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Gifford, S. (1983). Helene Deutsch—1884-1982. Psychoanal Q., 52:427-431.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 52:427-431

Helene Deutsch—1884-1982

Sanford Gifford

With the death of each eminent European colleague, we feel again the passing of an earlier, more exciting era in the history of psychoanalysis. But among these illustrious forebears, Helene Deutsch occupied a unique position, because her long life connects us with the most exhilarating, tragic, eventful years of our past. Born Helene Rosenbach in 1884, she grew up in Przmysl, a Polish-speaking garrison town on the Ukrainian border of the Hapsburg Empire. She was the youngest daughter of a district magistrate and an ambitious, difficult mother. As a girl, she was not admitted to the local Gymnasium, which obliged her to prepare for university entrance requirements by other means. She ran away from home several times, studied in Lwow and Zürich, where she met famous members of the revolutionary intelligentsia, and had a romantic affair with a young Polish radical. She was fond of recalling her youthful activities in behalf of workers' and women's rights and her attending the 1910 Congress of the Second International in Stockholm.

In 1907 she was finally admitted to the medical faculty of the University of Vienna, one of seven women in her class, only three of whom completed their studies. In her last year, while studying the word-association test with Kraepelin in Munich, she met Felix Deutsch, a promising young Viennese internist who had come to give a lecture. They were married in 1912 and settled in Vienna where she pursued her training in clinical psychiatry on Wagner-Jauregg's service at the University Hospital. She became interested in psychoanalysis through her own reading and the encouragement of Paul Schilder, and after her son, Martin, was born in 1917, she began a training analysis with Sigmund Freud.

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