opened the door of the children’s room, visited the child in their home, because she believed the child’s environment needed to be realistically included in the analysis for the child’s honest expression and understanding.

Melanie Klein developed a special analytical technique for younger children (2-5 years old): the play technique. She brought a symbolic miniature outside world from toys into the analytical room; observing the child’s spontaneous play and using the symbolism of play to interpret the child’s unconscious. Her work brought new knowledge about the earliest forms of the Oedipus conflict and the early stages of development of the little girl’s sexuality. For these child analysts, numerous theoretical works (Freud’s, Abraham’s treatises on the development of sexuality and libido, and Ferenczi’s treatises on the development of the sense of reality) provided the basis for them to immerse themselves in the spiritual life of the child.

Oscar Pfister from Switzerland was the first to bring the analysis to teachers. As a priest, he had ample opportunity to use his analytical knowledge to look into children’s spiritual problems “in statu nascendi” and help them. Bernfeld’s theoretical works aim to lay the foundation for analytical pedagogy. He was the first to deal with the phenomena of adolescent life, group and community formation. .

In “Verwahrloste Jugend”, August Aichhorn reports on what he observed in the group education of disturbed children with the knowledge of “Massenpsychologie und Ich-Analyse” and the “superior ego” (Freud) and from these observations developed a completely new, analytical educational method. He formed homogenous groups of his students according to their symptoms and, adapting to their unconscious, without any external pressure, offered them a way through the love-relationship, so that the development of their ego can continue and thereby become social. Zulliger’s special practical work is characterized by the fact that he is a teacher and an analyst in one person. With a subtle sense, he recognizes the unconscious roots of his students’ learning and character development and uses the teacher’s positional advantage in the emotional transmission relationship this preventing more serious problems.

Anna Freud’s work represents a new chapter in the development of child analysis. In her work entitled “Einführung in die Technik der Kinderanalyse”,s he reports on the analyzes of neurotic children in their latency period. Her technical innovation: giving up analytical passivity in the introductory phase of child analysis, she tries to win the child’s love and trust with active means, because the child only maintains a positive emotional relationship possible. Theoretically: the child’s ego has only partially separated itself from its parents, it is still partially developing and works under the influence of realistic demands from them. From this follows what defines the difference between child and adult analysis: The child does not develop a real disposition; child analysis is not possible until we can work with the ready-made parts of the ego, which is joined by the further shaping of the ego through the environment, i.e. the educational work.

If we now look at the development of child analysis, we see that at first the analysis of children could only be imagined through adults, or later the milieu of the child included in the analysis realistically (Hug-Hellmuth) or symbolically (Melanie Klein). Then when we already knew enough about the child to directly we have found that the specific structure of the child’s soul dictates for the adult environment, not as a mediator of analysis, but as a supplement in its natural nurturing position. Now, based on our knowledge of the child’s mental structure, we are able to consciously choose the way of our help — direct treatment of the child, management of education, or a combination of these two.

For Pfister, Aichhorn and Zulliger, the position of priest, educator and teacher also dictated contact with parents, supporting their healing work with educational advice, and actively influencing the child’s external world. Understanding the unconscious made it easier to recognize educational mistakes, and their social situation made it easier to see these mistakes. The positive results of their practical experience encouraged the analysts to set up analytic education consultants. Aichhorn, as a reviewer of the Jugendamt of the city of Vienna, organizes educational consultants, where he himself and then his students work in his wake. Today, partly under his leadership, work as an educational consultant is carried out within the children’s department of the Vienna psychoanalytic polyclinic. The “educational consultant” technique – although of course it offers the widest possibilities for individual work offers the widest possibilities for individual work. Each educational consultant tailors his technique on a case by case basus. This was developed by Aichhorn, the father of psychoanalytical educational consulting.

In Budapest in 1928, within the framework of the Children’s Protection League, dr. Under the leadership of Margit Dubovitz, the first analytical children’s ambulance was established, which, unfortunately, soon became stateless after the termination of the League’s operation. Now ( in 1933) with the establishment of the Clinic of the Hungarian Psychoanalytical Association in Budapest, as part of our new children’s clinics, we are also trying to work as educational consultants.

The introduction of shorter-term treatments in suitable cases was justified by the external circumstances of our ambulance: for the many children who are waiting for help, our analytical workforce is too few, and it is important from a social point of view that this should reach the children who really need analysis. Below, I present some cases from my work as an educational consultant here.

The possibilities of “educational counseling” are of course limited by the accessibility of the parents’ unconscious and primarily by the severity of the child’s illness. My own experience shows that it can be applied very widely; even for children who come to us with various complaints and often show symptoms that seem to be severely neurotic but a minority are truly neurotic. In most cases, the difficulties that children present are not deeply rooted neuroses of traumatic origin, not even rigid forms of reaction, but simple reactions to the behavior of the educators or parents. However, if this correction does not take place: “gutta cavat lapidem”, character anomalies or neuroses inevitably develop from the above beginnings sooner or later.1

I am reporting the following cases to illustrate how long-lasting, good results can be achieved, sometimes even more I am reporting the following cases to illustrate how long-lasting, good results can be achieved, sometimes even in seriously impressive cases, educational counseling. I have been monitoring several of these counseling cases for a long time, and sometimes I receive or request reports about them. In general, with the exception of one case, I report on children I have known for the third year, since I myself strongly doubted the durability of the quickly achieved results, and so I only dare to refer to such cases, which I have had in mind for a long time.

k I.

Bandi, 10 years old. His mother brings him. He is the child of janitor parents living a good married life in orderly conditions, apart from a 12-year-old, II. they have a civilian daughter. Complaint: he is a bad student, even though he is intelligent, he is about to fail and their problem is whether he should go to civics? Disobedient, lazy, unambitious, inattentive, playing around, messing around, unpleasant at home. The mother is a good-looking, smart, apparently energetic, strict woman with a sword. She resents the child mainly for his laziness, punishes him a lot, deprives him of his pleasures, and even beats him. ,

Please, being a boy, I can’t use him for anything and he’s lazy at school too; if I send it for something, or if it should help, it wanders off, useless. I am so unlucky with it! The other, my little girl, is the first student for being a girl, she helps at home, she’s clever, she’s smart” and proudly adds: “She even plays the violin beautifully!”

“Does Bandi study music?” I ask.

“But, please, he’s neglecting his studies too. Damn, we can’t waste the money on violin lessons, it wouldn’t last for two.” ,

“What about the master?”

,” Please, he is a good man, but he doesn’t care much about the children. He is down in the boiler room all day; the care of the house, the lot of cleaning and running around is all mine.”

In response to one or two more questions, she says that since his early childhood her son worked hard with strict parents, competing with men.

The situation was obvious from the constant complaint that the child was so lazy for being a boy, from the description of their life, from the praise about the girl . The mother, in her cherishing love for her daughter, compensates herself for her penis envy in her daughter. In her son, she suppresses the men she envies, and she lives out her complaints and aggression against her husband. The child’s behavior is the answer to this treatment.

Talking to the reasonable, correct, open child, my hypothesis was strengthened. The reason for his lack of ambition is that he cannot compete with his “perfect” older sister, and the competition is unequal, because he does not receive the reward of his mother’s love. He is so full of complaints against his mother and jealousy of his older sister that he just pours out when he is given a little encouragement: Mama is very strict with him , makes an exception with her sister, she – usually the girls – have a much better job, they get clothes, they are not beaten, , but they are such chatty monkeys!” He doesn’t take his word for it, because mom is never satisfied with him anyway.

And the tramping?” He likes to wander around with his good friends, ride their bikes, which his mother often forbids as a punishment. “What about studying?” Yes, he is a bad student, but he really wants to go to the civil service, because if he could only be a coal miner, everyone would look down on him. And on top of all this, as the symbol of unattainable desires and dreams, the grandeur: the violin! If he could play the violin too! But it can’t be, because it doesn’t take 10 pengős and two, he doesn’t even deserve it. ,

Maybe we could talk to mom after all? say, if you will study better?”

An indescribably bright and yet doubtful look is the answer to this.

