A History of Hengrove

A History of Hengrove

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    by John Hood-Williams

    In a history of Hengrove, something needs to be said about the late Dr Margaret Lowenfeld, since she was connected with the school for a number of years.

    She was a Child Psychiatrist whose home was a few miles away, at Cholesbury, and who practiced in London at the Institute of Child Psychology. From time to time she referred children to Hengrove, or arranged for them to be sent there by Local Education Authorities. These were children with intractable problems at home, whom Dr Lowenfeld considered to need to be away from home in order to be helped. At Hengrove she had a playroom in the grounds, quite separate from the rest of the school, where she saw children for regular psychotherapy.

    She was one of the small but distinguished band of women who pioneered the psychotherapy of children; but whereas Melanie Klein and Anna Freud came to their work with children from backgrounds that were wholly psychoanalytic, Margaret Lowenfeld’s background was in medicine and philosophy. She began her researches into the mental process of children in a spirit of scientific enquiry, and tried as far as it is possible to approach the study without preconceptions or pre-existent theoretical formulations.

    The children she studied produced material that demanded explanation, and the questions they raised in her mind, in the attempt to provide explanations, are matters that are once again central for researchers into child development. The formulations she made many decades ago are still relevant today, in particular her views about the nature of the infant’sthought processes and the inter-connections between thought and affect.

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