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Hoggett, P. Varchevker, A. (1989). Marie Langer. Free Associations, 1P(15):37-38.

(1989). Free Associations, 1P(15):37-38

Marie Langer

Paul Hoggett and Arturo Varchevker

Marie Langer died in Buenos Aires in December 1987. She was born in Vienna in 1910. Whilst studying medicine she joined the Austrian Communist Party. Having qualified, she went into analysis with Sterba. She and her husband, a surgeon, joined the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. They had not long returned to Vienna when the rise of Nazism forced them to flee to South America — first to Uruguay, then to Argentina, where she co-founded the Institute of Psychoanalysis in Buenos Aires in 1942.

The Argentinian Psychoanalytic Association (APA) grew to become one of the most substantial psychoanalytic institutions in the world, but from 1968 onwards Argentina entered a period of massive social and labour unrest. In 1971 Marie Langer resigned from the APA along with a number of fellow analysts and trainees around the Plataforma Group; though there were many reasons for this, one of the essential ones related to their feeling that the APA had adopted a too neutral stand in relation to Argentina's recently installed military dictatorship.

For three years Marie Langer worked within the Federation of Mental Health Workers (which she had helped to found). This organization was responsible for the first major Latin American initiative in the community psychiatry/mental health sphere but, unlike comparable European experiments, it was an initiative very much constituted within a psychoanalytic perspective. To undertake such action in the context of military government was exceedingly difficult. After the ‘disappearance of several colleagues she fled from state terror once more, this time to Mexico as an exile.

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