Kovács-Prosznitz, Vilma (1883-1940)

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Vilma Kovács-Prosznitz, the Hungarian psychoanalyst, was born at Szeged in Hungary on October 13, 1883, and died in Budapest in May 1940.

She was the third daughter of a provincial bourgeois family and her father died while she was still very young, less than six years old. The family found itself destitute, and Vilma was married at the age of fifteen and against her will to a cousin, Zsigmond Székely, who was twenty years older then she. By the age of nineteen she was the mother of three children. Alice, the eldest, later married Michael Balint. Vilma contracted tuberculosis and had to spend prolonged periods in a sanatorium. It was there that she met Frédéric Kovács, an architect, whom she married after a difficult divorce that separated her from her children for several years. The children joined Vilma and her husband shortly before World War I and were adopted by Frédéric Kovács after their father's death. A serious case of agoraphobia led Vilma into analysis with Sándor Ferenczi. He was quick to spot his patient's talents and during the 1920s he trained her as a psychoanalyst, making her one of his closest collaborators.

In 1925, Vilma Kovács became head of the training committee. A highly reputed training analyst, she organized the Hungarian Psychoanalytic Association's clinical seminars and along with Sándor Ferenczi she elaborated the Hungarian training method: the candidate's analyst supervises the candidate's first case on the couch. As patrons of psychoanalysis in Hungary, in 1931 Vilma and her husband financed the Psychoanalytic Polyclinic at 12 Mészáros Street, in a building that belonged to them.

Vilma Kovács's work related essentially to training. Practically every Hungarian analyst of her time frequented her clinical seminars at one time or another. More specifically, she analyzed Imre Hermann and Géza Róheim.

She published only five articles, but one of them, "Training Analysis and Control Analysis" (1935), is a classic of psychoanalytic literature and has been translated into several languages.

In another article, "Examples of the Active Technique," dating from 1928, she provides a remarkably clear presentation of this technique that her mentor, Sándor Ferenczi, had just introduced, illustrating it with several examples.

Through her clear-mindedness, her remarkable clinical sense, and her organizational skills, Vilma Kovács left a profound mark on the Hungarian school of psychoanalysis.

Judith Dupont

See also: Bálint-Székely-Kovács, Alice; Hungarian School; Hungary.


Kovács, Vilma. (1925) Ein Fall von "tic convulsif." Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 11 (3), 318-324.

. (1926) Das Erbe des Fortunatus. Imago, 12, (2-3), 321-327.

. (1928) Beispiele zur aktiven Technik. Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 16 (3), 405-408.

. (1931) Wiederholungstendenz und Charakterbildung. Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 17 (4), 449-463.

. (1935) Lehranalyse und Kontrollanalyse. Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 21 (4), 515-524.

. (1936). Training and control-analysis. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 17 (3), 346-354.

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Kovács-Prosznitz, Vilma (1883-1940)

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