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J Lacan
J Lacan

Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis Ireland


Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis

Michael Balint (1896 - 1970)

Born Mihály Maurice Bergmann in Budapest, he changed his name and his religion,
from Judaism to Unitarian Christian. He served on the Russian front in WW1, then
completed his medical studies in 1918. He began reading Freud's work and attended
the lectures of Sándor Ferenczi, who became the first ever professor of
psychoanalysis in 1919.
In 1920 he married and moved to study at the Berlin Institute of
Psychoanalysis. Four years later he returned to Budapest to work as a psychoanalyst,
but with the rise of Nazism it became increasingly difficult and he and his wife left in
the 1930's to set up a new life in Manchester. They had a son, then his wife died. He
remarried, briefly, and soon separated – and then in 1945 his parents committed
suicide in Budapest rather than be captured by the Nazis. After this, Balint decided to
move to London where he worked for the rest of his life.
He met his third wife Enid, a psychoanalyst at the Tavistock Institute of
Human Relations, and with her set up a series of seminars for GP's to help them
explore their relationships with their patients. This developed into a particular form
of therapy, where the therapeutic alliance between GP and patient was examined in
group process. The aim was to improve the doctor-patient relationship and focussed
on the here and now, and not on details from the doctor's personal life or past. There
would be a group leader, usually a psychoanalyst, and one of the group would present
a case. The group members tended to take up the position of doctor and the
presenting doctor would then take up the position of patient in what has come to be
known as parallel process.
Enid and Michael Balint travelled extensively to lecture in Europe and there
are Balint groups in North America as well as all over Europe, with 12 nations now
affiliated to the International Balint Federation.

Selected Works:
The Basic Fault (1967)
Further Reading:
Object Relations Pure and Replied by Harold Stewart (1996)
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