Clara M. Thompson and Joseph C. Thompson
Clara M. Thompson
Childhood and Family
Clara Mabel Thompson was born in Providence, Rhode Island on October 3,
1893 (Green, 1964). Her familyÏ€s household was located in a rural area
just outside Providence in which she lived with her immediate as well
as extended family. While the family was financially secure there was
some strife between the maternal and paternal grandparents especially
over religious issues.
Her father, of who she was quite fond, was a highly successful business
man who had climbed his way up the corporate ladder of Blanding and
Blanding, a U.S. based drug company (Green, 1964). On the other hand,
Clara was usually at odds with her mother, the disciplinarian of the
family, who favored Clara's younger brother Frank. Clara spent most of
her childhood as a highly active tomboy. She was well liked among the
other children and spent most of her time engaged in sports and various
When Clara entered high school religion and
scholarly pursuits became a much more important part of her life
(Green, 1964). Her ardor for school was proven beyond a doubt by her
standing at the head of the class in every subject for her entire high
school career, which lasted from 1908 to 1912. Active involvement in
the Baptist youth group known as Christian Endeavor as well as a
self-proclaimed desire to become a medical missionary served to show
her enthusiasm for religion. Christian Endeavor also served as an
outlet for her more active side as she was able to continue many of the
outdoor activities of her youth through this organization despite the
increased intensity of her studies.
After graduating high school Clara entered the premed program at Brown
University's Women's College (Green, 1964). During her years at Brown
she eventually gave up her quest to become a religious missionary and
discontinued her attendance at church. This move away from religious
life caused a great rift between her and her family, especially her
mother who remained distant from her for nearly twenty years. The years
she spent at Brown were largely unhappy, but it wasn't until she
entered Johns Hopkins that she would find the subject of her life's
Thompson came to Johns Hopkins in 1916, but it was in her second year
that she met Lucille Dooley who offered her an introduction to
psychoanalytic concepts (Green, 1964). Due to Thompson 's great
enthusiasm Dooley invited her to work over the summer at St.
Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. It was during her summer at
the hospital that she met William Alanson White, Edward Kempf, and Dr.
Joseph Thompson all of whom helped her along her path towards becoming
By the time she graduated from Hopkins in 1920 she had decided to
specialize in psychiatry (Green, 1964). After doing her internship at
the New York Infirmary for Women and Children she returned to Hopkins
to start a three year residency at the Phipps Clinic under Adolf Meyer.
During her residency at the clinic she also founded her friendship with
Harry Stack Sullivan who would become her confidant and long time
friend. Also during her residency she was given the honor of attending
to Meyer's private patients due to the absence of the doctor to whom
the responsibility usually fell. It was during her last year of
residency that she began her own psychoanalytic treatment under Joseph
Thompson, a situation which lead to a bitter disagreement between
herself and Meyer, and her eventual dismissal from the clinic.
Joining the Field
After leaving Johns Hopkins in 1925
she established a private practice in Baltimore and began teaching
mental hygiene at Vassar (Green, 1964). During this time she devoted
herself almost exclusively to psychiatry and began networking with
others in the field. In 1930 Sullivan organized the
Washington-Baltimore Psychoanalytic Society and she was elected to be
its first president. She continued holding meetings with many of her
colleagues until she left for Budapest in 1931 where she was to undergo
psychoanalysis with Sandor Ferenczi.
This trip to Budapest has been remarked upon as, "the most important
single experience in this period of Clara Thompson's life" (Green,
1964). Her treatment under Ferenczi had actually begun earlier in 1927
when her analysis with Thompson had grown stagnant and she had arranged
to meet Ferenczi, while he was lecturing at the New School in New York,
following a suggestion made by Sullivan. During the time of her
analysis she also exchanged ideas with Ferenczi, who at the time was
becoming more interested in the relationship between the patient and
the analyst. She also discussed Sullivan's ideas with Ferenczi who
found them very similar to his own. On top of all this, Thompson had a
romantic affair with an American businessman who was also undergoing
analysis by Ferenczi. Unfortunately, both the affair and her analysis
ended in 1933 when Ferenczi died.
- Green, Maurice R. (Ed.). (1964). Interpersonal psychoanalysis: The selected papers of Clara M. Thompson. New York: Basic Books Inc.
- Thompson, Clara M. (1950). Psychoanalysis: Evolution and development. New York:
Thomas Nelson & Sons.
