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Kligerman, C. (1984). Memorial for Heinz Kohut, M.D. October 31, 1981. Ann. Psychoanal., 12:9-15.
(1984). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 12:9-15
Memorial for Heinz Kohut, M.D. October 31, 1981
Charles Kligerman, M.D.
I first met Heinz Kohut in the neurology clinic of Billings Hospital in June 1941 on the eve of my medical graduation. I had worked up a case, and in walked the brand new resident to check my findings. He made an instant, indelible impression: medium height, handsome, wavy blondish hair brushed back, European style; stocky, even slightly plump. It was very hot and he was sweating and nervous in the unfamiliar world of a new hospital, but his keen, intelligent blue eyes and firm chin gave him an air of quiet authority that progressively increased along with his zest, as he discussed the case. Here was the essential Kohut: no matter what the stress at the surface, personal or creative, one always felt the calm, unruffled solidity at the core. And he could always rise to the occasion. Any intellectual challenge was an instant inspiration.
This encounter led to a friendship of forty years. I believe Robert Wads-worth, who provides the lovely music we hear today, was his first lasting American friend. I was the second. Heinz and Robert met through the musicologist Siegmund Levarie, Heinz's schoolmate from Vienna, who had preceded him to Chicago and the University.
Later Heinz and I lived on the same floor of the residents' quarters of the Home for Destitute and Crippled Children. He roomed then with Jay McCormick, and was still a neurologist. But on our Sunday walks on the Midway, after the art, the music, Viennese memorabilia, the talk inevitably turned to Freud and psychoanalysis, a subject which poured out of Heinz with irresistible enthusiasm. His idealization of Freud was complete. He also had great admiration for Anna Freud, Heinz Hartmann, and Edward Glover. And of course for his old analyst in Vienna, August Aichhorn, a legendary master of empathy.
When I returned from the war as a psychiatry resident, Heinz beamed, “now you are one of us,” for he, too, had made the switch. This change caused some feelings of hurt and loss among the professors.
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