Now it’s mom’s turn again; I tell her that the child made a good impression on me, I don’t consider her sick. I think the only problem is that he loves his mother very much and is jealous that she gives the little girl more honors and considers her more talented. , The child feels that she loves the little girl more!”

The mother acknowledges the jealousy and justifies it immediately with a small episode: , The little girl asks for a cube of sugar because her coffee is bitter, she gets it, and the boy immediately asks for it too. I say: Your cup is smaller, one is enough, – so he is not done with the reproach: He doesn’t give it to me because he loves Irma more, he doesn’t love me! He’s so sensitive! I’m going to get angry and pick him up.”

Now I’m just passing by how much Bandi wants to learn music and that there is no money for that while Ilonka is studying. A lot of small episodes come to light, through which I manage to show the mother even more that she demands more from her son, . because he’s a boy. She treats him badly because boys have a better fate and she feels sorry for the little girl because she is a girl. He also feels sorry for himself, he values his own work so much.

Laughing at this, she says that he would rather be a man if he has to work. —

When I emphasize his son’s great love for her, she is visibly moved and happy about it.

Thus, I manage to negotiate a free vagabond and bicycling lesson for Bandi every day, and she promises that she will try to treat the two children equally and register the boy as a citizen in the fall. Together with the mother, we communicate these to the child.

After two weeks, they come again, both of them visibly more satisfied. The mother is happy to report: the child is learning, he listens, and the situation with his sister has also eased. The mother spontaneously mentions that it has been decided that the boy will take his exams in the fall. they will also teach him music. After the successful exam, I see the child again in the fall as a citizen, he is also learning music, which he is very happy about. Of course, there are setbacks in learning, weak average, but they also see improvement at home and at school. The mother visited me a few more times, she was still satisfied, which is best proven by the fact that she referred many complaining parents to our order.


xx II. In another case, the special kindness was given by the fact that the mother became aware of the reasons for her educational mistake almost on her own, and thus came to us with the ready-made material for being a simple working woman. After one of my popular lectures, where I talked about educational mistakes and their unconscious sources, she approached me and told me that she was so self-conscious about certain points in the lecture that she hoped she could get advice on what to do with his younger daughter, Erzsi, who is 4 years old. whom he can’t stand. She is willful, tyrannical, if she doesn’t want something, or cries until she vomits, or declares: “I yell so much that the neighbors run!” When she does this they let her go for the sake of peace. She also has a 6-year-old daughter, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

She has never dared to talk about with anyone, she was ashamed, and considered it impossible, unnatural: that she didn’t love this little girl when she was born, and not even for a long time after! After the birth of her first child, she had a peak period and the doctors advised her not to have any more, but when she became pregnant and applied for surgery, her doctors encouraged her to carry [the pregnancy] through and even though she didn’t want to, she couldn’t help herself. She and her husband had serious financial problems. Throughout her pregnancy, she was nervous, constantly vomiting.

In the meantime, however, she reconciled somewhat, with the hope that she would at least have a son. When she found out that her daughter was born: she hardly looked at her, she felt a deep sadness, she didn’t want to touch her, she couldn’t breastfeed her, and she remembers well that when her husband first came in and took the child in his arms, she told him angrily: “Leave that baby alone!” This was repeated later; whenever the father touched her, she always waved him off. “I don’t like her and I didn’t want to see my master like him either.” SHe says with great shame that he didn’t love the child so much that he didn’t even take care of her, neighbors took care of him and only when she was a couple of months old, when she once bathed and dressed her, she was moved by the child’s helplessness and neediness and started to care for him, she felt sorry for him and when developed, and loved it. Today she loves her very much,she spoiled her. The child was prone to crying, vomiting and hernias, so she went to the doctor a lot with her. She was always worried about his life.

It turns out that since this emotional change,s he feeds her excessively, fills her with force, torments her with loving care, and the child reciprocates this violence by vomiting, yelling, and uproar at the neighbors, with which she terrifies and embarrasses her mother. The little girl is what we imagine her to be after the antecedents: thin, well-groomed, intelligent, bully with her brother and peers, narcissistic and she feels good about it; she makes his anger felt immediately and considers this to be normal.

It was very easy to make the mother understand (she herself said that she did not dare to let the child cry or punish her, she was always afraid that she would get sick or die) that this is a great indulgence: compensation for the old hatred; fear for the child’s life: remorse for her death-wishes. She realized that if she wanted the child’s eating to improve, the vomiting and tantrums to stop, she should not force the little girl to eat and temporarily take care of her meals – even if she did not eat for 2 days – and her other bad manners. Too much care can be just as bad, even worse, than too much strictness.

She kept our agreement, which was a great act of heroism at home — with his father, with the environment — in addition to the child’s provocation. After the first difficult week, the little girl became aware of the changed hand, her appetite returned, after 2-3 rampages for which she did not receive extras, she stopped rampaging. After two weeks I gave mother permission, if necessary, to punish her. ‘If the child really annoys you: tell her, show her.

The quick effect of our advice would have been like a fairy tale magic wand, if the little girl’s measles hadn’t jeopardized the result. This illness almost brought the mother’s old mechanisms into action, and she came to me again with her concerns. At that point, I emphatically asked her not to change her agreed treatment; we will have won a case if the child spontaneously accepts to eat after the patient’s lack of appetite (a common experience) and does not allow his tyranny to gain strength again during his illness, even though he cares for him a lot. The mother also passed this test beautifully, her older daughter also got measles, after a mild illness they both started to eat, and they became good friends with each other in their shared misfortune. She adds to one of the mother’s positive reports: she actually received the same advice from pediatricians, but she couldn’t take it, now it worked out so well! Since then, I have often heard about them directly and indirectly, there is nothing wrong with the child.

j s III. Sanyi, 12 years old,

citizen, only child. About 10 days before our examination, he ran away from home with a friend, they wandered for 2 days, the police brought them back. There are no complaints about his behavior, but he failed a grade repetition in the 1st high school and now, in the 3rd high school. he fails 3 subjects in civics, even though he has a good mind. His reason for running away, according to his parents: shame due to poor studies and failure. The mother is extremely worried, someone who attaches her child to her in every way, and if a child runs away from home, we can assume more serious symptoms, derangement, which needs analysis, and after what we heard, we thought of this here as well; but the situation was different. This escape was not serious, they set off without money or equipment, as it turned out later: not so much out of fear of punishment and shame, but rather out of some deep inner desire: free-

This escape was not serious, he left without money or equipment, as it turned out later: not so much out of fear of punishment and shame, but rather out of some deep inner desire: to be free! Free to roam, at least for a while without anyone to command! The boy sleeps in the same bed with his mother (he is 12 years old!), according to his mother, because he is very restless at night, tosses and covers himself. The child complains that his mother does not allow him to be around other children, nor to go on trips or to play football; on Sunday, you have to walk with your parents in good order. The mother justifies these prohibitions that her son is well-bred, a good child, the rest would spoil it; he is afraid of overheating and pneumonia when moving freely, all the more because he had tonsillitis a lot, his heart and lungs were attacked, and another child in their family had already died because his mother let him go freely. The principle is that it is best for children to stay with their parents. Sanyi could now get to Lake Balaton with one action, but he doesn’t dare to let go because he wants to go swimming. the child’s heart would certainly not be able to take boating. Not this mother at our first meeting. I managed to convince him neither that the child needed more time off, nor that it would not be good for a 13-year-old boy to sleep in the same bed with him. His castration fears, fixation and guilt towards his son were not approachable from any side. However, we agreed that the child would be examined and if his heart and lungs were found to be intact, he would be released to Lake Balaton. Of course, the tests were negative and Sanyi left happily. I talked to him once or twice before, it turned out that he was masturbating, with the usual fears (spinal atrophy, impotence, as a consequence of masturbation), which I tried to dispel. It also turned out that the mother is unfoundedly afraid of him being spoiled. He is extremely burdened and stressed by the great training and worrying of the mother, ashamed of this “mama’s boy” role . His thinking is clouded by the many ambivalent emotions weighing on him towards the tyrannical and fixating mother, and he keeps wandering into daydreams (Tagtraums). In his fantasies, he talks about his gratitude to his mother, but he declares he would be happy if he were allowed to sleep in a separate room.

