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Meltzer, D., Harris, M. (2011). Adolescence: Talks and Papers by Donald Meltzer and Martha Harris. Adolescence: Talks and Papers by Donald Meltzer and Martha Harris, 1-238. Karnac Books Ltd..
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Adolescence: Talks and Papers by Donald Meltzer and Martha Harris
Meltzer, D. and Harris, M. (2011). Adolescence: Talks and Papers by Donald Meltzer and Martha Harris , 1-238. Karnac Books Ltd. .
Adolescence: Talks and Papers by Donald Meltzer and Martha Harris
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A substantial part of this book consists of seminars given by Martha Harris and Donald Meltzer in Novara in 1973-1975 which were first published in Italian in Quaderni di Psicoterapia Infantile, volume 1, edited by Carlo Brutti and Francesco Scotti (Rome: Borla, 1975). Material from this volume appears here in Chapters 3, parts of 4, 5, 8, 9 (for the discussion), 10 and 15.
Chapters 11 and 12 document work by Donald Meltzer with the Psychoanalytic Group of Barcelona and were first published in Spanish in Adolescentes: Donald Meltzer y Martha Harris, edited by Lucy Jachevasky and Carlos Tabbia (Buenos Aires: Spatia, 1998). The cases were presented by Nouhad Dow and Jesús Sánchez de Vega.
We are grateful to the authors and editors for permission to translate material from both these volumes.
Acknowledgement is also due to the following journals in which certain chapters were first published: the Journal of Child Psychotherapy for Chapters 7 (vol. 4, 1976) and 9 (vol. 1, 1965),
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both reprinted in Martha Harris' Collected Papers(1987); and Contemporary Psychoanalysis (vol. 3, 1967) for Chapter 2, also reprinted in Meltzer, Sexual States of Mind(1973).
Chapters 1 and 6 comprise extracts from Martha Harris, Your Teenager (first published 1969; new edition Harris Meltzer Trust, 2007). Chapter 4 was first published in Martha Harris' Collected Papers(1987); Chapter 14 in Meltzer, The Claustrum (1992); and Chapter 16 in Sincerity: Collected Papers of Donald Meltzer, edited by Alberto Hahn (Karnac, 1994).
We would like to express special thanks to the translators of many of these chapters. Chapters 3, 4, 5, 10 and parts of 9 were translated by Consuelo Hackney; Chapters 11 and 12 by Crispina Sanders; Chapter 8 by Adrian Williams; and Chapter 15 by Neil Maizels and Vicky Nicholls.
Although much of the material in this book has been published before, it seemed useful to collect in one volume these various talks and writings on the key developmental phase of adolescence by Harris and Meltzer, who taught both separately and together over many years. Similar books have existed for some time in Italian and Spanish, but not until now in English, and I am grateful to Romana Negri and Miriam Botbol for encouraging the idea of this collection. Two case presentations by Martha Harris that were previously more formally published appear here in the form of a seminar discussion, which has its own educational interest; and her writings specifically on adolescence are reprinted here rather than in the new edition of her papers (The Tavistock Model: Papers on Child Development and Psychoanalytic Training by Martha Harris and Esther Bick, Harris Meltzer Trust 2011).
Meg Harris Williams
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About the Authors
Martha Harris (1919-1987) was born in Scotland and read English at University College London, and then Psychology at Oxford. She worked for some years as a schoolteacher, and taught in a Froebel Teacher Training College. She trained as a psychologist at Guy's Hospital, then as a psychoanalyst at the British Institute of Psychoanalysis, where she was a training analyst; her own supervisors were Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion, and her personal analyst Herbert Rosenfeld. For many years she was responsible for the ChildPsychotherapytraining in the Department of Children and Families at the Tavistock Clinic. Here she developed a course initiated by Esther Bick in which infant observation played an important role, pursuing the implications of Klein's method of working with children. This training (known as the “Tavi model”), which included the establishment of cross-clinic work-discussion groups, came to attract a very international range of candidates.
Together with her husband, Roland Harris (a teacher), she started a pioneering schools' counselling service based at the Tavistock. With Donald Meltzer, whom she married after Harris died, she taught widely throughout Europe, and also in North and
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South America and India. Their travelling and teaching helped to establish the Klein-Bick observational method of psychoanalytic psychotherapy in all the principal Italian cities, and then in other countries (Bick herself taught in Italy, Argentina and Uruguay). Some of their joint supervisory work is documented in Romana Negri, The Story of Infant Development (Harris Meltzer Trust, 2007) and in A Psychoanalytical Model of the Child-in-the-Family-in-the-Community written in 1976 for multidisciplinary use in schools and therapeutic units and first published in Sincerity: Collected Papers of Donald Meltzer, edited by Alberto Hahn (Karnac, 1994).
