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Britton, R. (2010). Developmental Uncertainty versus Paranoid Regression. Psychoanal. Rev., 97(2):195-206.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Review, 97(2):195-206

Developmental Uncertainty versus Paranoid Regression

Ronald Britton, M.D.

I have no sociological or anthropological expertise and my thoughts on these matters are based on my psychoanalytic ideas. I do, however, from my years at the Tavistock Clinic also have a background in group relations and consulting to institutions. There has always been a strong interest in group behavior in British psychoanalysis. Wilfred Trotter, who became famous as a surgeon working at University College London wrote in his youth “Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War,” and it was he in 1903 who drew the attention of his junior colleague, Ernest Jones, to Freud's Studies in Hysteria. Having taught themselves German in order to read Freud, they were the only two Brits to attend the first Conference in 1908; there was also one American, A. A. Brill, who together with forty Continental Europeans made up the numbers. Wilfred Bion, who was a remarkable, original psychoanalytic thinker, was among the first to apply psychoanalytical understanding to small and large group behavior in World War II. It is on Bion's ideas on psychoanalysis and on his legacy of study groups at the Tavistock Clinic that I will draw substantially in this paper. Interestingly, Bion as a medical student and surgical intern worked for Wilfred Trotter at University College. As New Yorkers you would not be surprised to find that, such is the parochial nature of English society, University College London is not only infiltrated with the radical intellectualism of the Bloomsbury group but is actually in the heart of the District of Bloomsbury, as is Tavistock Square, from which the Tavi' takes its name.

My first association on hearing of the theme of this conference was to Shakespeare's Henry IV, part 2, when the dying

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