Rie, Oskar (1863-1931)

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RIE, OSKAR (1863-1931)

The Austrian pediatrician Oskar Rie, friend and physician to Freud and his family, was born on December 8, 1863, in Vienna, where he died on September 17, 1931.

The Ries were a Jewish family from Prague; Isidor Rie was a gem merchant. Oskar, the second of five children, studied in Vienna and received his medical degree in 1887.

Rie was one of Freud's most faithful friends. From 1886 to 1896 he served as Freud's assistant at the Kassowitz Institute in Vienna (Öffentliches Kinder-Krankeninstitut ), where Freud held consultations in pediatric neurology several times each week. Together they published a monograph on cerebral palsy in children, Klinische Studie über due halbseitige Cerebrallähmung der Kinder (Clinical study of cerebral paralysis of children [1891a]), which won considerable influence and insured Freud's reputation as a specialist. Rie also served as family physician to Freud's children and sister-in-law Minna Bernays. While often acknowledging his devoted friendship, Freud viewed Rie with antagonism around the end of his friendship with Wilhlem Fliess.

In the psychoanalytic literature Rie is known above all for his appearance as "Otto" in Freud's famous "dream of Irma's injection" in The Interpretations of Dreams (1900a). In the manifest dream, he is Freud's friend and the doctor who injected the patient with "a preparation of propyl, propyls . . . propionic acid . . . trimethylamin" (Freud 1900a, p. 140)that aggravated her condition. Free associations clearly indicated Freud's ambivalence toward Rie, who was also taken to task in correspondence with Fliess. Freud took Rie's resentment concerning the revelations in The Interpretation of Dreams and "his lack of understanding for my findings" (Freud 1985, p. 447) to be another illustration of his observation that "[a]n intimate friend and a hated enemy have always been indispensable to my emotional life; I have always been able to create them anew, and not infrequently my childish ideal has been so closely approached that friend and enemy have coincided in the same person; but not simultaneously, of course, as was the case in my early childhood" (1900a, p. 483).

But Rie would remain a close friend. He accompanied Freud on vacations in the mountains, including the sojourn at the Alpine retreat where Freud "treated" Katharina, one of the cases presented in Studies on Hysteria. Rie instructed Fliess (his brother-in-law) to insist that Freud stop smoking. On Saturdays, he played tarok with Freud and his brother Alfred, and often accompanied Freud to the theater. On January 5, 1898, together they saw Theodor Herzl's play The New Ghetto, then later met Herzl at a meeting of B'nai B'rith, of which he became a member in 1901, the same year as Alexander Freud.

A member of the Wednesday Evening Society, Rie was admitted to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society on October 7, 1908, at the same time as Sándor Ferenczi, and numerous traces of his presence can be found in the Society's minutes.

Rie's marriage to Ida Fliess's sister, Melanie Bondy, on November 10, 1896, generated further connections in the history of psychoanalysis. In addition to a son, Norbert (b. Oct. 30, 1897), his daughter Margarethe (b. March 25, 1899) would marry Hermann Nunberg in 1929 and be analyzed by Freud in the 1920s (about the same time as her friend, Anna Freud). Marianne (born May 27, 1900) would marry Ernst Kris in 1927 and become a well-known analyst in the United States. Especially known for her work in psychoanalysis with children, among her adult patients were Marilyn Monroe and Diana Trilling; one of her closest friends was Anna Freud.

On August 4, 1921, Freud wrote to Rie: "Your friendly words about me have done me good although they didn't tell me anything new because I have been looking upon your friendship for more than a lifetime as an assured possession. I have been able to give something to many people in my life; from you fate has allowed me only to receive" (Freud 1960, p. 335).

Alain de Mijolla

See also: Institute Max-Kassowitz; Kris-Rie, Marianne.


Freud, Sigmund, and Rie, Oskar. (1891a). Klinische Studie über die halbseitige Cerebrallähmung der Kinder. Vienna: Moritz Perles.

Nunberg, Herman, and Federn, Ernst (Eds.). (1962-1975) Minutes of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, Vol. I, 1906-1908; Vol. II, 1908-1910; Vol. III, 1910-1911; Vol. IV, 1912-1918. New York: International Universities Press.