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Berliner Psychoanalytische Poliklinik


When the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute opened the first psychoanalytic polyclinic on February 14, 1920, it became the institutional model for bringing together the functions of therapy, research and training in one unit.

The Berlin Psychoanalytic Polyclinic fulfilled one of the functions of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute (polyclinic, teaching, course commission, treasury, and subsidies). The polyclinic committee consisted of Max Eitingon (reception of patients and treatment indications), Ernst Simmel (experience treating war neuroses) and Karl Abraham (President of the Berlin Association). Situated since 1928 at Wichmannstrasse 10 (with five consultation rooms and a library), the polyclinic was the property of Max Eitingon. In 1928 five assistants were treating between ten and twelve patients.

The antinomy creating tensions between therapy (continuing analysis in difficult cases) and teaching (giving "easy cases" to trainee analysts) led to the development of controlled analyses and technical seminars (no more than six participants and constant personal contact with the training analyst). Training analyses were not paid for. Members of the German Psychoanalytic Society (DPG) had to treat at least one case from the polyclinic. Fees: the patient's own maximum; about two thirds of the patients were economically challenged and were treated free of charge. Sometimes health insurance funds paid part of the costs (psychologists: three Reichsmarks, physicians: five Reichsmarks). The average duration of treatment was about two hundred hours (in four or five weekly sessions of forty-five minutes).

In spite of the pressure from patients on the polyclinic's waiting list, "short therapies" were rejected as "failures." What Freud had prophesied in Budapest that "the large-scale application of our therapy will compel us to alloy the pure gold of psychoanalysis," did not apply, according to Eitingon "because we have no other metal to make such an alloy." In eight and a half years there were 1,600 demands for cures, 640 of which were implemented. An average of 72 cases were treated per year at the polyclinic between 1920 and 1930 by 94 therapists, 60 of whom were API members. In spite of growing recognition from public authorities, the reaction from professional psychiatrists and psychologists was one of distrust because of the question of "lay analysis."

In 1929 there were polyclinics in Vienna, London, Budapest and Paris. Following the forced elimination of Max Eitingon by the Nazis, Felix Boehm became President of the DPG in 1933 and director of the polyclinic. In 1935 the name of the polyclinic had to be changed by official order to "Ambulatorium." The demand for treatment nevertheless remained constant. Following the forced expulsion of Jewish psychoanalysts from the DPG (December 1935) and their emigration, many courses of treatment were interrupted. The seventeen remaining "Aryan" analysts (February 1937) were still conducting forty-two analyses. With the creation of the Deutsches Institut für Psychologische Forschung und Psychotherapie (Göringinstitut) in May 1936, other methods of treatment were introduced and the organization was divided into four departments (diagnostics, training support, criminal psychology, assessment and catamnesis). Financing was provided by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF; the German Work Front), the Reichsforschungsrat (RFR; the Reich's Research Council), the city of Berlin, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (the Reich's Ministry for Aviation) and health insurance funds. The goals pursued before the Nazis took over: "to enable psychoanalysis to penetrate the working classes" with the specific aim of effecting a profound change in people, were replaced at the Göring Institute by "the capacity to work."

After the war Harald Schultz-Henecke and Werner Kemper founded the Zentralinstitut für psychogene Erkrankungen on March 1, 1946, with the support of individual insurance companies and pension schemes (VAB), offering a therapy financed by the state with psychoanalysts who were employed full-time, whether physicians or non-physicians. With the reorganization of health insurance funds in 1958 it became the Institut für psychogene Erkrankungen ("Institute for Psychogenic Affections" for the Berlin general health insurance fund [AOK]). The trend toward short therapies and the separation from analytic training institutes meant there was no longer any functional continuity with the polyclinic. Both the DPG and the DPV instituted schools for transmitting psychoanalysis and psychotherapy without monthly wage-earning collaborators.

Regine Lockot

See also: Abraham, Karl; Alexander, Franz Gabriel; Berliner Psychoanalytische Poliklinik; Eitingon, Max; Fenichel, Otto; Germany; "Lines of Advance in Psycho-Analytic Therapy"; Sachs, Hanns; Simmel, Ernst; Technique with adults, psychoanalytic; Training analysis; Training of the psychoanalyst


Collectif. (1930). Zehn Jahre Berliner psychoanalytisches Institut (1930). Wien: Internationaler psychoanalytischer Verlag.

Freud, Anna. (1929). Korrespondenzblatt des Internationalen psychoanalytischen Verlags. Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 25 (4), 509-542.

Göring, Matthias H. (1942). Jahresbericht 1941 des Deutschen Instituts für psychologische Forschung und Psychotherapie und Hinweise anläßlich der Mitgliederversammlung am 28.3.1942. Zentralblatt für Psychotherapie, 14 (1-2), 62-77.

Lockot, Regine. (1985). Erinnern und Durcharbeiten: zur Geschichte der Psychoanalyse und Psychotherapie im Nationalsozialismus. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer.

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