‘The man Who disturbed the world’s sleep’. Sidney J Baker’s review of Ernest Jones’s biography of Sigmund Freud, 1954


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Sidney J Baker’s name began appearing in the book review section of the Sydney Morning Herald from  February 1952, building on his reputation as a  journalist and linguist, he is renowned for his collections of Australian slang. Baker formed the hypothesis that language evolved from peoples’ experiences of their new environment.    In 1941 Baker had received a Commonwealth Literary Grant of 250 pounds to complete his work on Australian slang. Baker’s interest in language also marks appeciation of the transition people had to make from one culture and country to another. He recognized that migration did not mean exact transplantation, but that in the hiving away new developments occurred. From their arrival in 1700 Settler Colonials, the British migrants in a land far away from Home in England, found new words to describe their activites and sentiments, drawing from their own backgrounds and their interchange with indigenous people. Their’s was a singular langauge, indicating the emergence of a separate ‘Aussie’ identity. They were in a land far from their British roots. Baker’s question, at its root, is about how people responded, consciously and unconsciously. Language was an indicator.

His work struck a chord with readers. His books were widely read, he was in demand as a lecturer and commentator. He gained more work in his profession. A look through the Autralian National Lirary’s digitised newspaper collection, TROVR shows that in 1952 he had landed a job as a resident journalist with the Herald. We wsee that every week from February 1952 a feature article apeared, whether it was a book review, commentary on an idea aor further work on language or exploration. His interest in the mind is apparent in his carefully written   article on the history of hypnotism prompted by a Bill then before the British House of Commons.  There is a biographical study to be written about  Baker, who seems to have had left wing views as his article unionisation of art reflects.

Baker was also an editor, the International Journal of Sexology,  published  in Bombay from 1948, a reflection of his long standing interest in psychoanalysis.  It is unclear how he made its acquaintance. It is possible that Lotte Fink, a colleague on the editorial staff of the International Journal of Sexology, responded to his curiosity. Fink’s husband, Siegfried Fink, a Sydney based  neurologist and psychoanalyst, was an Associate of the Swiss Psychoanalytical Society, prior to the family’s escape to Australia. He retrained as a medical practitioner in order to continue psychoanalytic practice in Australia and was a founder member of the Australian Society of Psychoanalysts founded in 1952.

It is not surprising then that the first volume of  Ernest Jones’s biography of Sigmund Freud was *the* Book of the Week in the  the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 1 May 1954. ‘Freud was a man who “troubled the sleep of the world” by probing into the deep levels of human motivation. He was the first man to formulate methods of effecting radical changes in human personality. He explored and charted the unconscious. Herevealed the nature of infantilesexuality.’ Baker goes on: ‘for all the immense importance of these matters, however, Dr. Jones sees his greatest scientific deeds as his development of the “free association method” of analytical treatment and his self-analysis, which began in 1897’. 1897 is regarded by Jones as the ‘acme’ of Freud’s life.

Baker recalls meeting Ernest Jones ‘ a puckish old man and international authority on ice skating’ at a meeting of the British Psychoanalytical Society during his visit to London in 1951. There is is no better authority on Freud, Baker continued. He was the ‘oldest colleague of Freud’s still alive’. Baker details Jones’s account of Freud’s early life from 1856 to 1900, when ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’ was published. Baker picks up on Jones’s account of Freud’s travel phobias, anxiety and depression, to wonder for himself about the effect of early experiences in Freud’s life upon his later. And whether it was possible that events in Australia could have had  an influence in Freud’s life. It is an interesting point. Transnational linkages in knowledge, news, trade, and culture have  been occurring for a long time.   Or is it an acknowledgement of the greatness of Freud’s thought he finds reflected in Jones’s work?

Here is Baker’s final paragraph.

Australian readers may find special interest in this study because it seems highly probable that this country had an influence in shaping Freud’s character. It came about this way: His father, Jakob Freud, was a woolmerchant in the Moravian town
of Freiberg when Sigmund was born] in 1856. As increasing sup plies of Australian wool fed the English market, imports from the Continent declined. Freiberg was among the centres affected. Things went so badly for Jakob Freud that, in 1859, when Sigmund was aged three, the family moved first to Leipzig and then to Vienna. Since Freud has taught that “the essential foundations of character are laid down by the age of three and that later events can modify but not alter thetraits then established”,  one may suspect that this event, involving a break with the home of a happy childhood, left a perma-nent mark on Freud’s personality.
The entire review, complete with illustrations,   can be read here.


Baker followed up with his own research. His early psychobiography  My Own Destroyer , a psychoanalytic study of the explorer Matthew Flinders was published by Angus and Robertson in 1962.




BOOKS OF THE WEEK (1954, May 1). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 10. Retrieved December 15, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27518122

FINK Siegfried born 7 March 1893; nationality German; FINK Lotte Augusta, age 41; FINK Ruth Annette, age 7, NAA: A997, 1938/174

“HERALD” SATURDAY MAGAZINE (1952, March 15). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved December 15, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18250066

Cut-Rate Art For Everyone (1952, April 12). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved December 15, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18261550


Anna Freud’s letters to Clara Geroe: another part in a ‘life’.


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Some years ago I submitted a paper to a refereed journal. It was based on an interview about Australia’s first training analyst  Clara Lazar Geroe, with her son, George Geroe. This wide ranging interview was conducted and recorded in the sitting room of George’s home. A portrait of his mother painted by her friend, the Hungarian born Australian artist, Judy Cassab presided, hung above the mantlepiece. The artist’s choice to ‘dress’ Geroe in peacock colours: green, teal, blue purple and yellow,  brought  her gravitas to the fore along with  her love for colour and life. An apt illustration of the liveliness with which George Geroe remembered his mother. He was generous with his time  and eager to contribute his bit to the historical record.

My paper was rejected. The scholar concerned did not agree that significant new source material I cited, or information I had gathered, was based on reality. To put it bluntly. The scholar has since passed away. Things have moved on.

Clara Geroe was attracted to life, colour and bohemia. She loved the city and the cultured coffee houses of 1920s and 1930s Budapest. She had trained as a psychoanalyst with Michael Balint as her training analyst, became a full member of the Hungarian Psychoanalytic  Society in 1931 and departed for Australia, in flight from the Nazis, in 1940.  Migration was heart breaking for her. She left behind the people she loved and later learned that many of her colleagues: including the child analysts, Kata Levy, Edit Gyomeroi,  and Eva Rosenberg, had also been forced to find refuge in other countries. Another of these friends was Anna Freud who had fled Vienna with her father in 1938. ‘My mother loved Anna Freud’, George said. She had often spoken of Anna Freud to the family. George described how his mother had sent Anna Freud food parcels during the war; that she had stayed with Anna Freud during her trips to London.

