Langer, Marie Glass Hauser de (1910-1987)
LANGER, MARIE GLASS HAUSER DE (1910-1987)
In her youth she joined the Austrian communist party in an attempt to compensate for the dual handicaps of being Jewish and a woman. She finished her medical studies in 1935 just as Austrian fascism was getting ready to ban Jews from working in hospital services. In 1934 the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society forbade its members to belong to the Institute or to be active in clandestine parties (the communist party had been dissolved in 1933). This information was communicated to Langer by her analyst, Richard Sterba, who terminated her analysis shortly thereafter. In 1936 she decided to emigrate to Spain in order to continue her political activity. Later she left for Uruguay.
After living in Montevideo, she settled in Argentina in 1942 and Langer occupied several important posts in the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association (APA): director of seminars and publications, treasurer, secretary, member of the training Commission, president and director of the Enrique-Racker psychoanalytic clinic. She taught at the Institute and worked as a training analyst for twenty-nine years. In 1970 she left the APA in order to denounce authoritarian tendencies inside psychoanalytic institutions. She was also a founding member of the Argentinean Association for Group Psychotherapy, as well as the Buenos Aires Society of Psychosomatic Medicine. Political persecution then forced her to emigrate to Mexico in 1974.
Langer's writings indicate several lines of research, which are distinguished by her efforts to highlight the influence of the social and cultural context on the practice and theory of psychoanalysis. Among the issues she addressed were: female sexuality, sterility, eternal fantasies, rationales for war, group psychoanalysis, anti-Semitism, methodological problems related to how psychoanalysis is taught, and some technical problems raised by training analysis.
Her book Maternidad y Sexo (1951; Motherhood and Sexuality, 1992) became a reference text for those interested in questions relating to femininity. In it she traces, as she also does in several articles (1944-45; 1945-46; 1947-48; 1951; 1953), the position of women in history. In Fantasias Eternas (Eternal fantasies; 1957) her leitmotif is "to recognize the power of unconscious fantasies and the creation of certain myths that reflect a traumatic social and political situation that can also become a political weapon."
In Ideología e Idealizacíon (Ideology and idealization; 1959) she rethinks psychoanalytic societies, from the point of view of the specificity of their discipline and the pressure that comes to bear on analysts in institutions at certain periods in history. Her study of a text written by a former Nazi, Dr. Roberto Ley (1947-48), shortly before he committed suicide led her to confront the question of anti-Semitism as a symptom of social conflicts and collective anxiety.
She suffered from headaches, which led her to discover certain perturbations linked to the practice of psychoanalysis. In Dos sueños de analistas (Two dreams of psychoanalysts; 1952) she reveals the weight of the doubling/splitting that can come to bear on psychoanalysts in the course of their practice. In a prospective article she imagined the analysand of the year 2000 (1968). Marie Langer devoted her research (1957; 1961; 1963; 1965; 1970) to psychoanalytic group psychotherapy. She was also an active figure in the scientific and political life of Nicaragua and Cuba, where her later work constituted a comprehensive review of her knowledge and experience.
Her line of approach, her quest for truth, and her interest in human beings, especially women, made her a psychoanalyst who was deeply engaged with the society of her time and capable of exploring all the aspects of the discontent of our civilization.
See also: Argentina; Brazil; Federación psicoanalítica de América latina; Mexico.
Langer, Marie. (1947). Antisemitismo, paranoia y el testamento del doctor Ley. Revista de psicoanálisis de la Asociacíon psicoanalítica argentina, 5 (1), 93.
——. (1957). Fantasías eternas a la luz del psicoanálisis. Buenos Aires: Nova. APA.
——. (1957). Psicoterapia del grupo, su enfoque psicoanalítico. Buenos Aires: Paidós.
——. (1959). Ideología e idealización. Revista de psicoanálisis de la Asociacíon psicoanalítica argentina, 16 (4), 417.
——. (1989). Marie Langer, from Vienna to Managua: Journey of a psychoanalyst (Margaret Hooks, Trans.). London: Free Association Books.
——. (1992). Motherhood and sexuality (Nancy Caro Hollander, Trans.). New York: Guilford. (Original work published 1951)