Reg Ellery and the establishment of psychoanalysis in Australia



Publication Details

Kaplan, R. M. (2015). Reg Ellery and the establishment of psychoanalysis in Australia. Health and History, 17 (1), 37-52.


This article looks at the establishment of psychoanalysis in Australia, focussing on the role of Melbourne psychiatrist Reginald (Reg) Ellery. Despite its great distance from Europe, interest in psychoanalysis reached Australia surprisingly early last century. Freud had established the basic principles by 1910 but then faced great opposition from many quarters in gaining acceptance. Such controversy occurred in Australia as much as anywhere, with conservative intellectuals, medicine, and much of psychiatry implacable in their opposition to its practise. Nevertheless, from the 1930s, a small group of enthusiasts, including Reg Ellery, were pushing for its acceptance, and in 1940 analytic training commenced and psychoanalysis established a firm footing in Australia. Described as a skilful clinician of enormous sophistication, Ellery promoted a view which implicitly posed a question for all doctors, putting the disease back into its environment-the patient had to be seen as a person-as relevant today as it was in his time, and the key concept in a more humanistic approach to psychotherapy.

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