Foundational and Pioneering Theorists

Trauma and Recovery

The following overview is of the founding professionals who have shaped the work that we champion and advocate:

In 1896, Freud suggested that “a precocious experience of sexual relations . . . resulting from sexual abuse committed by another person . . . is the specific cause [italics added] of hysteria . . . not merely an agent provocateur” (1896/1962, p. 195, cited in van der Kolk, Weisaeth, et al., 1996, p. 54).

Charcot noted that traumatic events could induce a hypnotic state in his patients and was the first to “describe both the problems of suggestibility in these patients, and the fact that hysterical attacks are dissociative problems— the results of having endured unbearable experiences” (van der Kolk, Weisaeth, & van der Hart, 1996, p. 50).

In the 1880s, Freud and Breuer as well as Janet independently concluded that hysteria was caused by psychological trauma. They agreed that unbearable reactions to traumatic experiences produced an altered state of consciousness that Janet called “dissociation.”

However, ‘Freud privileged intrapsychic theory and fantasy over external trauma, (but) he did suggest that it was possible for external trauma to influence the patient’s state of mind” (Diamond, 2004).

See: Overview: History of trauma theory

Freud. A. (1946a). The ego and the mechanisms of defence. New York. International Universities Press.

Freud Revisited: Psychoanalytic Themes in the Postmodern Age Roger Horrocks 2019

Freuds Approach to Trauma  Crimson Publishers

Introduction to Sigmund Freud, Module on Trauma and …theory › psychoanalysis › freud5 The fact of transference points to an important fact about the nature of trauma: the compulsion of the human psyche to repeat traumatic events over and over again  …

Childhood and Trauma Am J Psychoanal 2008 Mar;68(1):24-32. doi: 10.1057/palgrave.ajp.3350044.

Carl Jung said: “In every adult there lurks a child—an eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed and calls for unceasing care, attention and education. That is the part of the human personality which wants to develop and become whole” (Jung CG. “Development of Personality” in Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol.17. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press; 1954).


“He also said that the feminine is lacking in our culture. Jung sees the feminine in terms of the Anima principle and a soulfulness. But this is not fanciful; he is talking about play, imagination, fantasy, creativity, birthing and active imagination. Jung is talking about a cultural movement from a solar consciousness to a lunar consciousness, away from the white hot left side of the brain, literal, fixed, limited and conceptual toward the cooler right brain that is symbolic, relational and contextual.”

This idea has been more recently taken up and expanded on by Allan Schore

YouTube Allan Schore: The development of the right brain across the life span

Click to access SchoreAttachHumDev.pdf

View at

Jung’s ideas around the archetypes of mother and child are important here. When a baby experiences the loving gaze of the mother and sees itself reflected back then the dynamic of the great mother and divine child enables the repeated experiences for the child of feeling safe, pleasure and soothed when distressed. The positive “feeling toned complex” will be integrated into the child’s ongoing development so that the child will be well placed to enjoy fruitful, satisfying relationships as he grows up. In contrast, a child who has been neglected, belittled, humiliated by the primary caregiver (the archetypal cruel, terrible mother) will grow up to experience a negative feeling tone in relationship and that ‘mother complex’ will surface and affect and limit capacity to live in a mutually fulfilling relationship.

Memories Dreams and Reflections  C Jung Collins 1995

 Trauma and the Soul  A Psycho-Spiritual Approach to Human Development and Its Interruption Donald Kalsched Routledge 2013)

Jung: A Very Short Introduction 2001 OUP Anthony Stevens

The Inner World of Trauma Archetypal Defences of the Personal Spirit Routledge 1996 Donald Kalsched

The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung)  1991

Anthony Stevens Archetype Revisited: An Updated Natural History of the Self

(Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts #105)  2003  Inner City Book

"I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become"

"The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable"

"One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child."

Jung Quotes

Anna Freud (1895-1982) was one of the founders of child development psychology who, among other things, pioneered a way to help children who have departed from normal development return to normal development. She recognised that, before the age of six (latency) it were better to attend to the child’s environment to support the child’s development and prevent neurosis from taking hold. She, like Klein recognised that it would be vital to allow a child express themselves through drawing or to move freely around the room in a session (and would join in). She developed important work relating to defence mechanisms and she emphasised the importance of child development over time.

In her book, Infants without Families, written in 1944 with D. Burlingham based on the experiences observed in the  Hampstead Nursery (which she set up for children who had lost their homes, and/or parents) she asserted that:

“The lack of continuous and intimate emotional relationship with the mother and the absence of the other contacts of normal family life produce a retardation in emotional development, intellectual and speech development, and habit training. The institutional children are insecure, more clinging to adults, and more aggressive to one another, and indulge in more fantasy life and autoerotic gratification. It may be also that the development of character and conscience is impeded by the lack of the normal love objects”.

