Research Project

Balint Groups and the Patient Doctor Relationship

Principal Investigator
Dr Raluca Soreanu
People sat in a circle outside. Black and white photo. 1968

Balint Groups and the patient doctor relationship

The groups were initiated by the medically trained psychoanalyst Michael Balint in the 1950s. In the groups, psychoanalysts encountered medical doctors to discuss the latter’s difficulties with their patients. This encounter has unexplored consequences for the understanding of illness and the formation of medical doctors.

In the groups, psychoanalysts encountered medical doctors to discuss the latter’s difficulties with their patients. This encounter has unexplored consequences for the understanding of illness and the formation of medical doctors.

I propose a multi-method social history of “Balint groups” and I ask two questions:

  • How can we understand this complex psychoanalysis-medicine conversation? and
  • What does this case have to say about what psychoanalysis can offer to medicine, with respect to making sense of illness?

The structure of the project 

The project has four dimensions of research:

  • theoretical, examining Balint’s innovative relational conception of illness
  • historical, analysing the importance of Balint’s embeddedness in the Budapest School of psychoanalysis
  • epistemological, looking at the forms of boundary-work between psychoanalysis and medicine that characterised the emergence of Balint groups and reflecting on the collective and transdisciplinary knowledge produced in the group
  • ethical, discussing the non-hierarchical modes of relationality in the groups.

The project relies on archival research and brings to light the novel material contained in the Balint Archive, held by the British Psychoanalytical Society since 2014.

Publications

Michael Balint for Our Times: The London Years

Michael Balint for Our Times: The London Years. London: Routledge

Soreanu, R. (forthcoming 2021).

[co-edited with Judit Szekacs and Ivan Ward]

Bálint Mihály for Our Times: The Budapest Years

Bálint Mihály for Our Times: The Budapest Years. London: Routledge 

Soreanu, R. (forthcoming 2020). 

[co-edited with Judit Szekacs and Ivan Ward]

Michael Balint's Word Trail: The ‘Ocnophil’, the ‘Philobat’ and Creative Dyads

Michael Balint's Word Trail: The ‘Ocnophil’, the ‘Philobat’ and Creative Dyads.

Soreanu, R., (2019).

Psychoanalysis and History. 21 (1), 53-72

Supervision for our times: countertransference and the rich legacy of the Budapest School

Supervision for our times: countertransference and the rich legacy of the Budapest School.

Soreanu, R., (2019)

American Journal of Psychoanalysis. 79 (3), 329-351

On Michael Balint, Cases and Countertransference

On Michael Balint, Cases and Countertransference.

Soreanu, R., (2018)

The Journal of the Balint Society. 46, 57-63

Grupos Balint

 O estilo epistêmico de Michael Balint: “Grupos Balint”, utopias médicas e o legado da Escola de Psicanálise de Budapeste [On Michael Balint’s Epistemic Style: “Balint Groups”, Medical Utopias and the Legacy of the Budapest School of Psychoanalysis].

 Soreanu, R., (2018)

Cadernos de Psicanalise (CPRJ). 40 (39), 229-250

Exhibitions

Michael Balint. The Early Work with Groups

‘Michael Balint. The Early Work with Groups’, displayed on the occasion of the International Balint Federation Congress, Porto, Portugal, September 11-14, 2019.

Balint at 50: From Foundation to the Future

‘Balint at 50: From Foundation to the Future’, displayed on the occasion of celebration of 50 years of Balint Society UK, at the Wellcome Collection, London, May 17, 2019.

 

Michael Balint at 50. Exhibition poster

 

 

The Balints and Their World

‘The Balints and Their World’, displayed at The Freud Museum, London, December 8-9, 2018.

On Michael Balint’s Trails

‘On Michael Balint’s Trails’, displayed on the occasion of the 13th International Sándor Ferenczi Conference: ‘Ferenczi in Our Time & A Renaissance of Psychoanalysis’, Florence, Italy, May 3-6, 2018 (in collaboration with Judit Szekacs). 

Michael Balint, The Internationalist

‘Michael Balint, The Internationalist’, displayed on the occasion of  the 20th International Balint Federation Congress, Oxford September 6-10, 2017.

Conferences organised

The Balints and their World: Object Relations and Beyond

‘The Balints and their World: Object Relations and Beyond’. International conference,

The Freud Museum, London, December 7-9, 2018, (co-organised with psychoanalyst Judit Szekacs).

Keynote and plenary talks

Michael Balint: Early Interventions, Early Groups

‘Michael Balint: Early Interventions, Early Groups’. 21st International Balint Congress 'Seeing Medicine through Other Eyes',

Porto, Portugal, 2/9/2019. [Plenary Talk]

On Michael Balint, Cases and Taboos

‘On Michael Balint, Cases and Taboos’. South London Organisation of Vocational Training Scheme: ‘Taboos: Addressing Difficult Topics with Medical Trainees’.

Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, UK, September 18-19, 2018. [Keynote speech]

On Michael Balint’s Trail

‘On Michael Balint’s Trail’. The International Balint Federation Congress,

Oxford, September 6-10, 2017. [Plenary talk]

Conference papers and invited talks

Michael Balint in Budapest

‘Michael Balint in Budapest’. 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Balint Society.

Wellcome Collection, London, UK, May 17, 2019.

Grupos Balint, e o legado da Escola de Psicanálise de Budapeste  

“Grupos Balint” e o legado da Escola de Psicanálise de Budapeste’
[“Balint Groups”, and the Legacy of the Budapest School of Psychoanalysis’].

Pontifica Universidade do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 19, 2017. 

O estilo epistêmico de Michael Balint: “Grupos Balint”, utopias médicas e o legado da Escola de Psicanálise de Budapeste

‘O estilo epistêmico de Michael Balint: “Grupos Balint”, utopias médicas e o legado da Escola de Psicanálise de Budapeste’
[‘On Michael Balint’s Epistemic Style: “Balint Groups”, Medical Utopias and the Legacy of the Budapest School of Psychoanalysis’].

Círculo Psicanalítico do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, November 26, 2016.

On Michael Balint, Cases, and Countertransference

‘On Michael Balint, Cases, and Countertransference’. Symposium ‘Thinking in Cases: On and Beyond the Couch’. 

The Freud Museum, London, UK, October 30, 2016.