Berliner Psychoanalytisches Institut

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The Berliner Psychoanalytisches Institut (Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute, or BPI), so named on February 20, 1922, included a polyclinic, a training institute (with lectures, case study seminars, and training and control analyses), a curriculum committee, and a treasury and finance office.

As early as 1919 Max Eitingon and Ernst Simmel proposed that the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society establish a clinic offering free analytic treatment to those otherwise unable to afford it. This was a desiratum for Freud (1919a), and by the next year a training institute for such a clinic opened, with Simmel as director and Eitingon as owner, funded by an annual budget of about 16000 RM.

Located at 29 Potsdamerstrasse, the institute was managed by Ernst Freud. When it opened on February 14, 1920, it included lecture rooms, offices for consultation, and a library. Karl Abraham was in charge of the first courses. In the autumn of 1928, the institute moved to larger quarters at 10 Wichmannstrasse.

To counter the growing popularity of "wild analysis" and courting respectability in the eyes of the medical establishment, regulations were developed during 1923-1924 that governed acceptance of candidates (after three preliminary interviews), decided on the curriculum and role of training and control analyses, and also ruled on formal membership admissions. Medical studies (even if unfinished) were demanded of analysts-in-training; pedagogical studies were required for child analysts. Non-physicians in Germany enjoyed relative freedom to practice therapy. Thanks to Felix Boehm, the treasury was subsidized by members of the institute and money was available to support candidates. The monthly cost of training ranged from 200 to 300 RM.

Analytic training began with a didactic analysis (six months minimum) with indications as to treatment decided by the analyst-in-training committee. Theoretical teaching was the responsibility of the training analyst. After at least two semesters of theoretical studies, the candidate undertook at least two years of practical work at the polyclinic; this period would come to be known as "control" or "supervision" and was followed by transition to autonomous clinical work with approval of the training committee. Hanns Sachs described the training experience as a "novitiate" that was run like a "technical seminary." Reacting against regimentation, a group of rebellious young analysts founded what became known as the "Kinder-seminar" (Children's Seminar).

The institute also trained non-therapeutic analysts who were permitted to attend all but technical courses on treatment. Members of groups from Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Leipzig, and Hamburg attended workshops and conferences at the BPI.

In 1930, ninety-four therapists worked at the BPI, sixty of whom belonged to the International Psychoanalytic Association (which then totaled four hundred). The Prussian-like hierarchical structure was criticized by Siegfried Bernfeld as damaging to psychoanalysis. The BPI acquired a reputation for rigidity that was exported through emigration and escape from Germany during the Nazi era. A detailed report published in 1930 on the institute's tenth anniversary allows a better understanding of the training system that would become the basis for standards set by the International Psychoanalytic Association (Colonomos).

Institutes modeled after the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute were soon founded in Vienna, London, Budapest, The Hague, Frankfurt, New York and Chicago, and Paris (in 1934 and again in 1954). Other institutes in the United States based on the BPI were established in Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Topeka, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, and New Orleans.

A wave of voluntary emigration brought Melanie Klein and Walter Schmideberg to Britain, and Franz Alexander, Jenö Hárnik, Sándor Radó, Karen Horney, and Hanns Sachs to the United States. Among the most influential of some seventy-four analysts and candidates-in-training obliged to leave Germany were Siegfried Bernfeld, Max Eitingon, Otto Fenichel, Wilhelm Reich, Theodor Reik, and Ernst Simmel.

The number of students at the BPI, some two-hundred twenty-two strong in December 1931, declined steeply after the National Socialists came to power, with only thirty-nine in attendance in December 1933; the number of analytic candidates fell from thirty-four in the fall of 1932 to eight in July 1934. The demand for treatment remained constant, however. In 1935 there were still fourteen analysts in Germany. A series of state interventions, forced resignation of Jewish analysts, and concessions made by the remaining "Aryan" analysts, including the "aryanization" of the directorate, damaged the institute from without and drained it from within. Both the treasury and committee meetings, as well as conceptual terminology of psychoanalysis, came under state control. The BPI was renamed the German Institute of Psychoanalysis, and all the institute's assets were transferred "on loan" to the German Institute for Psychological Research and Psychotherapy (Göringinstitut, or Göring Institute), founded in 1936.

After the war, in 1950, the Karl Abraham Institute, established in association with the German Psychoanalytic Association (DPV) and directed by Carl MüllerBraunschweig, renewed the tradition of the BPI.

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 of the psychoanalyst.


Bernfeld, Siegfried. (1984).Über die psychoanalytische Ausbildung. Psyche, 38, 437-459.

Colonomos, F. (Ed). (1985). On forme des psychanalystes: rapport original sur les dix ans de l 'Institut psychanalytique de Berlin, 1920-1930. Paris: Denoël.

Eitingon, Max. (1924). Bericht über die Berliner psychoanalytische PoliklinikJuni 1922-März 1924, VIIIer Internationalen psychoanalytischen Verlags-Kongress. Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, X (2), 229-241.

Freud, Sigmund. (1919a). Lines of advance in psycho-analytic therapy. SE, 17: 157-168.

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Berliner Psychoanalytisches Institut

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