Susan Isaacs: A Life Freeing the Minds of Children




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'When Susan Isaacs died in October, 1948, the obituaries in the quality press were unanimous not only in her praise butin the top ranking they gave to her importance in the fields of education and psycho-analysis. The London Times (13 October 1948) enthused: '...her teaching has probably influenced educational theory and practice in this country more than that of any livingperson. Her contribution to psycho-analytical theory, especially to the analysis of children, has also been notable.' Not only was her work groundbreaking in the fields of education, psychoanalysis and psychology, but as an 'agony aunt', answering readers' questions in the Nursery World, she had a strong influence on the way middle-class mothers broughtup their young children in the pre-Spock era of the nineteen thirties in Britain. Nor did Susan Isaacs's status among informed commentators decline with time. Adrian Wooldridge (1994) reviewing thewhole field of psychology in England from 1860 to 1990 refers to her as the most influential English-born child psychologistof her generation. Her entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, proclaims her to be 'the greatest influence onBritish education in the twentieth century.' (Pines, 2004).Further, the courage in recent years of the British psycho-analytic establishment in making available for generalconsumption verbatim accounts of the extremely bitter exchanges between the rival schools of psycho-analysis beforeand during the Second World War has enabled me to describe the historically significant part Susan Isaacs played at thistime. All these advantages were not available to Dorothy Gardner when she wrote the first and only previous biography.They alone amplyjustify another book about this intriguing woman, the worlds in which she lived and the influence sheexercised in so many different spheres of life.'

 - The Author from the Preface
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