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Martha Harris

1919-1987

 

 

 

'She is one of the best people I have ever known for the psychoanalysis of children. With her there is always a veritable discussion of the material of the sessions, an authentic dialogue. And she has a mind of her own'
(Melanie Klein, cited by James Gammill)
click here
Mattie with granddaughter
Mattie Harris with her daughter Morag's first child, 1982
(photo: Adrian Williams)
Morag Harris - click here
'By both background and inclination, Mattie was a scholar of English literature and a teacher... If ever anyone had "greatness thrust upon them", it was the reluctant Mattie at the time when Mrs Bick left the Clinic and it was up to Mattie to either take over or to let the infant Child Psychotherapy course fade away.'
(Donald Meltzer)
click here

Martha Harris was born in Beith, Scotland and was brought up in Sussex from the age of eight. She read English at University College London, then Psychology at Oxford. She worked for some years as a schoolteacher of history, and taught in a Froebel Teacher Training College. She then trained as a psychologist at Guy’s Hospital, as a child psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic, and as a psychoanalyst at the British Institute of Psychoanalysis, where she was a training analyst. Her own supervisors were Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion, and her personal analyst Herbert Rosenfeld. For many years she was responsible for the Child Psychotherapy training in the Department of Children and Families at the Tavistock Clinic. Here she developed a psychoanalytic training initiated by Esther Bick (click here) in which infant observation played a central role, pursuing the implications of Klein’s method of working with children. This training (known as the ‘Tavi model’), which included a course on personality development and the establishment of cross-clinic work-discussion groups, came to attract a very international range of candidates.


Together with her husband Roland Harris she started a pioneering schools’ counselling service based at the Tavistock - click here. For a history of Woodberry Down School where it was piloted, click here. With Donald Meltzer, whom she married after Harris died, she taught widely in Europe, North and South America and India. Their travelling and teaching helped to establish the Klein-Bick observational method of psychoanalytic psychotherapy in all the principal Italian cities, and then in other countries (Bick herself taught in Italy, Argentina and Uruguay). Some of their joint supervisory work is documented in The Story of Infant Development (Romana Negri, 2007) and Adolescence (2011). A Psychoanalytical Model of the Child-in-the-Family-in-the-Community, based on Bion's description of 'learning from experience', was commissioned by the OECD and written with Meltzer in 1976 for multidisciplinary use in schools and therapeutic units - click here. On Martha Harris' view of education and its relation to personality development click here. For more personal recollections of James Gammill, friend and fellow supervisee with Mrs Klein in the 1950's, click here.


Martha Harris wrote many papers on psychoanalytic training, on clinical work, and on child development, first collected in 1987 in Collected Papers of Martha Harris and Esther Bick. She wrote newspaper articles on child development and the family (for New Society), and was asked by Corgi to co-ordinate a series of mini-books for parents (on Your Child), written mainly by Tavistock therapists. Her most popular book, Thinking about Infants and Young Children, has been published in many languages.

She was famed for her floriferous gardens and the lavish cordon-bleu meals created for weekend guests and student garden parties. For a portrait of Martha Harris by Donald Meltzer click here. She had two daughters by Roland Harris, and seven grandchildren. For a biography click here.

After her death the 'Centri Studi Martha Harris', for the education of child psychotherapists, were founded by Gianna Polacco Williams, initially in Italy and then also in other countries click here.

