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Bakman, N. (2009). Psychoanalyse in Selbstdarstellungen [Self-Portraits in Psychoanalysis] edited by Ludger M. Hermanns Brandes & Apsel, Frankfurt, 2007; vol. V, 208 pp, vol. VI, 208 pp; €19.90 per vol.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(1):157-160.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(1):157-160

Book Reviews

Psychoanalyse in Selbstdarstellungen [Self-Portraits in Psychoanalysis] edited by Ludger M. Hermanns Brandes & Apsel, Frankfurt, 2007; vol. V, 208 pp, vol. VI, 208 pp; €19.90 per vol.

Review by:
Nina Bakman

Fifteen years ago the Berlin psychoanalyst Ludger M. Hermanns set about proposing and collecting autobiographies by psychoanalysts. It was his encounter with emigrant analysts at the first congress held in Germany in Hamburg in 1985 that inspired this idea. The aim was primarily to portray their psychoanalytic career in connection with their life, so as to preserve these valuable experiences and memories. The series has now grown to six volumes. The two latest ones were published in 2007.

The title is, of course, reminiscent of Freud's autobiographical account, which gave rise to his complaint at the time about “the unusual difficulties of the task” (Freud, 1925, p. 7). This was a work commissioned for the eight-volume collection Die Medizin der Gegenwart in Selbstdarstellungen (1923-1929) [Self-Portraits in Contemporary Medicine]. Freud's concise account of his childhood and youth and his discovery of psychoanalysis remains an indispensable source.

The eight self-portraits that have now been published in Volumes V (Wolfgang Bister, Judith Dupont, Klaus Fink and Eugen Mahler) and VI (Hermann Beland, Anna Ornstein, Paul Ornstein and Léon Wurmser) are all written by psychoanalysts of the pre-war generation - they were born between 1922 and 1927. They all experienced World War II in their youth. Nonetheless, their chronicles could not be more different in style. Each one has his own conception of the ‘task’; some give their account in a lively and artistic way (Eugen Mahler), while others describe events in a more restrained manner (Anna and Paul Ornstein), and yet others maintain a close connection between life and theory in an attempt to understand their own life story psychoanalytically (Hermann Beland).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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