- Thompson, Clara M. (1957). The different schools of psychoanalysis. American Journal
of Nursing, 57, 1304-1307.
- Thompson, Clara M. (1953). Towards a psychology of women. Pastoral Psychology, 4
Lecture: Special Effect Cases, Anatomy Of - Quesion and Answer Period
Hubbard discusses Freudian analysis and its shortcomings. He claims he got what he knew about the subject from a chap (Commander Thompson) who listened to Freud for a couple of years.
Now, you'll find, inevitably, some Freudian analysis type
thing run off a case. It's inevitable. But boy, it's so
late on the track that if Freud ever made anybody sane by
getting the time that they saw a little girl with no
clothes on and that made them crazy and Freud made them
realize that this was the case and so forth, and if anybody
turned sane at that point and stayed sane, I've never seen
it. I have never seen it.
I have made people feel better by using straight Freudian
analysis the way I got it from Commander Thompson who
imported it to the US Navy, not via Catherine Horney.
Wonderful pun on that name. Why this person should become
an authority on Freud is beyond me entirely. Crude remark.
Excuse me, ladies. But Freud's a pretty crude subject.
But I got what I knew about Freudian analysis from a chap
who had just talked with and listened to Freud for a couple
of years. You know. And it was fairly straight from the
horse's mouth. And it had factors in it that you don't find
in his books. And also had factors in it which seemed
awfully simple and reasonable. And Freud was much more
interested in association. He was much more interested in
association than he was in sex. And later on in his career
actually did start changing his mind over to social. And he
was getting - he was getting awfully warm; if he'd gone along
for another couple of decades with any enthusiasm at all,
why, he might have really fallen into something.
He had this thing, see, when he talked about creativeness,
he's always talking about artists. See? He's talking about
artists. Only to him being artistic was a dramatization of
being sexual. See, artistry was a dramatization of a
suppressed second dynamic; and an artist became an artist
because he was no fun in bed or something.
That's not true. I've lived with an awful lot of artistic
people and I've listened to an awful lot of their women and
it's just not true that they're in bad shape. It's quite
remarkably the opposite. So I don't think Freud was a very
— L. Ron Hubbard
Lecture 23 July 1958: Special Effect Cases, Anatomy Of - Quesion and Answer Period
Lecture: Question and Answer Period
Hubbard talks about how to use a mimicry process on children, and attributes it to his mentor Commander Thompson. Discusses how Commander Thompson trained cats by rewarding them when they did something good. Recommends mimicry and locational processes and then candy for children.
If a child hurts self, what to do at once and later?"
It all depends on what you mean by "at once." But if you mean
really at once, that's shut up. Child hurts himself, at once you
shut up. Now, try not to say, "Shush, shush, shush" and "Stop it"
and "Keep quiet" to everybody around you. Just shut up. If the
other people are talking, too, why, you sometimes can shove them
away, but don't engage in much persiflage. And you'll find a
child doesn't get stuck all over the track. That's the first
thing you do. And afterwards, why, best thing to do is try to
engage in a little mimicry with him, I found lately.
Nonconversational mimicry. Child looks at you and says... And
finally you look at him and you say... He gets the idea, and
he'll come right out of it.
I've busted a kid out of an engram with about fifteen seconds of
mimicry -- broken him right out of an immediate injury; I mean, a
serious injury. And he came right out of it. Bang! About fifteen
seconds. He did something quite by accident, and I did something,
and he looked at me, and he did something, and I did something,
and he did something, and I did something. Notice I was making
him cause. What he did, he did by accident.
That's a trick I learned from Commander Thompson, by the way. He
used to train cats. It's almost impossible to train a house cat — I mean really train a house cat into doing all sorts of dog
tricks and so forth. He used to be able to do that, and he taught
me how to train cats when I was a kid. He would wait for the cat
to do something and then he'd reward it. And if you don't think
that requires patience! You're going to wait for this cat to do
something that's going to be totally accidental, and then you're
going to approve of it. Wow! Oh, you can just burn up hours and
hours and hours trying to train a cat.
Well, be perfectly prepared to burn up a lot of time doing this
with a kid. You wait for a kid who is injured to make a move.
See? Wave his hand a little bit. Wave your hand a little bit.
Something like this. And so that might look to you as a very slow
route on patching up children.
