Maeder, Alphonse E. (1882-1971)

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MAEDER, ALPHONSE E. (1882-1971)

Alphonse Maeder, a physician specializing in psychiatry and psychotherapy, was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland on September 11, 1882, and died in Zürich on January 27, 1971.

The bilingual son of a Swiss German watch-maker, he began to study medicine at Berne in 1901 and continued his studies in Zürich and Berlin. In 1903 he made the acquaintance of the zoologist and philosopher Hans Driesch, who had already integrated Aristotelian entelechy into his neo-vitalist philosophy.

From 1906 to 1910 Maeder worked in Zürich as assistant physician to Eugen Bleuler and Carl Gustav Jung, who introduced him to psychoanalysis. He attended the 1910 Nuremberg congress.

From 1911 to 1918 he worked as a therapist in Dr. Bircher-Benner's sanatorium before opening a private practice as a psychotherapist in Zürich, where he worked almost until his death.

Beginning in 1906, he published psychoanalytic works in German: Die Sexualität der Epileptiker (The sexuality of epileptics; 1909), Psychologie der Schizophrenen (The psychology of schizophrenics; 1910), as well as articles on the symbolism of dreams, whose origin he linked to projection: Zur Entstehung der Symbolik im Traum (On the formation of symbols in dreams; 1910-1911) and the function of dreams: Funktion des Traumes (The function of dreams, 1912). He stressed the "prospective capacity of the soul" in the sense of Hans Driesch's entelechy.

Freud had great respect for Maeder and put him in charge of relations with French-speaking colleagues. However, when Maeder formulated an hypothesis in 1912 concerning the prospective capacity of dreams, Freud severely criticized him (much to Maeder's surprise) and warned him against mystical tendencies.

Following that episode, Maeder broke with Freud at the same time as Jung and henceforth continued to seek his own path. His approach gave priority to the self-regulating and self-healing capacities of the soul, the "personal association" between the physician and the patient, and the role of the physician as "healer," as "the one who reconstitutes globality." This idea of "synthesis" led him to Martin Buber's circle and, in 1932, to collaborating with Frank Buchmann's Oxford Group. In 1957 he published a text on his spiritual development and his memories of Freud.

Kaspar Weber

See also: Année psychologique, L' ; Archives de psychologie, Les ; Switzerland (German-speaking).


Maeder, Alphonse. (1909). Die Sexualität der Epileptiker. Jahrbuch für psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Forschungen, 1, 119-154.

. (1910). Psychologische Untersuchungen an Dementia præcox-Kranken. Jahrbuch für psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Forschungen, 2 (1), 185-245.

. (1910). Zur Entstehung der Symbolik im Traum, in der Dementia præcox, usw. Zentralblatt für Psychoanalyse, 1, 383-389.

. (1912).Über die Funktion des Traumes (mit Berücksichtigung der Tagesträume, des Spieles, usw.). Jahrbuch für psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Forschungen, 4.

. (1957). Der Psychotherapeut als Partner. Eine appellative Psychotherapie. Zürich-Stuttgart: Rascher.