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Bibring-Lehner, Grete (1899-1977)


A doctor and psychoanalyst, Grete Bibring-Lehner was born in Vienna on January 11, 1899, and died August 10, 1977, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Viennese Jewish parents, business people and members of the Jewish intellectual bourgeoisie. She attended a girls' school where she studied the humanities, including psychology, which led to her discovery of Freud. She began her studies at the department of medicine of the University of Vienna in 1918 and participated in the 1919 working group formed by Otto Fenichel to study sexuality and psychoanalysis, the Vienna Seminar on Sexology. Among the students in this seminar were several future analysts, including Wilhelm Reich and Edward Bibring, whom she married in 1921.

Through her participation in the seminar, Bibring-Lehner was able to attend meetings of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Upon completing her medical studies in 1924, she went on to specialize in neurology and psychiatry. She became a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1925. She completed her personal analysis with Hermann Nunberg while she was finishing her medical studies. She was one of the first students of the Vienna Training Institute, founded in 1925. Bibring-Lehner worked at the psychoanalytic clinic, gave presentations on the technique of therapy, and, after 1934, was a member of the education committee of the Vienna Association. Her first work on psychoanalysis, "The Phallic Phase and its Disturbances in Young Girls," was published in 1933 in the Zeitschrift für psychoanalytische Pädagogik.

After the Germans entered Austria, she migrated with her family in May 1938 to Great Britain and became a member of the British Psycho-Analytical Society. In 1941 the family left for the United States, where Bibring-Lehner became a member and training analyst with the Boston Psychoanalytic Society. She taught psychoanalytic psychology at Simmons College School of Social Work in Boston. In 1946 she joined the administrative staff of the psychiatric division of Beth Israel Hospital. She was named professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in 1961.

She received a number of professional and academic distinctions. In 1955 she was elected president of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society. From 1959 to 1963 she was vice president of the International Psychoanalytic Association and, in 1962, became president. In 1968 The Teaching of Dynamic Psychiatry was published, of which she was the general editor. Her research on pregnancy and mother-child relationships provided an important contribution to women's psychology.

Elke MÜhlleitner

See also: Lehrinstitut der Wiener psychoanalytischen Vereinigung; Parenthood; Wiener psychoanalytischen Vereinigung.


Bibring-Lehner, Grete. (1933). "Über die phallische Phase und ihre Störungen beim Mädchen." Zeitschrift für psychoanalytische Pädagogik , 7, 145-152.

. (1968) "Teaching of dynamic psychiatry. A reappraisal of the goals and techniques." In The teaching of psychoanalytic psychiatry. New York: International University Press.

Mühlleitner, Elke. (1992). Biographisches lexikon der psychoanalyse (die mitglieder der psychologischen Mittwoch-Gesellschaft und der Wiener psychoanalytischen Vereinigung 1902-1938). Tübingen: Diskord.

Sterba, Richard. (1982). Reminiscences of a Viennese psychoanalyst. Detroit: Wayne University Press.

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