UCL/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series
UCL Health Humanities Centre/Institute of Advanced Studies
Monday 15 February 2016
Dr. Shaul Bar-Heim (Birbeck)
‘The apostolic function’: Michael Balint and the postwar GP
What started in the early 1950s as a small informal peer-group of GPs, based in the Tavistock Clinic, became by the 1960s one of the most influential medical movements of the postwar era: the Balint movement. Named after the British-Hungarian psychoanalyst, Michael Balint, the theoretical assumption behind Balint Groups was that many doctors – and especially family doctors – do not know yet how to use one of the most important medical tools, namely, what Balint described as the ‘drug doctor.’. This was particularly true, he believed, in psychosomatic illnesses and medical cases with a clear psychosocial nature.
This paper will contextualize the emergence of the Balint movement within the heyday of welfarist ideology, where GPs were encouraged to take a parental role in running the emotional economy of domestic lives in their communities. Thus, patients and doctors were invited to adopt a psychoanalytical language which focuses on internal feelings, emotions, and unconscious behavior of the individual. At the same time, however, a new kind of medical authority emerged – one which played a crucial role as a social and ethical guidance in the postwar British welfare society.
Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)
Time: 6pm to 7.30 pm.
Location: Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, University College London.
From the Torrington Place entrance to UCL, enter the campus on Malet Place. After fifty metres, you will find Foser court on the right hand side. Turn right under the underpass, and enter via the second door on the right. The common room is straight ahead.