A New Homecoming: Balint Archives at the British Psychoanalytic Society

From the Opening Ceremony of the Balint Archives on October 17, 2014:

Just two years ago we were celebrating the arrival of the Ferenczi Archives to the Freud Museum donated generously by Judith Dupont in 2012. To read about the story of the extraordinary journey of Ferenczi documents please visit the websites of

IMAGO International: http://imago-inter.net/news/2013/the_ferenczi_archives_in_london_the_story_of_a_real_life_psychoanalytical_road_movie

or the website of the London Freud Museum: https://www.freud.org.uk/events/75075/freud-museum-receives-ferenczi-archive/

Today, we welcome to London the arrival of another invaluable collection documenting our professional past. In June, the Balint Archives came to find a home where they truly belong: in the archives of the BPAS.

Andre Haynal shares a few thoughts and memories with us announcing this memorable event:

In 1984, Enid Balint (herself an important psychoanalyst) entrusted me with many documents of Michael, Enid and Alice Balint, called by us the Balint Archives. This happened in the context of a research of mine, which has been later published in my book: “The Technique at Issue. Controversies in psychoanalysis from Freud and Ferenczi to Michael Balint” (Karnac, 1988). This short biography of Ferenczi and Balint reflects principally on the evolution of their thinking about the psychoanalytic technique.

In fact, these Archives are a real treasure for psychoanalytical research. During their time at the Geneva University, they were appreciated by frequent visits of scholars from the entire world. Since the Archives’ dominant language is English, the visitors were mostly English speakers. The recent donation of the Ferenczi Archives to the Freud Museum inspired me to contact the British Society’s Archives, which already hosts important historical legacies of its former leaders. I offered its Honorary Archivist Ken Robinson to take over this precious material and make it accessible to the researchers on a broad basis. Michael Balint having been one of the presidents of the British Psychoanalytic Society, it seems suitable that in that historical centre which is in London, an important part of his oeuvre should survive.

The Archives contain protocols of the first groups from the 1950s, later called Balint groups, which may have especially important value for further scientific exploration. These papers also contain documents about various seminars by Michael Balint and Enid Balint.

Some of the many other noteworthy papers are: curriculum vitae, certificates; various correspondences; manuscript notes for different works; manuscript notebooks of Michael Balint, and works about Michael Balint.

Further papers include Enid Balint’s articles and other papers; Manuscripts about and by Alice Balint and Edna Balint and Alice Balint’s personal diary with photos.

All these documents, together with the ones now housed in London’s Freud Museum may allow researchers to throw light on a whole line of evolution in psychoanalytic thinking.

To have the Ferenczi-Balint archives in close proximity in London gives an invaluable tool for scholars to research early psychoanalytic history as well as the close relationship between Freud and Ferenczi – including their late rupture. The scientific cataclysm that ensued about technique is still reverberating in the current debates in the analytic community. One present example is in the meanings placed or ignored on states of regression in analytic treatment.

The Balint archive can now nurture a possible further development of what became known, for a time as Hungarian analysis. The breadth of these archives opens a window into the profound thinking of theory within the Independent Group of the British Psychoanalytic Society, also allowing a glimpse at how Melanie Klein’s revolutionary work with children was fully supported by her analyst, Ferenczi.

It is a great privilege for all of us to have these two archives close by to work on separately and together in London as, whatever else, their contents had a great impact on the British Psychoanalytical Society.

It is also a privilege for the BPAS that André has chosen to locate these papers in our Archives. Their presence is a reminder that Michael Balint played a significant role within the Society, initiating in Manchester in the war years the first psychoanalytic training outside London and, amongst other contributions, serving as its President from 1968 until his death in 1970. These papers immensely enrich our Archives.

Drs. Jonathan Sklar, Judit Szekacs and Ken Robinson