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Fairbairn, W.R. (1940). General: D. K. Henderson. 'The Nineteenth Maudsley Lecture: A Revaluation of Psychiatry.' Journal of Mental Science, 1939, Vol. LXXXV, pp. 1–21.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 21:86-87.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: General: D. K. Henderson. 'The Nineteenth Maudsley Lecture: A Revaluation of Psychiatry.' Journal of Mental Science, 1939, Vol. LXXXV, pp. 1–21.

(1940). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 21:86-87

General: D. K. Henderson. 'The Nineteenth Maudsley Lecture: A Revaluation of Psychiatry.' Journal of Mental Science, 1939, Vol. LXXXV, pp. 1–21.

W. R.D. Fairbairn

This lecture is an attempt, twenty years after Maudsley's death, to reformulate the position of psychiatry in Great Britain. The province of psychiatry should embrace not only the psychoses, but every failure of the psycho-biological adaptive processes—psycho-neuroses, psychopathic states, deficiencies, delinquencies, etc. Within this province all relevant schools of thought (including the psycho-analytical) should share their interests, however legitimate their preferences. During the nineteenth century the pioneers of the Humane Period were succeeded by a number of enlightened physicians, who advocated a biological approach to psychiatric problems in the interests of mental hygiene. Meanwhile the influence of Kraepelin began to foster the development of clinical, as well as classificatory, interest. In the twentieth century physiological and pathological investigation has been accompanied by intensive psychological research on the part of Freud and Ernest Jones no less than Adolf Meyer and others. The distinctive aim of modern psychiatry is to help the individual to reach a better understanding of himself in the interests of adaptation; and for this we must chiefly thank (1) the analytical interpretative methods of Freud, and (2) the 'reaction type' formulations of Adolf Meyer. It is to psycho-analysis that psychiatry owes the discoveries, (1) that mental symptoms, which formerly seemed so meaningless, can be understood in terms of wish-fulfilment, as attempts to allay guilt, as protections against dangers, and even as expressions of nature's attempt to heal, (2) that mental disorder is due to a lesion in the unconscious bound up with a failure of the ego to deal with endopsychic conflicts largely centring round the sexual life, (3) that through 'fixation' and 'regression' the potential neurotic or psychotic has never successfully passed a given stage of infantile development. The Meyerian concepts are much less specialized, but practically more useful and more closely related to the problems of general medicine. Grave exception must be taken to superficial psycho-therapists, who seek to establish an artificial frontier between the realm of psycho-therapeutic practice and that of psychiatry; and, in this connection, 'the sophistry of T. A. Ross' is to be deprecated. The neurologist is still regarded as more respectable than

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either the psychiatrist or the psycho-therapist and is himself loth to give up the treatment of neurotics; but his training only qualifies him for the exclusion of organic lesions. By contrast psycho-analysis minimises the constitutional factor unduly. Medicine is thus less likely to progress through the introjection of psycho-analysis than through the adoption of wider psycho-biological principles. These principles form the groundwork of clinical psychiatry; and, whilst not invalidating special forms of treatment, they constitute the foundation upon which all treatment should be based.

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Article Citation

Fairbairn, W.R. (1940). General. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 21:86-87

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