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Alexander, Franz Gabriel (22 January 1891–08 March 1964), psychoanalyst, was born in Budapest, Hungary, the son of Bernard Alexander, a college professor, and Regina Brössler. After receiving his B.A. from Budapest’s Humanistic Gymnasium in 1908, he briefly studied archaeology and philosophy at the University of Budapest before enrolling in its medical school. In 1910 he became a research associate in physiology at the university’s Institute for Experimental Pathology, where he conducted experiments correlating the work of the brain to its metabolism. In 1913 he received his M.D. and joined the university’s Institute for Hygiene as a research associate in bacteriology. In 1914 he was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian army and placed in charge of a Red Cross medical unit. Three years later he took command of a bacteriological field laboratory assigned to prevent malaria on the Italian front and was awarded the Merit Cross for Distinguished Service. After World War I he returned to the university as a research and clinical associate in psychiatry and neurology in its neuropsychiatric clinic....

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A. A. Brill. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B03153).

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Brill, A. A. (12 October 1874–02 March 1948), psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, was born Abraham Arden Brill in Kanczuga, Galicia, in the Austro-Hungarian empire, the son of Philip Brill, a noncommissioned commissary officer, and Esther Seitelbach. His parents were pious and provincial Jews with traditional expectations for their son. Brill found these stifling and at fifteen he fled to the United States, arriving destitute and alone in 1889. With fierce ambition and through hard work Brill rose out of the Lower East Side ghetto in New York City where he worked at diverse, petty jobs to fulfill his father’s wish that he become both an educated man and a doctor. Although Brill could not afford to complete his course work at the City College of New York, where he had started his studies at night, he managed to educate himself in several languages, in the classics, and in philosophy, accomplishments in which he took pride throughout his life. He finally received a Ph.B. from New York University in 1901 and a medical degree from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1903. In many ways, however, his real education in his destined métier had not yet begun....

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Brunswick, Ruth Jane Mack (17 February 1897–24 January 1946), psychoanalyst, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Julian Mack, a judge and prominent Jewish philanthropist, and Jessie Fox. Julian Mack helped found the Harvard Law Review and later served as a Harvard overseer. Ruth Mack attended Radcliffe College during World War I and graduated from Tufts Medical School in 1922. In 1917 she had married Herrman Blumgart, who later pursued an extraordinarily successful medical career in Boston as an expert in heart disease; his brother Leonard had gone to Vienna for a short analysis with Sigmund Freud after the end of World War I....

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Burrow, Trigant (07 September 1875–24 May 1950), psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and phylobiologist, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of John W. Burrow, a wholesale pharmacist, and Anastasia Devereux. His Protestant father was widely read in science and a freethinker. His devoutly Roman Catholic mother was intelligent, cultured, and moody. A painful rift between the parents exposed the son to human conflict and may have been an important background factor to his lifelong sensitive study of human interrelationships. The youngest of four children, Burrow was painfully affected by the death of his sister when he was twelve years old....

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Coriat, Isador Henry (10 December 1875–26 May 1943), psychoanalyst, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Harry Coriat, a Jewish native of Morocco who emigrated to the United States from France in 1867, and Clara Einstein. When Isador was about four years old, the family moved to Boston, where his father established a cigar-manufacturing business. Isador attended public schools in Boston and graduated with an M.D. from Tufts Medical College in 1900. Immediately after graduating from Tufts, Coriat accepted an offer from ...

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Eissler, K. R. (02 July 1908–17 February 1999), psychoanalyst, was born Kurt Robert Eissler in Vienna, Austria, the son of Robert Joseph Eissler and Alice Wurmfeld Eissler. (It is not known what his parents did for a living.) He earned a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Vienna in 1934, with a thesis on the constancy of visual configurations in the variations of objects and their representation. Eissler continued his academic studies—in medicine—at the university, and was awarded a medical degree in 1937. He married Ruth Selke in 1936; the couple had no children....

