Psychoanalysis in the University: The Clinical Dimension

By Gilman, Sander L. | International Journal of Psychoanalysis, October 2009 | Go to article overview
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Psychoanalysis in the University: The Clinical Dimension


Gilman, Sander L., International Journal of Psychoanalysis


After the Ninth Psycho-Analytical Congress at the beginning of September 1925 at Bad Homburg the following claim was made by Max Eitingon, who had created the first functioning training institute: that psychoanalysis had to develop:

that which Freud has created, to guard it from a premature fusion and so-called synthesis with other fields of thought and different methods of investigation and work, and ever to give clear definition to that which is specifically our own. Now the fate of our work is in the hands of our successors, and it is to them more and more that we must turn our attention. We must endeavour to meet this our most pressing need by making suitable provision.

(IPA, 1926, p. 130)

The anxiety about intellectual synthesis was indeed a demand for psychoanalysis to avoid the strains of the Humboldtian university created not only to research and teach but also to test ideas across and within disciplines. Remain separate and remain pure, said Eitingon. His talk was heralded with a powerful round of applause and after a debate of over three hours the proposal to limit training to the institutes was accepted.

It was Hermann Nunberg of Budapest, who had first proposed such a training institute at the Fifth Psycho-Analytical Congress of 1918. But it was in Berlin, following the establishment of the free clinic that the model for psychoanalytic training was formally developed. It was the training committee of the International Psychoanalytic Association and Karen Horney as the first training director of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute that shaped the analytic institute, as we now know it.

Psychoanalytic Institutes, with required formal training analysis, were created in Berlin, then Vienna, and then Budapest. All were also associated with the free clinics - ambulatoria - established to make psychoanalysis available to the greater public and provide a training platform for analysts (Danto, 2005). Soon thereafter the institutes in London, Frankfurt-am-Main and New York were created. In Vienna as Helene Deutsch noted in 1932:

a large number of eager young people - physicians and teachers - can only be accepted on a 'waiting-list' because the financial limitations of our Institute, in spite of the sacrifices of the workers there, do not make it possible to provide training for all those who desire this.

(Deutsch, 1932, p. 255)

- 32 candidates were enrolled that year in Vienna alone.

But why had not the training of analysts taken place within the existing research university model in the 1920s? Freud's combined hesitation and desire in the 1920s about his relationship with the University of Vienna and his colleagues there had colored the unfolding of psychoanalytic training (Makari, 2008). The academic opposition to psychoanalysis from this quarter had already arisen before the turn of the century and was coached in clearly anti-Semitic rhetoric. Why? As the Viennese saying of the time ran: 'Who's to blame?' 'The Jew.' 'Why?' 'Because that's the way it is.'

Freud's desperate need to achieve academic respectability at the Viennese medical school is the stuff already of much historical research. His eventual adjunct professorship was important to Freud as a mark of recognition of his work that would also give him a much needed financial boost. It held high significance too in a country to this day obsessed with titles. Thus Freud would be addressed as 'Herr Professor Doktor', while his wife became 'Frau Professor Doktor'. With an edge of bitterness, Freud lamented how much more easily he would have been granted the medical school appointment if his name had been Oberhuber, a sturdily Austrian name (Falzeder, 2002, p. 53). The slot assigned to him for his weekly lecture, Saturday 5-7 p.m., assured a minimal audience. Indeed if you look around Vienna today for Freud's memorials you can find the public housing project called the 'Sigmund Freud Hof ' (Sigmund Freud Court), where a plaque reads: ''Dr.

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