Nunberg, Hermann (1884-1970)

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NUNBERG, HERMANN (1884-1970)

Hermann Nunberg, a physician and psychoanalyst, was born on January 23, 1884, in Bedzin, Poland, and died on May 20, 1970, in New York City. As a child, he was tutored at home until, after his mother's death in 1896, he attended the college-preparatory school in Krakow, Poland. There he studied medicine for two years before continuing his studies in Zurich, where he obtained his medical degree in 1910.

While a student, Nunberg had met Eugen Bleuler and Carl Gustav Jung at the Burghölzli Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Zurich, and he worked on the latter's word-association test. Nunberg began practicing psychiatry in Schaffhouse and Berne, Switzerland, and continued practicing at the university clinic when he returned to Krakow in 1912. In Switzerland he had belonged to the Zurich psychoanalytic group, and back in Poland he began teaching psychoanalysis at the Krakow psychiatric society in 1912.

In 1914, after moving to Vienna, Nunberg underwent a training analysis with Paul Federn. He worked at the university psychiatric clinic under Julius Wagner-Jauregg and joined the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1915. At the fifth congress of the International Psychoanalytical Association, held in Budapest in 1918, Nunberg, with Freud's consent, called for training analyses to be required for psychoanalysts in training. Viktor Tausk and Otto Bank strongly opposed this idea. After the training institute of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society was created in 1925, Nunberg taught general neurology there for several years, publishing his lectures in 1932, which were later translated as Principles of Psychoanalysis (1955). Freud, in his preface to the book, wrote that it "contains the most complete and conscientious presentation of a psycho-analytic theory of the neurotic processes which we at present possess" (1932b, p. 258). He emphasized that Nunberg did not content himself with simplification or mere description of complex issues.

In 1932 Nunberg emigrated to United States, staying awhile in Philadelphia and finally settling in New York. He remained a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society until its dissolution in 1938. In 1940 he joined the New York Psychoanalytic Society and served as its president from 1950 to 1952. In collaboration with Ernst Federn, Nunberg compiled the minutes of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society (1906-1918), published between 1962 and 1975.

Harold Leupold-LÖwenthal

See also: Depersonalization; Heroic self; Lehrinstitut der Wiener psychoanalytischen Vereinigung; Minutes of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society ; Training analysis; Wiener psychoanalytische Vereinigung.


Freud, Sigmund. (1932b). Preface to Hermann Nunberg's Allgemeine neurosenlehre auf psychoanalytischer grundlage. SE, 21: 258.

Mühlleitner, Elke. (1992). Biographisches lexikon der psycho-analyse: die mitglieder der psychologischen Mittwoch-Gesellschaft und der Wiener psychoanalytischen vereinigung von 1902-1938. Tübingen, Germany: Diskord.

Nunberg, Hermann. (1955). Principles of psychoanalysis. New York: International Universities Press.

Nunberg, Herman, and Federn, Ernst (Eds.). (1962-1975). Minutes of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society (4 vols.). New York: International Universities Press.