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Erikson, Erik (15 June 1902–12 May 1994), psychoanalyst, author, and intellectual, was born near Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Karla Abrahamsen of Copenhagen and an unknown father. The story behind his name is complicated. He was initially named Erik Salomonsen, the surname being that of his mother’s first husband, who abandoned her during their honeymoon and was not Erik’s father. Karla later became pregnant by another man while still legally married to Salomonsen. The elders in the Abrahamsen family insisted that she leave Copenhagen to bear Erik on the outskirts of Frankfurt. When the boy was three and her first husband had died, leaving her technically a widow, she married Theodor Homburger, a prominent Karlsruhe, Germany, pediatrician active on the local synagogue council. Karla moved to Karlsruhe with her son, whose surname was changed to Homburger....

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Fenichel, Otto (02 December 1897–22 January 1946), psychoanalyst, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Leo Fenichel, a lawyer, and Emma Braun. At the age of seventeen Fenichel began to publicly display the analytic abilities, scientific curiosity, and social conscience that distinguished his contributions to psychoanalysis. Within the Young Culture movement Fenichel was influenced by the socialism and psychosexual radicalism of Sigfried Bernfeld and Alfred Kurella. Joining the movement’s left wing, he advocated social revolution and personal transformation—with sexual freedom and democratic education as its catalysts. As a Gymnasium student he studied biology, read Freud, and risked expulsion by surveying his fellow students’ sexual lives and publishing the results in a leftist journal, ...

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Fromm, Erich Pinchas (23 March 1900–18 March 1980), psychoanalyst, social psychologist, and author, was born in Frankfurt, Germany, the son of Naphtali Fromm, a wine merchant, and Rosa Krause. The marriage was unhappy, and Fromm was, in his words, an “unbearable, neurotic child” (Burston, p. 8). When he was twelve, a gifted, beautiful young woman close to his family committed suicide. The event impressed on him the irrationalities of human behavior, as did the First World War. When the war ended in German defeat in 1918, Fromm “was a deeply troubled young man who was obsessed with the question of how war was possible, by the wish to understand the irrationality of human mass behavior, by a passionate desire for peace and international understanding” (Burston, p. 10)....

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Jelliffe, Smith Ely (27 October 1886–25 September 1945), neurologist, psychoanalyst, and medical editor, was born in New York City, the son of William Munson Jelliffe and Susan Emma Kitchell, both teachers. Jelliffe entered the civil engineering program at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and left without graduating in 1886 to enroll in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. He received his M.D. with honors in 1889 and interned for a year at St. Mary’s Hospital, Brooklyn, after which he traveled to Europe for a year. There he studied medicine and botany and visited cultural and historical sites. On his return in 1891, Jelliffe opened a general practice in his parents’ home in Brooklyn. To pay off his debts he did part-time clinical and pathological work in a hospital. His botanical studies in Europe had also qualified him to be a sanitary inspector for the Brooklyn Board of Health and to teach materia medica and botany at the Brooklyn College of Pharmacy at night. In 1894 Jelliffe married his longtime fiancée, Helena Dewey Leeming. The couple moved to New York City where they had five children. A year after his wife’s sudden death in 1916, he married Belinda Dobson; they had no children....

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Kardiner, Abram (17 August 1891–20 July 1981), psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, was born Abraham Elionais Kardiner in New York City, the son of Isaac Kardiner, a tailor, and Mildred Wolff. Growing up in severe poverty in New York’s Lower East Side, the three-year-old Kardiner lost his mother to tuberculosis. His father soon remarried, and Kardiner was raised largely by a stern yet kindly stepmother. He attended City College in New York City, graduating with a B.A. in 1912....

