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Rosenfeld, E.M. (1962). Hedwig Hoffer—1888 – 1961. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:477-477.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:477-477

Hedwig Hoffer—1888 – 1961

Eva M. Rosenfeld

Hedwig Hoffer died in London on 3 September 1961. She seemed to have made a good recovery after an operation, when she unexpectedly slipped out of life with that quiet dignity so characteristic of her.

She was not one of those analysts in whom one particular quality outshone the rest. She possessed a harmony of heart and mind which made every meeting with her a source of satisfaction. Her grasp of the intricacy of our work, her sure judgement of what can and what ought to be done when asked for advice in a critical analytic situation, made her one of our most sought-after teachers and supervisors. Her sound knowledge of theory was the foundation upon which all her practical and diagnostic skill was surely based.

She was born in Southern Germany and brought up and educated there. Hers was a cultured family involved in many aspects of science and the arts. Children of such families often become good world citizens.

Hedwig moved to Vienna when her knowledge of Freud's psycho-analysis was already well established by information and study. After her marriage to Dr Willi Hoffer, their house became a centre of friendship-seeking analysts. Warm and generous hospitality, added to readiness to help and encourage where help and encouragement were needed, very soon created the same atmosphere after the Hoffers set up home in London. Although Hedwig Hoffer did not then try any longer to play a conspicuous role in the Society, she could nevertheless always be found where there was most work to do. She was indefatigable in giving clinical seminars, in reading the manuscripts of colleagues old and young, and her three years as Joint Training Secretary (sharing the burden with Dr Paula Heimann) marked a great step forward in the recovery of the Institute after World War II.

Though, in the last years of her life, her sight was failing and her health was none too good, one could not help being astonished at how little difference this made to her serene and courageous way of life. She was neither Jewish nor Christian; I used to call her a figure of antiquity, rightly poised between what she expected and what she thought should be expected of her. It is sad to lose her, but it is good to remember her.

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