Scope and content
┆**Scope and content:** Oral history interview with Harold Bridger
**Name****:** Harold Bridger
**Biographical summary:** Harold Bridger grew up in London, completed a mathematics degree at University College London and started his career in Coventry as a mathematics teacher. During the war he served with the War Office Selection Boards and was subsequently involved in the Second Northfield Experiments, alongside psychoanalysts and consultants such as Wilfred Bion, S.H Foulkes and Tom Main. After the war Bridger became one of the twelve founding members of the Tavistock Institute and began a career as a psychoanalyst and organisational consultant. Bridger’s work largely related to group and working dynamics. He contributed systems and theories such as the ‘double task’ and the 'working conference' approach to a range of commercial organisations.
**Interviewer****:** Craig Fees
**Brief summary of interview**: The interview begins with Bridger discussing how he had helped Tom Main when he was first setting up the Cassel Hospital after the Second World War. This then leads to Bridger discussing the importance of networks and his relationships with Pearl King, Lisl Klein, Richard Jones, various family members, the wider Jewish community and other contacts in America and Australia. The conversation then moves to a further discussion of his relationship with Tom Main, the Cassel and then Mill Hill, Maxwell Jones and closed systems.
The interview then moves into discussing how Bridger transitioned from a career in Mathematics, to the army and then into psychoanalysis and the creation of the Tavistock Institute. Bridger talks in detail about his experience of psychoanalytic training and the influences he had during this time, such as Anna Freud, Melanie Klein and Bridger’s training analyst Paula Heiman.
The interviewer then mentions both Sue Matoff and Rolf Linton to Bridger, with a short discussion on each of these associations. The interviewer then directs to the conversation to a discussion of the living situation for staff at Northfield and then more widely the residential aspect of therapeutic communities and Bridger’s experience of this. Bridger then discusses his relationship with both Marjorie Franklin and Donald Winnicott. The conversation then circles back to discussing Bridger’s psychoanalytic influences and lecturers in training, such as Anna Freud and Susan Isaacs.
Bridger then leads the interview into a discussion of the influential role of women in the psychoanalytic community, leading to a wider conversation of the early psychoanalytic thought, practitioners and community before the Second World War.
The final stages of the interview include Bridger discussing some of his international contacts, including in Egypt, where he conducted number of seminars. Bridger then goes on to discuss his experience of being Jewish in relation to his identity, career and relationships. Bridger also recounts an incident of antisemitism he experienced in the army cadets.
The interview ends with Bridger discussing on record the proposed arrangement for the interviewer Craig Fees to take Bridger’s archival records from his family garage. Bridger mentions how Peal King had removed her records from the boxes and mentions that some of Eric Trist’s records are still within the boxes.
**Date of recording****:** 12 February 2002
**Recording length****:** 59:24, 28:58, 46:08, 21:04, 18:52