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Geyer, M. Kächele, H. (2015). Obituary for Helmut Thomä. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 96(3):911-917.

(2015). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 96(3):911-917

Obituary

Obituary for Helmut Thomä

Michael Geyer and Horst Kächele

The German psychoanalyst Helmut Thomä was born on 6 May 1921 and died on 3 August 2013.

Above all, the significant thing about his life's work concerns what he accomplished in putting psychoanalysis on a scientific footing. His work spans more than 50 years, almost the whole of the second half of the last century down to our day.

In sketching Helmut Thomä's contribution to the development of psychoanalytical science in what follows, we want first to raise the question of how a German in Germany - a country which had virtually stamped out psychoanalysis as the embodiment of the invidious Jewish spirit - was even able to gain an internationally recognized position. To do so requires a glance at the beginning of his career as a doctor and scientist.

With a birth year of 1921, Helmut Thomä belonged to that generation of German men who were just the right age for military service at the beginning of the Second World War. Having been drafted as a future medical officer following his officially foreshortened years at school, he was commandeered to Berlin to study medicine and lived through the end of the war as a junior doctor in a Bavarian local reserve hospital.

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