And what had happened to Anna Freud’s  letters to Clara?  George did not know. His father, Willi,  had taken charge of Clara’s archive after her death. Ann Geroe, George’s wife,  was more forthright. Willi had destroyed them, she said.

I still have the correspondence in which the scholar rejected George’s account. He stated that ALL of Anna Freud’s letters were indexed. She had kept copies of everything, he said. That the friendship was Clara’s childrens’ fantasy was confirmed by the lack of letters. Of course they would say they had been destroyed. The fact was, the scholar assured me,  there. were. no. more. letters.

And so the matter rested.

Until this year.

In 2018  Clara Geroe’s papers were donated to the State Library of Victoria and, as I was assisting with this negotiation, the first access was to me. It has meant that the collection has remained with me rather longer than I had anticipated (hooray!) while the State Library finished its renovations. Which it just has.  Soon the papers will be off for cataloguing and eventually public access. Within these thirty  or so archive boxes there are references to Anna Freud in various lectures and a Christmas card or two.  Clara encouraged several young psychologists to study with Anna Freud. There is professional correspondence about these.  But no personal letters are to be found.

George Geroe’s death in February 2019 yielded still more boxes and…


In that batch I found a small yellow enveloped marked in Willi Geroe’s hand, ‘To be destroyed’ after Clara’s memorial service on 21 October 1981. It contains several  letters from Anna Freud written in the 1940s.  Enough to show that there was, indeed, a good friendship between the two women. And that Clara had sent food parcels to Anna Freud during WW2. That Willi may have intended to carry out his plan is signified by what looks like a knife cut across this envelope. Was he interrupted? I do not know. Or did he change his mind?

We may speculate why Willi acted as he did… and why it is that the scholar could not believe George’s account.




‘I am up against a hard task’, Clara Geroe and her papers – a project.

I have been working on Clara Geroe’s archive for the last twelve months. It is a scholar’s joy to touch the papers, to read her writings, the crossings out and rewording, as she struggled to find her way in the English language. Vitally, the State Library of Victoria has granted me a Regional Fellowship – with funds donated by the late Marion Orme Page, to do this. I have been given a gift, an opportunity with time attached to work in a raw archive, discovering stories hidden in the darkest corners ofa suitcase of letters, boxes of reports and a shelf full of books. The library’s resources will complement this collection with others in its keeping. Geroe was not alone in her migration from deep European culture to another perched on a land with a depth of history  they did not understand. Up until the early 1970s Australia’s colonial settlers called themselves ‘British’ even though many were born on Australian lands and had never seen Britain. A sort of turning away from the place they or their forbears had landed.

Geroe’s address books – there are multiple versions – help track her path. European addresses give way to British and Australian, modified again and again. Who she talked to, wrote to and remembered, are significant markers. These are clues to the woman: how she felt about her work and her very lonely task as the only fully trained psychoanalyst in Australia from the moment of her arrival in Melbourne on 12 March 1940. The way she shaped her thoughts and words, her guiding lights, and the people she loved, are part of her story. It follows the trajectory of many women whose emigration was forced upon them. Their arrival in a strange land was an abrupt culture shock. Some disembarked from the ship that brought them, took one look, and returned to Europe. Others made new careers, while others – such as the Melbourne philosopher, Raymond Gaita’s mother, and so movingly recorded in his book, ‘Romulus my Father’, were unable to manage the mental distress of migration. Clara Geroe, as she came to be known, was a highly educated, cultured woman, a product of the avant gard world of Budapest. As a result of Hitler’s rise to power in Europe she became one of a new generation of migrants – a Hungarian refugee in this colonial settler Australian place in the antipodes

Dr G. Lazar Klara trained in Budapest with the Hungarian Psychoanalytical Society. She did not have the funds to undertake the training independently, the psychoanalyst Michael Balint explained in an interview in 1966. Instead she was taken on as a patient of the Hungarian Society’s Clinic and became one of Balint’s training patients. The Bulletin of the International Psychoanalytical Association(IPA) shows that her paper, on her treatment of a young girl, presented to the Hungarian Society in 1930, was followed by ratification of her membership in 1931. Geroe’s speciality was ‘pedagogic psychoanalysis’, following the idea that children should be brought up on psychoanalytic principles. Her focus on the treatment of children led to her involvement with the children’s clinic at the Hungarian Psychoanalytical Society and later, her work with the Friends of the Children of Hungarian Labourers. In 1938 she was ratified as a ‘Trainer of Pedagogues’ by the IPA.

In her younger years  Geroe was one of a number of women analysts working in Hungary during the 1920s and 1930s. Anna Borgos, a Hungarian based scholar of women in psychoanalysis, shows that Geroe along with Kata Levy, Emmy Pikler, Alice Balint Eva Rosenberg and Edit Gyomeroi and Charlotte Balkanyi and others were in frequent contact with Anna Freud. After their own emigration to Britain, many found positions in Anna Freud’s Hampstead Clinic. Geroe maintained her connection with Anna Freud for many years – seeking and finding support from Anna Freud and, in return, during the bitter years of the war, sending food parcels and gifts for the Home children. During the late 1940s she encouraged several young Australian women psychologists to further their careers in London: Ivy Bennett, Cecily de Monchaux and Maria Kawenowka. Australia’s loss was England’s gain, or in Bennett’s case, the United States. All went on to significant contributions to the psychoanalytic world, choosing to not return to Australia.

“I am up against a hard task’, Geroe wrote in 1940. Her work in Australia was to train analysts alongside her clinical work with adults and children She was, early on, an employee of the Melbourne Institute of Psychoanalysis before joining its board in 1945 and moving full-time into her own practice. For the remainder of her life until her death in 1980 she held seminars for students and interested people, gave lectures, and became involved in the New Education Fellowship. In the early years she kept up her work as a pedagogic analyst all the while meeting her commitment to the training of analysts. And slowly, brick by brick, and with the help of others and often enough, opposition, she set up the frame  an institute. What kind of institute it was, and what it became,  and why, will be my focus for the next little while. A book for Routledge  is at the end of it, all going well. That is another gift… and the beginning of this journey. The posts that follow, along with others,  will peg out the process.



