Who was Sigmund Freud?

Introduction

Sigmund Freud (born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 06 May 1856 to 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst.

Freud was born to Galician Jewish parents in the Moravian town of Freiberg, in the Austrian Empire. He qualified as a doctor of medicine in 1881 at the University of Vienna. Upon completing his habilitation in 1885, he was appointed a docent in neuropathology and became an affiliated professor in 1902. Freud lived and worked in Vienna, having set up his clinical practice there in 1886. In 1938, Freud left Austria to escape Nazi persecution. He died in exile in the United Kingdom in 1939.

In founding psychoanalysis, Freud developed therapeutic techniques such as the use of free association and discovered transference, establishing its central role in the analytic process. Freud’s redefinition of sexuality to include its infantile forms led him to formulate the Oedipus complex as the central tenet of psychoanalytical theory. His analysis of dreams as wish-fulfilments provided him with models for the clinical analysis of symptom formation and the underlying mechanisms of repression. On this basis, Freud elaborated his theory of the unconscious and went on to develop a model of psychic structure comprising id, ego and super-ego. Freud postulated the existence of libido, sexualised energy with which mental processes and structures are invested and which generates erotic attachments, and a death drive, the source of compulsive repetition, hate, aggression, and neurotic guilt. In his later works, Freud developed a wide-ranging interpretation and critique of religion and culture.

Though in overall decline as a diagnostic and clinical practice, psychoanalysis remains influential within psychology, psychiatry, and psychotherapy, and across the humanities. It thus continues to generate extensive and highly contested debate concerning its therapeutic efficacy, its scientific status, and whether it advances or hinders the feminist cause. Nonetheless, Freud’s work has suffused contemporary Western thought and popular culture. W.H. Auden’s 1940 poetic tribute to Freud describes him as having created “a whole climate of opinion / under whom we conduct our different lives”.

Biography

Early Life and Education

Freud was born to Jewish parents in the Moravian town of Freiberg, in the Austrian Empire (now Příbor, Czech Republic), the first of eight children. Both of his parents were from Galicia, a historic province straddling modern-day West Ukraine and southeast Poland. His father, Jakob Freud (1815-1896), a wool merchant, had two sons, Emanuel (1833-1914) and Philipp (1836-1911), by his first marriage. Jakob’s family were Hasidic Jews and, although Jakob himself had moved away from the tradition, he came to be known for his Torah study. He and Freud’s mother, Amalia Nathansohn, who was 20 years younger and his third wife, were married by Rabbi Isaac Noah Mannheimer on 29 July 1855. They were struggling financially and living in a rented room, in a locksmith’s house at Schlossergasse 117 when their son Sigmund was born. He was born with a caul, which his mother saw as a positive omen for the boy’s future.

In 1859, the Freud family left Freiberg. Freud’s half-brothers immigrated to Manchester, England, parting him from the “inseparable” playmate of his early childhood, Emanuel’s son, John. Jakob Freud took his wife and two children (Freud’s sister, Anna, was born in 1858; a brother, Julius born in 1857, had died in infancy) firstly to Leipzig and then in 1860 to Vienna where four sisters and a brother were born: Rosa (b. 1860), Marie (b. 1861), Adolfine (b. 1862), Paula (b. 1864), Alexander (b. 1866). In 1865, the nine-year-old Freud entered the Leopoldstädter Kommunal-Realgymnasium, a prominent high school. He proved to be an outstanding pupil and graduated from the Matura in 1873 with honours. He loved literature and was proficient in German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Latin and Greek.

Freud entered the University of Vienna at age 17. He had planned to study law, but joined the medical faculty at the university, where his studies included philosophy under Franz Brentano, physiology under Ernst Brücke, and zoology under Darwinist professor Carl Claus. In 1876, Freud spent four weeks at Claus’s zoological research station in Trieste, dissecting hundreds of eels in an inconclusive search for their male reproductive organs. In 1877 Freud moved to Ernst Brücke’s physiology laboratory where he spent six years comparing the brains of humans and other vertebrates with those of frogs and invertebrates such as crayfish and lampreys. His research work on the biology of nervous tissue proved seminal for the subsequent discovery of the neuron in the 1890s. Freud’s research work was interrupted in 1879 by the obligation to undertake a year’s compulsory military service. The lengthy downtimes enabled him to complete a commission to translate four essays from John Stuart Mill’s collected works. He graduated with an MD in March 1881.

Early Career and Marriage

In 1882, Freud began his medical career at the Vienna General Hospital. His research work in cerebral anatomy led to the publication of an influential paper on the palliative effects of cocaine in 1884 and his work on aphasia would form the basis of his first book On Aphasia: A Critical Study, published in 1891. Over a three-year period, Freud worked in various departments of the hospital. His time spent in Theodor Meynert’s psychiatric clinic and as a locum in a local asylum led to an increased interest in clinical work. His substantial body of published research led to his appointment as a university lecturer or docent in neuropathology in 1885, a non-salaried post but one which entitled him to give lectures at the University of Vienna.

In 1886, Freud resigned his hospital post and entered private practice specializing in “nervous disorders”. The same year he married Martha Bernays, the granddaughter of Isaac Bernays, a chief rabbi in Hamburg. They had six children: Mathilde (b. 1887), Jean-Martin (b. 1889), Oliver (b. 1891), Ernst (b. 1892), Sophie (b. 1893), and Anna (b. 1895). From 1891 until they left Vienna in 1938, Freud and his family lived in an apartment at Berggasse 19, near Innere Stadt, a historical district of Vienna.

In 1896, Minna Bernays, Martha Freud’s sister, became a permanent member of the Freud household after the death of her fiancé. The close relationship she formed with Freud led to rumours, started by Carl Jung, of an affair. The discovery of a Swiss hotel guest-book entry for 13 August 1898, signed by Freud whilst travelling with his sister-in-law, has been presented as evidence of the affair.

Freud began smoking tobacco at age 24; initially a cigarette smoker, he became a cigar smoker. He believed smoking enhanced his capacity to work and that he could exercise self-control in moderating it. Despite health warnings from colleague Wilhelm Fliess, he remained a smoker, eventually suffering a buccal cancer.[29] Freud suggested to Fliess in 1897 that addictions, including that to tobacco, were substitutes for masturbation, “the one great habit.”

Freud had greatly admired his philosophy tutor, Brentano, who was known for his theories of perception and introspection. Brentano discussed the possible existence of the unconscious mind in his Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (1874). Although Brentano denied its existence, his discussion of the unconscious probably helped introduce Freud to the concept. Freud owned and made use of Charles Darwin’s major evolutionary writings, and was also influenced by Eduard von Hartmann’s The Philosophy of the Unconscious (1869). Other texts of importance to Freud were by Fechner and Herbart, with the latter’s Psychology as Science arguably considered to be of underrated significance in this respect. Freud also drew on the work of Theodor Lipps, who was one of the main contemporary theorists of the concepts of the unconscious and empathy.

Though Freud was reluctant to associate his psychoanalytic insights with prior philosophical theories, attention has been drawn to analogies between his work and that of both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. In 1908 Freud said that he occasionally read Nietzsche, and had a strong fascination for his writings, but did not study him, because he found Nietzsche’s “intuitive insights” resembled too much his own work at the time, and also because he was overwhelmed by the “wealth of ideas” he encountered when he read Nietzsche. Freud sometimes would deny the influence of Nietzsche’s ideas. One historian quotes Peter L. Rudnytsky, who says that based on Freud’s correspondence with his adolescent friend Eduard Silberstein, Freud read Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy and probably the first two of the Untimely Meditations when he was seventeen. In 1900, the year of Nietzsche’s death, Freud bought his collected works; he told his friend, Fliess, that he hoped to find in Nietzsche’s works “the words for much that remains mute in me.” Later, he said he had not yet opened them. Freud came to treat Nietzsche’s writings “as texts to be resisted far more than to be studied.” His interest in philosophy declined after he had decided on a career in neurology.

Freud read William Shakespeare in English throughout his life, and it has been suggested that his understanding of human psychology may have been partially derived from Shakespeare’s plays.

Freud’s Jewish origins and his allegiance to his secular Jewish identity were of significant influence in the formation of his intellectual and moral outlook, especially concerning his intellectual non-conformism, as he was the first to point out in his Autobiographical Study. They would also have a substantial effect on the content of psychoanalytic ideas, particularly in respect of their common concerns with depth interpretation and “the bounding of desire by law”.

Development of Psychoanalysis

In October 1885, Freud went to Paris on a three-month fellowship to study with Jean-Martin Charcot, a renowned neurologist who was conducting scientific research into hypnosis. He was later to recall the experience of this stay as catalytic in turning him toward the practice of medical psychopathology and away from a less financially promising career in neurology research. Charcot specialised in the study of hysteria and susceptibility to hypnosis, which he frequently demonstrated with patients on stage in front of an audience.

Once he had set up in private practice back in Vienna in 1886, Freud began using hypnosis in his clinical work. He adopted the approach of his friend and collaborator, Josef Breuer, in a type of hypnosis that was different from the French methods he had studied, in that it did not use suggestion. The treatment of one particular patient of Breuer’s proved to be transformative for Freud’s clinical practice. Described as Anna O., she was invited to talk about her symptoms while under hypnosis (she would coin the phrase “talking cure” for her treatment). In the course of talking in this way, her symptoms became reduced in severity as she retrieved memories of traumatic incidents associated with their onset.

