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Minkowski, Eugène


MINKOWSKI, EUGÈNE (1885–1972), French existentialist psychiatrist. Eugène Minkowski, born in St. Petersburg, studied medicine and was appointed psychiatrist at the Henri Rousselle Hospital in Paris from 1925. He had already come under the influence of the Zurich school of psychiatry led by Eugen Bleuler, which included Ludwig Binswanger the existentialist psychiatrist whom he met in 1922. In 1921 he wrote an analysis of Bleuler's conception of schizophrenia, "La schizophrénie et la notion de la maladie mentale." This was a precursor of his book, La Schizophrénie (1927), in which Minkowski maintained that insanity was nothing more than an exaggeration of the individual's habitual character. The influence of Henri *Bergson is seen in his belief that the patient's impetus toward integration with reality was reduced and he existed in a world of his own. In the case of the schizophrenic, the dynamic functions of mental life were impaired and contact with reality lost. From Edmund *Husserl, he took his views on "phenomenology" as the study of immediate experiences in a living and concrete fashion of reality. Minkowski's existentialist views are in evidence generally in his writings. In Les notions de distance vecue et d'ampleur de la vie (Journalde Psychologie, 1930), he stated that the patient affirms his relation to a "becoming" around himself in which relationship he is able to grow and which contains all the vital dynamics of the human personality. In 1933 he published Le Temps Vécu and in 1936, Vers une Cosmologie. His many shorter works appeared regularly each year from 1921, except for the war years, in various medical journals. He served on the executive of the French *ort and was honorary president of the world *ose union. His wife francoise minkowski, a psychologist, carried out clinical work with the Rorschach test in the area of epilepsy, the typology of personality, and the rapport or detachment of the schizophrenic. In her book Le Rorschach (1956), she developed the Rorschach test as a clinical instrument analyzing specific dynamic factors rather than providing only a diagnosis. Her study of Van Gogh, Van Gogh, sa vie, sa maladie et son oeuvre (1963), confirmed her findings that the sensory type lives in the abstract and her work on childrens' drawings is set out in De van Gogh et Seurat aux dessins d'enfants. mieczyslaw minkowski (1884–1972), Swiss neurologist and brother of Eugene, was a research worker in the Pavlov Physiological Laboratory in St. Petersburg from 1907 to 1908 and worked in a neuropsychiatric clinic in Berlin from 1909 to 1911. In 1928 he became a professor of neurology at Zurich University and the president of the Swiss Neurological Society (1943–46). He wrote a number of neurological research papers beginning in 1925 with "Zum gegenwaertigen Stand der Lehre von den Reflexen." His work on the foetus included "Prenatal neuropathologic changes leading to neurological or mental disturbances" and his integrative views are expressed in "Neurobiologie, Moral und Religion" (1963). He was the president of the Swiss friends of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem from 1932 to 1947.


Cahiers du Groupe Françoise Minkowska (1965), 169–75; Bulletin du Groupement Français du Rorschach (July 1952); Mieczyslaw Minkowski zum 70. Geburtstag (1954), 23–33.

[Louis Miller]

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