Psychoanalysis in Britain: The Early Years


Psychoanalysis is commonly regarded as emerging during an ‘originary decade’ (in the 1890s and early 1900s) during which Freud’s self-analysis led to the Interpretation of Dreams, with fin-de-siècle Vienna being the primary scene for this efflorescence.

We will explore an alternative locale, Britain, beginning with the ways in which Freud’s virtually unknown British family – particularly his brothers Emanuel and Philipp – shaped his world view. Freud’s experience of and reflections on such relationships materially contributed to his theorisation of psychic life, to drives, to idealisation and denigration, and to the Oedipus complex among other areas.

On these hitherto silent foundations, we then move on to consider the public and professional take-up of Freud’s ideas in Britain before, during, and immediately after the First World War. The received history of psychoanalysis in Britain during this period has tended to situate Ernest Jones centre stage, an unsurprising hegemonic position given Jones’s character, his role as a leading author and informant of such histories, and his supposed status as last man standing.

As a counterpoint to this distorted narrative, we shall foreground a series of key institutions (including the London Psycho-Analytic Society, the Brunswick Square Clinic, and the War Hospitals at Maghull and Craiglockhart), alongside pioneering though now largely ‘forgotten’ individuals, who collectively articulated Freudian ideas to a public who were hungry for a new psychology before, during, and especially in the wake of the First World War.

Psychoanalytic theory and praxis was itself transformed over this period and we will look at some of the ways in which this occurred, particularly with respect to the conceptualisation of sexuality and trauma.

Programme details


Introduction to the day

The Freudian diaspora: from Freiberg to Vienna and Manchester

Tea/coffee break

Psychoanalysis in Britain: the early movers and shakers

Lunch break

Psychoanalysis and the Great War: from sexuality, through trauma and poetry to the death drive

Tea/coffee break

Towards the institutionalisation of psychoanalysis: organisations, translation and publishing

Concluding discussion (with Philip Kuhn)

Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition fee (includes tea/coffee) £85.00
Baguette £6.10
Hot lunch (three courses) £16.50


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Roger Willoughby


Originally from New York, Roger Willoughby trained in philosophy and clinical psychology, before taking doctorates in psychoanalytic studies from the Universities of Kent and Oxford. He practised in the British National Health Service before moving into university teaching and research. His writing spans several fields, including psychology, psychoanalysis, education and genocide studies. As well as having been published in various journals, including the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, his books have received widespread critical acclaim. Roger is currently writing on several subjects including books on religion and violence, Esther Bick, Jonathan Hanaghan and the history of psychoanalysis in Britain.

Philip Kuhn


Philip Kuhn has written widely on the history of psychoanalysis and especially on Ernest Jones. He is the author of Psychoanalysis in Britain 1893-1913: Histories and Historiography (Lexington Books, 2017).


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.