Bulletin of the International Psychoanalytical Association, 1930, 1931, 1932.

Anna Borgos, (2018) Girls of Tomorrow – Women in the Budapest School of Psychoanalysis, Norman Libra, Budapest, 2018.

Raymond Gaita, ‘Romulus my Father’, 2008.

Bluma Swerdloff, The reminiscences of Michael Balint. Tanscripts of interviews ( 6.8.1965 and 7.8 1956) Oral History research office, Columbia University, copy in University of Essex Library.






‘Vera Roboz was a follower of Szondi…’

Vera Roboz, nee Groak, is listed as an Australian psychoanalyst in the online dictionary of women psychoanalysts, Psychoanalytikerinnen: Biografisches Lexikon. The web-page Geni shows that Vera to have been born in Budapest in 1912, the third and youngest child and only daughter of Erno Groak, a prominent physician and Irma Groak, nee Pollatstek. Vera’s brother, Bela, born in 1901 and, also a physician, perished in the Ukraine in 1943. Irma Groak and Gyula Groak also died during the war years.Vera and her husband Pal Roboz emigrated to Australia via Vienna in 1957  following the Hungarian uprising against Russians. At that time Pal Roboz was a leading paediatrician in Budapest and Vera, the head of the Department of Criminal Psychology at the Remedial Teacher’s college in Budapest. ( Boros: et al; Psychology and Criminal Justice…)

The Lexicon entry  mentions that Vera Groak was a follower of Leopold Szondi, a psychologist whose theory of fate analysis was predicated on intergenerational transmission of a familial unconscious. Szondi seems to have provided an alternative theory of development to that of Freud and Jung, a third based upon the notion of a familial unconscious.

So who was Szondi?

My account here is drawn from an internet search, and an exploration of Youtube… I am open to correction here and apologize for errors. My acquaintance with Szondi is very new. I have put links to the sources I have used.

Leopold Szondi ( 1898 -1984) was a Hungarian born psychologist and the creator of Fate Analysis and the Szondi Test, a projective test akin to the Rorscharch test. For Szondi human fate is  constituted by the elements as self-, character-, social-, mental-, spiritual- fate. In a short account of Szondi’s life, Dr. Enikő Gy. Kiss from the University of Pecs, notes that”Szondi’s   theory of object choice – „ object choice guided by the ancestors”-, which he later named genotropism, was published in 1937.

Szondi ‘came to the concept of genotropism through the discovery of the choice of illnesses. In pursuance of the research they have gathered data of a thousand child and their fifteen thousand relatives. The examination of family trees had helped him realize the similarities between illnesses amongst the families of spouses. According to his observations the traumas and sicknesses were often the consequences of the familial genotype and not due to other factors. This way the familial heredity is responsible for the sickness of the primarily weak organ. In Szondi’s concept, not only the choice of illnesses but also the choice of occupation, spouses and friends is also due to its familial heredity. These thoughts have lead to the notion of the familial unconsciousness, which is rooted in the latent familial heredity everyone carries along. The familial unconsciousness appears in our choices, and according to Szondi’s concept, our fate is a continuous line of the choices we make”.( Kiss).

Vera Groak appears to have  joined Szondi’s laboratory shortly around the time of the publication of his work “Analysis of Marriages in 1937. An attempt at a theory of choice in love.’ This work even made it into a Sydney based Australian paper called ‘The World’s News’ in 1940. Szondi did not get much publicity in Australia in 1940. News from Europe was hard to get by then. The war was underway.

However the journalist explained it thus:

Dr. Szondy holds that real harmony and understanding between two persons, particularly those who are married to each other and must consequently betogether all or most of the year, year after year, are possible only when the couple belong to the same Instinct Group. That is, they must have suffered through experience or vicariously the same hurts and pains. They must have similar sympathies for those things and
persons to whom sympathy is due. They  must have the same biological urges and psychological suppressions and complexes. And they must have come into the world with the same intuitive instincts, which can only come through genetic inheritance from their forebears. The last is most important of all.


Others in Vera’s group were Ferenc Mérei, Klári Sándor, György Garai, Zsuzsa Kőrösi and Imre  Molnar. Her future husband, Pal Roboz, a paediatrician also joinedSzondi’s  laboratory and the work with disabled children. The training program also involved psychoanalytic treatment, exploring with the patient the meaning of his object and life choices. The intention of freeing the patient from the constraints of  familial unconscious patterns down generations to greater freedom of choice…

In 1944 Szondi went from Hungary to Belsen on the Kastner train. The original intention was for the train to go straight to Switzerland but it was diverted to Belsen where the passengers remained for six months. Eventually after negotiations with Eichmann a ransom was paid for him and the other 1300 odd passengers. The train eventually ended its journey in Switzerland. Szondi lived in Zurich for the remainder of this life.Vera Groak Roboz and her husband appear to have remained in Hungary.

In later life Szondi recorded an interview with Jaques Schott,  which can be found here. It’s interesting viewing, ( with a transcription in German and then. for me, into English, with the aid of an online translation feature)  not least for Szondi’s description of his life’s work. He also remarks upon the criticism he received about his rather Calvinistic approach… implying a sort of asceticism and attempt at anonymity. Overall though, it is an interesting story.

Seeking refuge in New Zealand from Europe – 1938.


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there was great difficulty in getting permission, to get in anywhere, and I don’t know what preliminaries were made, but they picked New Zealand first, which would have been largely my father’s choice, I think, he was a passionate hiker, or what do you call it in Australia, bushwalkers, and a field naturalist, and he’d spent most of his free time either walking in the hills or rowing, or on trips on the Danube, or various lakes, and he was prominent in a movement, which still exists, called the (Die Natural Frionde?), that’s German for “Friends of Nature”, which was a Swiss based movement, to give moderately priced outdoor holidays for people who probably wouldn’t be in a position to take them, otherwise, as an answer to the problems of the modern industrialised world…

(Dr George Geroe on his parents, Clara and Vilmos Geroe, 23 August 2013).


Siegfried Rothmann had his application repeatedly declined. The explanation he received from the naturalisation officer, who was R. A. Lochore, was that his wife’s anti-social behaviour was a problem. The behaviour regarded as anti-social was Mrs Rothmann’s attempts to establish a psychoanalytic practice without gaining a New Zealand medical degree first. In fact, she was legally entitled to do this. Eventually, thanks to the assistance of prominent New Zealanders Jim Roberts and Bob Semple, the Rothmanns did obtain their naturalisation. The Rothmanns were not alone in encountering such difficulties. Refugees and other aliens who were thought not to have adequately participated in the war effort had their applications declined in 1946 and 1947. 

