Ian Dishart Suttie

Ian Dishart Suttie


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Ian Dishart Suttie, the third of four children, was born in Glasgow in 1898. His father was a general practitioner and both of his brothers and his sister became doctors as well. He qualified from Glasgow University in 1914. After a year he went into psychiatry. (1)

During the First World War he served in Mesopotamia with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). As a result he became interested in the role played in mental illness by social and cultural factors. In 1928 he moved to London where he was employed at the Tavistock Clinic. (2)

Suttie associated himself with a group of British psychiatrists who, while influenced by Sigmund Freud and sympathetic to the analytic cause, also maintained some distance from it. This included John Bowlby, a young doctor who had been trained at University College Hospital and Maudsley Hospital. (3)

Suttie was deeply influenced by the work of Sándor Ferenczi, who believed that what children want first and foremost is to exchange, both to receive and to give, loving tenderness with their parents and other caregivers. Suttie's relational alternative to drive theory focused on the importance of the bond between mother and child. This theory brought him into conflict with his friend, Melanie Klein, who believed in "the instinctual forces of envy and aggression, as the organizing force in development". (4)

Suttie's anthropological interests as well as his experience had led him to believe that his mother rather than the father was of primary importance in the early years. "He believed that all later successful social relationships are both a result of and a compensation for that early secure period of mother/infant pleasure. Suttie's concept of infantile love therefore seems to be wholly benign, and in favourable circumstances capable of straightforward growth into mature relationships." This was very different from Freud's view who believed that the development of mature human love demanded a gradual and difficult reconciliation between the opposing forces of "affection" and "sensuality". (5)

According to Colin Kirkwood, "Ian Suttie created an interpersonal and social-cultural psychology in the 1920s and 30s, one which has been unjustly neglected yet is widely influential." He argued that Suttie "drew deeply on Scottish Christian traditions" of beimg trained in philosophy that enabled him "to challenge Freud's thinking with confidence and authority, without devaluing his contributions." (6)

Suttie proposed a primary bond between mother and child, unrelated to infantile sexuality: (i) The human infant starts out in a state of non-sexual union with the mother. That is the paradigm of love. (ii) The great challenge of psychic development is separation from the mother. The trauma of badly negotiated separation from the love-object gives rise to hate. (iii) The main task of early childhood is coming to terms with independence. (iv) Coming to terms with genital sexuality is not a task of early childhood and the notion of sexual rivalry with the father is a fiction, a construction put on the jealousy of the child confronted with another person who makes claims upon the mother. (v) The great range of human activities including religion, science and culture can be seen as autonomous activities and not derivatives or sublimations of the sexual impulse. (7)

His ideas brought him into direct conflict with Sigmund Freud who believed "that the instinctual drive to maintain constancy and to reduce sexual tensions is the mainspring of later development as reductionist and inaccurate". Suttie believed that the "infant mind was dominated from the beginning by the need to retain the mother, and that this innate need was the motivation which powered all future growth." (8)

Ian Dishart Suttie's book, Origins of Love and Hate, which was at the publishers when he died from a perforated duodenal ulcer in 1935. When it was republished fifty-three years later, John Bowlby, pointed out in the intruction, that the book was "a robust and lucid statement of a paradigm that now leads the way... his ideas never died... They smouldered on, at length to burst into flame... The Origins of Love and Hate stand out as a milestone." (9)

Suttie could not accept Freud's account of the origins of human emotions. He regarded Freud's long-elaborated view that the instinctual drive to maintain constancy and to reduce sexual tensions is the mainspring of later development as reductionist and inaccurate....

Suttie believed that the infant mind was dominated from the beginning by the need to retain the mother, and that this innate need was the motivation which powered all future growth. He appears to assume that the infant has both a capacity and a desire to relate to the mother as a whole object from the beginning.

Suttie made a further radical break from Freud with his view of the mother's role in child rearing. His anthropological interests as well as his experience had led him to believe that his mother rather than the father was of primary importance in the early years. He believed that all later successful social relationships are both a result of and a compensation for that early secure period of mother/infant pleasure.

Suttie's concept of infantile love therefore seems to be wholly benign, and in favourable circumstances capable of straightforward growth into mature relationships. This firmly differentiated him from Freud, who, of course, believed that the development of mature human love demanded a gradual and difficult reconciliation between the opposing forces of "affection" and "sensuality".

