Saussure, Raymond de (1894-1971)

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Raymond de Saussure, the Swiss psychoanalyst, was born in Geneva in 1894 and died there on October 19, 1971.

Descending in a direct line from a number of Geneva scientists, Raymond was the son of Ferdinand de Saussure, the founder of modern linguistics. He studied medicine in Geneva and Zürich from 1914 to 1920, then trained as a psychiatrist in Paris, Vienna, and Berlin.

While still very young, Saussure took an interest in psychoanalysis, and in 1919 he became a member of the newly-founded Swiss Psychoanalytic Society. In 1921 he met Freud at the conference in The Hague and began analysis with him in 1921. He then set up in Geneva, practicing essentially as a psychoanalyst until 1937. During the 1920s he began another analysis with Franz Alexander in Berlin. Spreading Freud's ideas to France, he and Charles Odier were among the founders of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society in 1926, the Revue française de psychanalyse and the Congress of French-Speaking Psychoanalysts. In 1937 he left Geneva for Paris, where he began a new analysis with Rudolph Loewenstein, but returned to Switzerland in 1939 because of the war. In 1940 Saussure was sent to the United States as part of the Swiss American Fund for Scientific Exchanges. He lived in New York until 1952, became a member of the New York Psychoanalytic Society, took an active role in the training activities of the New York Institute, was Associate Professor at Columbia University, and taught in the Free France university.

Upon returning to Geneva in 1952, Saussure put all his experience and energy into developing psychoanalysis in French-speaking Switzerland. He organized clinical and theoretical training seminars in collaboration with Germaine Guex in Lausanne, with Michel Gressot in Geneva, as well as with Marcelle Spira, a Swiss psychoanalyst trained in Argentina. He also lectured in psychotherapy in the medical faculty of Geneva University. He continued his efforts to promote the development of psychoanalysis not only in his own countryhe was president of the Swiss Society for several yearsbut also internationally, and was one of the vice-presidents of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) from 1955 to 1961. In 1966 he helped found the European Federation for Psychoanalysis. In the late 1960s Saussure lent his support to a movement, coming mainly from candidates in French-speaking Switzerland, for the creation of a psychoanalytic training center. This movement resulted in the inauguration of the Centre Psychanalytique Raymond-de-Saussure (Raymond de Saussure Psychoanalytic Center) in Geneva in 1973, two years after his death. This center for exchange and encounter played a leading role in the expansion of psychoanalysis in French-speaking Switzerland that began in the early 1970s, particularly in Geneva.

La Méthode psychoanalytique (The psychoanalytic method; 1922), with a preface by Freud (1922e), surprised the public of the time and was prohibited. "Les fixations homosexuelles chez les femmes névrosées" (Homosexual fixations in neurotic women), a report to the Conference of French-speaking Psychoanalysts, puts forward the original notion of "hermaphroditic narcissism," in order to shed light on identity problems in homosexuality (1929). "Psychologie génétique et psychanalyse" (Genetic psychology and psychoanalysis), a congress report, attempts to reconcile the ideas of Freud and Jean Piaget (1933). Le Miracle grec (The Greek miracle; 1939), a psychoanalytic study of the century of Pericles, was burned by the Nazis. In 1959 at the IPA Congress in Copenhagen he presented "The Metapsychology of Pleasure," a reflection on desire, pleasure, and happiness, in their relationship to the conscious and unconscious ego. His bibliography numbers about ninety publications.

Raymond de Saussure was intimately involved in the foundation and development of the Swiss society in 1919 and the Paris society in 1926, as well as the European Foundation for Psychoanalysis in 1966.

Jean-Michel Quinodoz

See also: Character; Congrés de psychanalystes de langue française des pays romans; Fédération européenne de psychanalyse; France; Revue françaisedepsychanalyse;Société Psychanalytique de Genève; Société Psychanalytique de Paris et Institut de Psychanalyse de Paris; Switzerland (French-speaking); Switzerland (German-speaking).


Roch, Marcel. (1980)À propos de l'histoire de la psychanalyse en Suisse romande. Bulletin de la Société Suisse de psychanalyse, 10, 17-30.

Saussure, Raymond de. (1929). Les fixations homosexuelles chez les femmes névrosées. Revue française de psychanalyse, 3, 50-91.

. (1939). Le miracle grec. Paris : Denoël.

. (1959). The metapsychology of pleasure. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 22, 649-674.

Vermorel, Henri. (1994). Raymond de Saussure ou la passion de la psychanalyse. (p. 74) In C. Degoumois (Ed.), Actes du centenaire de la naissance de Raymond de Saussure. Genève : Médecine et Hygiène.