In autumn, after the holidays, he came again. He had grown well fattened, grew, big In autumn, after the holidays, they bring it again; she gained weight, grew, felt great and completely changed. His demeanor opened up, became almost masculine. The parents noted all this with great joy, and even though this summer and the medical tests were a good trump card against his mother, they were not willing to agree to sleeping separately even at their son’s request. There was nothing left but to try to get help from the father’s side. The father proved to be understanding and well-intentioned, and through him the child’s freedom was achieved – despite the mother’s objections.

This was at the beginning of the school year. I saw him again around Christmas; there was no problem with studying or anything else, the mother has a hard time accepting the new constellation, but the child and his father have become strong allies and vote her out. Through the teacher – who sent him to me – I hear about them more often, so far the result is lasting. —

So it also happens that a person frees the priest with educational advice! The boy’s vagrancy, which looked like derangement, was a healthy attempt to escape from his mother, documenting what his mother did not want to understand anyway, that the boy wanted to break away from her, and this was required by his healthy development.

On the one hand – by sleeping in the same bed, his mother gave the boy too much freedom and too much excitement, on the other hand, in a tyrannical way, she prevented him from venting his excitement and feelings in any way (prohibitions on masturbation, sports, making friends). His emotions will be disharmonious, ambivalent, no: he just loves, but also fears and hates his mother, the source and suppressor of his excitement. The only outlet for his ever-increasing tensions is fantasizing, which distracts him from his studies, and since his fantasies are also in “forbidden” areas, he has to suppress these and the feelings that come with them. This again increases his internal tension and reduces his ability to work. This unbearable tension drove him to wander. When the he gets help in difficult situations, his ability to perform is released, his learning improves, and the child blossoms.

Case 4.

Józsi, 11 years old, 5th grader, father is a baker’s assistant, mother is a laundress, only child. His physical development was normal, his habituation to cleanliness was easy, the III. he studied quite well until elementary school, after that he started to decline, lost his way, missed school for 2 weeks at one time.

On New Year’s Eve, his parents left him alone in the evening, then he ran away, spent the night outside the house, when his parents found out about this, he says: ,,k . . . . “aunts” (sic!) wanted to see and listen to what they were talking about. At the same time, he secretly sells small items that he receives as gifts, and sometimes takes small amounts at home. Upon reporting the school, he is sent to foster care, and from there to a boys’ home, where he has otitis media received, operated on and sent home. Since then, the child’s character has been deteriorating, he lies, is dirty, urinates at home and at school, defecates, often twists and studies very poorly. he is constantly punished both at school and at home, his parents – who used to pamper him and call him names – are now rude to him, especially his father. They beat a lot; according to her own admission, her mother he often bursts out in his anger: “I wouldn’t mind if you died!” “I’ll kill you if you lie!” etc. The mother cries a lot for her son, who, seeing this, cries with her. According to his mother, the change in the boy’s character could have been caused by the fact that they changed apartments and the child got into bad company at school and there is a public house on the street near their new apartment, which excites the child. 2

The boy is small, with a neglected appearance, a very dull facial expression, withdrawn, trusting, indifferent. He appears to be sub-intelligent, answers with difficulty, softly, without color. The question, do you feel good, really surprises you? It’s even more so when I say that I don’t think he’s having a very good time, because I hear from his parents how bad things are, how much he gets out, both at home and at school. And how would it be good to help it to look different? At this, the child loses his previous indifference and begins to cry bitterly. I let him cry, and then I say that he came here to get help, there is no punishment here, this is not a school, patronage or court, the children come here so that if there is no way they can manage something on their own or with their parents, help get He will definitely have such things and we will try to help him! The child sniffs more calmly now, we talk a little more in his own slang, about football, movies, friends, he leaves very relaxed. If we thought of depravity in our previous case: Józsi’s symptoms — vagrancy, theft, lying, truancy, dullness and dirtiness If in our previous case we thought of depravity: Józsi’s symptoms — vagrancy, theft, lying, truancy, dullness and dirtiness — pointed to an even more serious disease,? which naturally I did not think could be solved with simple counseling. In spite of this, as in all cases when I start dealing with a child, I asked the parents – in front of the child – that for a while, while the child is entrusted to me, they should preferably not be punished or beaten, but wait to see what I can do with the child in another way. I have a two-fold goal with this: on the one hand, to win the child’s goodwill, and on the other hand, since the meeting takes place in front of him, he feels the treatment that is different from the previous ones and this – without taking his promise – obliges him a little, that something else is going on with him too. – let them do it. I order this little boy for treatment three times a week. When the child came 2-3 times, the change in appearance, facial expression, and behavior was shocking. While the first time he gave the impression of a disheveled, disheveled, dull, defiant, aloof, uninterested child, 3the second time his clothes were in order, overall he was freer, lighter, his facial features softened, as if a great weight had been lifted from someone. In short, he seemed like a well-cared-for child who has good things to do at home and is good with his surroundings.

Although I have experienced it several times, I am always very surprised when children show such a big change in appearance, manner, behavior and mood after one or two conversations. I suspected myself of being biased, but others who see the children state the same thing, and I myself have seen a similar rapid, big change in the children of other analysts at our clinic. Even more strangely, this change often remains permanent. In this case, I think, it was possible to see why it was created so quickly and the result remained permanent. The boy is happy to report that the parents kept their promise, did not hurt him, and can go to the square. Studying is done in two hours, you can play for the other two. Now, more precisely, he goes home, but never before! It’s not good to be at home, you shouldn’t pee; dad always sleeps during the day (he works at night) and immediately yells and hits, mom also always fights when she comes in the evening and he’s not home. And if he gets on the field, he is a “soccer”, “glutü”,And he – when he gets down to the square – , soccer”, , glutyü”, window shopping, and hütty!

He travels so far that by the time he gets home, it is late at night, and at home there are already fights and beatings; so now there is no! There are also many complaints about the school; the teacher, the real monster, is unjust, evil, rude, mocks and beats the children, especially the poor ones! , You too?” , Uhm, – only, – he always makes fun of me, hits me on the head, that’s why I don’t like him at school.” “What are you mocking?” , Well, he always says my name, the others laugh at him.” I didn’t manage to find out why it was a tease for him when his name was said, but it soon became clear. All I could find out about the bowel movement is that it has been there since he was in the home. There, according to his story, they had a joyless life, they were kept strictly and with a lot of beatings, their supervisor only allowed them to go to the toilet three times a day at a fixed time, and they introduced the fashion of defecating and he got used to it. He feels the urge to defecate, but he postpones it until it’s too late, just like small 1-2-year-old children.

Because of this, he has no shame, he declares that he is not stinky, they don’t know at school, and when his mother sees him, she gets angry and gets him out – there is a defiant silence. After 2 weeks – just by the way – he says: “Since I’ve been coming here, I’ve only done it twice in my pants, and I haven’t even been beaten for it.” In these two cases, we managed to expose his defiant reactions to bad luck at school: both times he did it in helpless anger. He visited me about a month ago, when one day he was drawing something, and instead of H. József, he wrote himself T. József under his drawing. , So what is this? Is that your name? Until now you said: H. József! Or am I wrong?” The child is confused, blushes, stammers: “No, my name is T. József!” Excited, he doesn’t want to give any information. “Do you have a second father?” “No, that’s my dad!” “His name?” , H. Mihály. T.’s mother’s name!” he finally groans in great agony. , What name do they call you at school?

To József T.” , That’s why you said they’re making fun of me?” ,

Yes. T. is such an ugly name!”

“Well, maybe that’s not the only reason you don’t like this name?”

He listens. He keeps repeating this bluntly, very brokenly: “My dad ….”

“Tell me, son, do you know why they call me Mama’s name?” ,

No!” ,

When will another child be called by the mother’s name?” ,

Uncle Teacher said. . . he told me too. . . if illegal. . .” , That’s why you said they were making fun of me?” — He nods. , When did you first hear about this? Have you known for a long time?”

