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Pötzl, Otto (1877-1962)

PÖTZL, OTTO (1877-1962)

Otto Pötzl, the Austrian physician and psychiatrist, was born in Vienna on October 29, 1877, and died there on April 1, 1962.

His father, the writer Eduard Pötzl, came from a Catholic family and was a freeman of the city. Otto Pötzl finished his medical studies in the medical faculty of Vienna University in 1907 and specialized in psychiatry and neurology. From 1905 to 1921, he worked first as an assistant then as chief medical officer in Julius Wagner-Jauregg's neuro-psychiatric clinic in Vienna. In 1911 he took a qualifying exam for specialists in psychiatry and neurology and in 1919 he was appointed professor extraordinary at the university. From 1922 to 1928, Pötzl was professor of psychiatry in Prague and in 1928 he succeeded Wagner-Jauregg in Vienna.

Pötzl was one of the most respected representatives of the Viennese school of psychiatry. One of his lectures at Vienna University, in which he presented experimental research into dreams and thus confirmed the Freudian theory, led Freud to invite him to attend the sessions of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. In June 1917 he delivered a paper on the theme of "Experimentally provoked dream images as an illustration of Freudian dream analysis." Six months later he was admitted as a member of the society. Although some considered his attitude to psychoanalysis to be ambivalent, several of Freud's students were trained in his clinic and Pötzl remained a member of the society until 1933. His scientific work, however, had no impact at all on clinical psychoanalysis.

He gave speeches at the ceremonies organized to celebrate the eightieth and hundredth anniversaries of Freud's birth.

In a letter to Freud, Pötzl wrote: "[. . .] I cannot imagine my teaching work without psychoanalysis. My audience and I are your fervent supporters" (Jones E., 1953-1957, p. 255).

Pötzl remained president of the university neuro-psychiatric clinic until 1945, when he retired.

Elke MÜhlleitner

See also: Austria.


Jones, Ernest. (1953-1957). Sigmund Freud. Life and work. London: Hogarth.

Mühlleitner, Elke. (1992). Biographisches lexikon der psycho-analyse (Die mitglieder der psychologischen Mittwoch-Gesellschaft und der Wiener Psychoanalytischen Vereinigung 1902-1938). Tübingen: Diskord.

Pötzl, Otto. (1917). Experimentell erregte Traumbilder in ihren beziehungen zum indirekten sehen. Zeitschrift fürdie gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, 37. 3-4.

. (1960). Preconscious stimulation in dreams, associations, and images. In Classical studies, with Allers, Rudolf, and Teler, Jakob. New York: International Universities Press.

Pötzl, Otto, with Economo, C., Pick, E., Molitor, H., and Strasser, A. (1929). Der Schlaf. Mitteilungen und Stellungnahme zum derzeitigen Stande des Schlafproblems. Munich.

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