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Fonagy, P. (1997). Marion Burgner. Psychoanal. Psychother., 11(2):173-176.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 11(2):173-176


Marion Burgner

Peter Fonagy

Marion Burgner, who died on 1 October 1996, was one of the founder members of the editorial board of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Her contributions to public-sector work were many and varied, and included clinical work and research into adolescent breakdown at the Brent Consultation Centre, teaching for many years at University College Hospital, and working with an HIV/Aids research group at the Tavistock and Portman Clinics. Her important intellectual contributions are described below.

Marion Burgner's Intellectual Contribution

The core theme of Marion Burgner's contribution was development. She attended carefully to the lessons of Anna Freud, and in several papers, in a period spanning two-and-a-half decades, she worked on integrating the developmental perspective with other emerging ideas from the Hampstead Clinic, including the notions of the representational world and ideas emerging from the attempts at reconciling classical theory with clinical experience with severely disturbed children, adolescents and young adults.

In a prescient paper presented in 1979 with Hansi Kennedy (Burgner & Kennedy 1980), she addressed the problem of sado-masochistic behaviour in children. She pointed out the risk of confusing the aggression of the child in the anal phase with sadism. Anal sadism is a misnomer, since the intention to inflict pain and to derive pleasure from such an action, as we now know, is the achievement of a subsequent phase. She appropriately linked sadism to the phallic-oedipal configuration and the narcissistic pattern of relating characteristic of this period where gratification is sought via omnipotence, control, domination and denigration of the object, safeguarding the integrity of the self-representation.

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