Deutsch, Felix (1884-1964)

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DEUTSCH, FELIX (1884-1964)

Felix Deutsch, psychoanalyst and physician, was born in 1884 in Vienna, and died on 1964 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Deutsch was educated at the University of Vienna. His family was Jewish and he developed firm Zionist convictions. In 1908 he became a doctor; internal medicine was always his specialty. Felix Deutsch met his future wife Helene, also a psychoanalyst, in Munich in 1911. Within a year they were married, and they remained married fifty-two years.

Deutsch had an artistic personality; he painted and composed, and was an excellent piano player. His musicality played a role in a contribution to psychotherapy that he made in America. He found he learned a lot about patients by provoking associations through repeating words, since tone had such meaning for him. As a therapist he learned to use his natural directness, and childlike inquisitiveness, to become an excellent interviewer.

Helene and their son moved to Boston in September 1935, and Felix joined them in early 1936. Between the fall of 1939 and the spring of 1941 Felix accepted an invitation to be the first professor of psychosomatic medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.

Felix grew increasingly confident within analysis, and back in Boston he attracted a number of devoted disciples. He also taught at the Smith College of Social Work. He was attracted by clinical possibilities other than strict analysis, and he hoped to be able to make a science of technique.

He published articles on psychosomatic medicine, and Applied Psychoanalysis, on the objectives of psychotherapy. Deutsch was one of the creators of psychosomatic medicine, and a leader in exploring new techniques of psychotherapy. He was also, for the period in 1923 when Freud first contracted cancer of the jaw, his personal physician.

Paul Roazen

See also: Deutsch-Rosenbach, Helene; Wiener psychoanalytische Vereinigung.


Deutsch, Felix. (1949). Applied psychoanalysis: Selected objectives of psychotherapy. New York: Grune and Stratton.