Roger Willoughby

DPhil in Continuing Education


The Foundations and Development of Psychoanalytic Thought in Britain 1893-1939

Research abstract

The first 'History of the British Psycho-Analytical Society' (Bryan, 1920) was published when that Society was slightly over twelve months old. The pre-history of psychoanalysis in Britain goes back to 1893 when Myers reported on Freud’s views on hysteria to the Society for Psychical Research, the Proceedings of which Society would in 1912 publish the first paper by Freud to appear in a British journal. Since these early beginnings, psychoanalysis in Britain has developed significantly, both inside and outside formal institutional settings, approaching a position where it was 'a whole climate of opinion', as Auden (1940) proclaimed about Freud over seventy years ago. In investigating this rise, key points of its cultural access are considered in my thesis, alongside a critical analysis of the dialogic processes within which the Other (as a psychoanalytic object) has been incorporated. The wider cultural aspects of the present research relate to developing a nuanced approach to understanding psycho-social processes within Britain during this key historical period.


Dr Alistair Ross, Associate Professor in Psychotherapy


Born in New York and growing up in Ireland, Roger is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and undertook post-graduate study at the Universities of Nottingham and Kent. Having worked as a clinical psychologist for 15 years, he is now a Senior Lecturer in Education Studies at Newman University, Birmingham. Having published papers in various journals including the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, together with a book, Masud Khan: the Myth and the Reality (Free Association Press, 2005), Roger is currently involved in several writing projects including as editor of works on concepts in education studies and the work of Esther Bick.   


2001: ‘The dungeon of thyself: the claustrum as pathological container’, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82: 5: 917-931.

2002: ‘Fear and trembling: Esther Bick’s early work in context’. Published in Spanish as ‘Miedo y temblor: el trabajo temprano de Esther Bick, en contexto’ in the Revista Chilena de Psicoanálisis, 19: 2: 150-154; and in Italian as ‘Tremare dip aura: il primo lavoro di Esther Bick e il suo contesto storico’ in Contrappunto, 31: 15-22.

2004: ‘Between the basic fault and second skin’, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 85: 1: 179-195; and in Italian in Contrappunto, 2005, 35: 75-96.

2005: Masud Khan: the Myth and the Reality. London: Free Association Books.

2010: ‘Situating child development’, in G Brotherton et al (eds) Working with Children, Young People and Families, London: Sage, pp. 135-149.

2013: ‘Psychological approaches to vulnerability’, in M Cronin & G Brotherton (eds) Working with Vulnerable Young People, Children and Families, London: Routledge

Research interests

The history of psychoanalysis; psychoanalytic theory and technique; child and adolescent development; the work of Esther Bick; feminist theory and gender studies.