Beaglehole, Ann. A Small Price to Pay: Refugees from Hitler in New Zealand 1936–46 . Bridget Williams Books. Kindle Edition.

(I wish to thank Karin Ruppeldt for drawing my attention to this publication and for her contribution to this post).

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In 1938 five psychoanalysts wishing to flee from Nazi Europe applied for entry visas into New Zealand: Eva Rosenfeld, Erszebet Kardos, Endre Peto, Edit Gyomeroi and Clara Lazar Geroe. All of them were trained and experienced as child analysts. Four, from Budapest, were members of the Hungarian Psychoanaytical Society. Eva Rosenfeld, a former patient of Freud’s, had worked with Anna Freud in Vienna, where members of the group had met together for seminars with Anna Freud herself. Clara Lazar, a specialist in pedagogic and child analysis, held an appointment with the International Psychoanalytical Society to give lectures to educationalists. The group’s New Zealand contact, made through Ernest Jones in London, was a psychiatrist, Dr Stuart Moore from Dunedin on the South Island. Stuart Moore called upon Dr Mary Barkas for assistance. Barkas, born in Christchurch, was medically trained, and a former Associate member of the British Psychoanalytical Society. She had left New Zealand to train under Dr Otto Rank in the late 1910s and had returned to in the early 1930s. She had given up clinical work by then but continued to support the refugee analysts as they sought to enter her country.

Amongst Clara Geroe’s correspondence is  a  copy of a letter to Dr Moore, dated 2nd December 1938.  Moore chose to delete the names of the participants in these conversations over the future of the five. It is clear though that the writer – perhaps Mary Barkas- was well acquainted with the local culture. How Clara Geroe obtained this letter is a mystery. Perhaps it was forwarded by Ernest Jones as he sought to assist the group’s plans.

The letter begins:

I discussed the matter with [the Minister]’. He had wondered whether their situation was as urgent as that for the Austrians or Germans – even though they were likely ‘to have a rather thin time’.

It merited pressing on.

On the whole I think it is worth taking some risk in the matter. We can assume I think that genione refugees will prefer personal safety than starvation and the risk of personal violence in Fascist countries’.

The writer was sympathetic to the injustices and local constraints the five would face. Their misfortune, as the New Zealand historian Ann Beaglehole has carefully established in her 2015 book, ‘A Small Price to Pay’ was that they were applying for entry into a country of just over a million settler colonials, into a culture resistant to any other immigrant group than British.

None would be able to work as medical practitioners, the writer continued. They would be required to work ‘as lay/an objectionable term/ non medical psychologists or get a footing here as teachers’, If necessary they would spend a year at a local teacher’s training college. They should be younger than thirty five years, and ‘recognized by the relevant people with personal knowledge of them in England’. Despite their qualifications and experience, ‘it should be clear that apart from a few cases only the briefer and shallower forms of psychotherapy are at present acceptable to NZ professional and public opinion’.

The letter writer was clearly knowledgeable about the needs of New Zealanders and their limitations. Child work was sorely needed. It would be a great thing if an analyst with an educational interest was granted entry… someone similar to Susan Isaacs, the British analyst who had visited the country with the New Education Fellowship in August 1937.A woman had better prospects than a man, the writer said. It would be easier for her to make her way, without being perceived as competing with local people for work.

They could win themselves a reasonable financial and societal status within a few years’, the writer continued. ‘Teaching is one of the least crowded of professions – little resentment will be caused by bringing in a few able foreigners’. Support could build up slowly as knowledge spread.

Perhaps, upon reading this letter, Clara Geroe began thinking about her strategy.  If she was able to emigrate to New Zealand she  would start small, she wrote to Ernest Jones in London. That way, the local people would begin to know and trust her work.  Ernest Jones, so strongly committed to seeing as many European analysts settled, wherever they could find a place, supported her view. In his mind the group’s applications and New Zealand’s acceptance them was a foregone conclusion. At least that is what he wrote to them. If anything he had to keep hope alive. It may have been better for everyone had he apprised himself of the realities of the Dominions’ positions. Even the British Government knew better than to prevail upon its former colonies to accept the refugees that no-one else wanted.

Moore’s correspondent seemed surprised that anyone of the analysts would actually choose New Zealand as a destination. If the applicants were not too desperate and ‘could pick and choose’, wouldn’t they ‘be inclined to head for England or the USA’ ? 

But then again, ‘should a well qualified applicant have financial backing, I would be inclined to say by all means come to NZ and set up as a /child/ psychologist. As a starting point I would say one in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch – I am not sure about Dunedin’. This was Stuart Moore’s hometown. ‘It is a small city and you are able to take most of the work that is there….’

In the longer term Stuart Moore was to advise against the group’s migration, suggesting that New Zealanders would not accept their contribution. It was too small, too conservative, too British…

Beaglehole notes that only about 1100 European Jews were accepted into New Zealand prior to Kristallnacht, in November 1939. New Zealand seeking to protect its British Settler culture, closed its doors. The Australian government which had undertaken to accept 30,000 refugees – later halved this intake to 15,000 – eventually accepted about 7000. None of the group was accepted into New Zealand. But amongst the 1100  luckier ones who got accepted to New Zealand was a 5 year old John Steiner with his parents and a baby brother, as refugees from the Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia. John Steiner was raised in Wellington until his age 26 and trained at Otago Medical School. He became interested in psychoanalysis as a student. His friend, the son of a professor in education, had the complete works of Freud, which Steiner borrowed and read through. He left New Zealand in 1959 to the US and then the UK, and became a distinguished psychoanalyst in Kleinian tradition.

Encouraged by the ever optimistic Ernest Jones Clara Geroe, Kardos and Peto turned their attention to Australia. But despite strong representations from Duncan Hall, the League of Nations Secretary for the Colonies, none of their applications was accepted by the government. Clara Geroe eventually arrived in Australia on her husband’s application in March 1940. Eva Rosenfeld emigrated to Britain. Edit Gyomeroi wound up in Ceylon. Erszebet Kardos and Endre Peto, who married in 1941, remained in Hungary. Tragically Erszebet was murdered when the Nazis reached Budapest in 1944. She left behind her husband, Endre Peto and their two year old daughter, Agnes. The Peto family, Andrew, with his second wife, Hannah and little Agnes, aged eight,  Hannah’s daughter from a previous marriage, finally reached Australia in 1950.


