Philip Graham

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pp. 259–286

12. Battling for the Minds of Children

  • Philip Graham (author)
Ernest Jones had arranged for Sigmund Freud, his daughter, Anna and other members of his family to be evacuated from Vienna to London in June 1938. This move led to an exacerbation of the tension between the London and Vienna schools. Melanie Klein was bitterly resentful of the invasion of what she saw as her psychoanalytic territory. There was intense competition for training candidates as well as for patients.
In 1942, Susan Isaacs was deeply involved in bringing about changes in the constitution of the British Psychoanalytic Society to ensure power was no longer concentrated in a small number of the older members, especially Edward Glover. In early 1943, the Society set up a series of important discussions, hereafter known as the Controversial Discussions, on the most main points of disagreement between the Freudians and the Kleinians. The first two meetings were focused on Susan Isaacs’s paper on the nature of ‘phantasy’. These drew on Kleinian theory and were strongly criticised by the Freudian group. It took until 1946 before a compromise was reached allowing a separation of training groups allowing both Kleinians and Freudians a strong degree of autonomy.
By this time, Susan had experienced a recurrence of her breast cancer. Her two-year long terminal illness was marked by much painful suffering. Ten months before she died in October 1948, she was awarded the CBE, a recognition of her major contributions to both education and psychoanalysis.


Philip Graham