Heimann, Paula (1899-1982)

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HEIMANN, PAULA (1899-1982)

Paula Heimann, British physician, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, was born Paula Glatzko on February 3, 1899, in Danzig, Germany, and died October 22, 1982, in London.

Heimann grew up in Danzig. She attended the High School for Girls and studied Medicine in Koenigsberg,Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, and Breslau. She passed the "Staatsexamen" in 1925.

After attaining her MD, Heimann studied at the Psychiatric University Clinic in Heidelberg, and the Charité in Berlin. She received psychoanalytic training at the Berlin Psycho-Analytic Institute (1928-1932). Her training analyst was Theodor Reik. Other teachers included Otto Fenichel, Hanns Sachs, Franz Alexander, Karen Horney and Sándor Rado. She emigrated to London in 1933, and that year became an associate member of the British Psycho-Analytical Society. Heimann became a full member in 1939, a control supervisor in 1940, and a training analyst in 1944. In 1938, she received her British medical qualification from Edinburgh. She became a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1971. In 1924, Heimann married Franz-Anton Heimann; they had one daughter and divorced in 1933.

In London Heimann became a close collaborator of Melanie Klein and in 1935 went into further analysis with her. The termination date is not known. In 1955 she left the Kleinian Group of Analysts of the British Psycho-Analytical Society. after years of increasing alienation on both sides, and she became an active member of the Independent Group of Psycho-Analysts. In 1949 she was elected a member of the Training Committee of the British Psycho-Analytical Society, becoming its training secretary in 1954.

She was an esteemed teacher and a sought-after training analyst and supervisor, at first for students of the Kleinian Group and later for those of the Independent Group. After the war she helped to train German analysts and went regularly on weekends to the Psychosomatic Clinic in Heidelberg and later to the Sigmund Freud Institute in Frankfurt am Main. Psychoanalytic institutes in France, Germany, Italy, North and South America invited her to give papers and hold seminars.

Paula Heimann wrote thirty papers. Her earlier contributions are of a Kleinian theoretical orientation, and two of them are contributions to the Controversial Discussions (1942-1944) of the British Psycho-Analytical Society. Her later papers mainly discuss various clinical problems and questions of technique, in particular those of transference, counter-transference, the psychoanalytic setting and different aspects of formulating and making interpretations.

She read her paper on "Counter-Transference" (1950) at the 16th International Congress of Psycho-Analysis in 1949, in which she conceived of the phenomenon as an important tool for the understanding of patients' communications. The paper was influential for many other authors during the 1950s and 1960s. She never wrote a comprehensive critique of Kleinian theory and technique but it is often implicit in her later papers (1955-1982). She discussed the concept of sublimation and the concept of the death instinct in their clinical relevance in early papers (1942, 1952) from a Kleinian viewpoint, but presented a revision of them in later papers (1959, 1964). Her published contributions to discussions of papers read at International Congress of Psycho-Analysis (1962, 1964, 1966, 1970) are clear critical evaluations of the main papers presented.

Margret Tonnesmann

See also: Change; Controversial Discussions; Counter-transference; Dependence; Empathy; Great Britain; Paranoid position.


Heimann, Paula. (1950). On counter-transference. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 31, 81-84.

. (1952). Certain functions of introjection and projection in early infancy. In Klein, Heimann, Isaacs, and Riviere (Eds.) Developments in Psycho-Analysis (p. 122-168). London, Hogarth.

. (1962). Contribution to the discussion of "The curative factors in psycho-analysis". International Journal of Psycho-Analysis,43, p. 228-231.

. (1989). About children and children-no-longer. Collected papers of Paula Heimann 1942-1980. M. Tonnesmann, London/New York: Tavistock Publications/Routledge.

King, Pearl H.M., and Steiner, Riccardo. (1991). The Freud-Klein controversies 1941-1945. London/New York: Tavistock Publications/Routledge.