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Lewin, B.D. (1950). Paul Federn—1872–1950. Psychoanal Q., 19:295-297.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:295-297

Paul Federn—1872–1950

Bertram D. Lewin

We mourn our departed friend and colleague, Paul Federn. He came of a physician's family in which he learned high ideals of medical science and ethics. He received his medical degree from the University of Vienna in 1895 and, after postgraduate work at the University, he became first assistant in the medical department of the Allgemeinen Krankenhaus. After five years at this post, he entered general practice. It was natural for him to enter the psychoanalytic movement (in 1901) under the strong influence of his professional contact with Professor Freud, and he found no difficulty in throwing into his psychoanalytic life the vigorous idealism of his early upbringing. His rare gift for enthusiasm and earnestness made him immediately a leader and teacher. He assumed the post of acting chairman and director of the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society when Freud became ill in 1922.

Federn's life in analysis recapitulates the whole development of this science. The theory of sexuality was enhanced by his contributions to the psychology of sadism and masochism, and dream theory gained from his studies of pavor nocturnus and typical dreams. To him is credited the first interpretation of dreams of flying. This was in 1913, and a discussion of the feeling of being inhibited in dreams (in the same year) foreshadows his later interest in the role of the ego in dreams.

A journey to America where he made contacts with Adolf Meyer and August Hoch, which might have been richly fruitful for psychoanalysis in this country, was cut short by the first World War. In the twenties Federn became preoccupied with ego psychology in its analytic aspects, and in 1926 appeared his classical paper on variations in ego feeling, particularly the unusual variations that are to be found in the psychoses and sleep and half sleep. Following this came two other papers which carried on the same line of inquiry.

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