The processes which work on children are as follows: Mimicry,
Mimicry, Mimicry, Mimicry, Mimicry, and then Locational, and
— L. Ron Hubbard
Lecture 11 Februrary 1957: Question and Answer Period
Lecture: Universe: Basic Definitions
Hubbard discusses his attitude toward mental illness, as well as his interest in measuring (mental) energy. Says Commander Thompson talked to him a great deal about having psychoanalysis. Discusses his relationship and conversations with William Alanson White at St. Elizabeths, apparently before 1938, when he found out there was something wrong with hypnotism.
My father was a naval officer, shipped around various places. Well thought of. It was a calm world. I didn't have any business worrying about this sort of a problem, because it wasn't a personal problem. Whether people went mad or stayed sane was very, very little to me. It meant really nothing. And I figured everything in the world's all nailed down.
Well, here's the very problem of thinkingness itself with which we are dealing continually in the field of science, not nailed down—not even vaguely nailed down. Nobody even adventuring to solve it. Well, how can you go anyplace in the field of physics if you don't know the smallest unit of energy? How small can energy get?
Here was a stumbler. Here was a big idea there—sitting there, of "There must be more in the field of physics than we know about. And if there is so much more in the field of physics than we know about we must be studying one tiny little piece of the spectrum." Therefore, what is the field of physics? It has demonstrated that the human mind evidently uses and stores energy smaller than anything we know about. Well, I went around in circles for a while and threw the whole problem in the ashcan and went on with my studies in an orderly fashion. Perfectly happy to observe Brownian movements and other things.
And I had, however, a little more background on it. Commander Thompson had studied with Freud and he was a good friend of mine and he talked to me a great deal about having psychoanalysis. So I went back and reviewed a bunch of the stuff which he'd talked to me about and studied it over again. Hopeful, you see, that there was some clue there.
Well, there wasn't any clue there. This was not... this was not the sort of orderly thinking which can be embraced by a solid science like physics. And... because physics may have a great many things wrong with it, but it does have this: it of necessity continues to be reasonable. It insists on workability. It won't take wild shots and theories just on their face value. These things have to work. And that is the one thing which physics can contribute. Things have to work in the real universe. You either get an effect or you don't. You can't guess that you get an effect, you see. An engineer building a tunnel can't just guess that he's built a tunnel. When the train goes through the thing, it will either go through a tunnel or hit a solid mountain. And it's not healthy to hit solid mountains with trains. You get fired for having such things happen.
So the point is, is here we have a test of workability, which of course is a whole methodology of thought.
Well, I went over to a fellow over at Saint Elizabeth's, William Allen White. I talked to him for a little while and I became... He was very reasonable fellow, nice guy. He'd been a friend of mine before this, by the way, and a very, very nice fellow. And we were having a very informal discussion this way and that, and he was unfortunate enough however to throw me a few titbits which tended to put me in my place about the field of the human mind, you see.
So I sat down and proved to him that the human mind couldn't possibly remember anything. Demonstrated it to him conclusively. And he looked at this and the man went almost white. He was a very brilliant man. He had no difficulty in assimilating this material. But he had just been presented with the fact that if the mind does run on energy, if it is contained in the body, if neurons do think, if people do remember, if there's life at all, the human brain has very little to do with it.
Well, of course I might very well have upset the man more than necessary because this is not necessarily a horribly world-shaking conclusion, but William Allen White chose to consider it so. And here was the greatest man in his day, on the subject of the human mind, being utterly confounded. Why was he being confounded? He was looking at the scientific methodology of physics suddenly applied to the field of the mind. And of course, it's like taking a bright, sharp, new sword that nobody knew was there and just slicing everything up. It was a great shock.
"Well, you know," he said "if you care to," he said, "you go on with this." He said, "It's out of my depth already." He says, "You realize nobody in medicine is trained in mathematics. Nobody is trained in physics, logic, geometry, energy, any one of these things."
And he said, "What you've got in front of you there seems to prove that the research of the mind itself belongs in the field of mathematics, energy, geometry, not in the field of philosophy and speculation." Quite interesting. He gave up the ghost. I don't think he ever did much more research after that either.
But it wasn't until 1938 that I had any kind of an inkling of what was going on. In 1938 I found out there was something wrong with hypnotism.
— L. Ron Hubbard
Lecture 7 April 1954: Universe: Basic Definitions