The inconsistent results of Freud’s early clinical work eventually led him to abandon hypnosis, having concluded that more consistent and effective symptom relief could be achieved by encouraging patients to talk freely, without censorship or inhibition, about whatever ideas or memories occurred to them. In conjunction with this procedure, which he called “free association”, Freud found that patients’ dreams could be fruitfully analysed to reveal the complex structuring of unconscious material and to demonstrate the psychic action of repression which, he had concluded, underlay symptom formation. By 1896 he was using the term “psychoanalysis” to refer to his new clinical method and the theories on which it was base

Freud’s development of these new theories took place during a period in which he experienced heart irregularities, disturbing dreams and periods of depression, a “neurasthenia” which he linked to the death of his father in 1896 and which prompted a “self-analysis” of his own dreams and memories of childhood. His explorations of his feelings of hostility to his father and rivalrous jealousy over his mother’s affections led him to fundamentally revise his theory of the origin of the neuroses.

Based on his early clinical work, Freud had postulated that unconscious memories of sexual molestation in early childhood were a necessary precondition for the psychoneuroses (hysteria and obsessional neurosis), a formulation now known as Freud’s seduction theory. In the light of his self-analysis, Freud abandoned the theory that every neurosis can be traced back to the effects of infantile sexual abuse, now arguing that infantile sexual scenarios still had a causative function, but it did not matter whether they were real or imagined and that in either case, they became pathogenic only when acting as repressed memories.

This transition from the theory of infantile sexual trauma as a general explanation of how all neuroses originate to one that presupposes autonomous infantile sexuality provided the basis for Freud’s subsequent formulation of the theory of the Oedipus complex.

Freud described the evolution of his clinical method and set out his theory of the psychogenetic origins of hysteria, demonstrated in several case histories, in Studies on Hysteria published in 1895 (co-authored with Josef Breuer). In 1899 he published The Interpretation of Dreams in which, following a critical review of existing theory, Freud gives detailed interpretations of his own and his patients’ dreams in terms of wish-fulfilments made subject to the repression and censorship of the “dream-work”. He then sets out the theoretical model of mental structure (the unconscious, pre-conscious and conscious) on which this account is based. An abridged version, On Dreams, was published in 1901. In works that would win him a more general readership, Freud applied his theories outside the clinical setting in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901) and Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious (1905). In Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, published in 1905, Freud elaborates his theory of infantile sexuality, describing its “polymorphous perverse” forms and the functioning of the “drives”, to which it gives rise, in the formation of sexual identity. The same year he published Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, which became one of his more famous and controversial case studies.

Relationship with Fliess

During this formative period of his work, Freud valued and came to rely on the intellectual and emotional support of his friend Wilhelm Fliess, a Berlin-based ear, nose, and throat specialist whom he had first met in 1887. Both men saw themselves as isolated from the prevailing clinical and theoretical mainstream because of their ambitions to develop radical new theories of sexuality. Fliess developed highly eccentric theories of human biorhythms and a nasogenital connection which are today considered pseudoscientific. He shared Freud’s views on the importance of certain aspects of sexuality – masturbation, coitus interruptus, and the use of condoms – in the aetiology of what was then called the “actual neuroses,” primarily neurasthenia and certain physically manifested anxiety symptoms. They maintained an extensive correspondence from which Freud drew on Fliess’s speculations on infantile sexuality and bisexuality to elaborate and revise his own ideas. His first attempt at a systematic theory of the mind, his Project for a Scientific Psychology was developed as a metapsychology with Fliess as interlocutor. However, Freud’s efforts to build a bridge between neurology and psychology were eventually abandoned after they had reached an impasse, as his letters to Fliess reveal, though some ideas of the Project were to be taken up again in the concluding chapter of The Interpretation of Dreams.

Freud had Fliess repeatedly operate on his nose and sinuses to treat “nasal reflex neurosis”, and subsequently referred his patient Emma Eckstein to him. According to Freud, her history of symptoms included severe leg pains with consequent restricted mobility, as well as stomach and menstrual pains. These pains were, according to Fliess’s theories, caused by habitual masturbation which, as the tissue of the nose and genitalia were linked, was curable by removal of part of the middle turbinate. Fliess’s surgery proved disastrous, resulting in profuse, recurrent nasal bleeding; he had left a half-metre of gauze in Eckstein’s nasal cavity whose subsequent removal left her permanently disfigured. At first, though aware of Fliess’s culpability and regarding the remedial surgery in horror, Freud could bring himself only to intimate delicately in his correspondence with Fliess the nature of his disastrous role, and in subsequent letters maintained a tactful silence on the matter or else returned to the face-saving topic of Eckstein’s hysteria. Freud ultimately, in light of Eckstein’s history of adolescent self-cutting and irregular nasal (and menstrual) bleeding, concluded that Fliess was “completely without blame”, as Eckstein’s post-operative haemorrhages were hysterical “wish-bleedings” linked to “an old wish to be loved in her illness” and triggered as a means of “rearousing [Freud’s] affection”. Eckstein nonetheless continued her analysis with Freud. She was restored to full mobility and went on to practice psychoanalysis herself.

Freud, who had called Fliess “the Kepler of biology”, later concluded that a combination of a homoerotic attachment and the residue of his “specifically Jewish mysticism” lay behind his loyalty to his Jewish friend and his consequent over-estimation of both his theoretical and clinical work. Their friendship came to an acrimonious end with Fliess angry at Freud’s unwillingness to endorse his general theory of sexual periodicity and accusing him of collusion in the plagiarism of his work. After Fliess failed to respond to Freud’s offer of collaboration over the publication of his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality in 1906, their relationship came to an end.

Early followers

In 1902, Freud, at last, realised his long-standing ambition to be made a university professor. The title “professor extraordinarius” was important to Freud for the recognition and prestige it conferred, there being no salary or teaching duties attached to the post (he would be granted the enhanced status of “professor ordinarius” in 1920). Despite support from the university, his appointment had been blocked in successive years by the political authorities and it was secured only with the intervention of one of his more influential ex-patients, a Baroness Marie Ferstel, who (supposedly) had to bribe the minister of education with a valuable painting.

With his prestige thus enhanced, Freud continued with the regular series of lectures on his work which, since the mid-1880s as a docent of Vienna University, he had been delivering to small audiences every Saturday evening at the lecture hall of the university’s psychiatric clinic.

From the autumn of 1902, a number of Viennese physicians who had expressed interest in Freud’s work were invited to meet at his apartment every Wednesday afternoon to discuss issues relating to psychology and neuropathology. This group was called the Wednesday Psychological Society (Psychologische Mittwochs-Gesellschaft) and it marked the beginnings of the worldwide psychoanalytic movement.

Freud founded this discussion group at the suggestion of the physician Wilhelm Stekel. Stekel had studied medicine at the University of Vienna under Richard von Krafft-Ebing. His conversion to psychoanalysis is variously attributed to his successful treatment by Freud for a sexual problem or as a result of his reading The Interpretation of Dreams, to which he subsequently gave a positive review in the Viennese daily newspaper Neues Wiener Tagblatt.

The other three original members whom Freud invited to attend, Alfred Adler, Max Kahane, and Rudolf Reitler, were also physicians and all five were Jewish by birth. Both Kahane and Reitler were childhood friends of Freud. Kahane had attended the same secondary school and both he and Reitler went to university with Freud. They had kept abreast of Freud’s developing ideas through their attendance at his Saturday evening lectures. In 1901, Kahane, who first introduced Stekel to Freud’s work, had opened an out-patient psychotherapy institute of which he was the director in Bauernmarkt, in Vienna. In the same year, his medical textbook, Outline of Internal Medicine for Students and Practicing Physicians, was published. In it, he provided an outline of Freud’s psychoanalytic method. Kahane broke with Freud and left the Wednesday Psychological Society in 1907 for unknown reasons and in 1923 committed suicide. Reitler was the director of an establishment providing thermal cures in Dorotheergasse which had been founded in 1901. He died prematurely in 1917. Adler, regarded as the most formidable intellect among the early Freud circle, was a socialist who in 1898 had written a health manual for the tailoring trade. He was particularly interested in the potential social impact of psychiatry.

Max Graf, a Viennese musicologist and father of “Little Hans”, who had first encountered Freud in 1900 and joined the Wednesday group soon after its initial inception, described the ritual and atmosphere of the early meetings of the society:

The gatherings followed a definite ritual. First one of the members would present a paper. Then, black coffee and cakes were served; cigars and cigarettes were on the table and were consumed in great quantities. After a social quarter of an hour, the discussion would begin. The last and decisive word was always spoken by Freud himself. There was the atmosphere of the foundation of a religion in that room. Freud himself was its new prophet who made the heretofore prevailing methods of psychological investigation appear superficial.

By 1906, the group had grown to sixteen members, including Otto Rank, who was employed as the group’s paid secretary. In the same year, Freud began a correspondence with Carl Gustav Jung who was by then already an academically acclaimed researcher into word-association and the Galvanic Skin Response, and a lecturer at Zurich University, although still only an assistant to Eugen Bleuler at the Burghölzli Mental Hospital in Zürich. In March 1907, Jung and Ludwig Binswanger, also a Swiss psychiatrist, travelled to Vienna to visit Freud and attend the discussion group. Thereafter, they established a small psychoanalytic group in Zürich. In 1908, reflecting its growing institutional status, the Wednesday group was reconstituted as the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society with Freud as president, a position he relinquished in 1910 in favour of Adler in the hope of neutralising his increasingly critical standpoint.

