Frink, Horace Westlake (1883-1936)

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Horace Westlake Frink, American psychoanalyst and physician, was born in 1883 in Millerton, New York, and died on April 19, 1936, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

A physician uncle in Hillsdale, NY, raised Frink, an orphan. He studied with Adolf Meyer while attending Cornell University Medical College, from which he received his medical degree in 1905.

Although Abraham Arden Brill, Frink's first analyst in 1909, considered himself the most prominent analyst in America, after James Jackson Putnam's death in 1918 Freud was unhappy with the prospects of the direction of his movement in the United States. Between 1921 and 1923, for two periods of analysis, Frink was in treatment with Freud in Vienna, and Freud decided Frink was the most brilliant of his American disciples, and picked Frink to replace Brill as his deputy in America.

Frink was married and had two children. He was a Gentile in a movement known for its many Jews, which could help account for Freud's enthusiasm for him. At Freud's direction he became president of the New York Psychoanalytic Society.

During Frink's second analysis with Freud, Frink underwent a psychotic breakdown which Freud failed to recognize as such. Frink suffered so much depersonalization that he had to be taken care of for a time by a male attendant. Freud interpreted Frink's difficulties as simply part of the analysis.

Earlier, back in New York, Frink had fallen in love with a patient of his, an immensely rich, Jewish, married woman named Angelika Bijur. Her husband, also in analysis, threatened a legal suit against what he thought was the misconduct of his wife's analyst. Frink had guilt feelings about abandoning his first wife who, however, was willing to divorce for the sake of his health. Freud saw Frink's new fiancée in Vienna and encouraged the new union. Shortly before the wedding the bride had her doubts about Frink's stability. Freud, however, insisted that Frink's analysis was "complete" and that he was fully able to go through with the marriage. Freud thought that the match would be good for the analytic movement.

Bijur's first husband died of cancer, and shortly after the wedding Frink's own first spouse passed away. Frink felt he was unable to carry on, and put himself under the psychiatric care of Adolf Meyer. Frink's second wife repudiated Meyer's recommendation of patience, and ended the marriage. She was furious at the way she thought that Freud had misled her, and irritated that he had blamed her for supposedly having failed Frink over money.

Frink did attempt a professional comeback after leaving the hospital. But at an analytic meeting in New York, Brill read a letter from Freud to another analyst stating that Frink was unfit to execute the commission to which Freud had appointed him, because he was suffering from a mental disorder.

Frink spent the next decade raising his children. He was able to live on the money they had inherited from their mother, which Angelika had given as part of the divorce settlement. Frink re-married in 1935, but was suffering from heart disease; he died at a hospital in a state of manic excitement.

Frink's textbook Morbid Fears and Compulsions (1918) was the best psychoanalytic book of its kind in English at the time.

Frink, who had become the center of a great scandal, turned against analysis but did not in the remotest way blame Freud for what had happened. Freud thought that Frink's demise was the last straw in Freud's efforts to help the Americans, and it confirmed Freud in his anti-American prejudices.

Paul Roazen

See also: United States.


Frink, Horace. (1918). Morbid fears and compulsions New York: Dodd Mead.