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Roazen, P. (2006). George Wilbur: Otto Rank and Hanns Sachs. Psychoanal. Hist., 8(1):43-63.

(2006). Psychoanalysis and History, 8(1):43-63

George Wilbur: Otto Rank and Hanns Sachs

Paul Roazen

I no longer remember exactly how and why I decided to get in touch with George Wilbur (1887-1973) for the sake of interviewing him in the fall of 1965 about his participation in the history of psychoanalysis. My files indicate that I had written him first in 1964, in connection with an unpublished paper of Hanns Sachs on capital punishment that I was trying to track down; Sachs was a Viennese, trained initially as a lawyer, who became one of Freud's most loyal apostles. Sachs had been a friend of the great Austrian jurisprudential thinker Hans Kelsen. Sachs arrived from Berlin in 1932 to become the Training Analyst at the newly organized Boston Psychoanalytic Institute. Ever since the early 1920s Sachs had trained many people, and Wilbur was to add the psychiatrist Gregory Zilboorg as well as the Yale sociologist John Dollard to my list of Sachs's analysands.

Sachs and Rank

I knew that Wilbur was an early member of the Boston psychoanalytic group, had been the long-standing editor of American Imago (1947-63), and would therefore be in an excellent position to be able to enlighten me about Hanns Sachs. Sachs and Otto Rank, also Viennese, had co-operated in founding the original journal Imago in 1912, concerned with non-medical aspects of psychoanalysis, and after the Nazis entered Vienna Sachs had started American Imago in the States. At the time I saw Wilbur I was teaching full-time at Harvard College in Cambridge, Mass. and Wilbur had for years been living on Cape Cod in South Dennis, so it was an easy trip to go see him there. Although I did not want to allow my work to contribute to any of the old long-standing controversies in the field, my notes indicate that our discussions began with talking about Rank.

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