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Reppen, J. (2006). Theodor Reik: An Appreciation. Psychoanal. Psychol., 23(4):675.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 23(4):675

Theodor Reik: An Appreciation

Joseph Reppen, Ph.D.

Theodore Reik (1888-1969) is important and this appreciative symposium will tell why. His life and work are truly relevant to the history of the Division of Psychoanalysis. Reik is easily characterized as the “father” of nonmedical psychoanalysis in the United States. Freud brilliantly defended Reik in The Question of Lay Analysis. Reik wrote the first psychoanalytic dissertation in 1912, and founded one of the first training institutes in 1948 for the training in psychoanalysis of all disciplines. Graduates of The National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP) went on to found other institutes and organizations and to expand training for psychologists. Moreover, Reik through his many books on numerous subjects, popularized psychoanalysis for a general reading public. Many of his recommendations for treatment preceded by over 50 years contemporary ideas and advances in psychoanalysis often reflected in the pages of this journal. Thus, this appreciative symposium of seven papers by six distinguished authors pays tribute to Reik's special place in psychoanalytic history. It reminds us of his wit, creativity, and genius as well as his unique role in the founding of the Division of Psychoanalysis.

The late historian of psychoanalysis writes of two interviews with Reik in 1965 and 1967. Dany Nobus, from London, who is at work on a biography of Reik, wonders what happened to Reikian psychoanalysis. Martin Schulman, the former editor of The Psychoanalytic Review, reconsiders the question of lay analysis. Zvi Lothane, a noted scholar, continues his interest in free association with an examination of Listening With The Third Ear. Morton Israel, who has worked to reestablish Reik's reputation, writes about Reik's compulsion to confess. Kyle Arnold, a graduate student, offers another view of The Compulsion to Confess. Arnold's paper won the Stephen A. Mitchell Award for an outstanding paper by a psychology student. The final paper, by Kyle Arnold was also submitted independently of the symposium and is included. It covers Reik's theory of listening. All of the contributors including myself, as a former student of Reik, have been touched in different ways by his genius. It is hoped that these appreciative papers will reintroduce Reik's ideas to a new generation of psychologist/psychoanalysts.

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