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Eickhoff, F. (2008). Leben als Konflikt. Zur Biographie Alexander Mitscherlich [Living as conflict: The life of Alexander Mitscherlich] by Martin Dehli Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2007; 320 pp; €29.90.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 89(1):214-219.

(2008). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 89(1):214-219

Leben als Konflikt. Zur Biographie Alexander Mitscherlich [Living as conflict: The life of Alexander Mitscherlich] by Martin Dehli Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2007; 320 pp; €29.90.

Review by:
Friedrich-Wilhelm Eickhoff

This is a study that arose as a dissertation in the History department at the European University Institute in Florence, in which Martin Dehli draws together “the threads from the history of ideas, the history of medicine and political history that converge in Alexander Mitscherlich's life”, as the author writes in the Introduction (p. 19). Dehli relates Mitscherlich's life and work to supra-personal social and political developments and, notwithstanding their continuities, identifies some caesuras that emerge in the new beginning of “the intellectual establishment of the Federal Republic” (p. 13), in which Alexander Mitscherlich played a pre-eminent role.

In the first chapter with the misleading title of Family Romance, Martin Dehli, drawing not only on archive material and the autobiography Ein Leben für die Psychoanalyse [A Life for Psychoanalysis], but also on contacts with family members and acquaintances, provides a comprehensive and far from novelistically structured insight into Mitscherlich's upper-middle-class origins. His forename derives from his great-grandfather's friendship with Alexander von Humboldt. The impassioned escapism of the only child of unhappily married parents is impressively portrayed with the significant title ‘Ulysses Umfahr’ [Ulysses' Wanderings] under the pseudonym Michael Dreher in Mass und Wert, Thomas Mann's journal in exile. At the end of the truncated history studies with Paul Joachimsen, the Jewish historian who died in 1930 in Munich, stands the hermeneutic conception of historiography as an interpretive process.

The

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