Mary Barkas, Women Psychoanalysts in Great Britain, https://www.psychoanalytikerinnen.de/greatbritain_biographies.html#Barkas accessed 7 March 2019.

Copy of letter to Stuart Moore dated 2 December 1938. writer not identified. (Geroe Correspondence).

Letter from Clara Lazar Geroe to Ernest Jones, c. March 1939. (Geroe Correspondence)

Ann Beaglehole, A Small Price to Pay: Refugees from Hitler in New Zealand 1936–46. Bridget Williams Books, 2015.

Louise London, Whitehall and the Jews, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Christine Vickers and George Geroe, 23 August 2013. (transcript  in possession of the author).

An Elegy for Elizabeth Kardos – ‘A contribution to the theory of play’.


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In January 1955, the Hungarian born and trained psychoanalyst – and refugee -Andrew Peto, read a paper to the Annual Conference of the Australian Society of Psychoanalysts, in Adelaide, South Australia. Written by his late wife, the child analyst, Elizabeth Kardos, ‘A Contribution to the Theory of Play’ was the summation of her ideas developed over the previous decade’s work as a child analyst in Budapest. As Peto explained in his introduction, Elizabeth died shortly after the Nazis arrived in Budapest in 1944. She left  behind her daughter, Agnes, born in 1943. In 1945, Agnes, together with a woman, named only as ‘Mrs Andrew Peto’ was the subject of an application for admission to Australia. Andrew Peto, described as a psychoanalyst and physician, was the subject of a separate application. The Peto family, Andrew, his second wife, Hannah, and Hannah’s  daughter from a prior marriage,  finally made landfall in Australia, at Perth, on 28 April 1950. They travelled on in Melbourne where they stayed with Clara Geroe and her family. By 1951 the family had moved to Sydney.

Prior to the war, in early 1939, Andrew Peto and Elizabeth Kardos were part of a group of European analayts that applied for visas to New Zealand. But that government refused them – perhaps reflecting the advice of  Dr Stuart Moore who stated that psychoanalysis would not find much support in that country.

The group had to turn elsewhere.   Encouraged by Ernest Jones, and perhaps by the information that the Australian Government would accept 30,000 refugees, the Geroe family applied, successfully, for a Visa to Australia. Kardos and Peto also applied, following the Geroes, to  Australia House in London.  But while the Geroe application, made in her husband’s name was being considered, Kardos and Peto were advised that a previous application, made directly to Australia, would be considered only in Australia.  On 13 January 1940 the Geroe family was advised their application was successful- not because Clara Geroe was a psychoanalyst nor, especially, because she had a child. Vilmos Geroe, a qualified accountant with experience in a factory making fire-proof bricks provided the grounds for  acceptance.

It is unlikely that Peto and Kardos were ever  serious contenders for visas. None of the psychoanalysts who applied for Australian visas were successful. At the time, the Australian Branch of the British Medical Association was strongly campaigning against the admission of European qualified doctors. In the meantime, Mr Carrodus, head of the Department of Interior, and charged with the administration of refugee matters, cut the proposed intake to 15,000. The government preferred British migrants.

Peto did not stay long in Australia. He and his family departed for New York in October 1956, six and a half years after their arrival.  During his time in Australia Peto had worked with Geroe, Frank Graham and Roy Coupland Winn to establish the Australian Society of Psychoanalysts in 1953, drawing together the interests of the newly formed  Sydney Institute of Psychoanalysis (1951) and the Melbourne Institute. He conducted seminars, wrote papers, provided supervision and took on a trainee, Maida Hall. Janet Neild, a child analyst who had begun her training with Clara Geroe, moved from Melbourne to Sydney for further education and supervision with him.

The reason commonly given for Peto’s departure centres around the BMA’s reluctance to recognize Peto as a medical practitioner. But upon  considering the opening lines of his paper, it is to wonder about the trauma Peto carried with him along with the rejection of this new country in which he had tried to settle.  It may be that he saw Australia as a stop along the way to the United States.  But the question remains. What if… the Australian Department of Interior had been less locked into its preference for British migrants? And What if… the BMA had been more open? There are clearly more stories to tell.

Here is a link to the introduction to Kardos’ paper – Peto’s elegy to the brilliant woman who was his wife. An original copy is in Geroe’s archive.

The end of the dream: Clara Lazar Geroe and the Melbourne Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1940- 1945


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On 17th August 1940 the Sydney based psychoanalyst Roy Coupland Winn wrote to Clara Geroe,the Hungarian trained psychoanalyst who had arrived in Australia on a refugee Visa five months earlier. ‘Considering the fact that there seems little likelihood of starting an institute in Melbourne, why not practise in Sydney? You, [Siegfried] Fink and I could commence a clinic’. Fink was a German born psychoanalyst, also refugee, who had arrived in 1938. Winn continued:  ‘It may be a mistaken idea but I think that three analysts would make more rapid progress than two, just as two than one; I am of the opinion that analysts tend to advertise and feed each other, partly because as the practice of each is necessarily small each has to send any overflow that arises to be done by others; thus each also receives advertisement from each other’.

It was a tempting offer.  Clara Geroe and her family had landed in Melbourne on the strength of a promise, a donation of five thousand pounds by a benefactor, Lorna Traill, for the commencement of an institute for psychotherapy.   The family was on its way to Sydney, she wrote later.  A place like Buda, with hills all around but close to the sea. But a Melbourne based psychiatrist Dr Paul Dane – a man with a dream – had  argued, successfully, that the Traill funds were to be used to establish an institute for psychoanalysis along the lines of the British one headed by Ernest Jones. In Melbourne.  Dane had written to Jones about it. Jones, in turn, always a supporter of psychoanalysis, particularly if it was a medical enterprise, encouraged its development. But the donation had not materialized. Traill had withdrawn her offer. Negotiations were continuing. Geroe had had to wait it out.

In her reply to Winn Geroe said that the Melbourne group had managed to retrieve a thousand pounds from Traill.  Another five hundred pounds was  promised if the Institute was opened on the benefactor’s birthday. It was barely a viable figure but Ernest Jones had given the project his blessing. Sydney though would be sidelined.  It would be only a Melbourne Institute for Psychoanalysis, Geroe continued. Not the Australian Institute originally envisaged. Geroe would have preferred to start small she wrote in her notebooks. She would have liked to have built up a following before launching such a complex project as an Institute. But Traill had made the condition  that an institute was founded with the funds. Geroe could do no more than shrug her shoulders and comply.

