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Robertson, James (1911-1988)

ROBERTSON, JAMES (1911-1988)

A psychoanalyst, filmmaker, and influential researcher at the Tavistock Clinic on the impact of early separation on child development, James Robertson was born in Rutherglen, Scotland, on March 22, 1911, and died in London on December 31, 1988.

Robertson was the eldest child of five in a working-class Scottish family, and left education at 14 to work in a Glasgow steelworks. From 19 to 27 years of age he attended various part-time Glasgow University Extension Courses on literature, history, economics, and philosophy, and in 1939 spent a year at Fircroft College for the Higher Education of Working Men in Birmingham, studying the humanities. From 1941 to 1945 he studied for the External Diploma in Social Studies at London University. In 1946-47 he completed the Mental Health Certificate at the London School of Economics. He trained in the British Psychoanalytical Society, attaining associate membership in 1952, and full membership in 1970. Robertson met his future wife and colleague, Joyce, while studying in Birmingham. A Quaker, he registered as a conscientious objector during the war, and joined his wife to work with Anna Freud as the only male social worker at the Hampstead War Nurseries. He was accepted for psychoanalytic training on the recommendation of Anna Freud, being analyzed by Barbara Lantos.

In 1948 he joined John Bowlby at the Tavistock Clinic to do research on the effects on separation from the mother in early childhood. This research was conducted in children's hospital wards at the time when national policy was weekly visits. He could not forget the unnecessary unhappiness of the children and was concerned at the time that harm was being done. He and his wife made a series of important films illustrating these effects vividly, and actively campaigned for change. Later films, about institutionalization, foster care and substitute mothering, were influential in promoting the use of fostering rather than children's homes.

Robertson's untiring campaigning over 30 years was critically important in changing the United Kingdom National Policy on recognizing and meeting the emotional needs of children in hospital. Parents are now expected to stay with their young children in hospital. The vivid illustration on film of increasing disturbance in young children separated from their families initially shocked many pediatricians and nurses, and Robertson came under attack, but finally, following the first two films, the Platt Report in 1959 recommended that practice should change. In the 1960s, the National Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital was formed, with the help and support of both Robertson and his wife. Robertson's pioneering use of film has been developed using video, particularly by those in the field of attachment, and in recent studies of infant and child development.

Jennifer Johns

See also: Tavistock Clinic.

Bibliography

Robertson, James. (1953). A two-year-old goes to hospital. London: Robertson Centre and Ipswich, Concord Films Council.

. (1958). Going to hospital with mother. London: Robertson Centre and Ipswich, Concord Films Council.

. (1958). Young children in hospital. London: Tavistock Publications.

. (1976). Young children in brief separation, series of five. London, Robertson Centre and Ipswich, Concord Films Council.

. (1989). Separation and the very young. London: Free Association Books.

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Robertson, James

James Robertson, 1742–1814, American frontiersman, a founder of Tennessee, b. Brunswick co., Va. He was reared in North Carolina. After the failure of the Regulator movement, he led (1771) a group of settlers from Orange co., N.C., to Tennessee, where he became a leader of the Watauga Association. In 1779, Robertson explored the Cumberland River country for Richard Henderson and his Transylvania Company and in 1780 began the settlement of Nashborough, later renamed Nashville. Under the Cumberland Compact he became the chief civil and military officer of the community, and his wise leadership was largely responsible for its survival. When the state of Tennessee was organized in 1796, Robertson was prominent in drafting its first constitution. In his later years he served in the state senate (1798) and as agent to the Chickasaw.

See biography by A. W. Putnam (1859, repr. 1971).

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"Robertson, James." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Robertson, James

Robertson, James (b Liverpool, 1912; d Ruabon, N. Wales, 1991). Eng. conductor. Chorusmaster, Carl Rosa Opera 1938–9; on staff Glyndebourne 1937–9; dir. and cond. SW Opera 1946–54; cond. NZ Nat. Broadcasting Orch. 1954–7; Carl Rosa Opera 1958; guest cond. SW Opera 1958–63; mus. dir. NZ Opera 1962–3, 1978–81; dir., London Opera Centre 1964–78. CBE 1969.

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