John Rawlings Rees, Deputy Director of the Tavistock Institute for Medical Psychology, Speaks of Infiltration and Subversion of Education, Religion, Law, and Medicine

Printed in MENTAL HEALTH, vol. 1, no. 4, October 1940, one finds a speech by John Rawlings Rees (deputy director of the Tavistock Institute for Medical Psychology – begun in 1920) from June 18, 1940, in which he revealed:

“We can therefore justifiably stress our particular point of view with regard to the proper development of the human psyche, even though our knowledge be incomplete. We must aim to make it permeate every educational activity in our national life…. Public life, politics and industry should all of them be within our sphere of influence….Especially since the last world war we have done much to infiltrate the various social organizations throughout the country….Similarly we have made a useful attack upon a number of professions.

The two easiest of them naturally are the teaching profession and the Church: the two most difficult are law and medicine…. If we are to infiltrate the professional and social activities of other people, I think we must imitate the Totalitarian and organize some kind of fifth column activity! If better ideas on mental health are to progress and spread we, as the salesmen, must lose our identity….Let us all, therefore, very secretly be ‘fifth columnists.’…We have often been too spasmodic in our work and I feel we need a long-term plan of propaganda….I doubt the wisdom of a direct attack upon the existing state of affairs; even though there is a war on, that would still raise opposition, whereas the more insidious approach of suggesting that something better is needed—‘why shouldn’t we try so and so’—is more likely to succeed….Many people don’t like to be ‘saved’, ‘changed’ or made healthy. I have a feeling, however, that ‘efficiency and economy’ would make rather a good appeal because there are very few people who would not welcome these two suggestions.”

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