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Martha Harris (1919–1987) was one of the most influential and also one of the most loved psychoanalysts of the generation that trained with Melanie Klein. This tribute by some of those who studied with her is not simply testimony to a remarkable teacher and clinician whose wisdom has been rarely equalled; it also offers inspiration to others who may be struggling to find ways of using psychoanalytic ideas imaginatively in a variety of contexts – clinical, social or scholarly – in what can at times appear to be an unreceptive world.
Meg Harris Williams, Maria Rhode, Margaret Rustin, and Gianna Williams
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Bionian Psychoanalysis, Child & Adolescent
Martha Harris (1919–1987) was one of the most influential and also one of the most loved psychoanalysts of the generation that trained with Melanie Klein. She also worked with Wilfred Bion, and wrote many books and papers on psychoanalytic training and child development. Her colleague James Gammill cites Mrs Klein as saying: “She is one of the best people I have ever known for the psychoanalysis of children … and she has a mind of her own.” Harris was responsible for the child psychotherapy training at the Tavistock Clinic from 1960 onwards, developing laterally the method founded on infant observation that had been put in place by Esther Bick. She established cross-clinic work discussion groups, a pioneering schools’ counselling course (in collaboration with her husband Roland Harris), and individual work with disturbed children in the school environment. Her belief that psychoanalytic ideas could and should “travel”, both geographically and across the professions, led to her seeding the “Tavi Model” in many other countries through regular teaching trips, in company with her later husband Donald Meltzer.
Her influence was not as a theorist, but as a teacher with an extraordinary capacity to engage processes of introjective learning in both students and readers. This tribute by some of those who studied with her is not simply testimony to a remarkable teacher and clinician whose wisdom has been rarely equalled; it also offers inspiration to others who may be struggling to find ways of using psychoanalytic ideas imaginatively in a variety of contexts – clinical, social or scholarly – in what can at times appear to be an unreceptive world.
Meg Harris Williams
PART I – IN ENGLAND AND ABROAD
1. Mattie at work
Gianna Polacco Williams
2. Mattie as an educator
3. Mattie’s teaching methods
4. Mattie’s contribution to the study of infant observation
5. A psychoanalytic revolution from a speculative to an empirical point of view
6. The role of Martha Harris from the beginning of the GERPEN
7. Martha Harris: an indelible creative memory
Carlo Brutti and Rita Parlani Brutti
8. Made in Hampstead and exported throughout the world: Germany and Austria
Ross A. Lazar
9. Mattie in Bombay
10. Turning points enabled by Martha Harris
11. Growing points and the role of observation
Meg Harris Williams
PART II – CLINICAL WORK AND SUPERVISION
12. The experience of supervision
13. Mattie as “maternal container” for a trainee
14. A glimpse of prenatal life
15. Assessment of a little girl and her parents
16. Supervision of a five year old boy
17. Revisiting some lessons learned from Martha Harris
18. Reminiscences of an infant observation with Martha Harris
19. Family consultations in the footsteps of Martha Harris with toddlers at risk of autism
PART III – PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS
20. Shorter recollections
Gabrielle Crockatt, Hélène Dubinsky, Ellen Jaffe, Judy Shuttleworth, Brian Truckle, Eleanor Wigglesworth, Ricky Emanuel, Katherine Arnold, Herbert Chaim Hahn, Carlo Papuzza, Maria Pozzi, Renata Li Causi, Torhild Leira, Eve Steel
21. Memories of Mattie
22. Mattie’s legacy
23. Mattie on maternal containment
24. Baptism under fire: finding my feet as a child psychotherapist
25. On becoming a psychotherapist
26. Remembering Mattie
27. Personal recollections of learning from Mattie Harris
28. Mattie’s house: a memoir
Selina Sella Marsoni
29. A tribute to Mattie
Postscript: among schoolchildren
Meg Harris Williams
Appendix: Portrait of Mattie
Meg Harris Williams, a writer and artist, studied English at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and art at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, and has had a lifelong psychoanalytic education, working closely with Donald Meltzer. She has written and lectured extensively in the UK and abroad on psychoanalysis and literature. She is a visiting lecturer for AGIP and at the Tavistock Centre in London, and an Honorary Member of the Psychoanalytic Center of California. She is married with four children and lives in Farnham, Surrey.
Maria Rhode is emerita Professor of Child Psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic and the University of East London.
Margaret Rustin is a prominent child psychotherapist and child psychoanalyst. She was Head of Child Psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic for many years and continues to teach and supervise there. She contributed significantly to the IMPACT research study on adolescent depression. She is author and editor of many books, including, most recently, with colleagues, Short-Term Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy for Adolescents with Depression, and, with Michael Rustin, Reading Klein.
Gianna Williams trained as a child and adult therapist and was part of the teaching staff of the Tavistock Clinic in the 1970s and later Consultant Psychotherapist at the Adolescent Department of the Tavistock, where in 1987 she founded the Eating Disorders Workshop. She has taught at the Tavistock Clinic and University of East London, and the Universities of Pisa and Bologna and has founded numerous courses based on the Tavistock model in Italy, France and Latin America.
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