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Tartakoff, H.H. (1970). Elisabeth Geleerd Loewenstein. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 51:71-73.

(1970). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 51:71-73

Elisabeth Geleerd Loewenstein

Helen H. Tartakoff

Elisabeth Geleerd possessed the rare beauty of a neo-classical portrait and the sensibility of a romantic poet. She was greatly admired and loved by all who knew her. For 33 years I cherished her friendship. Another woman with her attributes might well have let her feminine assets eclipse other talents. Fortunately for psychoanalysis, Dr Geleerd's restless spirit and inquiring mind motivated an unending search for truth. She lived in four cultures during her relatively brief lifetime. Each had its enriching influence and its traumatic impact.

Born in the first decade of the 20th century of an upper middle-class family in Holland, she attended the University of Leyden. Her decision to study medicine and to specialize in psychoanalysis (the latter representing a revolt from tradition even in the 1930s) had multiple determinants. Among the most decisive, she told me, were her mother's chronic illness and death from tuberculosis in her childhood, leaving her and two brothers in the care of an aunt and her father, who was absorbed in his work and frequently absent. One of her brothers also died of tuberculosis during adolescence. Throughout her school years, she excelled as a student but suffered keenly from the conventional, confining atmosphere of her native setting. One might say that long before her departure from Holland she had known the loneliness of the outsider in a familiar land.

Vienna, where we met in 1936 and shared many interests and enthusiasms, as well as frustrations and disappointments, might well have remained her adopted home.

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