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Kronold, E. (1980). Edith Jacobson—1897-1978. Psychoanal Q., 49:505-507.

(1980). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 49:505-507

Edith Jacobson—1897-1978

Edward Kronold

With the death of Edith Jacobson on December 8, 1978, at the age of eighty-one, psychoanalysis lost an outstanding clinician, a prolific writer, and a teacher of note.

Edith Jacobson was born in Hanau, a small town in the German province of Upper Silesia. She attended schools in Breslau and received her medical degree in Munich in 1924. (Her father had been a country doctor, and she had warm memories of going out on calls with him when she was a child.) In 1925, she went to Berlin to study psychiatry at the University in the department chaired by Professor Karl Bonhoeffer, and it was he who encouraged her to study psychoanalysis. She became a member of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society in 1930 and was soon presenting papers which dealt with her interest in the problems of the superego and its development.

In the summer of 1938, Edith Jacobson arrived in New York, only a few short months after her release from a Nazi prison and her escape from Germany. How she came to be in trouble with the Nazis exemplifies her remarkable courage and loyalty. She had left Germany for the safe haven of Copenhagen where she had friends from Berlin. After she received news that a former patient was in trouble with the Nazis, however, she decided—against the warnings of her friends—to return to Germany to stand by her patient. She was soon arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned for refusing to give information on the political activities of her patients. During her imprisonment, she acted as a kind of psychotherapist to the other inmates and made them the subject of a study which later appeared in print as "Observations on the Psychological Effect of Imprisonment on Female Political Prisoners" (1949).

She served two years of a three-year sentence and was then released because of a life-threatening thyrotoxicosis.

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