Psychoanalysis, social science and the Tavistock tradition

Rustin, Michael and Armstrong, David (2019) Psychoanalysis, social science and the Tavistock tradition. Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 24 (4). pp. 473-492. ISSN 1088-0763 (paper) ; 1543-3390 (electronic)

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This article is about the connections between the fields of sociology and psychoanalysis, as they have been present in the traditions of the Tavistock Clinic and Institute of Human Relations from their origins to the present day. It describes a ‘double dissonance’ in this relationship, in that the Tavistock’s commitment was never to psychoanalysis or to sociology, narrowly conceived. Its interest was in a broad conception of the social sciences, involving socio-psychological, socio-technical and ecological perspectives, and it developed a broader social engagement of psychoanalytic perspectives than that of a conventional psychoanalytic institute. Nevertheless, the Tavistock synthesis has been an original and valuable one. The Tavistock Institute’s model of research has been closely linked, through its consultancy practice, to social action, and it has investigated and initiated democratic forms of organisation. The Tavistock Clinic developed a model of mental health care and professional education within the National Health Service, which provided support to individuals, families and communities at each stage of the human life cycle. Although both of these models have been placed under pressure in the individualist and market-oriented climate of recent decades, both traditions survive and retain a potential for the future.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Action Research, Applied Psychoanalysis, Community Mental Health, Socio-Technical System, Tavistock
Subjects: Psychological Therapies, Psychiatry, Counselling > Psychoanalysis
Research, Tests, Assessments > Action Research- Social Sciences
Department/People: Research
Visiting Lecturer

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