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Center for Psychoanalytic Dialogue and Education 

Independence of Mind

The Contributions of Ella Freeman Sharpe, Marjorie Brierley, and Sylvia Payne


   ‘…A deep-seated interest in people’s lives and thoughts must in a psychoanalyst have been transformed into an insatiable curiosity which, while having its recognizable unconscious roots, is free in consciousness to range over every field of human experience and activity, free to recognize every unconscious impulse, with only one urgency, namely, a desire to know more and still more about the psychical mechanisms involved.’

The expansion and endurance of psychoanalytic thought for our clinical awareness and capabilities were directly the result of the time and the effort of these three women. Indeed, they were the architects of the agreement that prevented the break-up of the British Psychoanalytic Society and Institute in the 1940s.   


The use of the self (countertransference) in our clinical endeavors, and the idea of ‘inter-subjectivity’ – preceded the later work of other clinical practitioners – those that put these concepts on our theoretical map. Their emphasis on the capacity for curiosity, the free play of the mind on all subjects, e.g., literature, history, art, and poetry, and their desire to know – to be absorbed in the effort to understand - accentuated their personal creativity and imaginative use of the self.  Each demonstrated their ‘insatiable curiosity about the human mind.’


As noted by Maurice Whelan - and in keeping with the ideas of philosophers, poets, and essayists, “…independence of mind is primarily an internal characteristic: it is born from an inner freedom; it relies on a comprehensive knowledge of oneself; and it speaks from an absence of fear, through the exercise of critical judgement upon one’s self or another.” Having a mind of one’s own is about autonomy.

*M. Whelan (Ed.) (2000). A Mistress of Her Own Thoughts: Ella Freeman Sharpe and the Practice of Psychoanalysis.


This short course will examine the history of independence of mind and its application to our professional endeavors – be that in psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, art, literature, dance, or music.


Ella Sharpe first studied literature, drama, and poetry, working then as a teacher until her early forties. Analyzed by Hans Sachs in Berlin, she became a member of the British Society in 1921. Ella Sharpe wrote on visual art, aesthetics, imagination, creativity, metaphor and symbolism – as well as writing Dream Analysis: A Practical Handbook for Psychoanalysts, published in 1937.  


Marjorie Brierley received 1st class honors in psychology and then studied medicine, qualifying in 1928. By 1930, she became a full member of the British Psychoanalytical Society. Her work reflected a turning point in the evolution of psychoanalysis. Brierley’s most celebrated paper is “Affects in Theory and Practice,” published in 1937. Her ‘extremely flexible approach’ to clinical practice was instrumental in the Controversial Discussions. Her emphasis on the analyst’s need to follow the ‘Ariadne thread of transference affect’ anticipated the concept of countertransference and Winnicott’s concept of the environmental-individual set up. 

Sylvia Payne


Like Ella Sharpe, Sylvia Payne had her first analysis with Hans Sachs in Berlin, travelling from London. She qualified in psychology and then medicine under Edward Glover. She was a strong advocate for psychoanalysis and a prolific writer on psychoanalysis and women. Among others, Payne analyzed both Marion Milner and Charles Rycroft. She played an extraordinary role in the Controversial Discussions, and as a leading member of the newly formed ‘Middle Group’, was president of the British Psychoanalytic Society. 

Lecture, readings and discussion will be the format for this course.

DATES:          Forthcoming 


COST:             $175 (Total for 3 sessions)

                              Payment by Zelle, Venmo, or PayPal 

                             Zelle: 262-581-5177

                             Venmo: @Rudolph-Oldeschulte

                             PayPal - link in menu above 

This virtual course will be capped at 8 participants.


Rudy Oldeschulte qualified in psychoanalysis, and in child and adolescent development with Anna Freud and her colleagues at the Hampstead Clinic in London (Now The Anna Freud Centre) - following graduate school at the University of Michigan. He has more than 30 years of clinical experience with adults, children, and adolescents in private practice, consultation to hospitals and educational institutes in the United States and Britain. 

He has held posts as teaching and supervising faculty for the College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Department of Psychiatry, as well as teaching for the British Association of Psychotherapists, St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, and the Colorado Center for Psychoanalytic Studies. Rudy co-founded the Southwest Center for Psychoanalytic Studies (Arizona) – and presided as the founding President.

Now practicing psychoanalysis in Phoenix, Arizona, and continuing to teach developmental theory applied to work with adults and the history and development of the Independent Tradition in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

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