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Gero, G. (1984). Reminiscences of a Viennese Psychoanalyst: By Richard F. Sterba, M.D. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1982. 184 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 53:433-439.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:433-439

Reminiscences of a Viennese Psychoanalyst: By Richard F. Sterba, M.D. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1982. 184 pp.

Review by:
George Gero

This book must be read on two levels. It is both an autobiography about the making of a psychoanalyst and a historical document about the psychoanalytic movement in Vienna during the years 1924 to 1938.

Richard Sterba began his analysis with Eduard Hitschmann in 1924, after he completed his medical training. After six months of analysis, the analyst suggested that Sterba take a patient in treatment. (At that time, beginners started to treat their first patients very, very early.) Sterba writes that he had no office either then or for the next two years. He had to see his patient in his own room in his parents' apartment.

In June of 1925, Sterba became an associate member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, although he was only at the beginning of his training at the Institute. Two years later, he graduated and received a certificate signed by Helene Deutsch as Director. The document was also signed by Sigmund Freud in his function as President of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Although Sterba states that he and Grete Bibring were the only trainees whose documents were signed by Freud, this reviewer remembers that Annie Reich's certificate was also signed by Freud.

The greatest influence on his development as a psychoanalyst, Sterba says, was Wilhelm Reich. From Reich, the analytic candidates learned how to observe the patient from the moment he enters the office; to notice how he lies on the couch; to listen not only to what the patient says but also to the sound of his voice; i.e., to become totally aware of the patient's expressive nonverbal communication. Attending Reich's technical seminars, Sterba says, he learned how to develop a sensitivity to recognizing latent resistances, which frequently exert a barely perceptible influence on the patient's conscious material.


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