Marion Burgner: Obituary

Anne-Marie Sandler
Wednesday 23 October 1996 00:02

Marion Burgner was an exceptionally astute psychoanalytic clinician and a gifted therapist who was associated with the work of the Anna Freud Centre for more than 25 years.

The centre was established by Anna Freud (Sigmund Freud's youngest daughter) in 1948 as the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic, in response to the demand for greater expertise in the field of child mental health and the treatment of childhood disorders. In 1984 it was renamed the Anna Freud Centre to commemorate its founder. Marion Burgner treated many children and adolescents there. She also taught and undertook research in child development as well as being Head of Clinical Training for many years.

In addition, during the 1970s and 1980s, she worked at the Brent Consultation Centre's walk-in service and became particularly involved in research into adolescent breakdown. She also saw patients for psychotherapy at the Department of Psychological Medicine at University College Hospital, and supervised and taught medical students and junior doctors. More recently, she worked with HIV/AIDS patients at the Tavistock Clinic.

Born Marion Chasek into a Russian Jewish immigrant family, she spent her childhood in East London, and won scholarships to both grammar school and London University. She studied part-time at Birkbeck College, and obtained an honours degree in English while continuing to work full time. Subsequently she also qualified in psychology.

She was accepted for training in psychoanalytic child psychotherapy at the then Hampstead Clinic, and qualified as an adult psychoanalyst at the British Psycho-Analytic Institute in 1976. Since then, besides her commitments in the public sector, she devoted time to her private practice, becoming a much sought-after training analyst.

In the mid-Sixties, she helped edit the correspondence between Sigmund Freud and Karl Abraham, who was her husband's uncle by marriage. She produced a number of seminal papers for professional journals, either alone, or with others, especially her co-worker, Rose Edgcumbe. Her prose was elegant and incisive, reflecting a deep love of the English language. She was recently commissioned by the Contemporary Freudian analysts of the British Psycho-Analytical Society to compile a book looking at the psychoanalytic view of the development through the life cycle. She had already written a comprehensive introduction and chosen papers for inclusion when her illness suddely struck.

Marion Burgner was a vivacious, courageous and determined person, with a prickly crust which hid a deep sensitivity and capacity for friendship. She had a wonderfully dry sense of humour, an exceptionally sharp mind and a love of life. The discovery that she had cancer, some months ago, initially filled her with outrage and despair, but she showed enormous courage and dignity in the face of the inevitable.

Marion Chasek, psychoanalyst: born London 24 June 1930; married 1958 Tom Burgner (two sons); died London 1 October 1996

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