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Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis


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Well Known Figures in Psychoanalysis



Otto Fenichel (1899 - 1946)

Otto Fenichel was born in Vienna in 1899. The third of three children, he studied at the Gymnasium and became interested in Marxist radical thought and politics in his student days. He was imbued with enormous energy and a deep social conscience. After his graduation as a doctor, he went on to train at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute where he gave his first paper at the age of 21. He then moved to Berlin and became involved in the Berlin Institute of Psychoanalysis. In Berlin, he found a forum for discussion of his ideas and political orientation. The group he joined included the Reichís Fromm and Jacobson who shared his enthusiasm and they visited the Soviet Union in 1929. When Hitler took in power in Germany the persecution of the Jewish population spiraled. Freudís books were burned, and in this climate Fenichel left for Oslo, then Prague and finally settled in Los Angeles in 1938. This was indeed a radical shift from the old continent of Europe and the Hapsburg Empire to a life of exile in America. However, the New World did not quench his political ardour. For over a decade, Fenichel sent a Rundbriefe (Circular of Letters) to a group of psychoanalysts who shared his views and analytical orientation. He was greatly concerned with the evolution and medicalization of psychoanalysis in America and the rise of psychopharmacology and cognitive science. He insisted that psychoanalysis needed to be studied in a societal context.

Selected Works:
The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1945), often referred to as "The Red Book" The Problem of Psychoanalytic Technique (1939)
Further Reading:
The Collected Papers of Otto Fenichel (1953 and 1954)
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