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Padel, J. (1991). Fairbairn's thought on the relationship of inner and outer worlds. Free Associations, 2(4):589-615.

(1991). Free Associations, 2(4):589-615

The Psychoanalytic Movement

Fairbairn's thought on the relationship of inner and outer worlds

John Padel

First of all I wish to thank the committee who have invited me to contribute at this conference held to mark the centenary of Ronald Fairbairn's birth and to do him honour by acknowledging the value we set upon his work and thought.

During the years in which I have been teaching psychotherapy and its theory, Fairbairn's ideas and outlook have never been far from my mind. For this I have to thank Dr Jock Sutherland more than anybody. His words towards the end of my training at the Tavistock made a deep impression on me: ‘You could count on the fingers of one hand all the British psychoanalysts who have read the whole of Fairbairn's published work; yet there is not much of it and it is so clear and comprehensive.’ Hearing this, I made an immediate resolve to read it all and, when I did so, I appreciated the truth of Dr Sutherland's words but also found that Fairbairn's papers stimulated me to explore on the lines which they suggested. One of their great virtues is that they set one thinking afresh.


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