“At first I knew my name was different, but I didn’t know why, I didn’t even think about it.” “Didn’t you ask?” , Yes, but mom didn’t say why?!

Once, dad was having fun in the old apartment, the housekeeper shouted that there is no coal in the cellar: The thief…, the scoundrel…, lives in a wild marriage!” I think of the “aunties” who “be- to wind” you want: , So maybe they said something about mom too? Something bad?” :


“Are you sure, Józsi?” ,

But, yes… I knew: something ugly, bad. Here, in our street, when we came to live here, I already knew.” “Were you with them?” , No.” s Hdívák? ” , No. I was always curious about what they were saying, I just wanted to listen, but nothing special.”

I didn’t manage to find out directly about his fantasies about prostitutes, but I could deduce from our other material that: he wanted to know the “k” — who he was spying on — his mother; his mother’s secrets — the “wild marriage”. His mother had many abortions; the “k”s have intercourse, but there is no child, they do something secretly, sinfully. At that time, it often dies

He often heard the socialists being scolded, not mentioned with any honorable adjectives, and he knew that his parents were them; from these half-suspected, half-heard things, he wanted to piece together the secrets of his parents, — his own ashamed, hidden origin, behind which he looks for sins to be ashamed of in his parents, if only as a revenge for the injuries they receive because of it. When we shed light on these, we discuss sending his parents in to see if we can help with the name issue. The parents, in great shame and apologizing, say that the child belongs to the current father, but he was born prematurely and that they conspired and grilled him a few years ago, and due to lack of time and money, they have not legalized the child until now. The father has now promised that this will be replaced as soon as possible. We share the good news with the child. After this, there is a rapid improvement, which is also noticed at school; a nice religion teacher honors him, he gets a poem for the exam, which makes him very happy, because he was looked down upon by everyone and was last in the class for 2 years.

He does well in his exams, his parents and his whole family celebrate him as a converted sheep, and he receives a gift. The summer went well, in a holiday promotion, he was considered a child with little interest and easy to handle. He almost completely stops having bowel movements, according to his mother, only one problem happens once, in September, when he has enteritis. In autumn, there are 1-2 minor school disasters, sometimes even a few pennies are missing at home. Complaints against his teacher later revealed: why did he change so suddenly in the third grade? . “The teacher was rude to mom too,” he once said.

“How?” , He said to a boy: pimp.

I told mom then, he went to school and the teacher told him. to uncle for saying nasty words to us. Then they quarreled together, mother also scolded him at home.”

It turns out that this discussion took place with mutual insults, with some political edge, and that the teacher did not look kindly on the child after that, or at least that is how the boy puts it. His mother always told him the truth during this time. The child thoroughly enjoyed the new situation, he hurried to rebel – instead of his father, against whom he was already seething – against the teacher, on whom he could transfer his jealousy, anger, and contempt for his father The child thoroughly enjoyed the new situation, he hurried to rebel – instead of his father, against whom he was already seething – against the teacher, on whom he could transfer his jealousy, anger, and contempt against his father for “coal thief”, “wild marriage”, etc. because of In addition, all this with the support of his mother! For him, the situation at school has now become as confusing as the one at home: respect and hatred, contempt side by side for the father-person. Meanwhile, the school sent warnings, bad certificates, complaints, until finally the mother also turned against the child, and they started punishing her at home. This then completely upset the child’s balance. He felt that he was being cheated again by his mother, by the adults: 1. with the father, who is not even his father, does not give his name, and is a thief, a marauder, 2. with the teacher, with whom his mother starts the fight, he sides with his mother against the teacher and his mother lets him down, sides with the enemy, believes that he is punishing him for his rant at school, when this is his demonstration next to his mother, the teacher against!

The vagrancy, thefts, sniffing after street girls begin. Then, in patronage, he gets even further away from his parents, which he feels is an even greater betrayal, and anal regression comes. In the second grade — when he is on good terms with his parents — he stifles the accusations against the parents; now, after his disappointments, he rebels, wanting to find out the suspicious secrets, and then shows his parents in his own messed up existence: “you are Pharisees, that’s what you really are, you deserve it!”

This child was under treatment for a maximum of 130 hours, but I was able to monitor him for 2 years — with breaks. The symptoms of urination have completely disappeared; minor frauds, vagrancy, lying, there was even an uncertified class in the first year, but he studied hard. In the meantime, he was assigned to another teacher; he learns German, is transferred to the civilian class, and in very serious family constellations — father’s illness, the birth of a little brother — holds his ground. According to his parents, where they knew him, the constant topic of conversation was this child’s great metamorphosis. Typical: last year he found strings of pearls in a package on the street and – after a great mental struggle – handed it over to the police. He told me this happily and considered it a great feat himself. Then they moved to a distant suburb, from where it was difficult to get to and from treatment; the child said he now so sure of himself that he only needs a little help, say once a month.


I still classify this case as one of my educational counseling cases not only because we could not clarify the childhood fixation points of anal regression, but also because it is my conviction that the I owe my success primarily to the coordination of the parents and the role I took on by actively standing by the child. By taking on this role, I gave the child a way so that, trusting in me, they could approach the society of adults (whom they were disappointed in) out of their exclusion; from his depravity and defiance to normality. I used my influence to give him back his good parents. x The common feature of these four cases is that it was possible to help the children’s problems through understanding parents or through parents’ mediation. I could cite many other cases; but I could cite many more cases where, due to parents’ opposition, successful analyzes failed or children could not be treated at all. In such cases, analyzing the parents could help! The scientific significance and therapeutic safety of the “Educational Counseling” outlined here is far behind that of in-depth, regular child analysis. The importance of this technique is primarily that it was quick help, and it is precisely from its advantages that its disabilities flow. If we take into account these disabilities and our refractory cases, we can still establish the absolute necessity and great social importance of the work in “Educational counseling”.”

‘Psychotherapy in Practice’: Dr John Springthorpe – Melbourne Physician – Australasian Medical Congress -1924.


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What did the Australian medical profession actually say about Freud and psychoanalysis during the 1920s? Why was there so much antipathy towards it? In an attempt to understand this, I have been reading the Australasian Medical Journals from the early twentieth century. John Springthorpe was a former lecturer in Medicine at the University of Melbourne, recognised for his interest in psychotherapy, and the relationship between mind and body, had some thoughts which he delivered at the Australasian Medical Congress in 1924. Springthorpe was one of the most senior practitioners of medicine in Melbourne Australia from 1883 until his death in 1933. In this paper, Springthorpe is most scathing about Freud’s thought as he asserts the superiority of his own methods, derived, in part from the practice of hypnosis. These are the trio: analysis, suggestion and re-education. Here are some of the statements Springthorpe made about his theory of mind, the practice of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis and Freud.


‘Psychotherapy is very complex…. the present position is very complex. It involves heredity, psychical as well as physical, comparative physiology and anthropology, the relations of mind to matter, of instinct to intelligence, of the conscious to the unconscious, of the place of the emotions, the intelligence and the will, of the endocrine glands and the sympathetic nervous system; upon each and all of which each must satisfy himself’.

‘ There is advantage, also, in co ordinating, if possible, all under one guiding principle – just as matter and life have been brought under their unities of origin. To state my own opinion upon this even more open question without dogmatism, I may say that I find myself a psychical monist and regard it probable that our mind, though at present confined in limited material setting, informed as to realities by a few imperfect scouts and reacting through material expressions, but possibly destined after trial and testing ultimately and always to use their little freedom of will in accord with the supreme’.

‘In psychotherapy two intellects are concerned, the operator’s and the patient’s, and, of course, the ingenuity of the former should be used purely for the needs of the latter. Psychoanalysis is thus doubly personal. It is interesting to note that whilst Freud basis his analysis on a fundamental emotion, Coue, ends his suggestion with “Know thyself”‘.

‘In my experience each patient should suggest his own analysis and any set plan is inadvisable’.

‘Each case is a case to itself and there are no watertight classifications… For pushing analysis into the subconscious. the main methods are the “relaxation and mild hypnotism” of Haydn Brown, the “auto-Hypnosis” of Coue, the deep hypnosis of Bramwell,and the “psychoanalysis” of Freud…. In my experience, however, the need thus analytically “tapping the unconscious” is rare; therapeutically the subconscious requires rather to be influenced by indirect than to be controlled by direct suggestion’.

