Sterba-Radanowicz-Hartmann, Editha (1895-1986)

views updated


Psychoanalyst Editha Sterba was born on May 8, 1895, in Budapest, and died December 2, 1986, in Detroit, Michigan.

From a Catholic family, Editha was the daughter of Colonel Heinrich von Radanowicz-Hartmann, a commander in the Austrian army. After secondary education at a humanistic gymnasium ordinarily restricted to boys, she attended the University of Vienna, where she initially studied German language and literature and classical philology before turning, in 1916, to musicology. She graduated in 1921 with a thesis on "Viennese Song from 1789 to 1915."

As secretary to Otto Rank at the Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag (the official psychoanalytic publishing house) and secretary at the training institute, she became familiar with analysis, and by the end of 1925 she was an associate member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. A year later, divorced from her first husband, she married the Viennese physician and analyst, Richard Sterba. In June 1927, she gave a lecture "Blasphemy and the Punishment of Heaven" and in 1930 she became a full member of the Vienna Society.

Editha Sterba's major focus was the emerging field of child psychoanalysis. In 1928, she was placed in charge of the educational services center of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society and, in 1932, of a larger center with August Aichhorn, Anna Freud, and Willi Hoffer. With Aichhorn she also served as an adviser and consultant to educational institutions in Vienna and, in October 1934, she directed the introductory seminar on child psychoanalysis. From 1927, she regularly published her works in Zeitschrift für psychoanalytische Pädagogik.

The Sterbas left Vienna in 1938, first for Switzerland. On Ernest Jones's advice, they applied for a visa for South Africa with the intention of helping to found a psychoanalytic society there. However, they failed to obtain the necessary visas and instead emigrated to the United States in 1939. Editha became a member of the Detroit Psychoanalytic Society, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the Association for Child Psychoanalysis and, in 1955, of the Michigan Association for Psychoanalysis. In 1953, she was asked to join the newly opened department of psychiatry at Wayne State University. Her study Beethoven and His Nephew, written in collaboration with her husband, appeared in 1954. With Alexander Grinstein she wrote Understanding Your Family, published in 1957.

Editha Sterba played a variety of roles in organizational and research projects over the course of three decades in the United States. She worked at the Children's Service of the McGregor Center at Wayne State University and the Northeast Guidance Clinic; she also helped found the Roeper City and Country School, a training institution for nurses. She was associated with the University of Michigan, practiced at the Children's Hospital of Michigan, and for the Jewish Family Service she developed methods for treating young survivors of the Holocaust.

Elke MÜhleitner

See also: Lehrinstitut der Wiener Psychoanalytischen Vereinigung; Sterba, Richard F.


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

Sterba, Editha. (1929). Nacktheit und scham. (Nudity and shame). Zeitschrift für psychoanalytische Pädagogik, 3.

. (1941). The school and child guidance. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 10, 445-467.

. (1945). Interpretation and education. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 1, 309-318.

Sterba, Editha, and Grinstein, Alexander. (1957). Under-tstanding your family. New York: Random House.

Sterba, Editha, and Sterba, Richard F. (1954). Beethoven and his nephew; a psychoanalytic study of their relationship. New York: Pantheon.