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Steiner, J. Jackson, M. (2001). Henri Rey (1912-2000). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(2):397-399.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(2):397-399

Henri Rey (1912-2000)

John Steiner and Murray Jackson

Henri Rey was an unusually creative psychoanalyst whose influence on his students and colleagues was profound and shose ideas deserve to be more widely known. He was born in 1912, of French ancestry, on the island of Mauritius, and came to psychoanalysis relatively late after studying agricultural and chemistry, working on a sugar plantation and subsequently coming to London to train as a doctor and then as a psychiatrist at the Maudsley hospital. His early research, specialisng in the interface between body and mind, remained a central interest throughout his career. His papers on epilespsy and on endocrine function always include an interest in the mental counterparts of medical conditions, and this interest in the mind eventually led him to train at the Insittute of Psychoanalysis, where he qualified as a psychoanalysts in 1958. At that point he joined the Psychotherapy unit at the Maudsley and also began working part-time in private practice as a psychoanalyst.

Henri Rey had a profounnd influence on a succession of young psychiatrists who trained under him during his thirty-two years at the Maudsley hospital. Although he was in some ways an anomaly in an institution that was frequently hostile to psychoanalytic ideas, he helped the trainee and disturbing phenomena that they encountered when working with borderline and psychoatic patients, and by applying psychoanalytic ideas he helped them to find meaning in much that was otherwise incomprehensible. He had a special affection for the Maudsley, which he would refer to as ‘the brick mother’, and he saw how important the hospital was as a place of safety for patients who were afraid of breaking down and for whom it offered continuity and stability.

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