Who was Ian Dishart Suttie?
He was a Scottish-born medical doctor and psychoanalyst.
In his last years he worked at the Tavistock Clinic which was the refuge of
deviationists from psychoanalytic orthodoxy.
He wrote one book, The Origins of Love and Hate, which was in press when he died from a perforated duodenal ulcer in 1935.
Why bother to revive his ideas?
To set the historical record straight and give credit where it is due.
His ideas had the potential to transform the psychoanalytic movement into a
more scientific psychology, integrated on one side with biology and
medicine, on the other with sociology and anthropology. At the same time his metapsychology, the philosophical underpinnings of the theories, does not lend itself to the anti-humanitarian and reductive "nothing but" message that has often been propagated as a corollary of Freud's theories.
What were his leading ideas?
In company with some other pioneering neo-Freudian deviationists such as Sandor Ferenczi and John Hadfield, Suttie challenged Freudian orthodoxy along these lines:
a) The human infant starts out in a state of non-sexual union with
the mother. That is the paradigm of love.
b) The great challenge of psychic development is separation from the
mother. The trauma of badly negotiated separation from the love-object
gives rise to hate.
c) The main task of early childhood is coming to terms with independence.
d) Coming to terms with genital sexuality is not a task of early childhood
and the notion of sexual rivalry with the father is a fiction, a construction put on the jealousy of the child confronted with another person who
makes claims upon the mother.
e) The great range of human activities including religion, science and
culture can be seen as autonomous activities and not derivatives or
sublimations of the sexual impulse.
In addition to his central ideas, did he make any significant contribution to the tools and methods of psychoanalysis?
His evolutionary approach and his use of animal studies was novel at that
time and his use of anthropological information was more critical and creative
than that of Freud and his followers.
How were his ideas received?
His best known follower is probably John Bowlby who wrote a series of major
books on the theme "Attachment and Loss". His ideas contributed to the dissident movement known as "object relations theory" which has challenged orthodox opinion in psychoanalysis that is apparently still dominated by a powerful and conservative professional leadership.