‘Freud’s psychoanalysis calls for special attention. It mus suffice here to say that his view of causation is now abandoned, save by a few extremists, in favour of the wider and more applicable post-Freudian, that his his methods of procedure ( free association, word association, symbolic interpretation, dream analysis and so forth) are now held to be rarely necessary, often misleading, at times dangerous and almost always cumbersome and tedious, whilst his views on repression and mental conflicts seem largely overstatements and in some cases contrary to definite laws. The value of his contribution to the position is, thus, that of an investigator not of an interpreter and at bottom his methods tend to an intellectual misdirection of fundamental suggestions. His ‘Symbols’ again can prove anything that is in the mind of the operator. And as regards the actual results, it would be amusing if it were not pathetic to see psycho-analysts laboriously seeking and proudly proclaiming results that are often producible to even greater advantage and in a fraction of the time by simpler forms of suggestion. After all treatment by analysis is pre-eminently the province of an educated profession not of the academician or theologian’.

John Springthorpe, ( 1924), Psychotherapy in Practice, in Transactions of Congress, Supplement to the Medical Journal of Australia, 21 June 1924, pp, 448-451.

Bedlam at Botany Bay – and the beginning of an ‘insular’ Australia?



James Dunk, (2019) Bedlam at Botany Bay, Sydney, Newsouth Publishing.

I have been pondering isolation. Not the personal state of mind as such, but the complaint often made by Australia’s early psychoanalysts about their isolation from the British and European Centres. In the process of forming psychoanalysis in Australia (Salo 2011) the question was about how to meet the necessary standards of practice and thought about psychoanalysis when it is believed these are not known – and it is all too far away to find out, let alone be in touch with the latest developments. Then there is isolation and distance within Australia and New Zealand… how does each separate state develop its practice as a member of the various bodies that constitute psychoanalysis in this country? For psychoanalysis, theory of mind begun by Freud, and in the century since, embodies a far reaching theory of experiencing and developmental formation. For the Australians in particular, psychoanalysis has not had an easy relationship with the medical profession – certainly not in its early decades of the twentieth century when the Australian based medicals spurned it in favour of organic approaches to mental distress. At base, I tentatively suggest, is not just the foundational story of convict settlement and the development of the land of the unwanted, ( Hook 2012), but also the very response of the Transportees and their overseers to the fact of forced rupture from a homeland, possibly never to return. Such a settlement on Mars would evoke phantasies of unassailable space, methinks. Perhaps this was so when Botany Bay was begun? This leads me to the University of Sydney’s James Dunk’s 2019 book, Bedlam at Botany Bay. This is a study not just of madness and insanity, but its causes and the way it expressed and reflected the structures of the Transportee plight, and the developing governance of the colony. Madness is another, hidden, dimension of settler invasion. It reaches for the fact that the year 1788 for the Australian First Nations people AND for the colonial invaders, that the trauma of personal internal rupture was experienced by members of both groups.

Unsurprisingly, some of the early settlers who arrived from 1788, in the prison colony at Port Jackson up the coast from the first landing point, Botany Bay, at what is now Sydney Harbour, Australia, lost their minds. Transported from Britain to an alien land at the far end of the earth, the al called ‘Antipodes’ on the other side of the globe, they were almost as far as one could go before beginning the return journey, Home. Picture their first sightings of a kangaroo, a wombat or a possum. Trees and foliage so different from anything at home, and the seasons back to front. During those first days a thunder storm cracked the skies open, pouring rain, as if God’s wrath found its expression upon these alienated people ‘perched at the edge of the Pacific’. Anyone who has experienced such a Sydney summer thunderstorm knows what that is like. Think how terrifying it would have been.

We have learned that the Eora people who lived around the landing space when the invading settlers arrived were pushed aside. That the initial ‘dancing with strangers’ described by the historian Inga Clendinnen, (2003) soon gave way to suspicion and hostility. The invaders felled trees, killed prey, and decimated the lands the Eora had cared for for centuries. There was violence, and retaliation alongside curiosity and some attempts at reconciliation. But in the end the invaders and First Nations people retreated to their different worlds as the invaders erected houses, made roads, mapping country according to their own traditions.

Historian James Dunk has added another dimension to the Botany Bay story. He draws out attention to peoples’ emotional reactions and how some were driven mad.

‘ If we slow down, however, and listen closely, we find that doubt, anxiety, grief and despair intrude into these familiar stories’,he writes. ‘ Some became irrational and could no longer govern themselves, or be governed by others. They erupted into mania, or lost themselves in memories and delusions. They cried in fury and tore at the walls of their cells, or stared slack eyed into the distance. Some were consumed by the pressures weighing upon them, and killed themselves. Others simply wandered away. These were all signal problems in such a setting, where discipline, security and industry were fundamental to the business of fragile government’ (pp.2-3).

Images of the gibbets hung with so called miscreants, the whipping posts, and, eventually another form of brutality transportation to outlying islands – Norfolk, Pitcairn, or Van Diemans Land, testify to another battle – between the administrators with their official forms and procedures and the convict groups. Among them were those deeply mentally distressed people who, as hope faded, tried to fight – or whose loss of mind was expressed by ‘anti social behaviours’. The punishment was severe for them. They didn’t have the luck to be overtly insane.

’Studying madness’, Dunk writes, ‘shows the fault lines of societies. It is a subject which never loses its relevance because these fault lines still run around us like scars, the outward signs of an endemic disorder which reaches not only down into the belly of who we are but back into the paths we followed to get there’ ( 8).

Dunk’s study of colonial insanity, the development of the Asylum, the use of former convicts as attendants also raises questions about the evolution of psychiatry in this land. Is the stress on organic factors in the aetiology of mental distress, and the sidelining of Freud, and the psychotherapies that we see in the Australian medical men during the 1920s, when Freud’s ideas were gaining currency, somehow an evolution of anxieties about the management of mental distress? So far from home, patient and doctor share an experience of profound loss and personal rupture. At the Australasian Medical Congress of 1924 the prominent Melbourne doctor, John Springthorpe was eager to place Freud’s ideas, so far away in Europe, as losing currency.

An asylum was built early on after settlement, hoping to restrain and contain the more observable effects of transportation: the depression, anxiety and sheer loss of minds the result of families and minds ruptured by the trauma of indefinite separation. Perhaps, for some, an underlying mental illness emerged into the open. Or the plain sheer irrationality of transportation and the experience of being at the mercy of despotic officials, was the cause. The question is about what it was like to be in such a place, and space as colonial settler Australia? But the agency and subjectivity of the Transportees, was rarely incorporated into a lexicon of understanding. Instead there was brutality and abuse by managers who thought little of the beatings they meted out to those they considered far lower, less than human than them. For here, at this classical stage of history, convicts may have been subjects of theories of being, rendering them lower on scales of humanity such as the Great Chain of Being. During the nineteenth century as Social Darwinist theory found its expression in theories of mind articulated by Henry Maudsley, asserting some inherent, inherited biological fault. It limited recognition of Transportee agency and experience, alongside the minds of free settlers. Such ideas have been inscribed into a history building rendering Australia as Antipodean, always peripheral and opposite a British Centre.

‘ In a society built around discipline, magistrates, officers, judges, and governors charged with establishing order saw madness not as an illness, but as a perilous chaos. If they were sometimes moved to deal gently with the insane, at other times they were not, and the shifting structures of law and government ( typical of a penal society) left room for their discretion. There were many who suffered doubly, from the discipline and from the internal damage it wrought in them. Compounded suffering appeared to be the price of the colonial order’ (238).

Dunk’s lens, exploring the experiences of those men, women, and children, sent abroad from their homeland, serves to challenge such phantasies. But also, he suggests that the iron rule of governance set firm boundaries around them, defining them yet again as outsiders whose experiencing was scarcely recognised. Australia, a land girt by sea, has mapped itself into a space with iron borders. The oceans unmapped, as Suvendrini Perera (2009) shows, are unmapped are hindrances to connection rather than a relational space with connections to Asian spaces. Phantasies of Australia’s and isolation and insularity prevail. Australia’s isolation is not much more than an a settler creation, and state of mind.