The first woman member, Margarete Hilferding, joined the Society in 1910 and the following year she was joined by Tatiana Rosenthal and Sabina Spielrein who were both Russian psychiatrists and graduates of the Zürich University medical school. Before the completion of her studies, Spielrein had been a patient of Jung at the Burghölzli and the clinical and personal details of their relationship became the subject of an extensive correspondence between Freud and Jung. Both women would go on to make important contributions to the work of the Russian Psychoanalytic Society founded in 1910.

Freud’s early followers met together formally for the first time at the Hotel Bristol, Salzburg on 27 April 1908. This meeting, which was retrospectively deemed to be the first International Psychoanalytic Congress, was convened at the suggestion of Ernest Jones, then a London-based neurologist who had discovered Freud’s writings and begun applying psychoanalytic methods in his clinical work. Jones had met Jung at a conference the previous year and they met up again in Zürich to organise the Congress. There were, as Jones records, “forty-two present, half of whom were or became practicing analysts.” In addition to Jones and the Viennese and Zürich contingents accompanying Freud and Jung, also present and notable for their subsequent importance in the psychoanalytic movement were Karl Abraham and Max Eitingon from Berlin, Sándor Ferenczi from Budapest and the New York-based Abraham Brill.

Important decisions were taken at the Congress to advance the impact of Freud’s work. A journal, the Jahrbuch für psychoanalytische und psychopathologishe Forschungen, was launched in 1909 under the editorship of Jung. This was followed in 1910 by the monthly Zentralblatt für Psychoanalyse edited by Adler and Stekel, in 1911 by Imago, a journal devoted to the application of psychoanalysis to the field of cultural and literary studies edited by Rank and in 1913 by the Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, also edited by Rank. Plans for an international association of psychoanalysts were put in place and these were implemented at the Nuremberg Congress of 1910 where Jung was elected, with Freud’s support, as its first president.

Freud turned to Brill and Jones to further his ambition to spread the psychoanalytic cause in the English-speaking world. Both were invited to Vienna following the Salzburg Congress and a division of labour was agreed with Brill given the translation rights for Freud’s works, and Jones, who was to take up a post at the University of Toronto later in the year, tasked with establishing a platform for Freudian ideas in North American academic and medical life. Jones’s advocacy prepared the way for Freud’s visit to the United States, accompanied by Jung and Ferenczi, in September 1909 at the invitation of Stanley Hall, president of Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, where he gave five lectures on psychoanalysis.

The event, at which Freud was awarded an Honorary Doctorate, marked the first public recognition of Freud’s work and attracted widespread media interest. Freud’s audience included the distinguished neurologist and psychiatrist James Jackson Putnam, Professor of Diseases of the Nervous System at Harvard, who invited Freud to his country retreat where they held extensive discussions over a period of four days. Putnam’s subsequent public endorsement of Freud’s work represented a significant breakthrough for the psychoanalytic cause in the United States. When Putnam and Jones organised the founding of the American Psychoanalytic Association in May 1911 they were elected president and secretary respectively. Brill founded the New York Psychoanalytic Society the same year. His English translations of Freud’s work began to appear from 1909.

Resignations from the IPA

Some of Freud’s followers subsequently withdrew from the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) and founded their own schools.

From 1909, Adler’s views on topics such as neurosis began to differ markedly from those held by Freud. As Adler’s position appeared increasingly incompatible with Freudianism, a series of confrontations between their respective viewpoints took place at the meetings of the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society in January and February 1911. In February 1911, Adler, then the president of the society, resigned his position. At this time, Stekel also resigned from his position as vice president of the society. Adler finally left the Freudian group altogether in June 1911 to found his own organization with nine other members who had also resigned from the group. This new formation was initially called Society for Free Psychoanalysis but it was soon renamed the Society for Individual Psychology. In the period after World War I, Adler became increasingly associated with a psychological position he devised called individual psychology.

In 1912, Jung published Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (published in English in 1916 as Psychology of the Unconscious) making it clear that his views were taking a direction quite different from those of Freud. To distinguish his system from psychoanalysis, Jung called it analytical psychology. Anticipating the final breakdown of the relationship between Freud and Jung, Ernest Jones initiated the formation of a Secret Committee of loyalists charged with safeguarding the theoretical coherence and institutional legacy of the psychoanalytic movement. Formed in the autumn of 1912, the Committee comprised Freud, Jones, Abraham, Ferenczi, Rank, and Hanns Sachs. Max Eitingon joined the committee in 1919. Each member pledged himself not to make any public departure from the fundamental tenets of psychoanalytic theory before he had discussed his views with the others. After this development, Jung recognised that his position was untenable and resigned as editor of the Jarhbuch and then as president of the IPA in April 1914. The Zürich Society withdrew from the IPA the following July.

Later the same year, Freud published a paper entitled “The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement”, the German original being first published in the Jahrbuch, giving his view on the birth and evolution of the psychoanalytic movement and the withdrawal of Adler and Jung from it.

The final defection from Freud’s inner circle occurred following the publication in 1924 of Rank’s The Trauma of Birth which other members of the committee read as, in effect, abandoning the Oedipus Complex as the central tenet of psychoanalytic theory. Abraham and Jones became increasingly forceful critics of Rank and though he and Freud were reluctant to end their close and long-standing relationship the break finally came in 1926 when Rank resigned from his official posts in the IPA and left Vienna for Paris. His place on the Committee was taken by Anna Freud. Rank eventually settled in the United States where his revisions of Freudian theory were to influence a new generation of therapists uncomfortable with the orthodoxies of the IPA.

Early Psychoanalytic Movement

After the founding of the IPA in 1910, an international network of psychoanalytical societies, training institutes, and clinics became well established and a regular schedule of biannual Congresses commenced after the end of World War I to coordinate their activities.

Abraham and Eitingon founded the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society in 1910 and then the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute and the Poliklinik in 1920. The Poliklinik’s innovations of free treatment, and child analysis, and the Berlin Institute’s standardisation of psychoanalytic training had a major influence on the wider psychoanalytic movement. In 1927 Ernst Simmel founded the Schloss Tegel Sanatorium on the outskirts of Berlin, the first such establishment to provide psychoanalytic treatment in an institutional framework. Freud organised a fund to help finance its activities and his architect son, Ernst, was commissioned to refurbish the building. It was forced to close in 1931 for economic reasons.

The 1910 Moscow Psychoanalytic Society became the Russian Psychoanalytic Society and Institute in 1922. Freud’s Russian followers were the first to benefit from translations of his work, the 1904 Russian translation of The Interpretation of Dreams appearing nine years before Brill’s English edition. The Russian Institute was unique in receiving state support for its activities, including publication of translations of Freud’s works. Support was abruptly annulled in 1924, when Joseph Stalin came to power, after which psychoanalysis was denounced on ideological grounds.

After helping found the American Psychoanalytic Association in 1911, Ernest Jones returned to Britain from Canada in 1913 and founded the London Psychoanalytic Society the same year. In 1919, he dissolved this organisation and, with its core membership purged of Jungian adherents, founded the British Psychoanalytical Society, serving as its president until 1944. The Institute of Psychoanalysis was established in 1924 and the London Clinic of Psychoanalysis was established in 1926, both under Jones’s directorship.

The Vienna Ambulatorium (Clinic) was established in 1922 and the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute was founded in 1924 under the directorship of Helene Deutsch. Ferenczi founded the Budapest Psychoanalytic Institute in 1913 and a clinic in 1929.

Psychoanalytic societies and institutes were established in Switzerland (1919), France (1926), Italy (1932), the Netherlands (1933), Norway (1933), and in Palestine (Jerusalem, 1933) by Eitingon, who had fled Berlin after Adolf Hitler came to power. The New York Psychoanalytic Institute was founded in 1931.

The 1922 Berlin Congress was the last Freud attended. By this time his speech had become seriously impaired by the prosthetic device he needed as a result of a series of operations on his cancerous jaw. He kept abreast of developments through regular correspondence with his principal followers and via the circular letters and meetings of the Secret Committee which he continued to attend.

The Committee continued to function until 1927 by which time institutional developments within the IPA, such as the establishment of the International Training Commission, had addressed concerns about the transmission of psychoanalytic theory and practice. There remained, however, significant differences over the issue of lay analysis, i.e. the acceptance of non-medically qualified candidates for psychoanalytic training. Freud set out his case in favour in 1926 in his The Question of Lay Analysis. He was resolutely opposed by the American societies who expressed concerns over professional standards and the risk of litigation (though child analysts were made exempt). These concerns were also shared by some of his European colleagues. Eventually, an agreement was reached allowing societies autonomy in setting criteria for candidature.

In 1930 Freud received the Goethe Prize in recognition of his contributions to psychology and German literary culture.

