Woolf (Wulff), Moshe

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WOOLF (Wulff), MOSHE (1878–1971), Israeli psychiatrist and author. Born in Odessa, Russia, Woolf studied medicine in Berlin. Here he started his psychiatric training under Mendel and Jolly and soon became Ziehen's first assistant in the laboratory of the Charité, the university hospital in Berlin. In 1907, while working at Mendel's psychiatric sanatorium, he made his first acquaintance with Freud's works, which proved crucial to his further scientific development. He joined the sanatorium of Berlin-Lankwitz and in 1908 became Juliusburger's assistant. When Karl Abraham returned from Zurich at that time and joined the same sanatorium, he became Woolf's teacher and introduced him to psychoanalysis proper. In 1911 he returned to Russia as the only trained analyst in that country, where his many widespread and diverse activities eventually resulted in the acknowledgment and development of psychoanalysis. After the revolution he joined a large psychiatric outpatient clinic and taught at the second medical clinic of the University of Moscow. At the same time he did additional work at the psychoanalytically oriented children's home of Zermakow. Although he lived in Russia, he became a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society in 1912. In 1927 he left Russia for political reasons and returned to a psychoanalytic institution, the Tegelsee sanatorium, where he worked under Ernst Simmel until 1930.

In 1933 he emigrated to Palestine. Max Eitingon, who arrived in Palestine in the same year, together with Woolf and I. Schalith founded the Palestine Psychoanalytic Society in 1934. After Eitingon's death, Woolf became president of the Israel Psychoanalytic Society, a position he held for ten years.

Woolf's earliest paper on children was "Beitraege zur infantilen Sexualitaet" (1912), which dealt with some cases of momentary loss of consciousness which Woolf considered caused by hysteria. "Phantasie und Wirklichkeit im Seelenleben des Kleinkindes" (1934) was delivered to an educational board of the Communist Party, in order to influence it not to forbid the reading of fairy tales. His paper, "Prohibitions Against the Simultaneous Consumption of Milk and Flesh in Orthodox Jewish Law" (1945), historically and analytically traces the sources for ritual laws applying to food and to Passover. Some of his publications are considered basic contributions to the psychoanalytic theory, for example, "Fetishism and Object Choice in Early Childhood" (published in Psychoanalytical Quarterly 15 (1946), 450–71).


R. Jaffe, in: F. Alexander et al. (eds.), Psychoanalytic Pioneers (1966), 200–9.

[Gad Tadmor]