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Katan, Maurits (1897-1977)

KATAN, MAURITS (1897-1977)

Maurits Katan, psychoanalyst and physician, was born November 25, 1897 in Vlaardingen, South Holland, the Netherlands, the son of Jacob and Bertina Katan. He died on April 3, 1977 in Sanibel, Florida. Little is known of his early years except that he came from a large family and was the only son and youngest child.

Katan's initial medical training was as a neurologist, his initial analytic training in the Netherlands before going to Vienna in the 1930s to enter analysis ultimately with Anna Freud. In Vienna he met and married Anny Rosenberg (Angel) and they returned to the Netherlands just prior to the start of World War II. He survived the war in hiding, active in the underground, sheltered by the Dutch court portraitist, Robert Bruyn.

Katan's psychoanalytic work was very much focused on understanding psychosis, particularly schizophrenia, and his concepts of a pre-psychotic phase and the split in the schizophrenic with his non-psychotic part were integral in his thinking. He focused greatly on Daniel Paul Schreber who, in one sense, was his companion during the isolation of the war years. His clinical seminars with psychotic patients revealed an understanding tact and ability to communicate rare and unforgettable to observe.

His importance lay in coming to Cleveland, Ohio, after the war to become one of the first professors of psychoanalysis in America, with his appointment at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. His impact derived from his modest brilliance as the epitome of the analytic scholar.

While Katan focused on psychotic phenomena, his colleagues deeply respected his insights with neurotic patients, and many analysts nationwide came to Cleveland to present their work and obtain his insights. In addition his literary explorations, particularly but not exclusively of Henry James's work, were masterpieces.

Robert A. Furman

See also: Blank/non-delusional psychoses; Katan-Rosenberg, Anny; Netherlands.


Katan, Maurits. (1953) Schreber's prepsychotic phase. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 34 (1), 43-51.

. (1954) The importance of the non-psychotic part of the personality in schizophrenia. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35 (2), 119-128.

. (1959) Schreber's hereafter: Its building-up (Aufbau) and its downfall. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 14, 314-382.

. (1962) A causerie on Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw." Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 17, 473-493.

. (1964) Fetishism, splitting of the ego, and denial. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 45 (2-3), 237-245.

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