Hermann, Imre (1889-1984)

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HERMANN, IMRE (1889-1984)

Imre Hermann, Hungarian neurologist and psychoanalyst was born on November 13, 1889 in Budapest and died there on February 22, 1984.

He spent most of his long life in Budapest where he was born. He received his medical degree in 1913. While still a university student, he became interested in experimental psychology. During the 1918-19 revolutions he was assistant professor to Géza Révész at the faculty of psychology. There he met Alice Czinner, also Révész's student, who became an analyst herself and his life companion of fifty-three years (1922-1975).

He set up analytical practice in 1919. Discounting the few months of the siege of Budapest during the German occupation, he continued his psychoanalytical practice without interruption up to the last months of his life. While a university student, he also attended Sándor Ferenczi's lectures, and it was Ferenczi who invited Hermann to join the society. Hermann was a member of the Hungarian and International Psychoanalytical Societies from 1921; Secretary of the Hungarian Psychoanalytical Society from 1925, vice-president between 1936-44, and president between 1945-49. An honorary professor, he lectured at the medical university and the faculty of arts in Budapest between 1946-49.

His first important works were in the field of the psychology of thinking: Psychoanalyse und Logik (1924), Das Ich und das Denken (1929). In the first he explored the unconscious background of certain logical steps, such as doubling and reversal, based on observations of patients. In the second, he established a relationship between individual differences in thought processes with sense-organ orientation. In a series of experiments in 1921, he demonstrated, that, given a choice of identical elements, a child will select an external element, while an adult will select a center element, but that in a regressive state external selection returns. Unconscious operations also tend toward external selection. His book, Pszichoanalizis, mint módszer (Psychoanalysis as a Method, 1933; published in German in 1934; 1963) is a summary of the results of his teaching of psychoanalysis.

In the 1920s his interest turned toward the behavior of primates. He noted a peculiar instinctive behavior of the offspring of anthropoid apes: they spend the first months of their lives clinging onto the fur of their mothers. He set forth his theory of the clinging instinct in detail in Az emberôsi ösztönei (The Primeval Instincts of Man; 1943, 1984). Hermann's interest also extended to a number of other areas. His monographs about Fechner (1925) and János Bólyai (1945) and several other writings show interest in the psychology of creativity. He also published the book, Az antiszemitizmus lélektana (The Psychology of AntiSemitism; 1945). Based on clinical observations of obsessional neurosis he identified the dissociated superego. He noted the relationship between affectivity and space perception. Toward the end of his life he found a relationship to exist between musicality and perversions.

Hermann's theory of the clinging instinct prepared the way for the work of John Bowlby and René Spitz, and supported Mihály Bálint's theory of primary object relationship. His studies in the psychology of thinking make him one of the forerunners of ego psychology. In addition, he deserves credit for maintaining the continuity of psychoanalysis in Hungary and for reintroducing psychoanalytic training during the period of liberalization of communist dictatorship.

Hungarian Group

See Also: Alcoholism; Christians and Jews: A Psychoanalytical Study ; Clinging instinct; Hungarian School; Hungary; Racism, anti-Semitism and psychoanalysis; Shame.


Binet, Agnes. (1984).Útbaigazítás. In Hermann (Ed.): Az ember õ si ösztönei (pp. 15-33). Budapest: Magvetõ.

Hermann, Imre. (1933). A pszichoanalízis, mint módszer. Budapest: NovákR.és Tsa.

. (1943). Az ember õ si össztönei Pantheon. Budapest: Magvetõ, 1984.

Nemes, Lívia. (1984). Hermann Imre munkássága. In Hermann Imre "Az ember õ si ösztönei" (p. 586-612). Budapest: Magvetõ.

Vikár, György. (1985). Obituary. Imre Hermann, 1889-1984. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 66, 111.

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