Inga Clendinnen, (2003) Dancing with strangers, Melbourne, Text Publishing.

Maria Therese Hook, (2012) The Tyranny of Distance: the early history of APAS, Psychoanalysis Downunder

Suvendrini Perera (2009), Australia and the insular imagination: beaches, borders, boats and bodies, Palgrave McMillan.

Frances Thomson Salo, (2011), Australia: the evolving relationship with the IPA, in Peter Loewenberg and Nellie L Thompson. 100 years of the IPA: The centenary history of the International Psychoanalytical Association 1910-1920, London, Karnac.

John Springthorpe, in the Proceedings of the Australasian Medical Congress, 1924.

Women and psychoanalysis in Australia- Agnes Mildred Avery (1881-1944): Chairman of a Company Board – Advocate for Psychoanalysis


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The National Library of Australia’s digitized newspaper collection reveals people whose lives were richly lived. They have contributed much and then been forgotten. Agnes Avery (1881-1944) was an early, if not the first woman company director in Australia. She was also, it seems, a member of the British Institute of Psychoanalysis in 1936… but this needs verification. Certainly she was influenced by psychoanalysis. Had she lived longer who knows what difference she would have made.


In the early 1930s before she went to England and a life changing encounter with psychoanalysis, Mrs Agnes Avery of Adelaide could be described as a rich widow. Mother of five, she claimed expertise in the care and raising of children and was a member of Adelaide’s Psychology Club. She moved in Adelaide’s upper social circles, giving lectures to the Liberal Club, to fundraisers for the Lady Mayoress, lending her presence to philanthropic efforts in that city. These were ‘commonsense and witty lectures’, advocating freedom of thought for children, discouraging indulgence and the spoiling of the little ones, and urging mothers to, basically stop whingeing and get on with it. When, in May 1932 she departed on a lecture tour to London via Africa, with several children in tow, the columnists celebrated her future success and reported upon her activities during her journey through Africa to London. If the social columnists of the day are to be taken seriously, Mrs Avery was a woman of Empire, confident of her views, positive in her approach, and a leader in her field.

After reaching London she visited AS Neill’s ‘free school’ for children. Run on psychoanalytic principles the school was a exemplar of successful pedagogic psychoanalysis. It provided a safe, containing environment for children needing supportive and analytic treatment. ‘Mrs. Avery said that A. S. Neill’s book “The Problem Parent” should be read by every mother and father. “In the hands of the ‘right person child psychology is a power for great good,” said- Mrs. Avery. But, she warned, “in the hands of charlatans it can do tremendous evil.”

A second meeting, with the psychoanalyst, Dr David Eder, was more significant for her. She had consulted Eder, a founder member of the British Psychoanalytical Society. Renowned for his work on war shocked soldiers during the Great War, Jewish born, Eder was a socialist, – a former member of the Bloomsbury Socialist Group, and a Zionist, and had been active in the founding of Modern Palestine.

Eder’s earlier interest in motherhood and child development may have drawn Agnes Avery to seek him out. He had practiced medicine in British slums in 1905, and established the first school clinic (the Bow Clinic) in London for poor children in 1907. He continued to provide it with medical services, and then at the Margaret MacMillan School Clinic. In 1910 he established and edited the journal , which brought the health of England’s poor children to the nation’s attention. During the war, Eder spent over a year working part-time as a medical inspector in London’s East End schools. In his pre-war years, Eder was an important contributor to the Fabian Society paper, ‘The New Age’. His work regularly appeared in the paper between 1907 and 1917. He largely addressed medical and psychological topics, including school hygiene and the link between socialism and medicine, as well as politics, literature, and religion. In 1908 The New Age Press published his treatise , in which Eder argued for a social safety net for new mothers just before and after they gave birth. He was also interested in Jung’s version of psychoanalysis, the basis for his involvement in the London Psychoanalytic Group and, in the long term, the British Psychoanalytical Society.

News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), Friday 26 February 1932, page 10

Agnes Avery returned to Adelaide in January 1933 after her world tour, only to announce she was selling up and returning to Britain. It appears that her intention was to undergo psychoanalysis. We do not know with whom.

In December 1935 Mrs Avery returned to Australia. By February 1936, much to the mirth of Board, she took over the Chair of the Board of Directors at Stoneyfell Quarries, one of the oldest in the state of South Australia, her father’s former company

By then she was also ‘the only woman member in Australia of the British Institute of Psychoanalysts’, the reporter for the reporter for the Adelaide Advertiser wrote. She had ‘a Freudian theory to account for the modest place that her fellow country women have hitherto taken in industry’, the reporter continued. “The reason is fear,” Mrs Avery said.

Their ability Is all there, but it is locked up and out of use. Secret fear of making mistakes is accentuated by the prejudice that they sense in the attitude of others. They accept and are paralysed by the verdict of the majority that women would be ‘no good’ In executive positions”, she continued.”If they could rid themselves of fear they would make mistakes, but what of it? Everybody makes mistakes at first. There is no reason why they should not prove themselves as invaluable as women leaders of industry in countries overseas, where such achievements are taken for granted.”

It would be interesting to learn more about this remarkable woman. Where, prior to her departure for London Mrs Avery had used the Adelaide press to promote herself, after her return she faded into the background, presumably devoting herself to her work. She used the Letters columns rather than the lecture circuit to propound her views. On 14 August 1937 a fortnight after the the New Education Fellowship Conference began its six week tour of Australia capital cities, she wrote a letter to the supporting education reform in the face of criticism of the ideas propounded by the Fellowship. She may have been aware that the British psychoanalyst and educationalist Susan Isaacs was a delegate to the Conference.

On 11 May 1938 following a call for the development of a psychological clinic in Adelaide, Mrs Avery wrote again to the editor of the Advertiser.

In South Australia there is urgent need for a clinic whereby the mentally sick may be treated scientifically. No one is perfectly normal and balanced, least of all those who vehemently assert that they are; but the tragedy lies in the fact “that few of us can have any doubt of the general accuracy of the estimate that one person in thirteen in this country < England), and in Australia too is in need of psychological reaajustment. That being so, how can we get to the cause?

Thirty odd years ago. Dr. Freud, of Vienna, discovered the method of “transference,” now known to the world as the psycho-analytical method. In London today is a body of men and women called -The British Institute of Psycho-Analysts.” One thing is essential is that every member must himself or herself have bsen analysed. You must heal yourself before you can heal others. The power is tremendous, and therein lies also the danger. Dealing with sick minds requires skill and technique of no mean order. The power of analysis, allied with medicine, has no limits.

Have we no sons and daughters of pioneers who, in their turn, will go forth and pioneer this great scientific knowledge for the benefit of humanity? It takes three years for a full analysis, followed by two years’ practice under the guidance of your medical-analyst. It can be taken in the stride of a medical course, and the British Institute of Analysts is out to encourage and help medical students to include analysis in their course. Men of undoubted ability and repute, such as Dr. Emest Jones or Dr. Edward Glover, are ready to point the way. To a young nation this is a matter of national import.

She was supported by someone calling themselves, ‘Probono Publico’ perhaps Medical Practitioner in a letter dated 23 May 1938.

War was declared in 1939. By the time anyone was able to examine the issue again it was 1945. Mrs Avery passed away on 27 August 1944.


PARADISE FOR CHILDREN (1933, January 14). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved February 13, 2022, from

MEETING SHAW (1933, February 21). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 – 1954), p. 14. Retrieved February 13, 2022, from

Women In Industry (1936, February 4). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from

Versatile S.A. Family (1936, May 1). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from

CURING S!CK MINDS (1938, May 11). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 – 1954), p. 28. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from

POINTS FROM LETTERS (1938, May 23). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 – 1954), p. 22. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from

‘Reading the patient’:’A Dangerous Daughter’


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Dina Davis, A Dangerous Daughter, Sydney, Cilento Publishing, 2021.

