The image immediately below: Researcher Paul Griffiths, PETT's final researcher; sitting at the first piece of furniture bought by the fledgling Archive a quarter of a century ago (salvage from the sea of financial renewal in Eastern Europe); bought for the use of the first researchers, and used by generations of researchers since.


paul griffithsDecember 9, 2018. As we enter into the final week of PETT's stewardship of the history of therapeutic communities, environments, and progressive/democratic/alternative education, the milestones become increasingly significant.

Our first researcher over a quarter of a century ago was the German student Axel Kuhn, studying A.S. Neill, the founder of Summerhill School (still thriving, and about to set up an archive of their own!). Our final researcher brings a convergence which approaches the exquisite.

Paul Griffiths' subject is John Layard, anthropologist and analytical psychologist, and devotee of Little Commonwealth founder and precocious psychoanalytically-informed therapist Homer Lane.

The Little Commonwealth inspired A.S. Neill; Homer Lane saved the psychological and emotional life of his client John Layard. In the swirl of people around Layard and the conversation between Archivist and Researcher are W.H. Auden,  W.H.R. Rivers (of Craiglockhart Asylum, therapist of Siegfried Sassoon; subject of Pat Barker's "Regeneration" trilogy), Winnicott, Northfield, Finchden, David Wills, Withymead, Harry Wilmer, and at every turn in the hour-plus of pre-research discussion, another surprising connection with therapeutic community and people and places represented in the Archive.

Emerging from that rich flow of associations is another which - for an archive based in the ethnological tradition, and gathering and expressing the history and practice of planned environment therapy/therapeutic community (reference our GDPR statement) - is still another pleasing association:  Layard's place in the history of this approach to people, societies, and cultures:

"Layard in Atchin [according to Wikipedia] and his contemporary Bronisław Malinowski in the Trobriand Islands of New Guinea were the first modern anthropologists to use what is today called participant observation methods in ethnographic research."

Malinowski! And not far away in the Archive Library and collections are Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, and of course Robert Rapaport of Henderson Hospital/"Community as Doctor" fame - social anthropogists whose lives and work influenced and interacted with the cultures of therapeutic communities. And did we mention anthropologist Neil Armstrong of Oxford University, whose work with and at the Archive on mental health provision in Oxford had its first public outing, in the Psychiatric Bulletin, earlier this year? Have a look at "What leads to innovation in mental health care? Reflections on clinical expertise in a bureaucratic age", and trace the lineage back.

Now very, very excited to see Paul Griffiths' book! Hurry, Paul!


layards knife
Photograph above: The beauty of material culture: John Layard's own pocket knife, carried with him on his expedition to the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) in 1914, and - razor sharp - loaned there for circumcision rituals. Now accompanying the Researcher everywhwere.