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Kramer, P. (1949). August Aichhorn—1878–1949. Psychoanal Q., 18:494-497.

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(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:494-497

August Aichhorn—1878–1949

Paul Kramer

If personal devotion to a great man and the privilege of his friendship were the sole qualifications required to do him justice in a few remarks, then I should feel no hesitation in speaking to you about August Aichhorn. Unfortunately, I do not feel equal to the task of conveying a true picture of Aichhorn's pioneering accomplishments and extraordinary personality. His few published writings, of which only the classical Wayward Youth has been translated into English, do not provide an adequate picture of the man or his work. In fact, in reviewing his few published essays I find them pale in comparison with the vital, warm and generous personality of Aichhorn.

He began as a teacher in Vienna. His interests very soon expanded beyond teaching and became concerned with the fate of neglected and unfortunate youth. This remained his primary interest to the end of his life. For years before his acquaintance with psychoanalysis, he devoted his immense energies to work with delinquent children. He found in Freud's ideas and observations an explanation for his own intuitive approach and successes, and a basis for his future pioneering work.

In adapting Freud's techniques of psychoanalysis to the special needs of the treatment of delinquents, he was the first to recognize that the delinquent's actions were determined in a comprehensible way by a combination of internal and external circumstances. To my knowledge he was the first to discard both society's century-old punitive attitude toward the wayward child and the opposite tendency of sentimental charity and unlimited indulgence advocated by some in the child-training field. Aichhorn organized and supervised the work of a series of municipal child guidance clinics for the city of Vienna, and for a number of years conducted the unique institutions of Oberhollabrun and St. Andrä 1918–1922). There he undertook a radical departure from the customary methods of dealing with juvenile delinquents, and brilliantly


Read before the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society, November 22, 1949.

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