By the early 1920s public interest in psychoanalysis in Australia was broad, and certainly not restricted to medical circles. The president of the Victorian branch of the British Medical Association, Dr L.S. Latham used his retiring speech to warn that psychoanalysis should not be utilised indiscriminately. At the very least, he argued, psychoanalysis should be practised ‘under skilled medical direction’. It is clear that there was sufficient interest for the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald to publish Latham’s speech in the edition of 1 January 1924. Here is the text:
“The widespread and general interest in psycho-analysis is to be viewed with some concern. I am anxious not to indulge in cheap criticism, but it may be pointed out (what should be clear to anyone who has practised with any concentration psycho- logical method of introspection) that there are many pitfalls to be avoided in a logical tracing out of psychological associations. Follow a train of thought in your own mind and the associations are frequently most difficult to connect. The ideas would appear to be associated in time, but in little else.
Psycho-analysis affords by the “word association tests” a valuable means of examination of mind and determining the lines along which association tends to occur, but recognition of the occasional value of this method is consistent with the view that it should be but rarely applied, and that the Freudian symbolic interpretation of many phenomena thus observed need not be endorsed. The efforts of ancient philologists In derivations such as faba, fabaricus (fab-aricot-us) (h) aricot, and mus muris (mu-rat-us) rat, are ingenuous and simple in comparison with some of the psycho-analytic symbolisms.
Probably the whole profession makes use from time to time of suggestion, and many of our patients need above all things inspiration or, it may be, comfort, and these constitute a form of psycho-therapy.
It should be strongly emphasised that In cases of nervous disease psycho-analytic methods should not be employed by non-medical exponents alone, even though they may be expert psychologists, for it is necessary before application of such methods that the presence of organic disease liable to be aggravated by the employment of such methods be first excluded. Such conditions aro encephalitis and other inflam- matory states. Of course, the ideal method would be that persons suitable for this method of investigation should be handled by an expert psychologist in association with skilled medical direction”.