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Steiner, R. (2012). Hanna Segal 1918-2011. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 93(2):457-469.

(2012). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 93(2):457-469

Hanna Segal 1918-2011 Language Translation

Riccardo Steiner

Photo by Stan Lipsitz.

I think one can speak of ‘the short twentieth century’ as an ‘Age of Extremes’ (Hobsbawm, 1994), even for psychoanalysis and a certain generation of psychoanalysts. Indeed it would be impossible to think of the personal life and scientific contributions of Hanna Segal without referring directly and indirectly to the political and social cultural history and to the ideological conflicts of the years roughly between 1914 and 1991 which Hobsbawm studied in his very successful book.

This is so, even if strictly chronologically speaking Hanna was born four years later and survived more than 20 years beyond the epochal events of the ‘Age of Extremes’. She was born in Lodz, Poland, as Hanna Poznanska on 20 August 1918 and died in London on 5 July 2011 at the age of 93. Lodz, together with Warsaw, is for some a sinister reminder of the horrors of the ghettos recreated by the German Nazis at the beginning of World War II. But at the beginning of the 20th century it was a very lively industrial city with a noticeable cultural life, and it hosted the second largest community of Jews in Poland.

Hanna Segal, or Hanka to her friends, grew up in a highly cultivated non-religious Jewish household during very difficult years for her country which were also full of hope. Poland was indeed trying desperately to find and defend a fragile national unity and identity, squeezed as it was between the Russia of the October Revolution and the melting down of the Central Empires, and what followed after the end of World War I.

Hanna did not have an easy childhood.

[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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