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Wittkower, Eric (1899-1983)

WITTKOWER, ERIC (1899-1983)

Eric Wittkower, although a British subject by birth, was born on April 4, 1899, in Berlin and died on January 6, 1983 in Montreal.

He received his MD at the University of Berlin in 1924. From 1925 to 1930 he was assistant in the Medical Clinic at the Charité in Berlin; from 1930 to 1933 he became assistant in the Psychiatric Clinic at the Charité. From 1932 to 1933 he was privat dozent in psychosomatic medicine at the University of Berlin. Already he numbered among the European pioneers in psychosomatic medicine.

Because of the situation in Germany, in 1933 he and his wife Claire moved to Switzerland, and thereafter on to England, where he first was a research fellow at the Maudsley Clinic and then at Tavistock. After further training in Edinburgh and Glasgow, he served as a psychiatrist in the British Army from 1940 to 1945. In England, he was analyzed by Eva Rosenfeld, then by John Rickman, and completed his psychoanalytic training at the London Institute in 1950. In 1951 the Kleinianoriented Wittkower left Maudsley and Tavistock to go with his wife and two children to Montreal, where he taught at McGill University where he conceptually organized the domain of transcultural psychiatry and where he founded and edited the Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review. He was also one of the founding fathers of the Canadian Society of Psychoanalysis. In 1970 he helped to found the International College of Psychosomatic Medicine.

The prolific Wittkower authored four books, including Emotional Factors in Skin Disease (1953), Recent Developments in Psychosomatic Medicine (1954), Divergent views in Psychiatry (1981), co-edited three more, and wrote more than two hundred and thirty articles, the great majority being on psychosomatic medicine and transcultural psychiatry. Despite those seminal contributions and his honorary recognition by various psychoanalytic, psychiatric, and psychosomatic organizations on four continents, he prized his teaching most of allhis grateful colleagues and students overwhelmingly agree.

Patrick Mahony

See also: Canada; Tavistock Clinic.


Wittkower, Eric. (1953). Emotional Factors in skin disease. New York: Paul Hoeber.

Wittkower, Eric, and Cleghorn, Robert (Eds.). (1954). Recent developments in Psychosomatic Medicine. London, Sir Isaac Pitman.

Wittkower, Eric, and Dongier, Maurice (Eds.). (1981). Divergent views in Psychiatry. Baltimore, MD: Harper & Row.

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