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Fliess, E. (1982). Robert Fliess: A Personality Profile. Am. Imago, 39(3):195-218.

(1982). American Imago, 39(3):195-218

Robert Fliess: A Personality Profile

Elenore Fliess

The suggestion that I contribute a “personality profile” of my husband is not an easy task. I attempt it because there is no one left to do it. For his Berlin days, brother, sister, closest friends are all dead. His father died in the late 20's; his mother in the early 40's. For his life after emigration to America in 1933, his life-style and work habits I, first as friend, then wife and secretary-editor, am the one upon whom this task must fall. So be it.


Let me begin with his life-style which is the basis for the development of habits which in turn made possible his creative work.

Robert came to America in 1933. He was 38. He had lived through an extraordinary period in world history, much of it directly affecting him. Before he was permitted to leave, Robert had had to watch the Berlin authorities rip out from the walls of his beautiful new two offices for the practice of medicine and of psychoanalysis, the elaborate fixtures for an innovative form of internal medicine that he had slowly evolved after he received his medical degree. But behind the sorrow and shock of immigration lay amazing and fruitful years.

Born in December 1895, Robert was the oldest child of an ambitious, charismatic Berlin physician and a Viennese heiress, daughter of a cultured family. His intense feeling for music must have come in part from his mother—herself an accomplished amateur pianist. She was also a gracious hostess; the children (there were to be three) grew up with artists, singers, musicians as well as the more conservative


* For a more extensive treatment see “Robert Fliess: The Making of A Psychoanalyst”, by Elenore Fliess. Privately printed. Roffey & Clark, Croydon, England. 1974. All Institute Libraries were given a copy.

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