M a r t h a  H a r r i s  1919-1987


Main Publications:

Your Teenager, 1969 (3 books); new edition Harris Meltzer Trust, 2007

Thinking about Infants and Young Children, 1975

A Psychoanalytical Model of the Child-in-the-Family-in-the-Community, 1976 (with Donald Meltzer), in Sincerity: collected papers of Donald Meltzer, 1994

Collected Papers of Martha Harris and Esther Bick, 1987

The Story of Infant Development: taped supervisions, Harris Meltzer Trust 2007

all available  Karnac Books


Martha Harris with a granddaughter


Mattie with her sisters





Martha Harris read English and trained as a teacher and psychologist before becoming an analyst and child psychotherapist.  She had supervisions with Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion and worked closely with Esther Bick, inheriting and developing her educational method of Infant Observation at the Tavistock Clinic, where she was for many years responsible for the child psychotherapy training.

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Esther Bick with Martha Harris’ first grandchild

 Mattie as an educator


`Her own courage and devotion to and happiness in the work underpinned a colossal determination not to be hampered by a weight of bureaucratized organization, nor to pay too much heed to the cautious and in many ways traditionalist assumptions of most psychoanalytic educators.  In retrospect, this shift of gear still takes one’s breath away.’ Margaret Rustin


‘It was through Martha Harris that I first gained an inkling of what real teaching and learning is’ Margot Waddell


‘By both background and inclincation, Mattie was a scholar of English literature and a teacher.  Nothing was more foreign to her nature than the administrative requirements that eventually devolved upon her at the Tavistock.  If ever anyone had ‘greatness thrust upon them’, it was the reluctant Mattie at the time when Mrs Bick left the Clinic and iit was up to Mattie either to take over or to let the infant Child Psychotherapy Course fade away.  The way in which she came to terms with this crisis in her life was by framing a radical pedagogical method.  The central conviction, later hallowed in Bion’s concepts of ‘learning from experience’, was that the kind of learning which transformed a person into a professional worker had to be rooted in the intimate relationships with inspired teachers, living and dead, present and in books. Donald Meltzer

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M o r a g  H a r r i s 1954-2000 click here