John Derg Sutherland

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John Derg Sutherland CBE FRSE (23 April 1905 – 14 June 1991), also known as Jock Sutherland, was a Scottish physician, psychoanalyst and theorist, notable also for his role as Medical Director of the Tavistock Clinic.

Life and career[edit]

John "Jock" Derg Sutherland was born in Edinburgh on 23 April 1905,[1] the sixth of eight children. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow.

As a psychiatrist in Edinburgh, Sutherland undertook a training analysis with Ronald Fairbairn. In 1935, aged 30, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His proposers were James Drever, Sir Godfrey Thomson, W. R. D. Fairbairn and Francis Albert Eley Crew.[2]

At the onset of World War II he moved to a psychiatric unit in Glasgow, expecting a wave of mentally scarred soldiers.[3] In 1941 he briefly joined the Royal Army Medical Corps.[4]

In 1942 he moved to London to work at the Tavistock Clinic, serving as its Director from 1947-68. From 1968 to 1974 he worked at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, contributing psychodynamic principles to the general psychiatric training.

He published a number of articles on psychoanalytic subjects, from object relations theory to group therapy, both singly and co-authored; as well as having an extensive private practice.[5]

Among the colleagues he worked with, and whose careers he fostered, were Harry Guntrip, Charles Rycroft and R. D. Laing.[6]

His work in the United States played a significant part in opening up ego psychology to the object relations tradition.[7]

After his return to Edinburgh in 1968, he was instrumental in the formation in 1972 of the Scottish Institute of Human Relations, SIHR, which became a sister 'outpost' north of the border, of the Tavistock Clinic, London, and was sometimes referred to as the 'MacTavi'.[8] The Scottish Institute had offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow and was finally dissolved in 2013 after over forty years of operation as a professional body.

Sutherland died in Edinburgh on 14 June 1991.


  • Fairbairn's Journey into the Interior (1989)
  • The Autonomous Self (1994)

Sutherland's biography of John Buchan examines the theme of autonomy and compliance as explored in Buchan's writings.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Obholzer, Anton (1992). "John Derg Sutherland (25 April 1905–14 June 1991)". Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. 6 (2): 181–182. doi:10.1080/02668739200700411.
  2. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  3. ^ Obholzer, Anton (1992). "John Derg Sutherland (25 April 1905–14 June 1991)". Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. 6 (2): 181–182. doi:10.1080/02668739200700411.
  4. ^ Haldane, Douglas; Trist, Eric (1992). "Jock Sutherland CBE, BSc, PhD, MBChB, FRCPE, FRCPsych, DPM". British Journal of Medical Psychology. 65: 1–4. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8341.1992.tb01677.x. PMID 1571302.
  5. ^ J. Scharff, The Psychodynamic Image (2005) p. x.
  6. ^ R. D. Laing, The Divided Self (2010) Preface.
  7. ^ The Autonomous Self
  8. ^ "Mental Health in Scotland 2011– 2015" (PDF). The Scottish Institute of Human Relations. 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2016
  9. ^ J. Scharff ed., The Autonomous Self (1994) p. 364.

External links[edit]