Edith Jacobson Biography

Edith Jacobson

Edith Jacobson

Biography of Edith Jacobson

Edith Jacobson (1897-1978) was a German psychoanalyst doctor who was born into a Jewish family of doctors from Lower Silesia. She was part of the first generation of women with university education after the First World War.

This psychoanalyst was a very politically committed person. The Gestapo stopped her in October 1935. Fleeing from the Nazi threat she settled in the United States of America, where she died in 1978 (Rochester, New York). In America, Jacobson was a member of the Institute of Psychoanalysis in New York. In that institute he worked as a psychoanalyst for many years.

But back to its beginnings, Edith Jacobson, who had graduated as a doctor and worked as a pediatrician in a hospital in the German city of Heidelberg, began to be interested in Psychoanalysis as a result of knowing sexuality of the kids through his work as a pediatrician.

In 1925 Edith Jacobson entered the Psychoanalytic Institute in Berlin where he had as teachers Sándor Rado, Franz Alexander and Otto Fenichel. Jacobson performed with the latter his Didactic Analysis.

In his early work Edith Jacobson included extensive and detailed clinical material of his experience in the treatment of children with psychic problems. In these studies on child psychic pathology we can be seen a clear influence of the two great founders of psychoanalysis of children, Anna Freud and Melanie Klein.

Among the most important contributions made by Edith Jacobson deserve to mention their interesting studies on the Depression, Psychosis and the Freudian psychic instances of the Self, Id and the Super-ego.

The theories of Edith Jacobson are framed within the current developed by Marxist psychoanalysts of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute. Among these psychoanalysts were Wilhelm Reich and his wife Annie (the latter became a great friend of Edith), Otto Fenichel, Erich Fromm, etc. This group of psychoanalysts, we could say “from the left“, emphasized the importance of external reality for psychological development and the social influence in the development of neuroses.

In this line, Edith Jacobson argued that the environmental factor of reality was as important as the internal world of emotions and fantasies.

Also interesting are his contributions in the field of women’s psychology, femininity, female sexuality and the psychological development of the girl.

(Edited by Dr. María Moya Guirao, MD)

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