Glover, James (1882-1926)

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GLOVER, JAMES (1882-1926)

English psychoanalyst and physician James Glover was born in Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Six years older than his well-known brother Edward, James was, after Ernest Jones, the most notable British (Scottish) psychoanalyst of his era. As he died prematurely from diabetes at the age of fourty-four, after only eight years of training and practice of psychoanalysis, he left few publications. Had not Ernest Jones devoted eight pages of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis (volume 8, 1926) to his obituary, there would be little record of his life and the name of Glover would exclusively be associated with his younger brother.

James and Edward were the sons of Matthew Glover, country schoolmaster and academic, and Elizabeth Smith Shanks, who came of a farming family. There was a middle brother who died. James was regarded as the genius of the family and Edward as the more pedestrian. James received a fine Scottish education, which stimulated and trained his intellect; throughout his life he maintained his knowledge of science and philosophy. At the same time, he was a writer of short stories and a great reader of literature.

James qualified as a physician and surgeon in Glasgow at the early age of twenty-one. As he was already in poor health, he undertook sea voyages and spent some years in Brazil where he practiced both medicine and surgery. After some ten years his health deteriorated further and he returned to Britain where he practiced chest medicine and ear, nose, and throat surgery.

His philosophical interests turned to psychology and to an interest in Freud. In 1918 he joined the Brunswick Square Clinic, the first psychotherapy center in the United Kingdom, founded by Julia Turner and Dr. Jessie Murray. They practiced an eclectic form of psychotherapy, influenced by Pierre Janet and Dejerine. James underwent a "pseudo-analysis" with Julia Turner and quickly became co-director of the clinic with her after the illness and death of Dr. Murray. He was very active in training psychotherapists at the clinic and was in charge of the rehabilitation of resident patients. But his skeptical and enquiring mind and strict scientific and philosophical outlook soon made him dissatisfied with eclectic psychotherapy and he decided to become a psychoanalyst. In 1920 he attended the Hague Congress of Psychoanalysis and went on to Berlin for some months of analysis with Karl Abraham and returned to him for more analysis the following year. At this time he insisted that psychoanalysis should be the only form of psychotherapy at the Brunswick Square Clinic and persuaded both the patrons and the staff to close the clinic and to transfer its funds and activities to the Psychoanalytic Society. Jones writes that he displayed tact combined with a steel-like resolution in order to get his way. Amongst the psychoanalysts who were drawn to psychotherapy through the Brunswick Square Clinic were Sylvia Payne, Mary Chadwick, Ella Sharpe, Nina Searle, Susan Isaacs, Iseult Grant-Duff, Marjorie Brierley and the Jungian Constance Long.

Glover became an associate member of the newly formed Psychoanalytic Society in 1921, full member 1922, and in 1924 was appointed to the council. He arranged the transfer of the International Library of Psychoanalysis to the Hogarth Press of Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Glover was untiringly active in the Psychoanalytic Society, training, lecturing (particularly on anxiety states), and establishing the clinic of the society, and was its assistant director.

Glover was a fine lecturer and a fierce polemicist, a trait shared with his brother Edward. He was appointed chair of the medical section of the British Psychological Society, which was the meeting ground for psychotherapists of different persuasions. One of his few published papers is his contribution to a symposium "The conception of sexuality" (1925), in which he savagely criticized the contribution of J.A. Hadfield, a leading figure at the Tavistock Clinic. Reading his paper gives a vivid insight into the quality of Glover's mind; he was described by Ernest Jones as lucid, ironic, as a master of metaphor, and a searcher for truth.

Glover hesitated to publish and had to be persuaded. He gave a paper "Notes on an unusual form of perversion", at the 1924 Salzburg Congress and it was published in The International Journal of Psychoanalysis. He gives a clear and rigorous account of the analysis of his patient who was an alcoholic fetishist. Glover showed that there was a marked oral fixation underlying the genital oedipal level: the attitude to the maternal nipple was as a source of pleasure and a focus for oral sadism. He wished to take revenge on the nipple for his weaning and for his mother's betrayal of him through her genital relationship to her husband. The patient's fetishist behavior involved shoes, which represented both the maternal phallus and a disgust for smell, which was a fecal displacement. Particularly interesting is his discussion of the fetish having been established at a phase when clear self-object differentiation had not been established.

Glover died of severe diabetes: Ernest Jones wrote that this was "an inestimable loss" to psychoanalysis.

Malcolm Pines

See also: British Psycho-Analytical Society; Glover, Edward; Great Britain.


Glover, James. (1924). Notes on an unusual form of perversion. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 8, 10-24.

(1925). Contribution to a symposium on the conception of sexuality. British Journal of Psychology, 5,3.

Jones, Ernest. (1927). James Glover, 1882-1926. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 8, 1-9.

Pines, Malcolm. (1991). The development of the psychodynamic movement. In Berios, G.E.; and Freeman H. (Eds.). 150 years of British Psychiatry 1851 to 1991. London: Gaskell-Royal College of Psychiatrists

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Glover, James (1882-1926)

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