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Alexander, Franz


ALEXANDER, FRANZ (1891–1964), U.S. psychoanalyst, criminologist, and author. Alexander was born in Budapest and studied medicine there. During World War i, he served in the Austro-Hungarian Army at a bacteriological field laboratory. After the war he did postgraduate work at the psychiatric hospital of the University of Berlin. With the establishment of Berlin's Institute for Psychoanalysis in 1921, he became its first student and stayed on there for ten years as clinical associate and lecturer. During that period he formulated his ideas for his first book: Die Psychoanalyse der Gesamtpersoenlichkeit (1927). Early in his career as a psychiatrist Alexander became convinced that the vital approach of psychoanalysis should be the exploration of the human mind to lead men and women to more constructive and satisfying fulfillment in their lives. His research provided much understanding about "psychosomatic specificity" tracing such psychosomatic symptoms as peptic ulcer to their origin in childhood neurotic conflict, and "dream pairs" showing how dreams occur in complementary pairs to produce wish fulfillment. Alexander also made many attempts to shorten therapy through use of the patient's transference relationship with his or her therapist. His famous work Der Verbrecher und seine Richter (1929; The Criminal, the Judge and the Public, 1931), written with H. Staub, a lawyer, led to an invitation to teach at the University of Chicago. Here he established the world's first university chair in psychoanalysis. From 1931 to 1932, Alexander was research associate in criminology at the Judge Baker Foundation in Boston. He incorporated his findings in his book, The Roots of Crime (1935), written with William Healy. In 1932 he established and became director of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. From 1938 to 1956 he was also professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois. In 1956 he was appointed head of the new psychiatric department of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and professor of psychiatry at the University of Southern California. Among the many high posts he occupied were president of the American Psychoanalytical Association, president of the American Society for Research in Psychosomatic Medicine, and president of the Academy of Psychoanalysis. He was one of the founding editors of the professional journal Psychosomatic Medicine (1939). His other books include The Western Mind in Transition (1960); The Scope of Psychoanalysis (1961); and Psychosomatic Specificity (1968).


Pollock, in: Archives of General Psychiatry, 11 (1964), 229–34.

[Zvi Hermon]

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