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Wrottesley, C. (2014). An Interview with Barbara Dearnley. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 4(2):193-203.

(2014). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 4(2):193-203

Meeting the Author

An Interview with Barbara Dearnley

Catriona Wrottesley, M.A.

Barbara Dearnley (3 July 1928-6 February 2014), who died this year at the age of eighty-five, joined the Family Discussion Bureau (FDB), forerunner of the present-day Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships (TCCR), as a young woman of thirty-two in 1960. Originally trained as a psychiatric social worker, Barbara was on the staff of the FDB (later to become the Institute of Marital Studies (IMS) in 1969) until her retirement in 1988, apart from a brief interlude to have her two children, Katy and Christopher.

I interviewed Barbara at her home in Dulwich on 16 June, 2013. At that stage, she had not yet been diagnosed with the cancer that caused her death, but it was already clear to Barbara, as well as to her family, that she was in the final stages of diabetes. Her kidneys were failing and she was very anaemic; yet her spirit was strong, and it was evident how much she looked forward to reminiscing about what had been a very happy and fulfilling period in her life. During the interview, her husband, Stuart, whose devoted care was evident, was never far away, in case Barbara should need him.

This interview represented a wonderful opportunity, not only to learn more about Barbara Dearnley, her life and experiences, but also to speak first-hand to someone who knew and worked with the redoubtable Enid Balint and Lily Pincus, founder members of the FDB. Lily Pincus's work—together with that of Kathleen Bannister, Janet Mattinson, and Christopher Clulow—is foundational to current couple theory as applied to practice at TCCR today.

CW: Can you tell me something of your early life?

BD: I was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire in 1927. Sadly, my dad, a butcher, died when I was just five years old and so my mother brought me up. My parents had met when they were in their twenties and were married ten years before they had me. After me, Mum didn't have any more children. She always said that was because my birth was such a difficult one.

Dad died without leaving any insurance or provision for us and my mother was quite bitter about that.

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