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Pigman, G.W., III (2005). Sigmund Freud—Max Eitingon, Briefwechsel 1906-1939. 2 vols. Ed. Michael Schröter. Tübingen: edition diskord, 2004. x + 1050 pp. 77.00 EUR.. Am. Imago, 62(2):259-262.

(2005). American Imago, 62(2):259-262

Book Review

Sigmund Freud—Max Eitingon, Briefwechsel 1906-1939. 2 vols. Ed. Michael Schröter. Tübingen: edition diskord, 2004. x + 1050 pp. 77.00 EUR.

Review by:
G. W. Pigman, III

Anna Freud did not think that this correspondence deserved to be published, and its editor originally considered only making a selection. Nevertheless, we are extremely fortunate to have the entirety—so superbly edited, introduced, and annotated—of this essential record of the institutional history of psychoanalysis. It is a shame that many readers will merely dip into this correspondence, for only by reading it through does one come to recognize it as a moving testimony to a friendship that lasted more than thirty years and to appreciate Max Eitingon's love of and service to Freud and his “cause.” By the time I put the book down I shared Michael Schröter's admiration for Eitingon's character, his “capacity for love, loyalty, reliability, tenacity, tact, and realism” (41).

Borrowing from Freud's tribute to Eitingon on the latter's fiftieth birthday, Schröter considers him as the “helmsman” of psychoanalysis. One might also call him its diplomat, physician, or peace-maker. When Freud entrusted Eitingon with the task of announcing his resignation from the planning committee for the first International Congress on Sexual Research, Eitingon replied that he would fulfill his diplomatic mission against Albert Moll (480). During the crisis involving Rank in 1924, Eitingon noted his inclination to remain the physician even in the face of what appears to be incurable (357). As physician and diplomat, he tried on a number of occasions to soothe Freud's irritation with his closest followers, including Rank, Ferenczi, and Jones. Realizing that the “Committee” established in 1912 to assure unity within the psychoanalytic movement had tragicomically become a source of dissension (440), Eitingon tried to defuse conflict among its members.

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