Ernest Jones  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Alfred Ernest Jones (1 January 1879 – 11 February 1958) was a British neurologist and psychoanalyst, and Sigmund Freud's official biographer. Jones was the first English-speaking practitioner of psychoanalysis and became its leading exponent in the English-speaking world. As President of both the British Psycho-Analytical Society and the International Psychoanalytical Association in the 1920s and 1930s, Jones exercised a formative influence in the establishment of its organisations, institutions and publications.

The Jones-Freud controversy

Jones’s early published work on psychoanalysis had been devoted to the expositions of the fundamentals of Freudian theory, an elaboration of its theory of symbolism and its application to the analysis of religion, mythology, folklore and literary and artistic works. Under the influence of Melanie Klein his work took a new direction.

Klein had made an impact in Berlin in the new field of child analysis and had impressed Jones in giving a series of lectures to the British Society in London in 1925. At Jones’s invitation she moved to London the following year and was soon to acquire a number of devoted and influential followers. Her work was to have a dramatic effect on the British Society, polarising its members into rival factions as it became clear that her approach to child analysis was seriously at odds with that of Anna Freud as set out in her 1927 book An Introduction to the Technique of Child Analysis. The disagreement centred around the clinical approach to the pre-Oedipal child with Klein arguing for play as an equivalent to free association in adult analyses. Anna Freud opposed any such equivalence proposing an educative intervention with the child until an appropriate level of ego development was reached at the Oedipal stage. Klein held this to be a collusive inhibition of analytical work with the child.

Initiating what became known as the "Jones-Freud controversy", Jones set out to explore a range of interlinked topics in the theory of early psychic development such as the structure and genesis of the superego and the nature of the feminine castration complex. He coined the term “phallocentrism” (c. 1927) in a critique of Freud’s account of sexual difference arguing along with Klein and her Berlin colleague, Karen Horney, for a primary femininity and penis envy as a defensive formation rather than arising from the fact, or “injury”, of biological asymmetry. In a corresponding reformulation of the castration complex, Jones introduced the concept of “aphanisis” to refer to the fear of "the permanent extinction of the capacity (including opportunity) for sexual enjoyment".

These departures from orthodoxy were noted in Vienna and were topics which featured in the regular Freud-Jones correspondence the tone of which became increasingly fractious. Faced with accusations from Freud of orchestrating a campaign against him and his daughter Jones sought to allay Freud’s concerns without abandoning the critical standpoint he had adopted. Eventually, following a series of exchange lectures between the Vienna and London societies, which Jones arranged with Anna Freud, Freud and Jones resumed their usual cordial exchanges.

With the arrival in Britain of refugee German and Viennese analysts in the 1930s, including Anna Freud herself in 1938, the hostility between the orthodox Freudians and Kleinians in the British Society grew more intense. Jones chaired a number of “extraordinary business meetings” with the aim of defusing the conflict and these continued into the war years. The meetings, which became known as the Controversial discussions, were established on a more regular basis from 1942 by which time Jones had removed himself from direct participation owing to ill health and the difficulties of war-time travel from his home in Elsted, West Sussex. He resigned from the Presidency of the British Society in 1944, the year in which, under the Presidency of Sylvia Payne, there finally emerged a tripartite compromise agreement which allowed the Freudians, Klienians and a group of “Independents” to run their own training and accreditation programmes.

Books by Jones

Maddox (2006) includes a comprehensive bibliography of Jones's writings.

  • 1912. Papers on Psycho-Analysis. London: Balliere Tindall & Cox. Revised and enlarged editions, 1918, 1923, 1938, 1948 (5th edition).
  • 1920. Treatment of the Neuroses. London: Balliere Tindall & Cox
  • 1923. Essays in Applied Psycho-Analysis. London: International Psycho-Analytical Press. Revised and enlarged edition, 1951, London: Hogarth Press. Reprinted (1974) as Psycho-Myth, Psycho-History. 2 vols. New York: Hillstone.
  • 1924 (editor). Social Aspects of Psycho-Analysis: Lectures Delivered under the Auspices of the Sociological Society. London: Williams and Norgate.
  • 1928. Psycho-Analysis. London: E. Benn. Reprinted (1949) with an Addendum as What is Psychoanalysis ?. London: Allen & Unwin.
  • 1931a. On the Nightmare. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis.
  • 1931b. The Elements of Figure Skating. London: Methuen. Revised and enlarged edition, 1952. London: Allen and Unwin.
  • 1949. Hamlet and Oedipus. London: V. Gollancz.
  • 1953. Sigmund Freud: Life and Work. Vol 1: The Young Freud 1856-1900. London: Hogarth Press.
  • 1955. Sigmund Freud: Life and Work. Vol 2: The Years of Maturity 1901-1919. London: Hogarth Press.
  • 1957. Sigmund Freud: Life and Work. Vol 3: The Last Phase 1919-1939. London: Hogarth Press.
  • 1961. Sigmund Freud: Life and Work. An abridgment of the preceding 3 volume work, by Lionel Trilling and Stephen Marcus, with Introduction by Lionel Trilling. New York: Basic Books.
  • 1956. Sigmund Freud: Four Centenary Addresses. New York: Basic Books
  • 1959. Free Associations: Memories of a Psycho-Analyst. Epilogue by Mervyn Jones. London: Hogarth Press. Reprinted (1990) with an New Introduction by Mervyn Jones. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.




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