Rudolf Loewenstein

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A physician and training analyst, Rudolph M. Loewenstein was born in Lodz, Poland, on January 17, 1898, and died in New York on April 14, 1976.

Born into a Jewish family, Loewenstein attended secondary school in Zurich, then pursued studies in medicine and neurology in Berlin, where he trained at the Psychoanalytic Institute (1923-1925). He was analyzed by Hanns Sachs, and probably worked under the supervision of Max Eitingon. He was admitted as a member of the German Psychoanalytic Society (DPG) and in 1925 became an assistant at the outpatient clinic, where he gained recognition as a young and brilliant training analyst.

Eitingon then recommended Loewenstein to René Laforgue to train other analysts. A polyglot, capable of expressing himself with equal fluency in Polish, German, English, and French, he had no difficulty practicing analysis in the various countries in which he was to live. He settled in Paris as a training analyst in 1925 and trained the first generation of analyzed analysts. In 1926 he participated, along with Laforgue, Eugénie Sokolnicka, Marie Bonaparte, and others, in the creation of the Société psychanalytique de Paris (SPP, Paris Psychoanalytic Society) and became the society's secretary. He also contributed, in 1927, to the creation of the Revue française de la psychanalyse, financed by Bonaparte, through whom he met Sigmund Freud several times. He became a naturalized French citizen in 1930 and resumed his studies, earning baccalaureate and doctorate degrees in medicine; the defense of his thesis, "La conception psychanalytique des troubles de la puissance génitale chez l'homme" (The psychoanalytic conception of male sexual impotency), in 1935, was presided over by Professor Claude Henri. He was director of a psychoanalytic seminar at the SPP until 1939; that year he was mobilized as a doctor in the French army, where he was decorated with the Croix de Guerre. After the armistice of 1940 he took refuge in Marseilles, where he practiced and taught psychoanalysis up until his departure for the United States in 1942.

Forced into exile, he settled in New York in 1943, maintaining his institutional and personal connections with French psychoanalysis, for which he was the New York correspondent. Rapidly recognized as a training analyst, he was soon enlisted to fill all the major institutional functions: president of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute (1950-1952), secretary and then president of the New York Psychoanalytic Society (1959-1961), president of the American Psychoanalytic Association from 1957 to 1958, and finally vice president of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) from 1965 to 1967.

In 1952 Loewenstein published Christians and Jews: A Psychoanalytical Study (published in French under the title Psychanalyse de l'antisémitisme), but in terms of theory, he is mainly known as the cofounder of the new American psychoanalytic school of the 1950s, and for his work in ego psychology; his name remains associated with those of Ernst Kris and Heinz Hartmann, his collaborators in research. Taking up a point that was indicated in Freud's work, but that he developed into a theory, ego psychology, he gave privileged status to the unconscious ego over the instinctual drives and moved it towards the center of the psychic system.

This theory has been called a psychology of adaptation, which Loewenstein was to expound and defend in "Rapport sur la psychologie psychanalytique de H. Hartmann, E. Kris et R. Loewenstein" (Report on the psychoanalytic psychology of H. Hartmann, E. Kris, and R. Loewenstein), presented to the Twenty-sixth Congress of French-speaking Psychoanalysts, held in Paris in 1965. Unanimously criticized in Europe, ego psychology is certainly historically linked to the issue of immigration.

At the end of his life Loewenstein was working with Milton Horowitz on the theory of psychoanalytic technique, trying to conceptualize his five years of practice as a training analyst.

Loewenstein played an important institutional role within the psychoanalytic community, not only in the three countries where he practiced, but also on an international level (IPA). Jacques Lacan underwent an analysis with him—terminated too soon, against the advice of his training analyst. He was also the training analyst for Sacha Nacht, Daniel Lagache, Michel Cénac, Pierre Mâle, Georges Parchemeney, John Leuba, and others. Supervisor and later a friend of Marie Bonaparte, he helped her with her 1935 translation of Freud's Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis.


Work discussed: Christians and Jews: A Psychoanalytical Study.

See also: Abstinence/rule of abstinence; Congrèsdespsychanalystes de langue française des pays romans; Ego; Ego (ego psychology); France; Libido; New York Psychoanalytic Institute; Racism, anti-Semitism, and psychoanalysis; Revue française de psychanalyse; Société psychanalytique de Paris and Institut de psychanalyse de Paris; United States. Bibliography

   * Loewenstein, Rudolph M. (1928). La technique psychanalytique. Revue française de psychanalyse, 2 (1), 113-134.
   * ——. (1932). Un cas de jalousie pathologique. Revue française de psychanalyse, 5 (1), 554-585.
   * ——. (1935). La conception psychanalytique des troubles de la puissance génitale de l'homme. Paris: Denoël & Steele.
   * ——. (1952). Christians and jews: A psychoanalytical study. New York: International Universities Press.
   * Loewenstein, Rudolph M., Kris, Ernst, and Hartmann, Heinz. (1975).Éléments de psychologie psychanalytique. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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