Schweizerische Ärztegeselleschaft Für Psychoanalyse

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The Swiss Psychoanalytic Society (SGPsa), consisting of physicians and non-physicians, was created in 1919. The Swiss Medical Society for Psychoanalysis, or Schweizerische Ärztegeselleschaft für Psychoanalyse, is the result of a rift that took place within the first society in 1928.

In 1928 Emil Oberholzer and Rudolf Brun founded a medical society for psychoanalysis, which admitted only physicians as full members, non-physicians being considered as no more than "scientific collaborators or collaborators in their specialty." This new society applied to be admitted to the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) in 1929. The central committee of the IPA rejected the application in the following terms: "After careful consideration of the question the central committee feels obliged to reject this application because it deems the reasons given in justification of this new foundation to be insufficient. It deeply regrets the fact that the differences that appeared could not be resolved otherwise than through a rift of the old group." The wording is Anna Freud's.

Oberholzer and Brun explained the reasons for the foundation of the new 1928 society in a very long memorandum. The rift was born out of a desire to reorder and was introduced in opposition to "the membership of non-physicians in the Swiss Psychoanalytic Society," but also in rejection of "pseudo-analysts and physicians to whom psychoanalysis is in fact unknown." The difficulties with regard to the non-physician fraction of the old society crystallized around Oskar Pfister. He was reproached with a variety of things: contenting himself with short treatment periods; being essentially preoccupied with symptoms to the detriment of defenses; practicing propaganda; receiving into the society people who claimed to be psychoanalysts when they had in fact been insufficiently trained; being unable to discuss deep theoretical matters; working insufficiently on his own self-analysis; and using religious faith as a therapeutic lever.

This difficulty seems to have existed from the foundation of the SGPsa. The division of the society into two sections, one medical, the other non-medical, had already been suggested in 1926. It was quite probably Freud's 1926 text on lay analysis (1926e) that led to this foundation.

Sigmund Freud, Max Eitingon and Johan H. W. Van Ophuijsen took the side of the old society. In 1936 the Swiss Medical Society for Psychoanalysis renewed its application for membership of the IPA. Philipp Sarasin, as president of the SGPsa, set up a commission, comprising Pfister, Kielholz, Zulliger, Christoffel, and Blum, which proposed to recognize the members of the medical Society on condition that they request it and that they accept "Freud's point of view on the question of lay analysis and upon their agreeing to accept the Oxford ruling by non-physicians." This report seems to have remained unanswered.

In 1938 some members of the medical Society joined the SGPsa individually just as Oberholzer was emigrating to the United States.

Mireille Cifali

See also: Brun, Rudolf; Oberholzer, Emil; Switzerland (German-speaking).


Cifali, Mireille. (1990). De quelques remous helvétiques autour de l'analyse profane. Revue internationale d'histoire de la psychanalyse, 4, 291-305.

Meerwein, Fritz. (1979). Reflexionen zur Geschichte der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Psychoanalyse in der deutschen Schweiz. Bulletin de la Société suisse de psychanalse, 9, 25-40.

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Schweizerische Ärztegeselleschaft Für Psychoanalyse

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