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Kohut, H. (1955). Beethoven and his Nephew. A Psychoanalytic Study of their Relationship: By Editha and Richard Sterba, M.D. New York: Pantheon Books, Inc., 1954. 351 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 24:453-455.
    

(1955). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 24:453-455

Beethoven and his Nephew. A Psychoanalytic Study of their Relationship: By Editha and Richard Sterba, M.D. New York: Pantheon Books, Inc., 1954. 351 pp.

Review by:
Heinz Kohut

The Sterbas' pathography is written so expertly that the reader is likely to be unaware of the enormous labor expended in collecting and correlating the documentary evidence for their thesis. The study omits, as must all psychological pathographies of great men, an examination of the essential attribute of a genius, his greatness. An investigation of greatness, however, would have to include the response of the masses to the artist's creations, to which the psychoanalyst can contribute nothing more than the evidence that artistic expression of a universal conflict has universal appeal.

The central purpose of the work is the psychoanalytic elucidation of Beethoven's personality, in particular as it is revealed in his smothering love for his nephew Karl. 'Ludwig's relationship to Karl resembles that of a certain type of mother, who idolizes her son … so long as she feels sure of possessing him. When her son displays independence, this type of mother … is bitter in her reproaches… Such a mother believes that … she fully compensates her son for his obligation to belong to her entirely.' Beethoven's identification with his mother and his latent homosexuality, as well as his possessiveness and his inability to share or to compromise, are also clearly shown in the attacks of boundless jealousy aroused in him by his brothers' attachments to women and by their marriages.

The

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