Eric Brenman

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 13 June 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e4012
  1. Anne Taylor, health journalist, writer, and lecturer
  1. anne.taylor{at}

Psychoanalyst who emphasised the relationship with the patient

As an army doctor, early in his career, Eric Brenman found himself on Africa’s Gold Coast (now Ghana) dealing with an outbreak of meningitis. He was confronted with a man who had been accused of a serious crime and who was in a disturbed state. The chief of the man’s tribe said, “That poor fellow has no home for his feelings.” These words, and an interest in the human psyche, stayed with Brenman, who became a psychoanalyst of international repute for his contribution to post-Kleinian theory and practice. “It was a big part of his work, the feeling of people needing a home for their feelings, a place where their feelings could be accepted and understood,” said his wife of 37 years and fellow psychoanalyst, Irma Brenman Pick.

Physical illness

Brenman held a psychosomatic view of illness long before it was fashionable. “Eric believed that many physical illnesses were linked with states of mind. I think he went into psychiatry because he saw the relationship with the patient as a relationship with the whole person,” said the psychiatrist and …

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