Books: include

The ego and the mechanisms of defence, Volume 2; 1966 International Universities Press

Normality and Pathology in Childhood: Assessments of Development. New York:  International Universities Press,  1965. 273 pp

Melanie Klein (1880-1960) another early pioneer understood that play could be helpful for children’s recovery and also introduced important, if controversial, ideas of the paranoid schizoid position, depressive stage, phantasies, projection, introjection and splitting.

“In her work with children, Klein noticed that their play and the toys they used carried important symbolic meaning for them, and that this could be analysed much in the same way as dreams could be analysed in adults.

Melanie Klein asserted that all human beings relate to others from birth and, consequently the transference in psychoanalytic treatment is always alive and active”.

I have seen babies as young as three weeks interrupt their sucking for a short time to play with the mother’s breast or look towards her face. I have also observed that young infants – even as early as in the second month – would, in wakeful periods after feeding, lie on mother’s lap, look up at her, listen to her voice and respond to it by their facial expression; it was like a loving conversation between mother and baby.”

Klein, ‘On observing the behaviour of young infants’ (1952)

However, her views on analysis and interpretation in sessions with children brought her into conflict with the educational and social construct ideas encouraged by Anna Freud.


Introduction to the Work of Melanie Klein (Maresfield Library) 31 Dec. 1988 by Hanna Segal

Who the Hell is Melanie Klein?: And what are her theories on psychology all about? 2019 Bowden and Brazil by Lucy Etherington

The Clinical Paradigms of Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott: Comparisons and Dialogues Routledge   2017 by Jan Abram (Author), R.D. Hinshelwood (Author)

Winnicott (1896-1971) was a paediatrician and psychoanalyst working in Paddington Green Children’s  Hospital from 1923-1962. During this long period of service in a part of London with significant deprivation he saw thousands of families. While Freud’s focus was on psychosexuality and the Oedipus complex, Winnicott’s focus highlighted the very start of life as his psychoanalytic clinical findings illuminated the significance of the parental role in early object relations. Thus, at the core of Winnicott’s contribution is the parent-infant relationship and the sense of self that derives from that “facilitating environment”.

He was trained by Melanie Klein but became increasingly independent in his thinking over the course of his career, ultimately contributing original ideas that emphasised the importance of play in psychological development. He also introduced the ideas of ‘the holding environment, and maternal preoccupation, and the idea that there is “no such thing as an infant” – that where there is one there is the other. Winnicott also made it clear that the infant develops within the context of that the facilitating environment provided by the “good enough” parent and that manageable failures within it allow the caregiver and child to remain together and separate and the child can move towards independence.

Books and and reference points:

Babies and Their Mothers (Classics in Child Development) D.W. Winnicott,  Benjamin Spock (Introduction) ..Offers insights into the central issues of infancy, with an introduction by Benjamin Spock, M.D 1992 by Da Capo Lifelong Books

Deprivation and Delinquency D. W. Winnicott Routledge, 2011

Playing and Reality by D.W. Winnicott (Routledge Classics) Paperback – 20 Jan. 2005

Winnicott  by Adam Phillips Penguin Published: 01/11/2007 ISBN: 9780141031507

Video #TheSchoolOfLife PSYCHOTHERAPY – Donald Winnicott

Winnicott, D.W. (1960). The theory of the parent-infant relationship. Link below


Barbara Dockar-Drysdale (1912-1999) developed aspects of Winnicott’s work. She focused again on the role of the primary care giver shaping personality development and the importance of understanding the needs of children, which led her to create the first therapeutic communities.

“In Dockar-Drysdale’s view, for chaotic ‘unintegrated’ children the traditional ‘psychoanalytic hour’ was not enough, they required a total environment in which therapeutic interactions could take place within the daily routines of child care, she did not place the primacy of therapy as being outside of daily child care routines, hence the development of the concept and methods now known as ‘therapeutic child care.’” (From the Mulberry Bush website).


Dockar-Drysdale.B. (1990) The provision of primary experience: Winnicottian work with children and adolescents. London. Free association books.






John Bowlby’s (1907-1990) theoretical work on attachment, together with later research by Mary Ainsworth (1913-1999), Mary Main and Patricia Crittenden has been central to most understanding of the impact of neglect and “maternal deprivation” on the capacity to build secure relationships. He believed that babies have an innate need to attach to one main attachment figure.  Loss, prolonged separation and fear – the breakdown of the primary attachment would lead to serious negative consequences.

The child’s attachment relationship with their primary caregiver and secondary attachment figures leads to the development of an internal working model (Bowlby, 1969).

This internal working model is a cognitive framework comprising mental representations for understanding the world, self, and others.  A person’s interaction with others is guided by memories and expectations from their internal model which influence and help evaluate their contact with others (Bretherton, & Munholland, 1999).