‘The dangers of this atmosphere': A Quaker connection in the Tavistock Clinic’s development

Kraemer, Sebastian (2011) ‘The dangers of this atmosphere': A Quaker connection in the Tavistock Clinic’s development. History of the Human Sciences , 24 (2). pp. 82-102. ISSN Print: 0952-6951; Online: 1461-720X

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During the Second World War, through innovations in officer selection and group therapy, the army psychiatrists John Rickman and Wilfred Bion changed our understanding of leadership. They showed how soldiers under stress could develop real authority through their attentiveness to each other. From contrasting experiences 25 years earlier each had seen how people in groups are moved by elemental forces that undermine judgement and thought. This article arose from my experiences as a trainee at the Tavistock Clinic, where the method of reflective work discussion, giving individuals seated in a circle the choice to speak or to remain silent, seemed similar to a Quaker meeting. Many decades later I found that this association had a basis in fact. Among other influences on Bion — a childhood in India, distinguished service in the First World War, and a surgical apprenticeship with Wilfred Trotter — there is a little-acknowledged Quaker source, in John Rickman, for Bion’s radical work in the army that led to new methods of training and organizational consultancy in the postwar Tavistock.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online before print March 14, 2011
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bion, Rickman, Army Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, Group Analysis, The Dangers of this Atmosphere
Subjects: Psychological Therapies, Psychiatry, Counselling > Psychoanalysis
Schools of Psychology > Bion, Wilfred
Department/People: Honorary Staff
URI: https://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/586

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