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Sutherland, J.D. (1971). Michael Bálint (1896–1970). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 52:331-333.

(1971). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 52:331-333

Michael Bálint (1896–1970)

John D. Sutherland

Michael Balint died after a heart attack on 31 December 1970. His death came as a surprise to almost all the members of the British Society, of which he had been the robust and lively President for the previous two years, for his extraordinary zest for life and work along with his general vigour greatly belied his age. It was characteristic of him that it was only after his death that we all learned of how he had had a heart attack several years earlier and that he had also been troubled with diabetes and blindness during the last few years.

Born in Budapest in 1896, Balint was the son of a general practitioner. His early interests lay in the physical sciences, but under the influence of his father he began to train as a doctor. The outbreak of the First World War interrupted his studies when he had to serve in the army. Fortunately for us, he was able to return to the university after being wounded, and in 1920 he graduated M.D. from Budapest University. A year later he married and he and his wife Alice soon moved to Berlin to escape the active antisemitism in Hungary. Michael worked as a biochemist and then the ability and energy that were to stamp his future soon widened his activities. Within three years he had obtained a Ph.D. for some of his biochemical research, started work in a medical clinic and, along with Alice, trained in psychoanalysis. Hanns Sachs was his analyst in Berlin, but before completing his training with him, Michael returned to Budapest to finish with Ferenczi.

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