Hartmann, Heinz (1894-1970)

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HARTMANN, HEINZ (1894-1970)

Physician and psychoanalyst Heinz Hartmann was born in Vienna on November 4, 1894, and died in Stony Point, NY, on May 17, 1970.

Hartmann's family had been distinguished for several generations. One grandfather, Moritz Hartmann, was a well-known poet, essayist, professor, and member of parliament; the other grandfather, Rudolf Chrobak, was an eminent physician and professor. Hartmann's father, Ludo Hartmann, was a professor of history and founder of public libraries and adult education; his mother, Grete Chrobak, was a successful sculptor and pianist.

Tutors educated Hartmann until age thirteen; he continued in public schools and at the University of Vienna, where he attended lectures in many fields, earned his medical degree, and became a psychiatrist and faculty member in Wagner-Jauregg's clinic. He published two papers on quinine metabolism during medical school, and then published several papers on psychiatry with Paul Schilder. Becoming interested in Freud, he published, with S. Betlheim, what became a minor classic paper in experimental psychoanalysis, "On Parapraxes in Korsakov Psychosis," demonstrating by experiment the validity of some of Freud's concepts of symbolization.

When Karl Abraham, with whom Hartmann had arranged to have a training analysis in Berlin, unexpectedly died, Hartmann had his first analysis with Sándor Rado; and while in Berlin wrote Die Grundlagen der Psychoanalyse (The foundations of psychoanalysis; 1927). Before 1937, he published about two dozen papers, including twin studies and studies of psychoses, neuroses, values, and cocaine; and he contributed to a major handbook on medical psychology. When Adolf Meyer offered Hartmann a full professor-ship at Johns Hopkins, Freud offered to analyze Hartmann free of charge if he would stay in Vienna. Hartmann was analyzed by Freud, and became a key member of his generation of Freud's followers at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society (a group including Helene and Felix Deutsche, Edward Bibring, Ernst Kris, Robert Waelder, Willy Hoffers, Hans Lampl, and Anna Freud), and co-editor of The International of Journal of Psychoanalysis. He married Dora Karplus, a pediatrician who later became a child and adult psychoanalyst. They had two sons, Ernest Hartmann and Lawrence Hartmann; one became a psychoanalyst and sleep and dream researcher, the other a child and adult psychiatrist, educator, and President of the American Psychiatric Association.

In 1937, Hartmann read to the Vienna Society a paper on ego psychology that developed into a book, Ich-Psychologie und Anpassungsproblem (1939) (later published in English as Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation ; 1958). Along with Anna Freud's The Ego and Mechanisms of Defense, that work was a decisive landmark in extending psychoanalysis into the ego-psychological areas that would be central for the next several decades. In 1938, after the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, the Hartmanns moved to Paris, then to Switzerland, and in 1941 to New York.

There Hartmann became a leader of the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, which was energized by many illustrious immigrants. He served for many years as a training analyst and as the first director of the Institute clinic. His old close friendship with Ernst Kris developed into many years of extraordinary collaboration, and they soon invited Rudolph Loewenstein to join them. Meeting once a year for many years, the three jointly wrote a series of major papers. With Kris and, in London, Anna Freud, Hartmann founded an annual, The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, in 1945; he helped to establish and maintain it as one of the key publications in psychoanalysis for several decades. President of the International Psychoanalytic association in the 1950s, he was then elected their Honorary President for Life, and served as something of a dean of world psychoanalysis in the mid-twentieth century.

Hartmann was considered a major clinical analyst, teacher, theoretician, and metapsychologist, building on and extending Freud's ideas and findings. He was frequently an integrator. A pillar of that era's psychoanalytic establishment but not a cloistered thinker, he welcomed biopsychosocial thinking, contributions from general biology, neurobiology, and medicine; and also psychology, developmental theory, history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, ethology, mythology, and art. He saw psychoanalysis as central to a general psychology.

Hartmann is best known for his work on ego psychology and adaptation, elaboration of conflict and drive theory, neutralization of aggression, and the conflict-free ego sphere, which serve as structures for much clinical and research work. Familiar analytic concepts such as structural and developmental theory, drive, and conflict were, by Hartmann's time, securely enough established to allow powerful additions, such as contributions from biology and interactions with average expectable (and other) environments, and such as ego functions and adaptation. His success in including mind-brain interactions, as well as centrally defining structures of mind-mind and mind-environment interactions, established some lasting solid ground, and also helped prepare the field for some subsequent analytic schools, notably object relations theory, self psychology, and continuing psychoanalytic attempts at biopsychosocial integration.

Lawrence Hartmann

Work discussed: Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation.

Notions developed: Ego autonomy; Ego, damage inflicted on the; Ego functions; Self.

See also: Adaptation; Alteration of the ego; Defense mechanisms; Desexualization; Ego; Ego (ego psychology); Ego libido/object libido; Ego psychology; France; Identification; Kris, Ernst; Lehrinstitut der Wiener Psychoanalytischen Vereinigung; Loewenstein, Rudolf M.; Neutrality/benevolent neutrality; New York Psychoanalytic Institute; Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, The ; Self psychology; Self-representation; Société psychanalytique de Paris and Institut de psychanalyse de Paris; Stage (or phase); Structural theories; United States; Wiener psychoanalytische Vereinigung.


Hartmann, Heinz. (1927). Die Grundlagen der Psychoanalyse. Leipzig: G. Thieme.

. (1939). Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation. New York, International Universities Press, 1958, 122 p.

. (1944). The psychiatric work of Paul Schilder. Psychoanalytic Review, 31, (1), p. 296.

. (1950). Comments on the psychoanalytic theory of the ego. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 7, 9-30.

. (1956), The ego concept in Freud's work. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 37, 433.

(1964). Essays on ego psychology. New York, International Universities Press. (Original work published 1939)

Hartmann, Heinz; Kris, Ernst; and Loewenstein, Rudolf M. (1946). Comments on the formation of psychic structure.-Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2, p. 11-38.

. (1964). Papers on psychoanalytic psychology, New York: International Universities Press.

Hartmann, Lawrence. (1994). Heinz Hartmann: A memorial tribute and filial memoir. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 49, 3-11.

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Hartmann, Heinz (1894-1970)

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