Anat Tzur Mahalel, Reading Freud’s Patients: memoir, Narrative and the Analysand. Routledge, The History of Psychoanalysis Series, 2020.

‘What would the story of an analysis look like if it were told through the eyes of the analysand?’

This is a question from the blurb of Anat Tzur Mahalel’s study, Reading Freud’s Patients, released in 2020. Mahalel draws from memoirs left by Freud’s patients as she seeks to understand ‘how the patient’s experience differs from the one told by the analyst. There are case studies enough in the psychoanalytic literature as clinicians grapple with phenomena emerging in their consulting rooms. It is The patient’s muteness is Mahalel’s subject. Her questions concern, among other matters, the movement from the position of patient to author. And to what extent the act of writing about the space created between the patient and analyst, in Mahalel’s case, between Freud and his patients, expresses any late understandings and interpretations, and a translation of messages received from him’? ( Mahalel, p.60). She has used six studies:

Fragments of an analysis with Freud, by Joseph Wortis

Diary of my analysis with Sigmund Freud, by Smiley Blanton

My Analysis with Freud, Reminiscences, by Abram Kardiner

An American Psychiatrist in Vienna 1935-1937, and his Sigmund Freud, by John Dorsey

The Wolf Man and Sigmund Freud by Sergei Pankejieff

Tribute to Freud by Hilda Dolittle

‘Nothing written is ever erased’, Freud wrote. Mahalel takes this up, writing in her concluding chapter, ‘Psychic life is constructed of manifold layers that move at different paces and in different directions’. We need not to seek psychic transformation in the outermost, apparent layer of the psyche but to tunnel deep into the innermost layers, where apparently lost traces are revealed. The reminiscences and traces that seem to have been forgotten and therefore lost remain in fact forever present and archived in our psychic apparatus. Nothing significant is lost, only the path leading to it‘. (p. 190).

Mahalel’s reflections on writing, memoir, the mind and the unconscious, helps frame consideration of the Australian writer, Dina Davis’s fiction – memoir, A Dutiful Daughter, published in June 2021. It is based on the author’s life, including during her teenage years her analysis with an Australian born psychoanalyst, Ivy Bennett, who practiced in Perth from 1952 until 1958.

There is also a connection between Davis’s book and this blog.

I had first discovered Ivy Bennett, born in Lake Grace in the Western Australian Wheatbelt, during my early searches of the National Library’ digitised website, TROVE. Several early posts in this blog described how Bennett had made her way through scholarships to a lectureship in psychology at the University of Western Australia during the War years. Awarded a British Council Scholarship in 1945 Bennett sailed for England on 1 January 1946 and was introduced to Anna Freud by a compatriot, Ruth Thomas. Bennett subsequently trained with Anna Freud’s first cohort of students working with children at Anna Freud’s Clinic. These included refugee children rescued from Theresiensdadt. After completing further training to Associate level with the British Psychoanalytical Society in 1951-2, Bennett returned to Australia intending to settle permanently and establish a psychoanalytic practice. However she returned to Britain in 1958 intending to gain her full qualification. She subsequently married and moved to the United States to practice for many years in Kansas.

Dina Davis was an early correspondent, introducing herself and her connection with Bennett. Perhaps this connection stirred her memories and the book is the result. Davis has named her protagonist, Ivy, a tribute to Bennett and the place she has in her memory. Her work with Ivy Bennett ‘saved my life’, Davis has written. Later, long after Bennett had left the country, the memory of her analysis sustained her through another difficult time.

‘Ivy ‘is a teenager, the elder daughter a Jewish couple living in New South Wales in the 1950s. They reached Australia in flight from the Nazis in the war years. The horror of the Nazi death camps has particular meaning for this family, and for Ivy. For to eat is to live. From the the onset of anorexia nervosa when Ivy increasingly comes under the control of ‘The Voice’ that demands she not eat; her family’s rejection of her illness, and devastatingly for Ivy, her exile to stay with Western Australian relatives far from her home in the eastern states, Davis’s writing is spare, tight, and controlled. And when, at last she reaches Dr de Berg ( Dr B), the relief is palpable. Ivy has found someone who has faith in her.

There are the sessions. Dr B explains the structures of the psychoanalytic process, showing Ivy how ‘The Voice’ is manifest of an internal superego. Ivy learns that it is a part of her, and thus able to be managed by her. This, along with the naming of her condition ‘Anorexia Nervosa’, frees her to resume her life as a young adolescent with her future ahead of her.

There is much more to this story of a young girl growing up and learning to know and trust her mind. She has to negotiate peer group pressures, friendships, early love, and all the confusion this entails. Following an incident at a beach where one of her group almost drowned. Ivy’s presence of mind and ability to do what needed to be done, shows Ivy her own strength. As is the writing of this book.

I will leave it to others to review “ A Dangerous Daughter” more fully. As Dina Davis acknowledges, its beginnings lie in the chance encounter with part of her history when she found this blog, and the deeper memories it stirred. And, reflecting on a time long past, she makes the proper claim for her voice and its narration. The result is deeply moving. ‘The subject finds expression within the limitations or prohibitions of the censor, and yet the psyche ‘is inevitably drawn to speak its own voice’, Mahalel writes. ‘The text is the result. The text expresses not the engraving of the outer layer… but the allusiveness of psychic life, of the movement between layers of consciousness, internal entities, and time’ (190).

“ A Dangerous Daughter ‘ is an important contribution to Australian psychoanalytic literature and memoir. Here is the link to purchase the book.

Dr H. Owen Chapman : Neurosis in General Practice (Medical Journal of Australia, Sept 12, 1953).


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‘ … you may be interested to hear something of your book, ‘The Doctor, The Patient and the Illness’… ( Chapman to Balint 19 July 1958).

One of the delights for researchers trawling through archives is the discovery of people who have done their bit for the cause! It may be little more than a brief a letter, or an article: the outcome of years of their own research. Sadly they have faded away, their memories lost in a plethora of documents constituting our archives. It all adds texture and depth to the understanding of past sensibilities. What people thought was important in the past may look very different from the present. Their thoughts and ideas framed within the social unconscious of the period, are also formative of our own. It is one of the reasons why archive retention and preservation is so important. It holds the present accountable. And we need to know how we got to here from there.

I first found the General Practitioner, Dr Herbert Owen Chapman, in the Balint Papers at the British Psychoanalytical Society. He had written a letter introducing himself to Michael Balint in 1958. Balint’s book, The Doctor, the Patient and the Illness had come to Chapman’s attention. He wanted to congratulate Balint and tell him about his own research into the incidence of neurotic illness in Medical Practice. It led me to Chapman’s article, a piece of research into presentations of people with neurotic conditions – emotional distress- in General Practice published in 1953. Based on three years research the article is, I think, one of the first pieces of research into this arena.

Chapman also opens a new doorway for research when, in his introduction, he speaks of his return from Missionary Hospital Work in Central China in 1945 after twenty-five years. It serves to contextualize the life and career of this remarkable man. Owen Chapman joined the Christian Medical Mission and, in 1940 was the Superintendent of the Hankou Mission Hospital. In China, he says, he had developed an interest in neurotic illness and its treatment. He was witness to the 1926 -27 revolution in China, and published a book about China’s history and the influence of the Russian Community Part in 1929. A smaller work examining Church history in China was published in 1968. His article, Neurosis in General Practice, the outcome of three years Locum Tenems work following his return to Australia in 1946, was published in the Medical Journal of Australia dated 12 September 1952.

Born in New South Wales in on 6 February 1884, Chapman qualified in Medicine and, from 1910 took locum tenems work around Western Australia Newspaper articles show he was deeply involved in the Wesleyan church. His brother, Burgoyne Chapman and father, Benjamin Chapman were also significant figures in the Methodist Church. Owen joined the Army as a Medical Officer during the Great War and was discharged after an admission to hospital for ‘Sinusitis’. He departed for China in 1920.

Chapman’s research into the treatment of neurosis in Australian General Practice extended over three years from 1947 to 1949. It included 23 different locum assignments in thirteen new practices. Ten other terms were re engagements. Some practices were large and wealthy, he wrote. Others varied in size and financial stability. He covered inner city practices, rural and coastal practices as well as mining and industrial towns. The duration of the appointment ranged from seven days to thirty one days. A total of 213 cases were considered.