Patients

Freud used pseudonyms in his case histories. Some patients known by pseudonyms were:

  • Cäcilie M. (Anna von Lieben);
  • Dora (Ida Bauer, 1882–1945);
  • Frau Emmy von N. (Fanny Moser);
  • Fräulein Elisabeth von R. (Ilona Weiss);
  • Fräulein Katharina (Aurelia Kronich);
  • Fräulein Lucy R.;
  • Little Hans (Herbert Graf, 1903-1973);
  • Rat Man (Ernst Lanzer, 1878-1914);
  • Enos Fingy (Joshua Wild, 1878-1920); and
  • Wolf Man (Sergei Pankejeff, 1887-1979).

Other famous patients included:

  • Prince Pedro Augusto of Brazil (1866-1934);
  • H.D. (1886-1961);
  • Emma Eckstein (1865-1924);
  • Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), with whom Freud had only a single, extended consultation;
  • Princess Marie Bonaparte;
  • Edith Banfield Jackson (1895-1977); and
  • Albert Hirst (1887-1974).

Cancer

In February 1923, Freud detected a leucoplakia, a benign growth associated with heavy smoking, on his mouth. He initially kept this secret, but in April 1923 he informed Ernest Jones, telling him that the growth had been removed. Freud consulted the dermatologist Maximilian Steiner, who advised him to quit smoking but lied about the growth’s seriousness, minimising its importance. Freud later saw Felix Deutsch, who saw that the growth was cancerous; he identified it to Freud using the euphemism “a bad leukoplakia” instead of the technical diagnosis epithelioma. Deutsch advised Freud to stop smoking and have the growth excised. Freud was treated by Marcus Hajek, a rhinologist whose competence he had previously questioned. Hajek performed an unnecessary cosmetic surgery in his clinic’s outpatient department. Freud bled during and after the operation, and may narrowly have escaped death. Freud subsequently saw Deutsch again. Deutsch saw that further surgery would be required, but did not tell Freud he had cancer because he was worried that Freud might wish to commit suicide.

Escape from Nazism

In January 1933, the Nazi Party took control of Germany, and Freud’s books were prominent among those they burned and destroyed. Freud remarked to Ernest Jones: “What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now, they are content with burning my books.” Freud continued to underestimate the growing Nazi threat and remained determined to stay in Vienna, even following the Anschluss of 13 March 1938, in which Nazi Germany annexed Austria, and the outbreaks of violent antisemitism that ensued. Jones, the then president of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA), flew into Vienna from London via Prague on 15 March determined to get Freud to change his mind and seek exile in Britain. This prospect and the shock of the arrest and interrogation of Anna Freud by the Gestapo finally convinced Freud it was time to leave Austria. Jones left for London the following week with a list provided by Freud of the party of émigrés for whom immigration permits would be required. Back in London, Jones used his personal acquaintance with the Home Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, to expedite the granting of permits. There were seventeen in all and work permits were provided where relevant. Jones also used his influence in scientific circles, persuading the president of the Royal Society, Sir William Bragg, to write to the Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, requesting to good effect that diplomatic pressure be applied in Berlin and Vienna on Freud’s behalf. Freud also had support from American diplomats, notably his ex-patient and American ambassador to France, William Bullitt. Bullitt alerted US President Roosevelt to the increased dangers facing the Freuds, resulting in the American consul-general in Vienna, John Cooper Wiley, arranging regular monitoring of Berggasse 19. He also intervened by phone call during the Gestapo interrogation of Anna Freud.

The departure from Vienna began in stages throughout April and May 1938. Freud’s grandson, Ernst Halberstadt, and Freud’s son Martin’s wife and children left for Paris in April. Freud’s sister-in-law, Minna Bernays, left for London on 05 May, Martin Freud the following week and Freud’s daughter Mathilde and her husband, Robert Hollitscher, on 24 May.

By the end of the month, arrangements for Freud’s own departure for London had become stalled, mired in a legally tortuous and financially extortionate process of negotiation with the Nazi authorities. Under regulations imposed on its Jewish population by the new Nazi regime, a Kommissar was appointed to manage Freud’s assets and those of the IPA whose headquarters were near Freud’s home. Freud was allocated to Dr. Anton Sauerwald, who had studied chemistry at Vienna University under Professor Josef Herzig, an old friend of Freud’s. Sauerwald read Freud’s books to further learn about him and became sympathetic towards his situation. Though required to disclose details of all Freud’s bank accounts to his superiors and to arrange the destruction of the historic library of books housed in the offices of the IPA, Sauerwald did neither. Instead, he removed evidence of Freud’s foreign bank accounts to his own safe-keeping and arranged the storage of the IPA library in the Austrian National Library, where it remained until the end of the war.

Though Sauerwald’s intervention lessened the financial burden of the “flight” tax on Freud’s declared assets, other substantial charges were levied concerning the debts of the IPA and the valuable collection of antiquities Freud possessed. Unable to access his own accounts, Freud turned to Princess Marie Bonaparte, the most eminent and wealthy of his French followers, who had travelled to Vienna to offer her support, and it was she who made the necessary funds available. This allowed Sauerwald to sign the necessary exit visas for Freud, his wife Martha, and daughter Anna. They left Vienna on the Orient Express on 04 June, accompanied by their housekeeper and a doctor, arriving in Paris the following day, where they stayed as guests of Marie Bonaparte, before travelling overnight to London, arriving at London Victoria station on 06 June.

Among those soon to call on Freud to pay their respects were Salvador Dalí, Stefan Zweig, Leonard Woolf, Virginia Woolf, and H.G. Wells. Representatives of the Royal Society called with the Society’s Charter for Freud, who had been elected a Foreign Member in 1936, to sign himself into membership. Marie Bonaparte arrived near the end of June to discuss the fate of Freud’s four elderly sisters left behind in Vienna. Her subsequent attempts to get them exit visas failed, and they would all die in Nazi concentration camps.

In early 1939, Sauerwald arrived in London in mysterious circumstances, where he met Freud’s brother Alexander. He was tried and imprisoned in 1945 by an Austrian court for his activities as a Nazi Party official. Responding to a plea from his wife, Anna Freud wrote to confirm that Sauerwald “used his office as our appointed commissar in such a manner as to protect my father”. Her intervention helped secure his release from jail in 1947.

In the Freuds’ new home, 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, North London, Freud’s Vienna consulting room was recreated in faithful detail. He continued to see patients there until the terminal stages of his illness. He also worked on his last books, Moses and Monotheism, published in German in 1938 and in English the following year and the uncompleted An Outline of Psychoanalysis, which was published posthumously.

Death

By mid-September 1939, Freud’s cancer of the jaw was causing him increasingly severe pain and had been declared inoperable. The last book he read, Balzac’s La Peau de chagrin, prompted reflections on his own increasing frailty, and a few days later he turned to his doctor, friend, and fellow refugee, Max Schur, reminding him that they had previously discussed the terminal stages of his illness: “Schur, you remember our ‘contract’ not to leave me in the lurch when the time had come. Now it is nothing but torture and makes no sense.” When Schur replied that he had not forgotten, Freud said, “I thank you,” and then “Talk it over with Anna, and if she thinks it’s right, then make an end of it.” Anna Freud wanted to postpone her father’s death, but Schur convinced her it was pointless to keep him alive; on 21 and 22 September, he administered doses of morphine that resulted in Freud’s death at around 3 am on 23 September 1939. However, discrepancies in the various accounts Schur gave of his role in Freud’s final hours, which have in turn led to inconsistencies between Freud’s main biographers, has led to further research and a revised account. This proposes that Schur was absent from Freud’s deathbed when a third and final dose of morphine was administered by Dr. Josephine Stross, a colleague of Anna Freud, leading to Freud’s death at around midnight on 23 September 1939.

Three days after his death, Freud’s body was cremated at the Golders Green Crematorium in North London, with Harrods acting as funeral directors, on the instructions of his son, Ernst. Funeral orations were given by Ernest Jones and the Austrian author Stefan Zweig. Freud’s ashes were later placed in the crematorium’s Ernest George Columbarium (see “Freud Corner”). They rest on a plinth designed by his son, Ernst, in a sealed ancient Greek bell krater painted with Dionysian scenes that Freud had received as a gift from Marie Bonaparte, and which he had kept in his study in Vienna for many years. After his wife, Martha, died in 1951, her ashes were also placed in the urn.

On This Day … 09 September

People (Deaths)

Jacques Lacan

Jacques Marie Émile Lacan (13 April 1901 to 09 September 1981) was a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist who has been called “the most controversial psycho-analyst since Freud”.

Giving yearly seminars in Paris from 1953 to 1981, Lacan’s work has marked the French and international intellectual landscape, having made a significant impact on continental philosophy and cultural theory in areas such as post-structuralism, critical theory, feminist theory and film theory as well as on psychoanalysis itself.

Lacan took up and discussed the whole range of Freudian concepts emphasising the philosophical dimension of Freud’s thought and applying concepts derived from structuralism in linguistics and anthropology to its development in his own work which he would further augment by employing formulae from mathematical logic and topology. Taking this new direction, and introducing controversial innovations in clinical practice, led to expulsion for Lacan and his followers from the International Psychoanalytic Association. In consequence Lacan went on to establish new psychoanalytic institutions to promote and develop his work which he declared to be a “return to Freud” in opposition to prevalent trends in psychoanalysis collusive of adaptation to social norms.

On This Day … 02 September

People (Births)

  • 1901 – Andreas Embirikos, Greek psychoanalyst and poet (d. 1975).

