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Black, D.M. (2013). James Fisher 1937-2012. Brit. J. Psychother., 29(2):254-255.

(2013). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 29(2):254-255


James Fisher 1937-2012 Related Papers

David M. Black

When James Fisher submitted his paper on King Lear to the International Journal of Psychoanalysis (2000), an anonymous reviewer described it as ‘intellectually strong, psychoanalytically innovative, and stylistically masterful’. James's work often evoked this sort of enthusiasm. His ability to use the loftiest psychoanalytic theory with simplicity, and always with a distinctive graceful courtesy towards the reader, made his writing exceptionally accessible; the same qualities in his teaching made him a much sought-after seminar leader. His death last October sadly takes him from us at a time when he was still full of ideas and plans for the future.

James was born in 1937, in Ohio, the eldest of four. His father was a US Air Force chaplain, absent for long periods during World War II. James initially followed in his father's footsteps, and in his 20s became Congregational chaplain at Harvard; soon afterwards he left institutional Christianity for a career in philosophy, doing a doctorate at Harvard and teaching at Wellesley College and the University of Massachusetts. At an anti-war meeting in 1972 he met a young English graduate, Mary Adams, who became his wife.

He seemed set for a successful career in philosophy when he made a remarkable decision. At that time psychoanalytic training in the States was still reserved for psychiatrists; his decision to train as an analyst brought them to London in 1980. James trained with the British Association of Psychotherapists and the Tavistock Marital Studies Institute, went into much appreciated supervision with Donald Meltzer, and soon started to make his mark on the British scene with a series of papers on the application of psychoanalytic theory to the difficulties of couples.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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