'Balint groups' and the patient-doctor relationship: the social history of a psychoanalytic contribution to the medical sciences


  • Dr Raluca Soreanu

    Birkbeck, University of London

Project summary

Dr Soreanu will study the emergence of ‘Balint groups’, initiated by the medically trained psychoanalyst Michael Balint in the 1950s. In the groups, psychoanalysts engaged with medical doctors to discuss their difficulties with their patients. This encounter has unexplored consequences for the understanding of illness and the formation of the medical profession. This project poses two key questions: How can we understand this complex psychoanalysis-medicine conversation, and what does this case have to say about what psychoanalysis can offer medicine with respect to making sense of illness?

The project examines Balint’s relational conception of illness and his place in the Budapest School of psychoanalysis, the boundary-work between psychoanalysis and medicine, and the non-hierarchical modes of relationality in Balint groups.