(1) Ian Suttie and the Origins of Love and Hate (2nd February, 2011)

(2) David Mann, Love and Hate: Psychoanalytic Perspectives (2002) pages 111-112

(3) Ian R. Whitehead, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(4) Daniel Shaw, Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation (2013) page 122

(5) David Mann, Love and Hate: Psychoanalytic Perspectives (2002) page 111

(6) Colin Kirkwood, The Persons in Relation Perspective: In Counselling, Psychotherapy and Community Adult Learning (2012) page 19

(7) Ian Dishart Suttie, Origins of Love and Hate (1935)

(8) David Mann, Love and Hate: Psychoanalytic Perspectives (2002) page 112

(9) John Bowlby, Origins of Love and Hate (1988) page xvii

John Simkin


Oedipus Schmoedipus

‘I like him’, said one, ‘because he’s manly without being brutal.’ They both agreed that this was as near perfection as one might reasonably expect to find. Fashion girls were much sneered at by us proper artists in Fine Arts, but in this case we thought them spot on. Boys were different from girls and not often up to scratch. We had a brutal one in the Art School. He lurched about the corridors searching for our friend Ingrid, and then he bashed her up. So ‘manly’ was comparatively acceptable and our expectations were limited.

Nothing much changed when we grew up. We thought New Man rather a washout. He hoovered, looked after babies, often wore a bobble-hat in winter, grew a beard and was sensitive, but was he sexy? No. He was a capon. We still preferred manly-without-being-brutal. And manly meant tough – the only alternative available.

So what heaven it was to find a book that explained tough men and why they are still problematic. Eighty years ago Ian Suttie, a Scottish psychiatrist, wrote The Origins of Love and Hate, in which he fiercely criticized Freud’s theories. Freud saw human beings as ‘isolates wrestling with their instincts’, Suttie saw them as dreading isolation, ‘striving from the first to relate to [the] mother, and [their] future mental health turning on the success or failure of this first relationship’. Love was social rather than sexual in its biological function, thought Suttie, and was derived from a ‘self-preservation instinct rather than the genital appetite’.

This was a brave position to take at the time. People were thrilled by Freud’s ideas on the subconscious, involving aggression, death, fathers, sex, sex, sex, and the penis as star of the show. Then along comes Suttie suggesting that mothers are supremely important and the infa

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About the contributor

Michele Hanson was never keen on Freud and never quite understood men, but she was very fond of dogs.


The third son of a Glasgow doctor, Suttie took his medical degree there before joining the staff of the Glasgow Royal Asylum, where he married his wife (and future co-author) Dr. Jane Robertson. He continued to work in Scotland until 1928, when he moved south to join the Tavistock Clinic. [2]

Suttie had served with the RAMC in Mesopotamia in 1918, where he became interested in the anthropology of the mother child bond – an interest confirmed by the influence of Sandor Ferenczi. [3] His writings reveal an ongoing debate with Freud – whose concept of the death drive he rejected as unscientific [4] – over the importance of companionship as against sex in the mother-child relationship: a theme (tinged with Christian thinking) which was to influence the thinking of W. R. D. Fairbairn, and anticipate the work of D. W. Winnicott and John Bowlby. [5] He developed the theme in a series of papers (with his wife) published between 1922 and 1931, which he would subsequently draw upon for his (posthumous) book of 1935. [6]


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Catalogue Persistent Identifier
APA Citation

Suttie, Ian D. (1935). The origins of love and hate. London : K. Paul, Trench, Trubner

MLA Citation

Suttie, Ian D. The origins of love and hate / by Ian D. Suttie, M.D. with a preface by Dr. J. A. Hadfield K. Paul, Trench, Trubner London 1935

Australian/Harvard Citation

Suttie, Ian D. 1935, The origins of love and hate / by Ian D. Suttie, M.D. with a preface by Dr. J. A. Hadfield K. Paul, Trench, Trubner London

Wikipedia Citation
The origins of love and hate / by Ian D. Suttie, M.D. with a preface by Dr. J. A. Hadfield

"Introductory references": p. 9-10.

Pearce collection. File no. 206/17/17.

