Yesterday I received the sad news that Jeff Hunt had died. Jeff was an Open University postgraduate research student, and I was one of his supervisors, along with Rose Capdevila. Jeff had a longterm medical condition and suffered from frequent and prolonged bouts of ill health. He told us that doctors often expressed surprise that he had survived so long. Nevertheless, Jeff’s death comes as a profound shock and my thoughts today are with his wife Kate, who supported him in his studies and in so much else, and with their two daughters, to whom Jeff was devoted.
Jeff came from a background in computing but he had developed a passion for psychology and a fascination with psychoanalytic theory, which he was keen to apply to an examination of fatherhood, and particularly the connection between fathering experience and masculine identities. He originally approached Wendy Hollway, then Professor of Psychology at the OU, but since she was unable to take on more PhD students Wendy suggested that he contact me. Like me, Jeff was deeply influenced by Wendy’s work, in particular her application of the ideas of Melanie Klein to the study of identities and relationships, as well as her development of the Free Association Narrative Interview method.
Rose and I enjoyed many stimulating conversations with Jeff about theory and methodology, and a couple of years ago he gave a well-received presentation on his research plans to a postgraduate seminar at Walton Hall. However, Jeff’s health problems meant that he had frequently to suspend his studies for long periods, and every attempt by him to get started on empirical work was eventually frustrated. Not that he let that dampen his enthusiasm. Even during his times in hospital, Jeff would keep on reading, thinking and emailing us with ideas. On one occasion he even carried out a pilot interview with a patient in the next bed. That was the kind of person Jeff was: full of boundless mental energy and determination, and immensely courageous, in the most challenging of personal circumstances.
It was a privilege to know him.