Chapman observed the difficulty of finding time in a busy practice to put patients at their ease so as to engage their trust sufficiently to explore underlying issues. However most of the active cases ‘were not buried so deeply’, nor was the resistance strong, although cases of where the condition had a sexual origin were difficult to reach. ‘But the most startling difference [lay] in the duration of the cases’. Where classical psychoanalysis determined treatment to be over several years, this was impracticable for medical practices. Chapman found that many people had a positive response to treatment based on Carl Rogers six to fifteen weekly contacts. Longer cases, usually treated by psychoanalysis, were often more severe.

Chapman was critical of medical training which offered little on the theory and practice of psychotherapy. In part this was due to a generalized fear of psychiatry in the community. DF Buckle had also noted that as a result the burden of treatment had fallen upon psychologists, teachers, social workers and the patient’s families. Neurotic illness was, Chapman, continued, ‘the greatest therapeutic problem confronting us today, whose final solution must remain for future years and a new generation of medical practitioners and statesmen’. There could be a beginning, now. He urged the development of psychiatric training, and for non specialists, experience in psychiatry. Such practitioners needed to be ‘introverts’, sensitive to and keenly interested in the human aspect of their practice. He recommended reading such as Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, Ross’s Çommon Neuroses‘ and Rogers’s “Counselling and Psychotherapy“, as well as for more advanced practitioners, Alexander and French’s “Psychoanalytic Therapy”.

This is a thoroughly researched piece Chapman sought to show the importance of this field of medical practice, concluding, hat it was but a beginning. He hoped there would be others who would take up the ideas and thoughts he was expressing. Balint’s book, The doctor, the patient and the illness clearly resonated for him.


H Owen Chapman to Michael Balint, 19 July 1958, Balint Papers, Archives of the British Psychoanalytical Society.

H. Owen Chapman, The Chinese Revolution, 1926–27: A Record of the Period Under the Communist Control as Seen from the Nationalist Capital, Hankow. London: Constable & Co., Ltd. 1928.

H Owen Chapman, Neuroses in General Practice. Medical Journal of Australia, 12 September 1953, pp. 407-415.

H Owen Chapman, The second Reformation; a historical study: With a foreword by C. P. FitzGerald and a postscript by Keith Buchanan, Sydney, Times Press, 1968.

AMONG THE NEW BOOKS (1929, January 26). The Methodist (Sydney, NSW : 1892 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved June 20, 2021, from

Observations Upon Group Therapy, Dr Paul Dane’s comments and introduction of a new method – MJA, July 1949


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And so, on the quest to find how psychoanalysis threaded its way through Australian life and culture, I have been perusing the Medical Journal of Australia in the State Library of Victoria. One year, two volumes at a time, of monthly reports and newsletters. It is close reading material, but worth the time and effort.

Apart from medical reports and photographs that only medical practitioners can understand, there are articles about history, Australian settlement, and anything that any doctor found interesting and decided to write about. They are an eclectic bunch, these medical men. And of course, women. Paediatricians, oncologists, physicians, and all specialties. What made a good ‘medical man’; how medical men were members of a club, participants in a vocation, specialists, separate and apart from the rest of the world, at once akin to God, but like ordinary mortals, trying to work out how to best serve their profession.

I have began to have my favourites. EP Dark’s articles on socialised medicine during the 1940s caused more than a modicum of consternation, often from, no less, Dr Paul Dane from Melbourne. Dane was a staunch believer in the right of medical men to set their fees, and work, without interference, or regulation, from government.

Dane has found his place in the Australian psychoanalytic hall of fame for his earnest work establishing the Melbourne Institute of Psychoanalysis. But his contributions to the understanding of war trauma is not yet recognized as much as it should be. His lovely, compassionate article on War Neuroses published in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis in 1927 is surely an account that draws on his own experience of illness, and relief at being evacuated from the field of war. His image of the rocking motion of the train carrying the wounded soldier to safety after the desecration of battle – the babe’s relief when mother cradles him in her arms, rocking and crooning, summons the memories of most, after some deeply traumatic and humiliating experience. Dane’s years treating war shock patients at the Fifth Australian General Hospital in St Kilda Road in Melbourne, had their dividends in his work to establish psychoanalysis as a clinical discipline.

Dane’s contribution to beginnings of group analysis in Australia is also noteworthy. Such work was probably not long enough for he died in 1950, a little over a year after he published an article entitled ‘Observations of Group Therapy’ in the Medical Journal of Australia ( July 25 1949). Written after a tour of inspection in Washington, Dane recorded his experiences of four groups of psychotic and borderline patients at St Elizabeth’s Hospital over seven months. The work had developed in response to need – as large number of war traumatized patients sought help. Dr JH Pratt of Boston and Dr Moreno of New York were named as pioneers.

Group therapy had emerged in the interwar years, Dane wrote… at least that what we had been told. But sick people had long been treated in groups, he went on to say – in the temples of Diana in Ancient Greece. And so too were members of the Christian faith. Even so the discipline was new; practice was still being established and, he noted, the ideas about groups were extending to family treatments.

Dane went onto discuss small and large groups, the interplay of interpersonal dynamics and instinctual forces, the frequency of treatment sessions, and the management of the group conductor – one or two.

‘The therapist is of course the most important member of the group’, Dane wrote. It is not essential that this person be a psychiatrist, he continued, but should have a sound training in psychoanalysis – ‘he should be analytically orientated and, better still, have undergone a personal analysis. I do not think it is possible for anyone, however skilfull a psychiatrist he may be, who has not become analytically minded to understand the complex interplay of forces that occur in an individual analysis as well as in group analysis. Repression, transference, identification, are among the chief mental mechanisms that must be understood, that must be observed and interpreted, only a person analytically trained is fully competent for these tasks’. Dane was a long time supporter of the medical professional’s claim upon psychoanalysis, at least in mid-twentieth century Australia.

Dane continued, exploring the ideas about shared experience, and the differences, advantages and disadvantages of group therapy in relation to individual therapy. And whether there was danger in this method. Group therapy is not intended to replace individual therapy, he continues. ‘ Ít is a supplement or an aid to such therapy; and both can be conducted simultaneously. ‘We do not yet know its limitations or possibilities, but it is a form of therapy that has come to stay’, he concluded. ‘It should form part of the treatment in all institutions and clinics that deal with psychosis and neurosis’.

There is much more to this article – a contribution to the beginnings of Group Analytic Therapy in Australia. After Dane’s passing Dr Frank Graham took up the mantle, diverting from Dane’s interest in returned soldiers to develop and teach group analytic therapy on broader, analytic principles, in Melbourne. The Australian Association of Group Psychotherapy, an outcome of this work, is continuing.


Paul G Dane, Observations upon Group Therapy, The Medical Journal of Australia, 23 July 1949.

Australian showing of a German film about the psychoanalytic process: ‘Secrets of a soul’ – (1926- 1929)


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This is a marvellous film. Made in Germany in 1926 it is about the psychoanalytic process, scripted by Hans Neumann and Colin Ross. The psychoanalysts Hans Sachs and Karl Abraham, both members of Freud’s inner circle, provided technical advice. Newspaper records digitized by the Australian National Library show it was played to some acclaim in 1928-29 – in Sydney and Melbourne, and in Launceston, Tasmania, In Queensland it visited Brisbane and the regional ‘planter’ sugarcane towns, Mackay and in Cairns and Townsville.

About a man, apparently happily married, who suddenly develops a phobia about knives, the film undertakes to explore the man’s unconscious, a result of his consultations with a psychoanalyst. Of course it is clear that this film was shown in many other countries, as well as in Australia. But this discovery of its showing, and possibly considerable local interest, amid reams of newspaper reports about the nature of Freud’s theory and its significance in 1920s Queensland, reveals a community of people interested in such complex ideas… distance may not have been such a tyrant after all.

There is much more to this film to explore… not least being the interpretations of psychoanalytic ideas brought by Sachs and Abraham.