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Schur, Max (1897-1969)

SCHUR, MAX (1897-1969)

Austrian physician Dr. Max Schur was born September 26, 1897 in Stanislaw, then in the AustroHungarian Empire and today part of the Ukraine. He died in New York on October 12, 1969.

He completed his high school education in Vienna after his family moved there in 1914 to escape the advancing Russian army. After attending medical school at the University of Vienna from 1915 to 1920, he had most of his postgraduate training at the Vienna Poliklinik. He remained there as an associate in internal medicine until he left Vienna in 1938.

His psychoanalytic education was less direct. As a medical student he attended Sigmund Freud's introductory lectures, which kindled a lifelong interest in psychoanalysis. He had a personal analysis with Ruth Mack Brunswick from 1924 to 1932 and was accepted into the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1932. It was this combination of psychoanalytic orientation and internal medicine that led to his becoming Freud's physician in 1929, a position he fulfilled admirably until Freud's death in 1939. In the "biological study," Freud: Living and Dying (1972), Schur tells the full story of this relationship and traces the theme of death in Freud's life and writings.

After Freud's death the Schur family emigrated to the United States. Schur resumed his medical practice and obtained a position at the Bellevue Hospital in New York. While there he analyzed several patients with chronic skin disorders and in 1950 published a series of papers on the psychopathology and psychoanalytic treatment of psychosomatic disorders. In 1953 he became a training and supervising analyst and teacher at the Psychoanalytic Institute at the Downstate Medical Center of the State University of New York, where he was appointed Clinical Professor of Psychiatry. His scholarship and critical skills led to an editorial career that included three terms on the editorial board of The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, and positions as editor of Drives, Affects, Behavior Volume 2 (1965), an anniversary volume dedicated to Marie Bonaparte, and co-editor of PsychoanalysisA General Psychology (1966), a volume to honor Heinz Hartman on his seventieth birthday.

He was a founding member Psychoanalytic Association of New York and was its President in 1967 when the officers and board presented him with a festschrift as the most suitable gift for a man with his love of knowledge and learning. He died before it was published as The Unconscious Today: Essays in Honor of Max Schur (1971).

By 1950 he had published more than fifty papers on medical subjects, rarely with psychological emphasis. From then on he published a series of clinically detailed and theoretically reasoned psychoanalytic articles and books. The first group of papers, on symptom formation and the development of affects, explored the implications of structural theory, especially from a genetic and adaptive perspective. "The ego in anxiety," "The ego and the id in anxiety," and "Comments on the metapsychology of somatization" were instantly influential and his concepts "somatization," "desomatization," and "resomatization" have entered the psychoanalytic lexicon. Studying the development of the instinctual drives, Schur compared ethological and child developmental concepts, as can be seen in his critical discussion of Bowlby's Grief and Mourning in Infancy (1960) and "The Theory of the parent-infant relationship." (1962) His monograph, The Id and the Regulatory Principles of Psychoanalysis (1966), argues firmly for a structured id and clarifies the pleasure/unpleasure principle. He felt that the idea of the repetition compulsion as a regulatory principle was superfluous.

Schur was a major contributor among those analysts who in the 1950s and 1960s worked to elaborate, integrate, and systematize the theoretical and clinical implications of the later work of Freud, working to expand the ideas in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, Anna Freud's The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, and Heinz Hartmann's Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation.

Roy K. Lilleskov

Work discussed: Freud: Living and Dying.

See also: Annihilation anxiety; Coprophilia; Wiener psychoanalytische Vereinigung.


Schur, Max. (1953). The ego in anxiety. In R.M. Loewenstein (Ed.), Drives, affects, behavior. Essays in memory of Marie Bonaparte. (p. 67-103). New York: International Universities Press.

. (1955). Comments on the metapsychology of somatizatization. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 10, 119-164.

. (1958). The ego and the id in anxiety. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 13, 190-220.

. (1962). The theory of the infant-parent relationship. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43, 243-245.

. (1966). Some additional "day residues" of "the specimen dream of psychoanalysis." In R.M. Loewenstein, L.M. Newman, M. Schur, A.J. Solnit (Eds.), Psychoanalysis. A general psychology. (p. 462). New York: International Universities Press.

. (1972). Freud: Living and dying. New York: International Universities Press.

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