Kestemberg, Jean (1912-1975)

views updated

KESTEMBERG, JEAN (1912-1975)

Jean Kestemberg, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and full member of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society, was born at Kielce in Poland on December 11, 1912 and died while traveling on August 25, 1975.

Although he was born into a religious and bourgeois Jewish family in Poland, he distanced himself from the family milieu as an adolescent and became a secret militant for the Communist Party, from which he was expelled in 1956. He went to Paris during the 1930s to study medicine, which he was forbidden to do in Poland because of the quota applied to Jews. He joined the International Brigade as a doctor in 1937 and went to work in the Spanish Civil War. As an active member of the Polish Resistance during World War II, he was forced to travel to Mexico in 1942. Evelyne Hassin, whom he met on the boat, soon became his wife.

He returned to France after the Liberation and once he had been naturalized he presented his thesis, the first thesis on occupational medicine. He became assistant to Louis Le Guilland in his psychiatric department at Villejuif while simultaneously being analyzed by Jacques Lacan. He was elected a member of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society in 1953, then went on to become a full member. His articleÁ propos de la relation érotomaniaque (On the erotomaniac relation), which illustrates his interest in psychosis, won the first Maurice Bouvet prize in 1962. Working in close collaboration with his wife, Jean Kestemberg practiced the individual psychoanalytic psychodrama and with her he drafted the report to the 1965 Congress of Romance-Language Psychoanalysts, Contributionà la perspective génétique en psychanalyse (Contribution to the Genetic Perspective in Psychoanalysis) and co-authored La Faim et le Corps (Hunger and the Body) in 1972.

In order to introduce psychoanalysis to psychotic patients outside the hospital, in 1974 with the help of René Angelergues, he created the Center for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy within the framework of the Center for Mental Health in Paris. Following his sudden death on August 25, 1975, Evelyne Kestemberg continued the task her husband had set himself. Jean Kestemberg was a warm man who was full of humor and invention.

Liliane Abensour

See also: Anorexia nervosa; Autistic capsule/nucleus; France; Kestemberg-Hassin, Evelyne; Revue française de psychanalyse .


Kestemberg, Evelynne, Kestemberg, Jean, and Decobert. Simone.(1972).La Faim et le Corps: une étude psychanalytique de l 'anorexie mentale. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Kestemberg, Jean (1962).Á propos de la relation érotomaniaque, Revue française de psychanalyse, 26, 5, 533-587.