People (Deaths)

  • 1997 – Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist (b. 1905).

Andreas Embirikos

Andreas Embirikos (02 September 1901 to 03 August 1975) was a Greek surrealist poet and one of the first Greek psychoanalysts.

While he was still a teenager his parents divorced; he started studying at the School of Philosophy of the National and Capodistrian University of Athens, but he decided to move to Lausanne to stay with his mother without graduating from the university.

The following years Embirikos studied a variety of subjects both in France and in the United Kingdom where he studied at King’s College London; however it was in Paris where he decided to study psychanalysis together with René Laforgue and joined the International Psychoanalytical Association.

Viktor Frankl

Viktor Emil Frankl (26 March 1905 to 02 September 1997) was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor.

He was the founder of logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy which describes a search for a life meaning as the central human motivational force. Logotherapy is part of existential and humanistic psychology theories.

Logotherapy was recognized as the third school of Viennese Psychotherapy. The first school by Sigmund Freud, and the second school by Alfred Adler.

Frankl published 39 books. The autobiographical Man’s Search for Meaning, a best-selling book, is based on his experiences in various Nazi concentration camps.

On This Day … 09 July

People (Births)

  • 1940 – Eugene Victor Wolfenstein, American psychoanalyst and theorist (d. 2010).

Eugene Victor Wolfenstein

Eugene Victor Wolfenstein (09 July 1940 to 15 December 2010) was an American social theorist, practicing psychoanalyst, and a professor of political science at University of California, Los Angeles.

Wolfenstein graduated with his Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Columbia College in 1962. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Wolfenstein received his Master of Arts in political science in 1964 and his Ph.D. in political science in 1965 from Princeton University. Wolfenstein became a professor of political science at UCLA.

He also completed a Ph.D. in psychoanalysis from the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute in 1984. He was the member of the faculty of the institute from 1988 to 2004. Moreover, he was in private practice from the time he received his degree up to the time of his death.

Work

Wolfenstein worked in the critical theory tradition, with a focus on African American culture and social movements. In his book The Victims of Democracy: Malcolm X and the Black Revolution, he used a theory of the interaction between social classes and psychological groups to analyse white racism and the black liberation struggle. He developed a more general version of this theory in Psychoanalytic-Marxism: Groundwork (1993) and refined it further through engagement with Nietzsche’s philosophy in Inside/Outside Nietzsche: Psychoanalytic Explorations (2000). These later works add a concern with gender identity to the earlier agenda. His research is in the area of African-American narrative. A Gift of the Spirit: Reading THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK (2007) offered a sustained reconstruction of W.E.B. Du Bois’s canonical text. A further study entitled “Talking Books: Toni Morrison Among the Ancestors” was published right before his death.

He was a professor at UCLA. At the undergraduate level, he taught the lower division Introduction to Political Theory, along with Ancient Political Theory, African-American Freedom Narratives, Malcolm X and Black Liberation, Marxist Political Theory, and an occasional seminar on Platonic Dialectic and Spiritual Liberation. At the graduate level, he focused on major works of Du Bois, Foucault, Freud, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche, along with the related critical literatures.

His main interests were History of Political Theory, Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice, Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory and Feminist Theory.

On This Day … 28 June

People (Births)

  • 1948 – Daniel Wegner, Canadian-American psychologist and academic (d. 2013).

People (Deaths)

  • 2012 – Richard Isay, American psychiatrist and author (b. 1934).

Daniel Wegner

Daniel Merton Wegner (28 June 1948 to 05 July 2013) was an American social psychologist. He was a professor of psychology at Harvard University and a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was known for applying experimental psychology to the topics of mental control (for example ironic process theory) and conscious will, and for originating the study of transactive memory and action identification. In The Illusion of Conscious Will and other works, he argued that the human sense of free will is an illusion.

After gaining his doctorate in 1974, he spent sixteen years teaching at Trinity University, becoming a full Professor in 1985. From 1990 to 2000, he researched and taught at the University of Virginia, after which he joined the faculty at Harvard University.

Awards

In 2011, Wegner was awarded the William James Fellow Award by the Association for Psychological Science, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award by the American Psychological Association, and the Distinguished Scientist Award by the Society of Experimental Social Psychology. In 2012, he was awarded the Donald T. Campbell Award by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). Furthermore, shortly after Wegner’s death in 2013, SPSP announced that its annually awarded Theoretical Innovation Prize would henceforth be known as the Daniel M. Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize to honour Wegner’s memory and his innovative work.

Richard Isay

Richard A. Isay (13 December 1934 to 28 June 2012) was an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, author and gay activist. He was a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and a faculty member of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Isay is considered a pioneer who changed the way that psychoanalysts view homosexuality.

Richard Isay was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Isay graduated from Haverford College and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Soon after completing his psychiatry residency at Yale University, he completed his training at the Western New England Psychoanalytic Institute. Throughout his career, Isay maintained a private practice of psychiatry and psychoanalysis and was an influential teacher and supervisor. He was the programme chairman of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA), the American Program Chairman of the International Psychoanalytical Association and chairman of the Committee on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues of the American Psychiatric Association.

In 1983, as chair of the APsaA’s programme committee, Isay organised a panel called “New Perspectives on Homosexuality”. Isay argued that homosexuality is a normal variant of sexual identity, and that psychoanalysts should stop trying to change the sexual orientation of their patients, which he considered injurious, creating a firestorm of controversy. “Several analysts walked out”, Isay later recalled. Isay soon became the first openly gay member of the association.

Isay wrote widely on the subjects of psychoanalysis and homosexuality, including texts such as Being Homosexual: Gay Men and Their Development. Being Homosexual was one of the first books to argue that homosexuality is an inborn identity, and the first to describe a non-pathological developmental pathway that is specific to gay men. It is widely considered a breakthrough in psychoanalytic theory and an important, historical work.

In an autobiographical chapter of his book, Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance, Isay tells the story of how he spent ten years trying to change his homosexual orientation. During his analysis, he married. After completing his analysis, he realised that he was, in fact, gay. He was closeted in his professional life for several years, during which time he became a prominent member of the American Psychoanalytic Association. He began to write about homosexuality shortly after meeting his life partner and future husband, Gordon Harrell, in 1979.

In Becoming Gay, Isay recounts that with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, he threatened to sue the APsaA, due to their discriminatory policies. As a result, on 09 May 1991, the APsaA adopted a non-discrimination policy for the training of analytic candidates and changed its position statement on homosexuality. 1991 was also the year that the APsaA agreed to allow gays and lesbians to become training analysts, and to promote gay and lesbian teachers and supervisors.

This fundamental change in position by the APsaA created a ripple effect that was felt throughout the profession. The ApsaA was and is the preeminent psychoanalytic organisation in the world. These changes of position and practice by the APsaA became a stimulus for reform. They were slowly copied by psychoanalytic, psychiatric, psychological and social work organisations internationally. A few years later, these changes were adopted by psychoanalytic groups in the UK.

On This Day … 22 June

People (Births)

  • 1871 – William McDougall, English psychologist and polymath (d. 1938).
  • 1891 – Franz Alexander, Hungarian psychoanalyst and physician (d. 1964).
  • 1919 – Henri Tajfel, Polish social psychologist (d. 1982).
  • 1940 – Joan Busfield, English sociologist, psychologist, and academic.
  • 1946 – Sheila Hollins, Baroness Hollins, English psychiatrist and academic.

People (Deaths)

  • 2008 – Natalia Bekhtereva, Russian neuroscientist and psychologist (b. 1924).

William McDougall

William McDougall FRS (22 June 1871 to 28 November 1938) was an early 20th century psychologist who spent the first part of his career in the United Kingdom and the latter part in the United States. He wrote a number of influential textbooks, and was important in the development of the theory of instinct and of social psychology in the English-speaking world.

McDougall was an opponent of behaviourism and stands somewhat outside the mainstream of the development of Anglo-American psychological thought in the first half of the 20th century; but his work was known and respected among lay people.

Psychical Research

McDougall was a strong advocate of the scientific method and academic professionalisation in psychical research. He was instrumental in establishing parapsychology as a university discipline in the US in the early 1930s. The traditional historiography of psychical research, dominated by the ‘winners’ of the race for ‘the science of the soul’, reveals fascinating epistemological incommensurabilities and a complex set of interplays between scientific and metaphysical presuppositions in the making and keeping alive of the scientific status of psychology. Thus, revised histories of psychical research and its relationship to psychology with a critical thrust not limited to that which has been viewed with suspicion anyway, offer both a challenge and a promise to historians, the discussion of which the present article hopes to stimulate (Sommer, 2012). In 1920, McDougall served as president of the Society for Psychical Research, and in the subsequent year of its US counterpart, the American Society for Psychical Research.

McDougall worked to enlist a number of scientific, religious, ethical, political and philosophical issues and causes into a wide “actor-network” which finally pushed through the institutionalization and professionalisation of parapsychology. He was also a member of the Scientific American committee that investigated the medium Mina Crandon. He attended séances with the medium and was sceptical about her “ectoplasmic hand”. He suspected that it was part of an animal, artificially manipulated to resemble a hand. McDougall’s suspicion was confirmed by independent experts who had examined photographs of the hand.

