Skip to main content

Stone, Leo (1904-1997)

STONE, LEO (1904-1997)

Leo Stone, American psychoanalyst and teacher, was born on August 11, 1904, in Brooklyn, New York, where he died on July 27, 1997. He was the third of four children born to Ruben and Marcia Stone. His father, a man "with a good heart," was an avid reader and owned a large library, through which Leo read systematically. His mother was a kind woman with a fine singing voicea factor in Leo's love of music. During his childhood the family moved to a farm north of New York City. Seven years later they moved back to Brooklyn. Later in life, Leo purchased from Brooklyn College a tract of land across the state line in New Jersey, an act reflecting his early attachment to nature. He was married twice and was the father of three daughters.

Leo Stone graduated from Erasmus High School in Brooklyn in 1916, from Dartmouth College in 1924, and from Michigan University Medical School in 1928. After a year on call, he studied pathology in Vienna and Berlin in 1930 and then completed a residency in neurology at Montefiore Hospital. He trained in psychiatry at the Menninger Clinic until 1936, after which he started a private practice in New York City, which he continued until his death.

He graduated from the New York Psychoanalytic Institute in 1941, having been analyzed by Clara Thompson, an analysand of Sándor Ferenczi. Then he joined the faculty of the institute and was active for many years until late in his life. He was Brill Memorial lecturer and received many honors and awards. He served as president of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and as president of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. From 1951 to 1957, he also served as medical director of the New York Psychoanalytic Society.

Stone first achieved prominence after Anna Freud approvingly discussed his paper "The widening scope of indications for psychoanalysis" (1954), a plea for humanely expanding the use of psychoanalysis to treat a broad range of illnesses. This paper became the basis of his best known book, The Psychoanalytic Situation: An Examination of Its Development and Essential Nature (1961). He also published The Therapeutic Experience and Its Setting: A Clinical Dialogue with Robert Langs (1980) and Transference and Its Context: Selected Papers in Psychoanalysis (1984).

A key participant in the historic 1971 International Psychoanalytic Congress in Vienna, where he spoke on aggression as a reaction to frustrating reality rather than an inborn drivea view with which Anna Freud concurred. He was an early proponent of a flexible approach. His view was that an analyst who remained too rigid risked damaging his patient and undoing any treatmenta view that was radical at a time when analysts favored giving the silent treatment or acting as a reflecting mirror.

Stone was widely respected in the United States for being gentlemanly and courteous, kind and modest, and lucid and thorough in presenting psychoanalytic ideas and concepts.

Zvi Lothane

See also: Abstinence/rule of abstinence.


Stone, Leo. (1938). Concerning the psychogenesis of somatic illness: Physiological and neurological correlates with the psychological theory. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 19, 63-76.

. (1947). Transference sleep in a neurosis with duodenal ulcer. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 28, 86-118.

. (1954). The widening scope of indications for psychoanalysis. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2, 567-594.

. (1961). The psychoanalytic situation: An examination of its development and essential nature. New York: International Universities Press.

. (1980). The therapeutic experience and its setting: A clinical dialogue with Robert Langs. New York: Jason Aronson.

. (1984). Transference and its context: Selected papers on psychoanalysis. New York: Jason Aronson.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Stone, Leo (1904-1997)." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . 20 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Stone, Leo (1904-1997)." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . (February 20, 2019).

"Stone, Leo (1904-1997)." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.