Topic: Hermine Hug-Hellmuth Biography
Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth (1871-1924), actually her name was von Hug Hugenstein, was a pioneer in child psychoanalytic therapy. She was the daughter of a military in good standing. Hermine never married and died tragically murdered by her nephew Rolf. That nephew of 18 years was the natural son of his sister Antoine, who had been at her charge after the death of her sister.
Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth, following the footsteps of her sister, Antoine, became a children teacher. Later she entered the University of Vienna, graduating and obtaining a doctorate in Sciences Physics. In 1909 he defended his doctoral thesis about the physical and chemical properties of radioactive substances. Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth was one of the first Viennese women in college.
She became interested in the theories of Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis when she started her own psychoanalysis with the analyst Isidor Sadger.
In 1910 Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth published in the Zentralblatt für Psychoanalyse her first article entitled “The Analysis of a Dream of a 5-Year Old Boy“. Later she published another interesting article entitled “The Nature of the Child’s Soul (Or Psyche” (1913), and in 1919 “A study of the mental life of the child“.
Hermine became a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1913, and was closely involved in its journal “Imago” and in the “International Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse “.
In 1920 Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth participates at the Congress of Psychoanalysis in The Hague where she has a paper entitled “On the Technique of the Analysis of Children“.
Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth published the book “The Analysis of a Dream of a 5-Year Old Boy” in 1912, when Anna Freud was 18 and Melanie Klein began to be interested in the studies of Freud. That’s why she is considered the pioneer in the psychoanalytic treatment of children and the use of the game (play therapy) to understand the child’s mind. Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth was really the first to adapt psychoanalytic technique at the age of the child. She said: “The purpose of analysis, both adults and children, is the same: restoring mental health.”
At first it was thought that psychoanalysis could only be carried out after 17 or 18, but Hug-Hellmuth adapted psychoanalysis to the child’s age.
It was thought that Hermine von Hug-Hellmuth wrote a book called “A Young Girl’s Diary“, published anonymously in 1919. The book was a great success and several editions were sold in no time. The book is written in first person by a young woman named Rita who speaks, among other things, about “awakening sexuality”. People as influential as Lou Andreas-Salome or the writer Stefan Zweig spoke very highly of that book.
Hermine Hug-Hellmuth stayed true to psychoanalytic orthodoxy, and was among the favorite disciples of Freud.
(Edited by Dr. María Moya Guirao, MD)