Enabling and Inspiring : a Tribute to Martha Harris. by Meg Harris Williams, Maria Rhode, Margaret Rustin, Gianna

By Meg Harris Williams, Maria Rhode, Margaret Rustin, Gianna Polacco Williams

Martha Harris (1919-1987) used to be some of the most influential and in addition some of the most enjoyed psychoanalysts of the iteration that informed with Melanie Klein. She additionally labored with Wilfred Bion, and wrote many books and papers on psychoanalytic education and baby improvement. Her colleague James Gammill cites Mrs Klein as announcing: "She is among the top humans i've got ever identified for the psychoanalysis of youngsters ... and  Read more...

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Extra info for Enabling and Inspiring : a Tribute to Martha Harris.

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In the last few years there has been a renewed psychoanalytic interest in siblings and a number of publications, including some suggesting that this was a previously neglected theme in psychoanalysis. Mattie’s wise musings of 1967 serve as a corrective to this view! The integration of observations from everyday family life with a psychoanalytically informed understanding of both profound infantile anxieties and the natural developmental rhythms of children’s lives is allied to a grasp of the central function of parental containment.

The imaginative sympathy she conveys for the feelings of a first child on the arrival of a new baby brings her generous personality immediately to mind. She writes of the child’s disappointment (barely to be noticed by the baby at first), sense of rejection, anger and depression, and, while noting the necessary element of ambivalence in all honestly based sibling relationships, she also describes the potential for lifelong intimacy and friendship between brothers and sisters. She ponders, with interest, on the variations across time and place in sibling relationships depending on social and familial structures, drawing on history, anthropology and literature to do so.

I may have been in the first weeks of my personal analysis. With her help, I had begun learning from experience, which continues, thankfully, though not always as dramatically, to this day. As I began the course with literally no formal clinical experience, in the first months Mattie informed me that I would be looking after the young sibling of a child patient as a pre-clinical introduction. I think Mattie saw the mother. I was assigned a room, opposite Mattie’s, and given some toys. Each week while the mother had her session, I spent one hour playing with this little boy.

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