Federn, Paul

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FEDERN, PAUL (1871–1950), Austrian psychoanalyst. Federn, the son of a distinguished Viennese physician, graduated from the medical school in Vienna. In 1904 he joined Freud's inner circle, being preceded only by three physicians: Adler, Stekel, and Reitler. His initial studies and publications combined the viewpoints of biology and psychology. In 1912 he contributed papers on sexual subjects and night fears and in 1913–14 papers on sadism, masochism, and dream interpretation, stressing the ego psychological point of view. He also wrote on telepathy and extrasensory perception. During World War i he was a doctor in the Austrian army. Federn devoted himself to the training of analysts and was the chairman of the education committee of the Vienna Society. His interest in social psychology led to a major work, a study of the psychology of revolution, Zur Psychologie der Revolution: Die vaterlose Gesellschaft (1919). In the 1920s he wrote papers on many psychoanalytic issues. After Freud's illness in 1924 Federn became his deputy, and continued that function until 1938, when he immigrated to the United States. Federn's most original findings were in the field of ego psychology and the psychoses. He contributed greatly to the understanding of the manifestations of the ego, the sources of its feeling, and the nature of its attachments to objects. His study of the ego, especially in dreams, neuroses, and schizophrenia, permitted him to develop important concepts – at times at variance with those of Freud – which came to be applied in new methods to the therapy of the psychoses. From 1940 the dynamics of the psychosis became clearer to him, and he published papers on the analysis of psychosis (1943) and on the psychotherapy of latent schizophrenia (1949). In his will, Federn entrusted Eduardo Weiss with editing his works on ego psychology, which appeared as Ego Psychology and the Psychoses (1953).


E. Weiss, in: F.G. Alexander et al. (eds.), Psychoanalytic Pioneers (1966), 142–59. add. bibliography: M.T. Melo de Carvalho, Paul Federnune autre voie pour la théorie du moi (1996); E. Federn, "Thirty-five Years with Freud – 100th Anniversary of Paul Federn, October 13, 1971," in: Psyche, 10 (1971), 721–37.

[Louis Miller]

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Federn, Paul

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