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050 4 |aBF173.F85 |bS8
082 0 |a131.34
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100 1 |aSuttie, Ian D. |q(Ian Dishart), |d1889-1935.
245 1 4 |aThe origins of love and hate / |cby Ian D. Suttie, M.D. with a preface by Dr. J. A. Hadfield.
260 |aLondon : |bK. Paul, Trench, Trubner, |c1935.
300 |axvi, 275 p. : |bdiagrs. |c23 cm.
504 |a"Introductory references": p. 9-10.
600 1 0 |aFreud, Sigmund, |d1856-1939.
650 0 |aLove.
650 0 |aHate.
650 0 |aPsychoanalysis.
900 |aPearce collection. File no. 206/17/17.

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Ian Dishart Suttie, The Origins of Love and Hate

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Karel Čapek, Letters from England The Gardener’s Year

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Ian Suttie and The Origins of Love and Hate


Ian Dishart Suttie (1898-1935) wrote the book ‘The Origins of Love and Hate’, which was first published in 1935 a few days after his death. He was born in Glasgow and was the third of four children. His father was a general practitioner and Ian Suttie and both of his brothers and his sister became doctors as well. He qualified from Glasgow University in 1914. After a year he went into psychiatry. Although his work has been out of print in England for some years, it is still relevant today. It has been often cited and makes a contribution towards understanding the more difficult aspects of family relationships and friendships. (. )

Although Ian Suttie was working within the tradition set by Freud, there were a lot of concepts of Freud’s theory he disagreed with. First of all, Suttie saw sociability, the craving for companionship, the need to love and be loved, to exchange and to participate, to be as primary as sexuality itself. (. ) Ian Suttie explained anxiety and neurotic maladjustment as a reaction on the failure of finding a response for this sociability when primary social love and tenderness fails to find the response it seeks, the arisen frustration will produce a kind of separation anxiety This view is more clearly illustrated by a piece of writing of Suttie himself: ‘Instead of an armament of instincts, latent or otherwise, the child is born with a simple attachment-to-mother who is the sole source of food and protection… the need for a mother is primarily presented to the child mind as a need for company and as a discomfort in isolation’. (. )

In Suttie’s view, the beginning of the relationship between mother and child is a happy and symbiotic one as well. This happy symbiotic relationship between mother and baby can be disrupted by for example a second baby or the mother returning to work. This makes the infant feel irritable, insecure and anxious. This would be the start of the feeling of ambivalence: feelings of love and hate towards the mother. The child attempts to remove the cause of the anxiety and hate to restore the relationship. This retransforming is necessary, because hate of a loved object (ambivalence) is intolerable. (Wikipedia)


The origins of love and hate introd. by Ashley Montagu. (1952) [Leatherbound] [Reprint]

Suttie, Ian Dishart, 1889-

Published by Pranava Books, 2020

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LeatherBound. Condition: NEW. Leatherbound edition. Condition: New. Leather Binding on Spine and Corners with Golden leaf printing on spine. Reprinted from 1952 edition. NO changes have been made to the original text. This is NOT a retyped or an ocr'd reprint. Illustrations, Index, if any, are included in black and white. Each page is checked manually before printing. As this print on demand book is reprinted from a very old book, there could be some missing or flawed pages, but we always try to make the book as complete as possible. Fold-outs, if any, are not part of the book. If the original book was published in multiple volumes then this reprint is of only one volume, not the whole set. IF YOU WISH TO ORDER PARTICULAR VOLUME OR ALL THE VOLUMES YOU CAN CONTACT US. Sewing binding for longer life, where the book block is actually sewn (smythe sewn/section sewn) with thread before binding which results in a more durable type of binding. THERE MIGHT BE DELAY THAN THE ESTIMATED DELIVERY DATE DUE TO COVID-19. Pages: 296 Language: eng Pages: 296.


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There has been growing interest in recent years around Scottish intellectual history, especially those ideas associated with the Scottish Enlightenment. There has been less attention given to the possible influence of the established church, the Church of Scotland, in this history. Indeed, ‘the Kirk’, when it is mentioned, can be assumed to have imposed a narrow and repressive influence on Scottish life and culture. This article seeks to introduce some nuance to this view. It takes as its starting point, the fact that significant Scottish thinkers have grown up in and have been deeply influenced by their religious upbringings. It begins to explore some of the similarities in the thinking of three Scottish thinkers, the psychoanalyst Ronald Fairbairn, the philosopher John Macmurray and the psychotherapist Ian Suttie, whose lives were contemporaneous. Their ideas all evince a view of humankind, perhaps drawing on their religious beliefs, not as disparate individuals but as members of a community with intentions to carry out good acts.


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