Ernest Jones

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Ernest Jones, a British psychoanalyst, was born at Gowerton, Glamorgan, Wales, on January 1, 1879, and died in London on February 11, 1958. The product of a middle-class Welsh family, Jones was educated at Swansea Grammar School and University College, Cardiff, and received his medical training at University College Hospital, London. His interests at this early stage of his career included clinical medicine, surgery, neurology, pathology, and also clinical psychiatry. He qualified in 1900 for a gold medal in the London M.D. examination. He became a member of the Royal College of Physicians in 1904 and received a Diploma of Public Health (Cam-bridge) in 1905. After qualifying, he held various hospital appointments and published several papers on childhood and adult neurological diseases.

In 1906, with his friend Lewis Trotter, he discovered Freud's writings, and this stimulated his interest in the German language. In 1907, as a graduate student, he went to Munich, where he discovered German neurology and psychiatry.

Psychoanalysis and the new interest in the emotional life of the individual brought about a deep change in him. In April 1908 he visited Vienna with Abraham Arden Brill, met Sigmund Freud for the first time, and discussed plans on how to translate and propagate Freud's work in the Anglo-American world. In a paper written in the same year and given at the International Psychoanalytical Congress at Salzburg, Jones coined the term "rationalization," which was accepted by Freud and became part of the technical language of psychoanalysis to indicate a way of trying to make sense of unconscious motivations by rationalizing them. Partly because of a series of severe setbacks that broke the progression of his career in London, in 1909 he emigrated to Canada, where he became Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

While in Canada, Jones was in touch with neurologists and psychiatrists in the United States. He became assistant editor of Morton Prince's newly founded Journal of Abnormal Psychology, in which he published several papers on psychoanalysis. He also organized the American Psychoanalytic Association, intended for psychoanalysts scattered all over the United States. In the meantime, he kept in touch with Freud in Vienna and accompanied Freud when the latter visited the United States to lecture at Clark University.

After he returned to England in 1913, Jones undertook a short personal analysis with Sándor Ferenczi. During the same year he founded the London Society of Psychoanalysis, but he eventually dissolved the society because some of his important followers favored Carl Gustav Jung. During the years of the First World War, Jones continued practicing as a private analyst in London and also lecturing widely on psychoanalysis both in London and outside, contributing to the gradual diffusion of the new discipline in the medical profession, which was highly resistant, and among the larger public. Particularly important were his contributions on the subject of shell-shock neuroses.

In 1919 Jones founded the British Psycho-Analytical Society. Having lost his first wife in 1918, in 1919 he married the Viennese Katherine Jokl. Shortly thereafter, in 1920, he established the International Psychoanalytical Press in collaboration with the Hogarth Press, founded the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, which he edited from 1920 to 1939, and coordinated a group of translators—including James and Alix Strachey, Joan Riviere, and John Rick-man—in the first systematic translation of Freud's works into English. As early as the 1920s Jones put forth the idea of a standard edition of Freud's work. To him we owe many of the English terms of Freud's technical language. Jones played a fundamental role in helping Melanie Klein to come to England in 1926.

Prior to the Second World War he effectively ruled psychoanalysis in England and had enormous influence in organizing the international psychoanalytical movement, the result being the International Psychoanalytical Association. Significant were his struggle to achieve scientific status for psychoanalysis in England, his attempts to develop the British way of looking at psychoanalysis, and his defense of Klein's views against the severe criticisms of Freud and his daughter Anna, while managing to remain a good friend and collaborator of Freud and to continue his own scientific production. Jones also became president of the International Psychoanalytical Association, a position he held for 17 years in total and finally relinquished in 1949.

In the late 1930s, when the pressure of the Nazi persecution of Jews made life impossible for his colleagues in Berlin, Vienna, and Budapest, Jones, with the help of his American colleague Brill and Marie Bonaparte, managed to get nearly fifty European psychoanalysts out of their countries first to England and then mainly to North America. Particularly important was the rescue of Freud and his family in 1938. Jones played an important role in trying to mediate between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein during the so called "controversial discussions" in the early 1940s. In 1946 he retired from the active life of the British PsychoAnalytical Society to the Plat, his beautiful cottage in Sussex. He devoted the last ten years of his life to writing Freud's biography The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1953-1957) and his autobiography Free Associations (1959), as well as to collecting and reediting some of his clinical papers Papers on Psycho-Analysis (1948), despite a cancer of the bladder, which eventually killed him.

Jones was undoubtedly the finest organizer and politician in the first generation of Freud's followers. Without his prodigious energy and enormous work, psychoanalysis, both in the Anglo-American sphere and the world at large, would not have been able to assert itself as it did. Yet no one should forget Jones's theoretical and clinical contributions to psychoanalysis and his wide interest in applied psychoanalysis. His notion of female aphanisis (a syndrome of psychic blankness) is a significant contribution. Among his publications, particularly important are "The Theory of Symbolism" (1948c) and "The Early Development of Female Sexuality" (1948a), influenced by Melanie Klein. Jones collected his papers on applied psychoanalysis in Essays on Applied Psychoanalysis (1964), which shows the importance he gave to this area of research in psychoanalysis. One should also remember his work On the Nightmare (1910) and his classic psychoanalytic interpretation of Hamlet: Oedipus and Hamlet (1949). For decades his biography of Freud (1953-1957) has been considered the standard biography of Freud's life.


Works discussed: Hamlet and Oedipus; Sigmund Freud: Life and Work.

Notion developed: Aphanisis

See also: American Psychoanalytic Association; Boundary violations; British Psycho-Analytical Society; Canada; Controversial Discussions; Erythrophobia; Eroticism, anal; Feminism and psychoanalysis; First World War: The effect on the deverlopment of psychoanalysis; Functional phenomenon; Great Britain; International Journal of Psychoanalysis, The; International Psychoanalytical Association; Lay analysis; Nightmare; Phallic mother; Psychoanalytic Review, The; Psychotherapy; Rationalization; Scoptophilia/scopophilia; Secret Committee; Shakespeare and psychoanalysis; Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud; Symbol; Symbolism; Tavistock Clinic. Bibliography

   * Brome, Vincent. (1982). Ernest Jones: Freud's alter ego. London: Caliban Books.
   * Jones, Ernest. (1910). On the nightmare. London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1931.
   * ——. (1948a). Early development of female sexuality. In his Papers on psycho-analysis (5th ed.). London: Baillière, Tindall, and Cox. (Original work published 1927.)
   * ——. (1948b). Papers on psycho-analysis (5th ed.). London: Baillière, Tindall, and Cox.
   * ——. (1948c). The theory of symbolism. In his Papers on psycho-analysis (5th ed.). London: Baillière, Tindall, and Cox. (Original work published 1916.)
   * ——. (1949). Hamlet and Oedipus. London: Hogarth.
   * ——. (1953-1957). Sigmund Freud: Life and work (3 vols.). London: Hogarth.
   * ——. (1959). Free associations: memories of a psychoanalyst. London: Hogarth.
   * ——. (1964). Essays in applied psycho-analysis. New York: International Universities Press.
   * Lacan, Jacques. (1959).Á la mémoire d'Ernest Jones: sur la théorie du symbolisme. Psychanalyse, 5, 2-20.
   * Mijolla, Alain de. (1998). Freud, biography, his autobiography and his biographers. Psychoanalysis and History, 1 (1), 4-27.
   * Segal, Hanna. (1957). Notes on symbol formation. International Journal of Psycho-analysis, 38, 391-397.
   * Steiner, Riccardo. (1993). Introduction. In R. Andrew Paskauskas (Ed.), The complete correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones (pp. 21-49). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.