Stengel, Erwin

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STENGEL, ERWIN (1902–1973), psychiatrist. Stengel was born in Vienna, of East European parentage and was educated at Vienna University, where he received his M.D. in 1926. He studied with Sigmund *Freud and, before 1929, had worked together with Paul *Schilder and Heinz *Hartmann. In 1937, he became senior lecturer in psychiatry and neurology at Vienna University, where he worked with Wagner, V. Jauregy, and Poetzel and did research into the relation of frontal brain pathology to obsessional problems. In 1938, he left Austria for Britain as a refugee from Nazism, and after working with Mayer-Gross in Creighton (1942) he was appointed a research fellow in psychiatry at Edinburgh and, in 1949, became reader in psychiatry at London University, also serving as consultant to the Bethlehem Royal and Maudsley hospitals. In 1957, he was appointed to the newly established chair of psychiatry at the University of Sheffield, and on his retirement in 1967 was granted the title of emeritus professor. He served as president of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association in 1966, and was president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

In his earliest publications (with Hartmann), Studien zur Psychologie des Induzierten Irreseins (Arch. Psychia. Nervenkrank. (95), 1931) he maintained that certain paranoiacs have a specific motivation to establish a following, and his subsequent works were concerned with the examination of anxiety and compulsive wandering. In 1950, however, he began his researches on suicide, on which he became a world authority.

In 1958, he published a monograph (with N.G. Cook) on attempted suicide. His definitive work in the field, published in the Pelican series, appeared in 1964 as Suicide and Attempted Suicide. In 1969, Stengel addressed the opening session of the 11th Congress of the Israel Neuro-Psychiatric Society in Haifa, his subject being "recent progress in suicide research and prevention." He was active in the promotion of suicide prevention centers and techniques.


O. Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1945), 656. add. bibliography: odnb online.

[Louis Miller]