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Spitz, E.H. (1998). Martha Wolfenstein: Toward the Severance of Memory from Hope. Psychoanal. Rev., 85(1):105-115.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Review, 85(1):105-115

Martha Wolfenstein: Toward the Severance of Memory from Hope

Ellen Handler Spitz

The following essay, a hybrid text, combines biographical with autobiographical elements and may be thought of in part as a personal memoir. Although the work of Martha Wolfenstein (1911-1976) had a profound impact on my life for many years and continues to do so (see, for example, Spitz, 1984, 1985, 1994), it was not until work on this essay began that I realized quite how deep the identifications run. Because our context in this volume is historical and psychoanalytic, I feel these convergences ought not be suppressed. Bound to Martha Wolfenstein by braided strands of personal history, I shall, in these pages, trace a few of them for the reader. Principally, the focus will be on family background, since her major contributions to psychoanalysis—her seminal work on childhood bereavement (for example, Wolfenstein & Kliman, 1965), on children's humor (Wolfenstein, 1978[1954]), on film (Wolfenstein, 1950), on images of childhood in different cultures (work done with Margaret Mead) (Mead & Wolfenstein, 1955)—are well known. Nevertheless, the concluding section of this essay will be devoted to a discussion of three of her shorter works.

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