McDougall was critical of spiritualism, he believed that some of its proponents such as Arthur Conan Doyle misunderstood psychical research and “devote themselves to propaganda”. In 1926, McDougall concluded “I have taken part in a considerable number of investigations of alleged supernormal phenomena; but hitherto have failed to find convincing evidence in any case, but have found rather much evidence of fraud and trickery.”

McDougall, however, continued to encourage scientific research on psychic phenomena and in 1937 was a founding co-editor (with Joseph Banks Rhine) of the peer-reviewed Journal of Parapsychology, which continues to be published. Because he was the first to formulate a theory of human instinctual behaviour, he influenced the development of the new field of social psychology.

Franz Alexander

Franz Gabriel Alexander (22 January 1891 to 0 8 March 1964) was a Hungarian-American psychoanalyst and physician, who is considered one of the founders of psychosomatic medicine and psychoanalytic criminology.

Life

Franz Gabriel Alexander, in Hungarian Alexander Ferenc Gábor, was born into a Jewish family in Budapest in 1891, his father was Bernhard Alexander, a philosopher and literary critic, his nephew was Alfréd Rényi, a Hungarian mathematician who made contributions in combinatorics, graph theory, number theory but mostly in probability theory. Alexander studied in Berlin; there he was part of an influential group of German analysts mentored by Karl Abraham, including Karen Horney and Helene Deutsch, and gathered around the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute. ‘In the early 1920s, Oliver Freud was in analysis with Franz Alexander’ there — Sigmund Freud’s son — while ‘Charles Odier, one of the first among French psychoanalysts, was analysed in Berlin by Franz Alexander’ as well.

In 1930 he was invited by Robert Hutchins, then President of the University of Chicago, to become its Visiting Professor of Psychoanalysis. Alexander worked there at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, where Paul Rosenfels was one of his students. End 1950s he was among the first members of the Society for General Systems Research.

Franz Alexander died in Palm Springs, California in 1964.

Early Writings (1923-1943)

Alexander was a prolific writer. Between ‘The Castration Complex in the Formation of Character [1923] … [&] Fundamental Concepts of Psychosomatic Research [1943]’ he published nearly twenty other articles, contributing on a wide variety of subjects to the work of the “second psychoanalytic generation”.

‘Alexander in his “vector analysis”… measured the relative participation of the three basic directions in which an organism’s tendencies towards the external world may be effective: reception, elimination, and retention’. In this he may have been a forerunner to Erik H. Erikson’s later exploration of ‘Zones, Modes, and Modalities’.

He also explored the ‘morality demanded by the archaic superego … an automatized pseudo morality, characterized by Alexander as the corruptibility of the superego’.

Notable too was his exploration of acting out in real life, ‘in which the patient’s entire life consists of actions not adapted to reality but rather aimed at relieving unconscious tensions. It was this type of neurosis that was first described by Alexander under the name of neurotic character’.

Psychosomatic Work and Short-Term Psychotherapy

Franz Alexander led the movement looking for the dynamic interrelation between mind and body. Sigmund Freud pursued a deep interest in psychosomatic illnesses following his correspondence with Georg Groddeck who was, at the time, researching the possibility of treating physical disorders through psychological processes.

Together with Freud and Sándor Ferenczi, Alexander developed the concept of autoplastic adaptation. They proposed that when an individual was presented with a stressful situation, he could react in one of two ways:

  • Autoplastic adaptation: The subject tries to change himself, i.e. the internal environment.
  • Alloplastic adaptation: The subject tries to change the situation, i.e. the external environment.

From the 1930s through the 1950s, numerous analysts were engaged with the question of how to shorten the course of therapy but still achieve therapeutic effectiveness. These included Alexander, Ferenczi, and Wilhelm Reich. Alexander found that the patients who tended to benefit the most greatly from therapy were those who could rapidly engage, could describe a specific therapeutic focus, and could quickly move to an experience of their previously warded-off feelings. These also happened to represent those patients who were the healthiest to begin with and therefore had the least need for the therapy being offered. Clinical research revealed that these patients were able to benefit because they were the least resistant. They were the least resistant because they were the least traumatised and therefore had the smallest burden of repressed emotion. However, among the patients coming to the clinic for various problems, the rapid responders represented only a small minority. What could be offered to those who represented the vast bulk of patients coming for treatment? See further Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy.

Henri Tajfel

Henri Tajfel (born Hersz Mordche; 22 June 1919 to 03 May 1982) was a Polish social psychologist, best known for his pioneering work on the cognitive aspects of prejudice and social identity theory, as well as being one of the founders of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology.

Early Research

Tajfel’s early research at University of Durham and University of Oxford involved examining the processes of social judgement. He believed that the cognitive processes of categorisation contributed strongly to the psychological dimensions of prejudice, which went against the prevailing views of the time. Many psychologists assumed that extreme prejudice was the result of personality factors, such as authoritarianism. According to this perspective, only those with personalities that predisposed them to prejudice were likely to become bigots. Tajfel believed this was mistaken. He had seen how large numbers of Germans – not just those with particular personalities – had given their support to Nazism and had held extreme views about Jews. Nazism would not have been successful without the support of “ordinary” Germans. Tajfel sought to discover whether the roots of prejudice might be found in “ordinary” processes of thinking, rather than in “extraordinary” personality types.

He conducted a series of experiments, investigating the role of categorization. One of his most notable experiments looked at the way that people judged the length of lines. He found that the imposition of a category directly affected judgements. If the lines, which were presented individually, were shown without any category label, then errors of judgement tended to be random. If the longest lines were each labelled A, and the shortest were labelled B, then the errors followed a pattern. Perceivers would tend to judge the lines of each category (whether A or B) as being more similar to each other than they were; and perceivers would judge the differences between categories as greater than they were (i.e., the differences between the longest B line and the shortest ‘A’ line). These findings have continued to influence subsequent work on categorisation and have been replicated subsequently.

Tajfel viewed these investigations into social judgement as being directly related to the issue of prejudice. Imposing category distinctions on lines (A and B) was like dividing the social world into different groups of people (e.g., French, Germans, British). The results of his experiments showed how cognitively deep-seated it was for perceivers to assume that all members of a certain nationality-based category (for instance, all the French or all the British) were more similar to each other than they actually were, and to assume that the members of different categories differed more than they did (for instance, to exaggerate the differences between the French and the British). In this respect, the judging of lines was similar to making stereotyped judgements about social groups. Tajfel also argued that if the categories were of value to the perceiver, then these processes of exaggeration were likely to be enhanced.

The implications of this position were profound. It meant that some of the basic psychological roots of prejudice lay not in particular personality types, but in general, “ordinary” processes of thinking, especially processes of categorising. Tajfel outlined these ideas in his article, “Cognitive Aspects of Prejudice”, which was first published in 1969 and has been republished subsequently. For this article, Tajfel was awarded the first annual Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

Intergroup Relations

Having moved to Bristol University, Tajfel began his work on intergroup relations and conducted the renowned minimal groups experiments. In these studies, test subjects were divided arbitrarily into two groups, based on a trivial and almost completely irrelevant basis. Participants did not know other members of the group, did not even know who they were, and had no reason to expect that they would interact with them in the future. Still, members of both groups allocated resources in such a way that showed favouritism for members of their own group in a way that maximized their own group’s outcomes in comparison to the alternate group, even at the expense of maximum gains for their own group. Even “on the basis of a coin toss…simple categorization into groups seems to be sufficient reason for people to dispense valued rewards in ways that favor in-group members over those who are ‘different'”.

Social Identity Theory

Subsequently, Tajfel and his student John Turner developed the theory of social identity. They proposed that people have an inbuilt tendency to categorise themselves into one or more “ingroups”, building a part of their identity on the basis of membership of that group and enforcing boundaries with other groups.

Social identity theory suggests that people identify with groups in such a way as to maximise positive distinctiveness. Groups offer both identity (they tell us who we are) and self-esteem (they make us feel good about ourselves). The theory of social identity has had a very substantial impact on many areas of social psychology, including group dynamics, intergroup relations, prejudice and stereotyping, and organizational psychology.

Tajfel’s Influence

Henri Tajfel’s influence on social psychology, especially in Britain and Europe, continues to be significant. His influence has reached beyond his particular views on social identity and social judgement, as he had a wide vision of creating a social psychology that was genuinely social and was engaged with broader issues. Too much social psychology was, in his view, trivial and based on what he called “experiments in a vacuum”. Tajfel thought that social psychologists should seek to address serious social problems by examining how psychological dimensions interact with historical, ideological, and cultural factors.

The influence of his general vision can be seen in the book Social Groups and Identities. This book was a posthumous tribute to Tajfel, containing chapters written by many of his former students. Some of his students went on to develop his theories of social identity and some continued his early work on social judgement. There were also chapters from former students who developed very different sorts of social psychology. However, both those who continued Tajfel’s work directly and those who moved in other directions were united in paying tribute to the force of Tajfel’s vision for a broad-based, politically important social psychology.

Joan Busfield

Joan Busfield (born 22 June 1940), is a British sociologist and psychologist, Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex and former President of the British Sociological Association (2003-2005). Her research focuses on psychiatry and mental disorder.

She originally trained as a clinical psychologist at the Tavistock Clinic, and holds an MA from St Andrews, and an MA and a PhD from Essex.