The Melbourne Institute for Psychoanalysis was duly opened on 11 October 1940, Lorna Traill’s birthday. Roy Winn made the long journey from Sydney to attend. Judge Foster from the Children’s Court led the proceedings. A coterie of psychiatrists – Reg Ellery, Norman Albiston, Albert Phillips among them, all attended along with  local educationalists, nurses and workers from the Children’s Court Clinic. In July 1941 Geroe was made a member of the British Institute of Psychoanalysis and appointed as a training analyst. Jones, one might say, had captured the Australian Dominion for his Empire.

All the while Geroe was bitter, sad, and upset about having to leave the intellectual, cafe culture of Budapest. She was trying to settle into Melbourne,  in a land on the other side of the world, far from the pastoral beauty to which she was accustomed. As far as she was concerned Melbourne was a back-water. If her husband’s decision to leave Hungary and Nazi Europe was prescient, Geroe was a trailing spouse. She was not accepted by the Australian government on the basis of the work as a psychoanalyst. In fact none of the six psychoanalysts with whom she had applied for a visa, first to New Zealand and when that was refused, to Australia, were considered eligible for entry. Her husband’s experience as an accounts manager in a factory making magnesium bricks was most probably the reason for the family’s acceptance. That, and his decision to seek the assistance of a local Sydney solicitor, Eric Jones who, somehow, managed to obtain visas for the family.  Their own application  made directly to the Australian government through Australia House in London had failed two weeks earlier. The Geroe family left Budapest on 20 January 1940.

On Friday  20 April 1945, about four years after the opening of the  Melbourne Institute of Psychoanalysis, three of the Board members met with Clara Geroe, at the office at 111 Collins Street, the rooms rented from the Union Bank of Australia by Dr Paul Dane.  Dane, the founder of the Institute, along with psychiatrists Guy Reynolds and Albert Phillips had called the meeting ‘to deal with the matter of the renewal of Dr Geroe’s agreement with the Institute’.

Geroe was employed by the Institute as its resident training analyst on  14 January 1941.  Her  second two year  contract expired on 14th January 1945.  By April 1945 it was clear that the Institute’s financial position was such that ‘it could not be renewed’.  At this stage it was agreed that Clara would continue at the Institute for a salary of four guineas a week. Of this she would pay three guineas a week a rent for the use of the rooms, telephone and so on. Five hours of her time would be devoted to the Institute’s Clinic, providing services on behalf of the Institute.

Matters did not improve. On 3rd August 1945, another meeting was held, this time to discuss Dr Paul Dane’s decision to resign as Chair of the Board. The Institute’s financial situation was more than  perilous: Dane, it appeared, had fallen behind in his rental payments – perhaps  a result of his absence through illness.  He owed forty five pounds to the Institute. But Clara and her husband, Vilmos,  a trained accountant, had compiled a financial statement and proposal showing that the Institute could continue  for a further thirteen months. ‘It was decided to carry on’, the psychiatrist Reg Ellery noted in the Minutes. He continued, ‘Dr Geroe proposed to continue her work for the Institute without a fee’. This, of course, ‘was willingly agreed to’.  Geroe took on Dane’s share of the rent and his rooms, with the proviso that he could return at any time. Frank Graham, Geroe’s first trainee was elected as a member of the Board.

On 23 September 1945 a third meeting was held between Geroe, Graham, Ellery and Guy Reynolds. Paul Dane had decided to take twelve months leave of absence on consenting to withdraw his resignation as Chairperson. An Acting Chairperson, Albert Phillips,  was appointed.  Clara Geroe was elected to the Board and, along with Dane and Graham,  approved as a subtenant of  111 Collins Street.

Most importantly Clara Geroe was recognized by the Board as ‘no longer an employee of the Institute but  ‘voluntarily agrees to give without any renumeration the same services [to the Institute’s Clinic]  as heretofore; and that her previous agreement with the Institute is null and void since 3rd August 1945’.

And so Clara Geroe’s psychoanalytic career, begun in Hungary in 1926, entered its longest phase.




Roy Winn to Clara Geroe 17 August 1940

Clara Geroe – draft reply to Winn, c August 1940

Clara Geroe, notebooks in English language, c. 1940.

Minutes of the Board of the Melbourne Institute of Psychoanalysis – No 20, 20 April, 1945;

No 21 undated; No 22, 3 August 1945; No 23, 28 September 1945.

Distance Psychoanalysis: A Review


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In 2011 I published a review of Dr Carlino’s book, ‘Distance Psychoanalysis’  on this site. I am interested in the way developments in technology can help people who live a long way from metropolitan areas to have access to treatments they may need. Dr Carlino highlighted issues clinicians should consider. Unfortunately in the first version I described Dr Carlino as ‘Brazilian’. He is not. He was, he wrote to me, born in Argentina. I apologize for this error. I now republish the review with the correct information.


In his book, Distance Psychoanalysis, published in 2011 Argentinian Psychoanalyst Ricardo Carlino argues for the integration of communication technology into psychoanalytic method. Dr Carlino who qualified as a medical practitioner 54 years ago and as a psychoanalyst 45 years ago now resides in Mexico City where he is a professor of Psychoanalytic Technique at the Institute of Psychoanalytic Education of the Psychoanalytic Society of Mexico (SPM).

By now an entire generation has been brought up in a social milieu where digital technology is the norm.  Baby Boomers who thought they ruled the world are now ‘digital immigrants’. They hold in their minds a history of psychoanalytic practice based on close physical proximity between patient and analyst ( ie in the same room). Yet, like the current generation, they face the challenges and changes wrought by the internet, the world-wide web and electronic communication.  Psychoanalytic practitioners need to explore the way this will impact upon practice and to develop a framework within which they could practice. In the longer term, Carlino argues, communication technology will enable people living in remote regions to get access to this and other treatments.

It’s an interesting – and important – idea and one I will be exploring in more detail as I work my way through Carlino’s book. For the time being, though, I will leave you with this article from today’s online edition of the Australian daily, ‘The Age’, showing just how deeply modern communication technology has altered the world.

Ricardo Carlino, Distance Psychoanalysis: Theory and Practice of Using Communication Technology In The Clinic, London, Karnac Books, 2011.