 

Books

Understanding Infants and Young Children Dickens Press 1969
Thinking about Infants and Young Children (expanded editions of the above, 1975, 2011) click here
Your Eleven Year Old Corgi, 1969
Your Twelve to Fourteen Year Old Corgi, 1969
Your Teenager Corgi, 1969
Your Teenager includes these three books in one volume (2007) click here
The Story of Infant Development by Martha Harris and Romana Negri (2007) click here

Collected Papers of Martha Harris and Esther Bick (1987). New 2 volume edition (2011) edited by Meg Harris Williams. Vol 1: The Tavistock Model: Papers on Child Development and Psychoanalytic Training by Martha Harris and Esther Bick click here Vol 2: Adolescence: Talks and Papers by Donald Meltzer and Martha Harrisclick here. The Educational Role of the Family: A Psychoanalytical Model (with Donald Meltzer), new edition 2013 click here

Papers and chapters in books

1960 Depressive, paranoid and narcissistic features in the analysis of a young woman following the birth of her first child and the death of her own mother in Collected Papers of Martha Harris and Esther Bick (1987), 64-88.
1964 Personality development: latency New Society, 1964; reprinted in The Seven Ages of Man: A Survey of Human Development, ed. R. R. Sears and S. S. Feldman, 29-33. Lost Altos, California: Kaufmann, 1973. click here
1965 Depression and the depressive position in an adolescent boy Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 1965. Expanded 1974; reprinted in Adolescence, 117-30.
1966 (with Helen Carr) Therapeutic consultations Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 1 (4), 13-19.
1967 The family circle New Society, 15 June, 22 June, 209 June, 6 July. Reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 273-88.download
1968 The child psychotherapist and the patient's family Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 2 (2), 50-63. First published 1987; reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 251-72.
1968 The therapeutic process in the psychoanalytic treatment of the child First published 1987; reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 219-34.1968 Consultation project in a comprehensive school. First published 1987; reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 317-44.download
1971 The place of once-weekly treatment in the equipment of a psychoanalytically-trained child psychotherapist Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 3 (1), 31-39. Reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 51-64.
1972 Teacher, counsellor, therapist: towards a definition of the roles First published 1987; reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 305-16.
1973 The complexity of pain in a six-year-old child following sudden bereavement Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 3 (3), 35-45. Reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 235-50.
1973 Emotional problems in adolescence: an adolescent girl First published 1987; reprinted in Adolescence, 39-60.
1974 Depression and the depressive position in an adolescent boy First published 1987; reprinted in Adolescence, 117-30. Includes material from a 1965 paper.
1975 The early basis of adult female sexuality and motherliness First published 1987; reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 189-206.
1975 Some notes on maternal containment in 'good enough' mothering Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 4 (1), 35-51. Reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 139-62.
1976 The contribution of observation of mother-infant interaction and development to the equipment of a psychoanalyst or psychoanalytic psychotherapist First published 1987; reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 117-32. download
1976 Infantile elements and adult strivings in adolescent sexuality Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 4 (2), 29-44. Reprinted in Adolescence, 81-102.
1976 (with Donald Meltzer) A psychoanalytical model of the child-in-the-family-in-the-community. First published in French; also Spanish and Italian. Published in English in 1994; new expanded edition 2013, click here.
1977 The Tavistock training and philosophy in The Child Psychotherapist, ed. D. Daws and M. Boston. London: Wildwood House. Reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 1-24. download
1978 Towards learning from experience in infancy and childhood First published 1987; reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 171-88.
1979 Training in observation and application of psychoanalytical concepts to personality development and interaction The Tavistock Gazette, 1, 10-16. Extract: The experience of analysis and psychoanalytic modes of thought click here
1980 A baby observation: the absent object First published 1987; reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 163-70.
1980 Bion's conception of a psychoanalytical attitude First published 1987; reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 45-50.
1981 The individual in the group: on learning to work with the psychoanalytic method in Do I Dare Disturb the Universe? A Memorial to W. R. Bion, ed. J. Grotstein. New York: Aronson. Reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 25-44.
1982 Growing points in psychoanalysis inspired by the work of Melanie Klein, Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 8 (2). 165-84. Reprinted in The Tavistock Model, 65-92.
1983 Esther Bick: 1901-1983 Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 8 (2), 101-102.
1983 Dina Rosenbluth The Tavistock Gazette, 11, 14-15. click here

 
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