Sheila Hollins

Sheila Clare Hollins, Baroness Hollins, (born 22 June 1946) is a professor of the psychiatry of learning disability at St George’s, University of London, and was created a crossbench life peer in the House of Lords on 15 November 2010 taking the title Baroness Hollins, of Wimbledon in the London Borough of Merton and of Grenoside in the County of South Yorkshire.

She was President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists from 2005 to 2008, succeeded by Dinesh Bhugra. From 2012 to 2013 she was president of the British Medical Association (BMA) and was formerly chair of the BMA Board of Science. In 2014 Pope Francis appointed her a member of the newly created Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The Baroness is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Centre for Child Protection and is President of the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund.

Natalia Bekhtereva

Natalia Petrovna Bekhtereva (07 July 1924 to 22 June 2008) was a Soviet and Russian neuroscientist and psychologist who developed neurophysiological approaches to psychology, such as measuring the impulse activity of human neurons. She was a participant in the documentary films The Call of the Abyss (Russian: Зов бездны) and Storm of Consciousness (Russian: Штурм сознания), which aroused wide public interest. Candidate of Biological Sciences, Doctor of Medicine, Full Professor.

She is Vladimir Bekhterev’s granddaughter. She was brought up with her brother in an orphanage. She graduated from the First Pavlov State Medical University of St. Petersburg (1941-1947) and graduate school of the Pavlov Institute of Physiology. In the summer of 1941, more than 700 students entered the University; by the end of the training, only 4 graduates survived. The rest perished from war and hunger. She survived the Siege of Leningrad.

She worked as a junior research fellow at the Institute of Experimental Medicine, USSR Academy of Medical Sciences (1950-1954). After working her way up from a senior research fellow to the head of the laboratory and Deputy Director, she worked at the Research Neurosurgical Institute named after Professor Andrey L. Polenov of the USSR Ministry of Health (1954-1962). In 1959 she became a Doctor of Medicine. Since 1962 – at the Institute of Institute of Experimental Medicine, USSR Academy of Medical Sciences (the head of the Department of human neurophysiology; the Deputy Director for Research; from 1970 to 1990 – the Director).

In 1975, she became an academician of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences (subsequently Russian Academy of Medical Sciences). In 1981, she became an academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union. Starting in 1990, she was the scientific director of the Centre “Brain” of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union. In 1992 she became the head of the scientific group of the neurophysiology of thinking, creativity and consciousness of the Institute for Human Brain of the RAS.

She was Vice President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (1974-1980) and Vice President of the International Organization for Psychophysiology (1982-1994).

She worked as editor-in-chief of the academic journals Human Physiology (1975-1987) and International Journal of Psychophysiology (1984-1994).

Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union of the 8th convocation (1970-1974) and People’s Deputy of the Soviet Union (1989-1991).

On This Day … 21 June

People (Births)

  • 1880 – Arnold Gesell, American psychologist and paediatrician (d. 1961).
  • 1924 – Jean Laplanche, French psychoanalyst and academic (d. 2012).

Arnold Gesell

Doctor Arnold Lucius Gesell (21 June 1880 to 29 May 1961) was an American clinical psychologist, paediatrician and professor at Yale University known for his research and contributions to the field of child development.

Gesell served as a teacher and high school principal before seeking his psychological doctorate at Clark University, where the university’s president, G. Stanley Hall, had founded a child study movement. Arnold received his PhD from Clark in 1906.

Gessell worked at several educational facilities in New York City and Wisconsin before obtaining a professorship at the Los Angeles State Normal School, now known as The University of California, Los Angeles(UCLA)). There he met fellow teacher Beatrice Chandler who would become his wife. They later had a daughter and a son, Federal District Judge Gerhard Gesell.

Gesell also spent time at schools for the mentally disabled, including the Vineland Training School in New Jersey. Having developed an interest in the causes and treatment of childhood disabilities, Gesell began studying at the University of Wisconsin Medical School to better understand physiology. He later served as an assistant professor at Yale University while continuing to study medicine. He developed the Clinic of Child Development there and received his M.D. in 1915. He was later given a full professorship at Yale.

Gesell also served as the school psychologist for the Connecticut State Board of Education and helped to develop classes to help children with disabilities succeed. This historic appointment made Dr. Gesell the first school psychologist in the US He wrote several books, including The Preschool Child from the Standpoint of Public Hygiene and Education in 1923, The Mental Growth of the Preschool Child in 1925 (which was also published as a film), and An Atlas of Infant Behaviour (chronicling typical milestones for certain ages) in 1934. He co-authored with Frances Ilg two childrearing guides, Infant and Child in the Culture of Today in 1943, and The Child from Five to Ten in 1946.

Gesell made use of the latest technology in his research. He used the newest in video and photography advancements. He also made use of one-way mirrors when observing children, even inventing the Gesell dome, a one-way mirror shaped as a dome, under which children could be observed without being disturbed. In his research he studied many children, including Kamala, the wolf girl. He also did research on young animals, including monkeys.

As a psychologist, Gesell wrote and spoke about the importance of both nature and nurture in child development. He cautioned others not to be quick to attribute mental disabilities to specific causes. He believed that many aspects of human behaviour, such as handedness and temperament were heritable. He explained that children adapted to their parents as well as to one another. He advocated for a nationwide nursery school system in the United States.

Gesell’s popular books spread his ideas beyond academia. His core message, urging parents to “nourish the child’s trustfulness in life”, resonated with child advocates long before Dr. Benjamin Spock became America’s most prominent parental advisor. In The Child from Five to Ten, Gesell wrote, “It is no longer trite to say that children are the one remaining hope of mankind. . . If we could but capture their transparent honesty and sincerities! They still have much to teach us, if we observe closely enough”.

Gesell’s ideas came to be known as Gesell’s Maturational Theory of child development. Based on his theory, he published a series of summaries of child development sequences, called the Gesell Developmental Schedules.

The Gesell Institute of Human Development, named after him, was started by his colleagues from the Clinic of Child Development, Frances Ilg and Louise Bates Ames in 1950, after Gesell retired from the university in 1948. In 2012, the institute was renamed the Gesell Institute of Child Development.

Jean Laplanche

Jean Laplanche (21 June 1924 to 06 May 2012) was a French author, psychoanalyst and winemaker. Laplanche is best known for his work on psychosexual development and Sigmund Freud’s seduction theory, and wrote more than a dozen books on psychoanalytic theory. The journal Radical Philosophy described him as “the most original and philosophically informed psychoanalytic theorist of his day.”

From 1988 to his death, Laplanche was the scientific director of the German to French translation of Freud’s complete works (Oeuvres Complètes de Freud/Psychanalyse – OCF.P) in the Presses Universitaires de France, in association with André Bourguignon, Pierre Cotet and François Robert.

Laplanche attended the École Normale Supérieure in the 1940s, studying philosophy. He was a student of Jean Hyppolite, Gaston Bachelard and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In 1943, during the Vichy regime, Laplanche joined the French Resistance, and was active in Paris and Bourgogne. In 1946-1947, he visited Harvard University for a year. Instead of joining that university’s philosophy department, he instead studied at the Department of Social Relations, and became interested in psychoanalytic theory. After returning to France, Laplanche began attending lectures and undergoing psychoanalytic treatment under Jacques Lacan. Laplanche, advised by Lacan, began studying medicine, and eventually earned his doctorate and became an analyst himself, joining the International Psychoanalytical Association, of which he remained a member until his death.

What is the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis?

Introduction

The National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP) is an institution established in New York City by Theodore Reik in 1948, in response to the controversy over lay analysis and the question of the training of psychoanalysts in the States.

Following the lead established by Sigmund Freud, the NPAP offered training to the three core disciplines of medicine, social work and psychology, as well as to graduates from the humanities.

Brief History

Over the following decades, inevitably dissensions emerged in the organisation, and other non-medical training institutions were set up in the United States.

Current Ideology

The organisation currently sees itself as a vibrant professional association of analysts representing a diversity of theories that comprise contemporary psychoanalytic inquiry. The NPAP’s diverse membership is active in research, publication, legislation, public education, and cultural affairs, thus ensuring a psychoanalytic contribution to the community at large. The NPAP also publishes the highly respected and internationally recognised journal The Psychoanalytic Review, the oldest continuously published psychoanalytic journal in the United States.

Mindful of a legacy reaching directly back to Freud, the Institute today offers comprehensive psychoanalytic training grounded in the classical tradition, expanded by contemporary insights, and designed to prepare candidates for the professional practice of psychoanalysis.

On This Day … 12 June

People (Births)

  • 1912 – Carl Hovland, American psychologist and academic (d. 1961).
  • 1962 – Jordan Peterson, Canadian psychologist, professor and cultural critic.

People (Deaths)

  • 2012 – Margarete Mitscherlich-Nielsen, Danish-German psychoanalyst and author (b. 1917).

Carl Hovland

Carl Iver Hovland (12 June 1912 to 16 April 1961) was a psychologist working primarily at Yale University and for the US Army during World War II who studied attitude change and persuasion. He first reported the sleeper effect after studying the effects of the Frank Capra’s propaganda film Why We Fight on soldiers in the Army. In later studies on this subject, Hovland collaborated with Irving Janis who would later become famous for his theory of groupthink. Hovland also developed social judgment theory of attitude change. Carl Hovland thought that the ability of someone to resist persuasion by a certain group depended on your degree of belonging to the group.

