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Davids, J. (1992). An Introductory Overview of the Conference. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 15(4):263-265.

(1992). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 15(4):263-265

George Moran Memorial Meeting to Examine Common Ground Between Recent Research in the Study of Human Development and Psychoanalytic Theories

An Introductory Overview of the Conference

Jennifer Davids

The memorial meeting, held on 27 June, 1992 and organized by the Anna Freud Centre and University College London, was well attended by 400 participants on one of the hottest days of this summer. The conference was chaired by Professor Joseph Sandler, Freud Memorial Professor of Psycho-Analysis at University College London.

George Moran PhD, late Director of the Anna Freud Centre, died in January 1992 at the age of 40 from motor-neurone disease. Mrs Lois Sieff, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Anna Freud Centre, and Professor A.J. Solnit, Chairman of the International Advisory Council to the Anna Freud Centre, both paid special tributes to George Moran as a person, a creative child psychotherapist, psychologist and researcher, who attempted to build bridges between the fields of child psychoanalysis, child development, psychology, paediatrics, and psychiatry. Special mention was made of Dr Moran's forward-looking vision and his energetic interest in innovation.

Most of the speakers referred to their contact with Dr Moran and saw their papers as building on ideas consonant with his integrative approach. Dr Peter Fonagy began with a paper, Aggression and the Psychological Self, which he was working on with Dr Moran around the time of his death. This rich paper addresses the defensive role of aggression in the protection of the self representation. Two aspects of the self are distinguished: the pre-reflective or non-psychological self, which is probably present in simple form from birth, and is firmly establish ed by six months, and the reflective or psychological self which evolves more slowly over the first two years of life and is the internal observer of mental life. The development of the psychological self is vitally dependent on the caregiver's accurate reflection and attachment. A lack of the latter is likely to result in the child's turning to primitive defensive behavioural strategies, in particular, aggression and avoidance. This paper introduced many themes which ran through the day's presentations and discussions - the importance of early development, theory of mind, the nature-nurture issue, pre-verbal experience, new ways of viewing the self and its representations.

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