Harry Guntrip

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Harry Guntrip (1901–1975) was a psychologist known for his major contributions to object relations theory or school of Freudian thought.[1] He was a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a psychotherapist and lecturer at the Department of Psychiatry, Leeds University, and also a Congregationalist minister. He was described by John D. Sutherland as "one of the psychoanalytic immortals".


Guntrip’s Personality Structure and Human Interaction organized, critiqued and synthesized the theories of major psychoanalysts, including Melanie Klein, Ronald Fairbairn, D. W. Winnicott, and Michael Balint. Although he accepted many of Freud's theories, he also advanced his own ideas and criticized Freud as being too based on biology in general, and instincts in particular, and therefore being, in Guntrip's belief, dehumanizing. He also drew heavily on the object rational approach of Fairbairn and Winnicott. He argued that the regressed ego, which is perhaps his greatest contribution to psychoanalysis, exerts a powerful effect on life. (Ehrlich, R. Guntrip's concept of the regressed ego. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalytical Psychiatry. 2009, 37(4), 605-625) He viewed the schizoid sense of emptiness as reflecting the withdrawal of energy from the real world into a world of internal object relations.

Guntrip worked extensively with schizoid patients who were detached, withdrawn, and unable to form meaningful human relations. He came to regard the self as the fundamental psychological concept, psychoanalysis as the study of its growth, and psychoanalytic therapy as a means of providing a personal relationship in which the alienated, withdrawn self is given an opportunity for healthy growth and development, and finally putting it in touch with other persons and objects.

His personal symptoms led him to be psychoanalysed by both W.R.D. Fairbairn and D.W. Winnicott. Although helpful, the therapy did not cure his problem. (Padel, J. The case of Harry Guntrip. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 1996, (pt. 4), 755-61 and Markillie, R. Some personal recollections and impressions of Harry Guntrip, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 1996, 77 (part 4), 763-71.)

Published works

  • Schizoid Phenomena, Object-Relations, and the Self (1992). Karnac Books. ISBN 1-85575-032-5
  • Psychoanalytic Theory, Therapy, and the Self: A Basic Guide to the Human Personality in Freud, Erikson, Klein, Sullivan, Fairbairn, Hartmann, Jacobson, and Winnicott (1985). Karnac Books. ISBN 0-946439-15-X
  • Personality Structure and Human Interaction (1995). Karnac Books. ISBN 1-85575-118-6
  • Psychology for Ministers and Social Workers (1949)
  • You and Your Nerves
  • Mental Pain and the Cure of Souls
  • Middle Age (with L. J. Tizard)

See also


  1. Malcolm, Janet. Psychoanalysis. NY: Randopm House, 1981, p. 5

Further reading

External links