Martha Harris wrote newspaper articles on childdevelopment and the family, and organized a series of books for parents, written by Tavistock therapists. Her most popular book, Thinking about Infants and Young Children (1975) has been published in many languages (new edition 2011). Her books on older children include Your Eleven Year Old, Your Twelve to Fourteen Year Old and Your Teenager, which have since been reprinted in one volume as Your Teenager (Harris Meltzer Trust, 2007). She wrote many papers on psychoanalytic training, on clinical work, and on childdevelopment, first collected in Collected Papers of Martha Harris and Esther Bick, edited by Meg Harris Williams (Clunie Press, 1987); new edition The Tavistock Model (Harris Meltzer Trust, 2011).
Donald Meltzer (1923-2004) was born in New York and studied medicine at Yale. After practising as a psychiatrist he moved to England to have analysis with Melanie Klein, and for many years was a training analyst with the British Society, though he later left the Society owing to disagreements about methods of teaching and of selecting candidates. He worked with both adults and children, and was innovative in the treatment of autistic children; his earlier work with children was supervised by Esther Bick, with whom he started a Kleinian study group after Klein's death. Meltzer taught child psychiatry and psychoanalytic history at the Tavistock. His books The Kleinian Development (1978) and Studies in Extended Metapsychology (1986) pioneered the understanding of the theoretical context and clinical relevance of the work of Wilfred Bion. These and most of his other books have been published in many
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languages and have become widely influential in teaching psychoanalysis. Others are are: The Psychoanalytical Process (Heinemann, 1967), Sexual States of Mind(1973), Explorations in Autism (1975), Dream Life (1983), The Apprehension of Beauty (1988; with Meg Harris Williams), and The Claustrum (1992). Most of his books were first published by The Roland Harris Educational Trust (Clunie Press), forerunner to The Harris Meltzer Trust which has since reprinted them all. In addition to Adolescentes (edited by Lucy Jachevasky and Carlos Tabbia, Spatia, 1998), members of the Psychoanalytic Group of Barcelona have recorded some of Meltzer's later supervisory work in Psychoanalytic Work with Children and Adults: Meltzer in Barcelona (Karnac, 2002) and Supervisions with Donald Meltzer, with Rosa Castellà, Carlos Tabbia and Lluís Farré (Karnac, 2003). An introductory selection from his writings may be found in A Meltzer Reader (Harris Meltzer Trust, 2010).
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This rich collection of talks and papers by Martha Harris and Dr Meltzer contains a substantial number originally published in Italy and Spain, but not in English. The talks given by them as they worked as a couple in Novara (1973-75) cover almost seven chapters and, together with the two seminars delivered by Meltzer in Spain, are a powerful tribute to the way in which psychotherapists in these and of course other countries have cherished the memory and sustained the thinking of these truly international figures.
A fascinating aspect of the Novara seminars (particularly in chapters 3 (DM), 4 (MH) and 5 (DM), is that they include the text of the discussions after the presentations. Given that they took place nearly forty years ago the content is remarkably relevant to current understanding of adolescence. Meltzer's description of adolescence is that it provides a point of observation. The adolescent feels part of the community of adolescents which despises adults and children as well as the organization of the world they represent. Adults are envied because they are felt to have taken possession of power, and the world of children despised because of their absence of power. For Meltzer the primary issue in adolescence is
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not sexuality but confusion, and the feeling of being locked out of knowledge and understanding. The emphasis on sexuality though very present in adolescence is, nonetheless, derivative, ‘trying to find an identification with the primitive parents who were joined together in the past in the sense of knowing everything and being able to do anything’. The adolescent therefore is in constant movement, backwards to the child, forwards to being the complete adult, back towards the world of adolescence, outside towards the isolated world of observer, backwards to the world of the family. It is a picture that is still very relevant in the quest to work psycho-analytically with adolescents.
This movement is followed brilliantly in the paper by Martha Harris. The account is of work with a depressed and anorexic adolescent girl. Depression currently features in a number of research projects, and the Paper gives a fascinating view of her ability to communicate with the patient in a thorough yet sympathetic way, using simple, accessible language. For instance, she describes a dream through which the patient came ‘into much more contact with her rivalry towards her mother and towards me as analyst, in which she idealised herself as this wonderful sweet patient-child while trying to get between the parents, to make the father complain about the mother, and therefore complain about me’. One can almost sense the combination of tension and yet relief that must have been experienced in the therapy room at such moments!
The Novara seminars give a moving view of a husband and wife team clearly delighting in the closeness between them, both carrying the other's ideas forward, and yet both powerfully present in their own right. The picture is touched by sadness given Martha Harris' early death, but second part is a potent testimony to the genius of Don Meltzer, and includes the previously unpublished “After the hurricane”. This book conveys the groundbreaking view of adolescence and the extraordinary insight of Martha Harris and Donald Meltzer.
Jonathan Bradley Consultant child psychotherapist, Adolescent department, Tavistock Clinic
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