Balint-Székely-Kovács, Alice (1898-1939)

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Hungarian psychoanalyst and anthropologist Alice Balint-Székely-Kovács was born in Budapest on June 16, 1898, and died in Manchester on August 19, 1939.

She was the eldest daughter of Vilma Kovács, herself an analyst and student of Sándor Ferenczi. Both Alice and Michael Balint were also his students. Alice Balint had a brilliant career as a student in Budapest. One of her classmates was Margrit Schönberger, who became well known under the name of Margaret Mahler. Then she pursued university studies in mathematics and anthropology.

From 1921 to 1924, she resided in Berlin with Michael Balint, her future husband. Both were in analysis with Hanns Sachs and participated in the activities of the Psychoanalytic Association of Berlin. Dissatisfied with their analyses, they returned to Budapest and finished their training with Sándor Ferenczi.

Alice Balint was very active in the Psychoanalytic Association of Budapest. A child analyst at the Psychoanalytic Polyclinic of Budapest, she also maintained a private practice of children and adults. She gave lectures for parents that later appeared in the pedagogy journal Gyermeknevelés (Child Education). In 1939 the Balint family emigrated to Great Britain and established themselves in Manchester. Alice Balint died there suddenly at the end of August 1939.

Her work comprises a series of articles and one book. Her articles deal with ethno-psychoanalysis ("Mexican War Hieroglyphs," "The Father of the Family"), psychoanalytic theory ("Love for the Mother and Mother Love," "On Repression") and pedagogy. Her book, called A Gyermekszoba pszichológiája (The Psychoanalysis of the Nursery), was translated into several languages.

Alice Balint died too young, leaving behind a body of work qualitatively modest, but of great originality, that still waits to be better known and used.

Judith Dupont

See also: Balint, Michael; Hungary; Primary love.


Balint, Alice. (1953). The psycho-analysis of the nursery. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

. (1965) Love for the mother and Mother Love. In Michael Balint, Primary love and psycho-analytic technique. London: Tavistock Publications.

. (1990). Anya és gyermek (Mother and child) (2nd ed.). Budapest: Pantheon.