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Kohut, Heinz (03 May 1913–08 October 1981), psychoanalyst, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Felix Kohut, a pianist who went into the paper business after World War I, and Else Lampl. His strong-willed mother played the major role in the life of her adored only son. She kept him from school for four years and hired tutors; later, however, he attended one year of elementary school and the Döblinger Gymnasium before studying medicine at the University of Vienna. Growing up in a prosperous Jewish family, Kohut was exposed to the best of Viennese culture, attending the opera as often as three times a week and becoming acquainted with trends in literature and the arts. When he was eleven to thirteen years of age, Else Kohut hired a tutor, Ernst Morawetz, probably a university student, to spend most afternoons with Heinz and take him to the opera and museums. This tutor, about whom Kohut always spoke with great fondness, gave much meaning to a childhood otherwise lonely....

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Samuel Willard Crompton

May, Rollo (21 April 1909–22 October 1994), psychoanalyst, was born Reece May in Ada, Ohio, the son of Earl Tittle May, a field secretary for the Young Men’s Christian Association, and Matie Boughton. His family moved to Michigan when May was a child. The second oldest of six children, May grew up feeling closer to his father than to his mother, and he was awkward and shy in school. May attended Michigan State College but transferred to Oberlin College after ...

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Oberndorf, Clarence Paul (16 February 1882–30 May 1954), psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, was born in New York City, the son of Joseph Oberndorf, a prosperous merchant, and Augusta Hammerstein. Oberndorf’s father, a scholarly man, had been a schoolteacher in Bavaria, but after immigrating to America at the age of thirteen he had established himself as a merchant in Selma, Alabama. Oberndorf first attended the Dallas Academy in Selma, then continued his education at Public School 69 in New York, having moved with his family to the city at age eleven following the death of his father from cancer. After living for a year in Munich, Germany, the family returned to New York, where the fifteen-year-old Oberndorf entered Mount Morris State High School in the Bronx. In high school Oberndorf began what he called his career as a “frustrated journalist” with regular contributions to the local newspaper about school activities....

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Rado, Sandor (1890–1972), psychoanalyst, was born probably in Hungary. The names of his parents and details of his education are unknown. In 1913 he became, with four others, a founding member of the Hungarian Psychoanalytic Society. He first met Sigmund Freud before World War I, thanks to a letter of introduction from Rado’s mentor in Budapest, Sandor Ferenczi, who was a special favorite of Freud’s. In 1924, when Rado was already a prominent analyst practicing in Berlin, Freud elevated him to replace ...

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Rank, Otto (22 April 1884–31 October 1939), psychologist and psychoanalyst, was born Otto Rosenfeld in Vienna, Austria, the son of Simon Rosenfeld, an artisan jeweler, and Karoline Fleischner. His older brother studied law while Otto became a locksmith: the family could not afford higher education for both. Close to his mother but alienated from his alcoholic father, Otto adopted “Rank” in adolescence and formalized it a few years later, symbolizing self-creation, a central theme of his life and work....

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Reich, Wilhelm (24 March 1897–03 November 1957), psychoanalyst and natural scientist, was born in Dobrzcynica, Galicia, Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of Leon Reich, a cattle farmer, and Cecile Roniger. Reich, whose family was Jewish but nonobservant, always insisted that he did not adhere to any organized religion. He had a privileged if somewhat isolated childhood. Tutored at home until he was fourteen, he then entered a German Gymnasium. Shortly before this time, Reich suffered a tragedy that would profoundly influence his later views on sexuality. He told his jealous and authoritarian father about an affair he had observed between his tutor and his mother. The father fiercely berated the mother, who committed suicide. Grief-stricken, the father died several years later....

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Reik, Theodor (12 May 1888–31 December 1969), psychoanalyst, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Max Reik, a civil servant, and Caroline Trebitsch. The family had limited means but valued education and the arts. After finishing secondary school, Reik worked his way through the University of Vienna, where he studied literature and psychology and planned to become a psychiatrist. He graduated in 1910....

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Sachs, Hanns (10 January 1881–10 January 1947), psychoanalyst, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Samuel Sachs, a lawyer, and Heimine Heller. Sachs grew up in a home dominated by artistic and literary concerns. He graduated from the Gymnasium in 1899 and had qualified to practice law by 1904. That year he also first read Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud’s ...