This item is taken from Adelaide’s ‘Advertiser’ dated 27 October 1951. One can never be sure about the reliability of sources when writing history. So much data is borne of subjectivity; what is included or excluded is a matter for a writer long ago. One can catch a glimpse, partially, into the milieux past and try to work out what happened on the basis of that evidence. History occurs in a space between now and then.
In October 1951 a newspaperman, by the name of Frank Dunhill, embedded himself in a meeting with a group of people interested in psychoanalysis. The resulting sketch of ordinary folk, albeit tongue in cheek, reveals a little bit about Australia in the 1950s. It is about the cautious exploration of new ideas and people, the emerging influence of European refugees in this post war period, about women finding time despite childcare responsibilities and wannabe pretenders with agendas of their own. Perhaps this was actually a group of Melbournians meeting with Hungarian born Clara Geroe with the resulting piece sold for publication in Adelaide? Perhaps the meeting was, actually, held in Adelaide. Was it that Dunhill, like his counterpart in Sydney, Sidney J Baker, was knowledgeable about psychoanalysis – much more than he let on? If anyone knows more about Frank Dunhill, or indeed the people who attended these meetings, I will be pleased to hear from them.
Let us listen to Frank:
“There is more in psychoanalysis that meets the subconscious eye.
I know, because this week I attended the first meeting of a group of amateur Adelaide psychoanalysts who want to meet every week and talk about it.
Psychoanalysis deals with the analysis of the unconscious mind. Eight people were in the group. They included a new Australian from Hungary, a former commercial traveller who had read nearly all the text-books on the subject by Freud, Jung, and Adenauer, ( interestingly, a German pacifist and peacemaker within Germany during WW2…) a widow with one child, and a married woman — mother of three children – who came to Australia from Holland about 16 years ago. The convener of the meeting, a new Australian, also from Hungary, said he had studied psycho analysis in Paris, but had left for Australia before getting his diploma. Sitting next to him was an avowed pacifist from Melbourne, who once read half a pocket-book edition of a text book by Freud.
Next to him was another pacifist who was once psychoanalysed, but was never told the result. Our host was a Scot.
I found my psyche was my soul. It had nothing to do with ‘Psyche at the well’.
The discussion eventually centred on child education. Our host said he had often applied psychology as distinct from psycho analysis, to correct his child when she mis behaved. If that failed he used force. He found a combination of the two ‘very effective.’ The discussion went on. A lot of technical jargon passed over my head, and I didn’t catch up with the thread of things until somebody discussed mak ing a date for the next meeting.
That took a bit of working out because several worked shifts in their jobs. But by submerging their superegos for the common good they finally decided on Sunday night. The two women then went home and took their restraining influences with them.
After that things went a bit haywire. The two pacifists tried to show how wars could be stopped by psycho-analysis, but the rest of the meeting disagreed. Somebody accused a pacifist of woolly thinking when he tried to draw an analogy between oranges on a tree and people in a country. d Finally, psycho-analysis was discarded altogether and the discussion became a straight-out debate on pacifism,. The two pacifists became almost aggressive in defence of their own cult. When the meeting broke up about 11 p.m. the convener said he thought a plan of action should be drawn up at the next meeting. That made our host laugh uproariously. He thought that was the idea of the meeting at his home.
But as everybody had become acquainted and had in a way bared their souls to each other, the evening had not been wasted. I said good-bye, and left with a new-found Freudian complex and a now subdued pacifist as my companion.