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Sachs, Hanns


SACHS, HANNS (1881–1947), non-medical psychoanalyst. Sachs was born in Vienna and studied law. In 1904 he read Freud's Interpretation of Dreams and in 1909 joined Freud's group, becoming a member of its executive the following year. Sachs was one of the six men closest to Freud, "The Committee," and in 1912 he was appointed coeditor of Imago with Otto *Rank. In 1918 he abandoned law and opened a psychoanalytic practice in Zurich. In 1920 he was invited to become a training analyst in Berlin. In 1932 Sachs left Berlin for Boston, where he continued as a training analyst and lectured. He received one of the few non-medical appointments as an instructor at the Harvard Medical School. Sachs was an indefatigable editor and teacher. His early writings are essentially devoted to questions of dream interpretation and everyday terrors. His later works mainly concern the application of psychoanalysis to literature and art.

Together with Karl *Abraham he advised Pabst, the film director of Secrets of the Soul. Sachs kept in touch with Pabst and in 1925 wrote Notes About the Psychology of the Film. His first major publication, written with Otto Rank, was The Significance of Psychoanalysis for the Mental Sciences (1915), which deals with the application of psychoanalysis to civilization, myth, religion, art, and philosophy. Other books include Psychotherapy and the Pursuit of Happiness (1941), The Creative Unconscious (1942), and Freud, Master and Friend (1944). Sachs's literary research was far-reaching. He thought that in writing The Tempest, Shakespeare freed himself from guilt at having left his daughter when she was a child (Der Sturm, 1912). Sachs wrote three books in his search to understand human beings and how clearly they may know themselves: Caligula (1931), Notes About the Knowledge of Human Beings (1936; not translated), and his last book, published posthumously and given the title by A.A. Roback, Masks of Love and Life (1948); it contains a sketch of Julius Caesar's personality and a chapter about the apostle Paul.


F. Moellenhoff, in: F. Alexander et al. (eds.), Psychoanalytic Pioneers (1966), 180–99; J. Rickman, Index Psychoanalyticus 1892–1926 (1928), 225–6.

[Louis Miller]

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