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Interview with RD Hinshelwood

Hinshelwood, Robert Douglas; Winship, Gary


Robert Douglas Hinshelwood


Purpose: A one-day conference organised by the University of Essex and the Consortium of Therapeutic Communities, 10 December, 2021 with the theme, “The Unconscious and Organisations”. Presentations and discussions throughout the conference had the aim of generating ideas and sharing knowledge about the unconscious and how this can inform practitioners working in therapeutic communities and other organisations meeting the challenge of emotional distress. Design/methodology/approach: Interview with Professor Robert (Bob) Hinshelwood (RH), now 83 years old, who has been involved in therapeutic communities (TCs) since 1969, part of the initial founding of the Association of Therapeutic Communities in 1974, is presented. He qualified as a psychoanalyst in 1976. In 1980 he instigated the founding of the International Journal of Therapeutic Communities along with Nick Manning, David Kennard, Jeff Roberts and Barry Shenkar. In 1984 he founded the British Journal of Psychotherapy, and edited it for 10 years. He was Director of the Cassel Hospital 1993–1997. In 1999 he founded the journal Psychoanalysis and History. He was part of the Free Associations Group (founded by Bob Young and others) which ran the journal Free Associations, and with Mike Rustin and the University of East London, the “Psychoanalysis and Public Sphere” conferences in the 1990s. He has written a great deal about the dynamics of organisational cultures in complex settings. He is Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society, Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Professor Emeritus of the University of Essex. The interviewer was conducted by Dr Gary Winship (GW) is an associate professor at the University of Nottingham where he leads the MA in Trauma Informed Practice, visiting professor Moscow Institute of Psychoanalysis, and also visiting professor at the Russian State Humanities University, editor of the International Journal of Therapeutic Communities. Findings: Hinshelwood reflects on the question of the unconscious and the impact of destructive tendencies on organisational process. He shares his personal experience being a young evacuee during the Second World War and considers the impact of trauma, losing his religion and his subsequent career choices in medicine, psychiatry and psychoanalysis. He discusses his experience of supervision with Isabel Menzies Lyth and reflects on the different groups in the Institute of Psychoanalysis. He turns to the question tribalism in TCs and regrets that there had not been more bridge building and collaboration. He talks about his own prolific writing and publishing career which he describes as obsessional rather than passionate, and finally candidly reflects on the prospect of facing death. Originality/value: The interview was transcribed.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jul 27, 2022
Publication Date Nov 30, 2022
Deposit Date Feb 9, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 9, 2023
Journal Therapeutic Communities
Electronic ISSN 0964-1866
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 3-4
Pages 154-162
Keywords Hinshelwood; Unconscious; Therapeutic communities; psychotherapy; Interview; TC history
Public URL
Publisher URL


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