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‘The Drug Doctor’: Michael Balint and the Revival of General Practice in Postwar Britain

Bar Haim, Shaul (2018) '‘The Drug Doctor’: Michael Balint and the Revival of General Practice in Postwar Britain.' History Workshop Journal, 86 (86). pp. 114-132. ISSN 1363-3554

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In the early 1950s, the psychoanalysts Michael and Enid Balint established in the Tavistock Clinic, an innovative peer group for general practitioners (GPs). The goal was to create a forum of family doctors to discuss case studies of a psychosocial nature and to provide then with psychotherapeutic tools to better help their patients. What started as a small peer group of GPs in the London became, by the 1960s, a worldwide medical movement which still exists today. This article traces the cultural and social origins of the Balint Groups movement, and aims to contextualize it within the ‘psychosocial turn’ of interwar and postwar Britain; the need of general practice to renew itself as a profession after WWII and the introduction of the then NHS; and the flourishing of a new welfarist ideology in the postwar years. The article argues that the Balintian approach is emblematic of the ‘pastoral’ role – ‘patronizing’ and ‘caring’ at the same time – played by the British welfare state in the early years of its citizens’ everyday lives.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0500 Psychoanalysis
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2018 14:22
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:49

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