Contributions to Psychology

Psychological research was Hovland’s intellectual joy. Especially in his early career, his investigations covered many topics. His papers in psychological journals included a study of test reliability, a major review of the literature on apparent movement, as well as his four classical papers on conditioned generalisation from his doctoral dissertation.

Hovland began to emphasize micro-level analysis of propaganda and its effects. Hovland’s army experiments were the beginnings of that micro-level analysis of an individual. Hovland’s “core conceptual variable was attitude”.

Hovland believed that if he was able to recognise the attitude an individual has towards a trigger, he would be able to predict the behaviour and actions of an individual over time. However, there were many studies that argued the contrary and showed that “an attitude toward a person or object does not predict or explain an individual’s overt behavior regarding that person or object”. This revelation of low correlation did not necessarily render findings useless but instead led to further research on how under certain circumstances it was possible to change a person’s behaviour via their attitudes.

While Hovland focused on an individual rather than a group level, he began to take into consideration interpersonal communication in the form of persuasion. Specifically, Hovland was responsible for carrying out a series of studies that contributed to the “cumulative understanding of persuasion behavior that has never since been matched or even rivaled”.

To test and apply his theorisation Hovland worked proposed the SMCR model. The SMCR model consists of four components – source variables, message variables, channel variables, and receiver variables. By manipulating each of these variables, Hovland was able to advance his “message-learning approach to attitude change”. There were problems with his particular approach, however, in that by focusing on a single dimension of the SMCR model, Hovland was unable to do more than isolate a factor rather than study the synergy between the different variables.

Jordan Peterson

Jordan Bernt Peterson (born 12 June 1962) is a Canadian professor of psychology, clinical psychologist, YouTube personality, and author. He began to receive widespread attention in the late 2010s for his views on cultural and political issues, often described as conservative.

Born and raised in Alberta, Peterson obtained bachelor’s degrees in political science and psychology from the University of Alberta and a PhD in clinical psychology from McGill University. After teaching and research at Harvard University, he returned to Canada in 1998 to join the faculty of psychology at the University of Toronto. In 1999, he published his first book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, which became the basis for many of his subsequent lectures. The book combined information from psychology, mythology, religion, literature, philosophy, and neuroscience to analyse systems of belief and meaning.

In 2016, Peterson released a series of YouTube videos criticising the Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (Bill C-16), passed by the Parliament of Canada to introduce “gender identity and expression” as a prohibited grounds of discrimination. He argued that the bill would make the use of certain gender pronouns into compelled speech, and related this argument to a general critique of political correctness and identity politics. He subsequently received significant media coverage, attracting both support and criticism.

Afterwards, Peterson’s lectures and conversations – propagated especially through podcasts and YouTube – gradually gathered millions of views. He put his clinical practice and teaching duties on hold by 2018, when he published his second book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Promoted with a world tour, it became a bestseller in several countries. Throughout 2019 and 2020, Peterson’s work was obstructed by health problems in the aftermath of a severe benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. In 2021, he published his third book, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life, and returned to active podcasting.

Margarete Mitscherlich-Nielsen

Margarete Mitscherlich-Nielsen (née Nielsen; 17 July 1917 to 12 June 2012) or the “Grande Dame of German Psychoanalysis” as she was often referred to as, was a German psychoanalyst who focused mainly on the themes of feminism, female sexuality, and the national psychology of post-war Germany.

Contributions to Psychology

From the 1960s, alongside the protagonists of the Frankfurt School, the Mitscherlichs played an important part in post-war Germany’s intellectual debates, employing psychoanalytic thought for explaining the causes behind Nazi Germany and its aftermath in German society to the present day. The first major book they wrote together was Die Unfähigkeit zu trauern. Grundlagen kollektiven Verhaltens (The Inability to Mourn: Principles of Collective Behaviour), first published in 1967, discussing why the Holocaust, the war crimes, and the sentiment of guilt on the offender’s part were not dealt with adequately in post-war German society.

Subsequently, Margarete Mitscherlich’s interest in feminist positions grew, as she became friends with German feminist journalist Alice Schwarzer, contributing to her magazine EMMA. In the first issue of the journal in November 1977, she confessed: “Ich bin Feministin” (“I am a feminist”). At the time, she also took an active part in legal actions against anti-women depictions in popular German media. Her book Die friedfertige Frau. Eine psychoanalytische Untersuchung zur Aggression der Geschlechter (The peaceable sex: On aggression in women and men), first published in 1987, is Mitscherlich’s most successful book to date, dealing with the roles women play in politics. Specifically, she discussed specific psychological cases pertaining to the potential for human aggression, the socialization of women, narcissism, loneliness, parenthood, and anti-Semitism within her writing. In the follow-up Die Zukunft ist weiblich (The future is feminine, 1987) Mitscherlich pleaded for values to become more feminine, even men’s values. She is notable for the highly politicised nature of her work when many of her peers considered neutrality an essential element of psychoanalysis.

Until well into her nineties, Mitscherlich worked as a psychoanalyst, advising younger colleagues and commenting political developments in the press. In her latest book, published in 2010, aged 93, Die Radikalität des Alters. Einsichten einer Psychoanalytikerin (The Radicality of Age. Insights of a Psychoanalyst) she reflects upon her own experience of ageing. She famously claimed that Germans cannot mourn.

Mitscherlich was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2001. She received the Ehrenplakette der Stadt Frankfurt am Main in 1990 and the Tony-Sender-Preis der Stadt Frankfurt am Main in 2005.

Mitscherlich has a son who was born in 1949, a lawyer and executive manager. She lived in the Frankfurt Westend until her death. She died, aged 94, in Frankfurt.

What is Child Psychoanalysis?

Introduction

Child psychoanalysis is a sub-field of psychoanalysis which was founded by Anna Freud.

Freud used the work of her father Sigmund Freud with certain modifications directed towards the needs of children. Since its inception, child psychoanalysis has grown into a well-known therapeutic technique for children and adolescents.

Brief History

For many years, the work of Sigmund Freud was considered revolutionary in his creation of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, and his theories regarding childhood experiences affecting a person later in life. His legacy was continued by his daughter Anna Freud in her pursuit of psychotherapy and her fathers theories as applied to children and adolescents.

In 1941, Anna help found the Hampstead Nursery in London and there she treated children for several years until it was shut down in 1945. Anna, with the help of Kate Friedlaender, soon opened the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic to continue her work and to continue sheltering homeless children. Anna was the director of the clinic from 1952 until her death in 1982. The clinic was renamed the Anna Freud Centre following her death as a memorial for the care and support she provided to hundreds of children over the decades.

Much of Anna’s published papers and books reference her work at the Hampstead Nursery and Clinic. Some of her more famous books are “The Ego and Defense Mechanisms”, which explored what defence mechanisms are and how they are used by adolescents, and “Normality and Pathology in Childhood” (1965), which directly summarizes her work at the Hampstead Clinic and other facilities. In fact, it was her work at the Nursery and the Clinic which allowed Anna to perfect her techniques and establish a therapy specifically designed for improving child and adolescent mental health.

Techniques

Anna’s first task in developing a successful therapy for children was to take Sigmund’s original theory regarding the psycho-social stages of development and create a timeline by which to grade normal growth and development. Using this line, a therapist would be able to observe a child and know whether they were progressing as other children or not. If a certain aspect of development lagged, such as personal hygiene or eating habits, the therapist could then assume that some trauma had occurred and could then address it directly through therapy.

Once a child was in therapy, techniques had to continue to change. Foremost, Anna knew that she could not expect to create situations of transference with the children as her father had done with his adult patients. The parents of a child in psychotherapy are typically still very active in their lives. Even when children were being housed at the Clinic, Anna encouraged mothers to visit frequently to ensure a stable attachment was formed between parent and child. In fact, one of the most important features of child psychotherapy is the active role parents play in their child’s therapy, knowing exactly what the therapist is doing, and their lives outside of therapy by helping the child implement the techniques taught by the therapist. So, to avoid becoming a replacement parent and avoid having the child view her as an authoritative adult, Anna did her best to take on the role of a caring and understanding adult figure. To this day, child psychotherapists aim to be viewed by the patient as a person analogous to a teacher.

The goal of any psychotherapist is for the patient to find comfort in their stable presence and eventually have no issue with speaking whatever comes to their mind. With children, this involves a high frequency of visits with the child, possibly even daily sessions. Anna also saw child’s play as their way of adapting to reality and confronting problems they faced in their real lives. For this reason, therapy sessions are intended to suspend the rules of reality and allow the child to play and speak whatever they want. This play allows therapists to see where the child’s traumas lie and help the child overcome these traumas. However, Anna also realised that children’s play does not reveal some unconscious revelation. Children, unlike adults, have not yet repressed events or learned how to cover up their true emotions. Often, in therapy what a child says is what a child means. This differed greatly from the original practices of psychotherapy that often had to decode meaning out of the patient’s words.

Newest Developments

In recent years there has been a shift in analytic technique for severely disturbed or traumatised children from a conflict- and insight-oriented approach to a focused, mentalisation-oriented therapy. Furthermore, the importance of parent work in the context of child psychoanalysis has been emphasized. Short-term psychoanalytic therapy which combines focus oriented techniques in the psychoanalytic work with the child with focused parent work has been shown to be effective especially in children with anxiety disorders and depressive comorbidity.