Statement on marriage equality: Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australia – September 2017


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Right now the Australian Government has decided that everyone who can vote will be sent a letter asking whether they approve of ‘marriage equality’. This means that we have tick a box, either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, on whether we think people who are in same sex relationships should, by law, be allowed to marry one another, thus enjoying the same legal rights as heterosexual couples who choose to marry. It has been challenged in the High Court, but alas, the vote is continuing. The debate that has emerged is bitterly divisive and distracts from real issues such as the government’s ability to govern,climate change and, in generally the going on being of the world.

Two colleagues from the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association in Australia have drawn up a statement which was released by the Association today – 19 September 2017.

                                             The right to marry is a basic human right.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists support marriage equality 2017

Members of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia (the PPAA) are in a unique position to observe the impact of discrimination, in all its forms, and the contribution of such discrimination to a variety of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicidality. The PPAA respect the rights of allpeople— regardless of sexual orientation, religious belief, age, gender, ability, lifestylechoice, cultural background or economic circumstances – to live with dignity and safety,and to enjoy healthy relationships in all their diversity. This position is, of course, consistent with The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/edumat/hreduseries/hereandnow/Part-5/8_udhrabbr.htm Therefore, we support marriage equality as a step toward the reduction of discrimination based on sexual orientation in Australia. PPAA Position The Council of the PPAA:  supports initiatives to remove legislative discrimination against people based on their sex, sexuality or gender identity  supports the right to marry as a basic human right  recognises the right of all LGBTIQ clients, employees, volunteers, families and communities to be free of prejudice and discrimination and to have the same rights under Australian law  believes that social inclusion is an integral aspect of a healthy society, while exclusion and discrimination contribute to increased mental health problems and unnecessary suffering  recognises that enshrining human rights in law and addressing discrimination and prejudice are essential to promoting positive mental health for all Australians
On this basis, the Council of the PPAA, on behalf of its members, supports marriage equality – the right of all Australians to access marriage with their partner of choice, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.


It has long been known, both in Australia and elsewhere, that risk of serious anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicidality is significantly increased for the LGBTIQ communities. In part, this is related to the frequently reported experience of explicit discrimination from being part of a minority group. However, both research and clinical observations indicate that the impact of institutional discrimination, wherein LGBTIQ people are excluded from participation in mainstream groups, activities and customs, plays a significant and damaging role. PPAA support marriage equality as a step toward redressing the institutional discrimination implicit in the historical exclusion from access to marriage of LGBTIQ people.

The Importance of Recognition

The PPAA recognises that discrimination in all its forms is damaging. Members of our associations in all states and New Zealand encounter the impact of discrimination against LGBTIQ individuals and communities in their daily work with patients. While it is our view that it will take generations to completely redress this deeply embedded, and often unconscious discrimination, we support any actions to remove institutional discrimination based on sexual orientation. It has long been recognised that members of LGBTIQ communities suffer an increased risk of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide. (1,2,3) Stonewall, a UK organisation which promotes equality for people of diverse sexual orientations, reports that “lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more likely to have experienced depression or anxiety, attempted suicide or had suicidal thoughts, and self-harmed than men and women in general” (4). For example, gay and bisexual men report moderate to severe levels of depression and anxiety at double the rate of men in general, with even higher rates of reported depression (49%) among lesbian and bisexual girls. They further report (5) that in 2012, 3% of gay men had attempted to take their own life, compared to 0.4% per cent of all men during the same period. Research from Australia (6) and elsewhere in the western world (7) is consistent with these findings. Unsurprisingly, experiences of bullying are disturbingly common in the lives of LGBTIQ members of our communities. Stonewall reported (8) that 55% of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people experience homophobic bullying in Britain’s schools. Of significance, they report a noteworthy proportion (35%) of gay young people who are not bullied still suffer high levels of depression, compared to 5% of young people generally. There is a growing body of research and clinical experience which suggests that a significant contribution to the adverse mental health impact of belonging to the LGBTIQ communities occurs via exclusion and alienation. In the research literature, this has been referred to as “minority stress” (9) a model which postulates that members of sexual and other minorities are at greater risk for health problems,
because they face greater exposure to social stress related to prejudice and stigma (10,11). Stigma-related experiences can include verbal and physical assault, social and employment discrimination, and the expectation of discrimination regardless of actual discriminatory circumstances (12,13,14). In Australia, the existence of institutional discrimination contributes to this alienation and minority stress, and we would argue, as our colleagues have done elsewhere in the world (15,16,17), that the removal of discrimination in relation to access to marriage is a crucial step to reducing the adverse impact of institutional discrimination. Implications and effects of the voluntary non-binding postal poll and the associated campaign on LGBTIQ people and their families.
We hold serious concerns about how this issue of marriage equality has been raised via a public campaign and a non-binding postal vote which unnecessarily exposes already vulnerable people to divisiveness, derision of their personal and intimate relationships with consequent emotional stress, where the deleterious effects on the mental health of many such individuals is well known.

We cannot presume to speak on behalf of all our members, but we can say that our members are concerned with the hostility, negative publicity and misleading advertising material which has arisen around the issue of marriage equality. We understand this to be damaging to people who identify as LGBTQI and their families, leaving them more vulnerable to further denigration, invalidation and ‘othering’ that they are already exposed to. With this in mind we can also say that our members are concerned to protect and nurture the well-being of children and couples of same sex unions.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia (the PPAA) PO Box 4098, Homebush South, NSW 2140 theppaa.com

The PPAA is a federated body member associations in most Australian States and New Zealand. Its members come primarily from professional backgrounds in psychology, medicine, psychiatry and social work


The Member Associations of the PPAA are a resource for mental health support for those suffering discrimination:

New South Wales Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: nswipp.org Victorian Association of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists: vapp.asn.au Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy of Western Australia: appwa.org.au Queensland Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association: qppa.com.au

New Zealand Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: psychotherapy.co.nz


1. Rosenstreich, G. (2013) LGBTI People Mental Health and Suicide. Revised 2nd Edition. National LGBTI Health Alliance. Sydney

2. Mereish EH, O’Cleirigh C, Bradford JB. Interrelationships between LGBT-based victimization, suicide, and substance use problems in a diverse sample of sexual and gender minorities. Psychol Health Med. 2014;19:1–13.

3. Mays, V. M., & Cochran, S. D. (2001). Mental health correlates of perceived discrimination among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 1869 – 1876.

