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Urbantschitsch (Urban), Rudolf von (1879-1964)


Rudolf von Urbantschitsch, an Austrian physician, was born in Vienna on April 28, 1879, and died on December 18, 1964, in Carmel, California.

He was born into a Catholic and aristocratic family that enjoyed a good reputation in the days of the Hapsburg monarchy. His father, Victor Urbantschitsch, was one of the founders of modern ENT medicine. Rudolf was a student at the Vienna Theresianum, from which he graduated in 1898. In 1914, having finished his medical studies, he became the assistant of Karl von Noordens and directed his clinic.

With the support of Noordens, of influential circles in Vienna, and protected by Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne, he was able to realize his project of creating a clinic for the Viennese aristocracy. The Wiener Cottage Sanatorium was opened under his directorship in 1908 and became one of the most prestigious institutions in Europe. The Viennese medical profession cared for its most well-to-do patients there.

At the end of 1907, Fritz Wittels, who practiced as a physician in the Cottage Sanatorium, introduced Urbantschitsch to the group of Viennese psychoanalysts. In January 1908 he presented a paper, "Meine Entwicklungsjahre bis zur Ehe" (From my puberty to my marriage), and went on to become a member of the Wednesday psychology society. He remained a member until 1914. Sigmund Freud hospitalized some of his patients in the Cottage Sanatorium, Sergei Pankejeff (the "Wolf Man") for one.

In 1920, Urbantschitsch lost his position as sole director of the Cottage Sanatorium and the institution was sold in 1922. Following this loss and on Freud's recommendation he began to train as an analyst, first with Paul Federn and then with Sándor Ferenczi in Budapest. As a Catholic, an aristocrat, and a monarchist, Urbantschitsch was an exception in the social makeup of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Through his intense lecturing activity both in Austria and abroad he contributed to vulgarizing the discoveries of psychoanalysis but ran up against the criticism of his Viennese colleagues, particularly the younger ones, for presenting psychoanalysis in a simplistic fashion and according pride of place to his personal publicity. This criticism, and also his love affairs, two of which resulted in suicide, contributed to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society's rejecting his request to renew his membership and in 1924 he was even refused the status of a guest.

At the end of 1936 Urbantschitsch left for the United States and first settled in Los Angeles as a psychotherapist. He moved to San Francisco during the summer of 1937 and to Carmel in 1941. These peregrinations were not unconnected to the fact that he had fallen foul of Ernst Simmel and the Los Angeles group of psychoanalysts, who considered his therapeutic work and his theoretical conceptions to be nonpsychoanalytical in the Freudian sense of the term. In 1944 Urbantschitsch, who still insisted on considering himself as a psychoanalyst and a disciple of Freud, was accused of practicing medicine illegally.

Apart from his many vulgarizing publications, Urbantschitsch also published plays and novels under the pseudonym Georg Gorgone. His autobiography appeared in 1958 entitled Myself Not Least: A Confessional Autobiography of a Psychoanalyst and Some Explanatory History Cases.

Elke MÜhlleitner

See also: Wittels, Fritz (Siegfried).


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

Reichmayr, Johannes. (1991). Rudolf von Urbantschitsch (Rudolf von Urban), 1879-1964. Revue internationale d'histoire de la psychanalyse, 4, 647-658.

Urbantschitsch, Rudolf von. (1924). Psychoanalyse: Ihre bedeutung und ihr einfluss auf jugenderziehung, kinderaufklärung, berufsund liebeswahl. Vienna-Leipzig: M. Perles.

. (1928). Psychoanalysis for all. London: C. S. Daniel.

. (1958). Myself not least; a confessional autobiography of a psychoanalyst and some explanatory history cases. London: Jarrolds.

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