Interpersonal rivalries, gender and the intellectual and scientific making of psychoanalysis in 1940s Britain

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This article examines the 1940s debates regarding the status and professional orthodoxy of psychoanalysis following Sigmund Freud's death, by exploring the Anna Freud- Melanie Klein Controversial Discussions in the British Psychoanalytical Society. Focusing on the work of now-forgotten analysts Melitta Schmideberg and Edward Glover, and on their relationship with Klein and her supporters, the article reveals how these neglected, yet important, debates were complicated by interpersonal and professional ties, processes of the professionalization, and changing gender norms. Although historians of psychoanalysis have not ignored the jealousies, resentments, and complex relationships between psychoanalysts, these scholars often continue to view these as separate from the processes of creating science. Here, instead, I view the personal and the intellectual in tandem, thus challenging the divide between scientific reason and affect. Rather than imposing a separation between the scientific and the personal, I suggest that we should explore how historical actors negotiated the divide themselves. Indeed, I demonstrate that the study of interpersonal contexts is an invaluable tool for understanding the development of psychological disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-194
Number of pages23
JournalHistory of Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2017


  • Anna Freud-Melanie Klein controversial discussions
  • Britain
  • Gender and science
  • History of psychoanalysis after Freud
  • World war two


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