4. Stonewall Health Briefing: Mental Heath (2012) http://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/Mental_Health_Stonewall_Health_Briefing__2012_.pdf

5. Stonewall Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health Survey (2013) http://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/Gay_and_Bisexual_Men_s_Health_Survey__2013_.pdf

6. Rosenstreich, G. (2013) LGBTI People Mental Health and Suicide. Revised 2nd Edition. National LGBTI Health Alliance. Sydney.

7. Branstrom, R, (2017) Minority stress factors as mediators of sexual orientation disparities in mental health treatment: a longitudinal population-based study. J.Epidemiol. Community Health. (Published Online 2 January 2017)

8. Stonewall School Report: The experiences of gay young people in Britain’s schools in 2012. (2012). http://www.stonewall.org.uk/sites/default/files/The_School_Report 2012_.pdf

9. Meyer IH. (2003) Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psych Bull. 2003; 129: 674–697.

10. Sattler FA, Wagner U, Christiansen H. (2016) Effects of minority stress, group-level coping, and social support on mental health of German gay men. PLoS ONE 11.

11. Branstrom, R, (2017) Minority stress factors as mediators of sexual orientation disparities in mental health treatment: a longitudinal population-based study. J.Epidemiol. Community Health. (Published Online 2 January 2017)

12. Akhtar, S. (2014): The mental pain of minorities, British Journal of Psychoanalysis 30:2, 136-153 14. Domenici, T., and Lesser, R. C.,

13. Domenici, T., and Lesser, R. C., 1995. Disorienting Sexuality: Psychoanalytic Reappraisals of Sexual Identities. New York: Routledge.

14. Hatzenbuehler ML, McLaughlin KA, Keyes KM, Hasin DS. (2010) The impact of institutional discrimination on psychiatric disorders in lesbian, gay, abisexual populations: A prospective study.” Am J Public Health. 100: 452– 459.

15. Buffie W C. (2011) Public Health Implications of Same-Sex Marriage. Am J Public Health.101: 986– 990.

16. Perone AK (2015) Health implications of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell vs. Hodges marriage equality decision. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health 2, 196–199.

17. Meyer, I. (2016), The Elusive Promise of LGBT Equality. Am J Public Health. Vol 106, No. 8 Beyond Blue, 2013. LGBT People: Mental Health & Suicide. Available from: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/defaultdocument-library/bw0258-lgbti-mental-health-andsuicide-2013-2ndedition.pdf?sfvrsn=2

Australian Federal Parliament, 2004. Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2004. Available from: https://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/library/pubs/bd/2003-04/04bd155.pdf

Relationships Australia, https://www.relationships.org.au/national/submissions…/marriage-equality-statement


The Freud Conference, Melbourne 2017 – some reflections and a celebration


Every year during the 80s, around the Easter long weekend, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and anyone else with an interest in the psychoanalytic ideas would schlepp from Melbourne to the Victorian coastal town, Lorne, for the annual Freud Conference. They  stayed at Cumberland House, an old, elegant guesthouse within walking distance of the township and  close enough to the beach for morning and evening strolls. Some people had honeymooned there.   By day everyone attended lectures on Freud and Co. in the assembly hall. On Saturday night  the entire conference, divided into groups of various sizes and affiliation, converged on the township for dinner.The guest speaker was usually someone  internationally known for their work in applied psychoanalysis. Among them was Juliet Mitchell whose 1974 book ‘Psychoanalysis and Feminisim’ remains a seminal work, the political activist and psychoanalyst Joel Kovel, and British psychoanalytic historian John Forrester. By the end of the 80s The Freud Conference was ‘a must’ on the psychoanalytic community’s yearly calender of conferences, seminars and meetings.

There was always a sense of summer just finished. Sometimes daylight saving had not ended, giving everyone an extra hour of warmth and sunlight. When Easter occurred in  late April, chilly Antarctic winds and rain warned that winter was drawing near. Lorne though always reminded people that it is a town made for summer. Walks on the beach might give way to indoor conversations by late autumn. But the racks of tired looking beach clothing and gift shops that threaded along the shopping strip nearby never changed. For Conference members it was de riguer to spend lunchtime in a cafe contemplating one lecture or another and, of course, there was always ‘The Transference’ and various dual relationships to navigate. Melbourne’s psychoanalytic community is a small one. Lorne, luckily, had enough restaurants to accommodate everyone.

The first Freud Conference, held in 1977, emerged from the work of political science professor Alan (Foo) Davies at the University of Melbourne. Davies had begun the Melbourne Psychosocial Group comprised of psychoanalysts, academics and students. Sometimes referred to as ‘The Melbourne Group’, its members sought to explore the intersection between political processes and leadership with  psychoanalysis anthropology and sociology. Two of Davies’ discussion group, Douglas Kirsner and Ron Gilbert organised the Freud conference as a kind of spontaneous ‘lets go to the beach and talk about psychoanalysis and politics’ event. It was intended to be slow, with time for reflection discussion and socialising between lectures. It brought together members of all disciplines interested in psychosocial issues. As with the Melbourne psychosocial  group’s monthly Monday meetings, the conference was open to anyone who was interested in exploring the relationship between psychoanalysis and society.

Twenty-two years later, after Douglas Kirsner and Ron Gilbert decided they no longer wished to organise the conference, Christine Hill took up the challenge. She brought together member representatives of the main psychoanalytic bodies to form a small committee. The conference which had long since moved from Lorne to Melbourne found a regular venue at the Treacy Centre in Parkville. During the last five years the conference has moved to a new venue: The University of Melbourne’s Brain Centre which also houses the Cunningham Dax museum. And rather than filling the entire weekend the conference is held on the third Saturday in May. It’s webpage can be found here.

2017 marks the Freud Conference’s fortieth year and there will be a bit of a celebration. Hopefully there will be a gathering of the old hands, and, more than likely, a speech or three. But the business of the Conference will be its theme:

‘Psychoanalysis in the Technoculture Age: The Challenges of the Black Mirror ‘.

Speakers will be Allessandra Lemma who will be speaking from London and Dr Heather Wood. Here is some more detail.

“Two internationally renowned psychoanalysts will explore the impact of virtual reality on adolescent development and sense of body; the allure  of internet sex and compulsive usage; and the increase in paedophilic sexual interests via the internet. From the broader to more specific view, psychoanalytic and socio-culturalissues over 40 years will be linked”.  An initial mailout will occur in January.

Saturday, 20th May
Conference Program
Melbourne Brain Centre,
Royal Parade, Melbourne.
Sunday 21st May
Anniversary celebration lunch,
The Boulevard Restaurant,
121 Studley Park Rd, Kew.
Further information: