Contemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third Reich: History, Memory, Tradition, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Contemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third Reich

History, Memory, Tradition, 1st Edition

By Emily A. Kuriloff


182 pages

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For most of the twentieth century, Jewish and/or politically leftist European psychoanalysts rarely linked their personal trauma history to their professional lives, for they hoped their theory—their Truth—would transcend subjectivity and achieve a universality not unlike the advances in the "hard" sciences. 

Contemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third Reich confronts the ways in which previously avoided persecution, expulsion, loss and displacement before, during and after the Holocaust shaped what was, and remains a dominant movement in western culture.

Emily Kuriloff uses unpublished original source material, as well as personal interviews conducted with émigré /survivor analysts, and scholars who have studied the period, revealing how the quality of relatedness between people determines what is possible for them to know and do, both personally and professionally. Kuriloff’s research spans the globe, including the analytic communities of the United States, England, Germany, France, and Israel amidst the extraordinary events of the twentieth century.

Contemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third Reich addresses the future of psychoanalysis in the voices of the second generation—thinkers and clinicians whose legacies and work remains informed by the pain and triumph of their parents' and mentors' Holocaust stories. These unprecedented revelations influence not only our understanding of mental health work, but of history, art, politics and education. Psychoanalysts, psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, cultural historians, Jewish and specifically Holocaust scholars will find this volume compelling.


"This book is so unique in content, form, and authenticity, that it defies traditional boundaries. It is a book about history. It is a book about cultural upheaval. It is a book about psychic catastrophe. It is a story of human resolve and a story of survival, repair, and creativity among psychoanalytic healers whose notions influenced not just their colleagues and their patients, but all of Western culture before and after World War II."- Philip Bromberg, From the Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third Reich

"We are all beholden to Dr. Kuriloff for her brilliant and magisterial book which provides a vital perspective on the disastrous, pervasive, and, often profoundly disowned impact of the Third Reich on psychoanalysts and their movement." - Edgar Levenson, MD fellow emeritus, faculty W.A.White Psychoanalytic Institute

"Many researchers, historians, and clinicians have grappled to penetrate the unfathomable horror of the Holocaust and its social, political and intellectual ramifications, but Kuriloff offers a uniquely open and comprehensive view of theoretical development across several countries and continents. Kuriloff carefully balances depth and sensitivity, never foreclosing on a single idea as 'the' explanation for why a theory developed in a particular way at a particular time and always being exacting but fair in her critique of previous attempts at meaning making. Her book offers an overview of the personal impact of exile, loss, trauma, and resilience during and after the Holocaust on analytic theory." Rebecca Coleman Curtis and Laura Grace, PsycCRITIQUES

"This volume contains masterful analyses of the many ways in which trauma leaves consequences, and documents how the brutal Nazi persecution in the context of different cultural environments influenced psychoanalysts' theoretical orientation, their clinical work with survivors and patients in general, and the life of psychoanalytic institutions. Dr. Kuriloff has opened new perspectives on the psychological consequences of the Holocaust, on the influence of cultural trauma on the psychological functioning of adults, and on the history of psychoanalysis and of 20th century Jewish culture. Last but not least, the humanity, openness and flexibility of her approach make these interviews and her analysis of them an exciting, thought-provoking, moving experience". – Otto Kernberg, New York Presbyterian Hospital

"This book will provoke useful discussion of the topic. It is of interest to psychoanalysis and students of the Holocaust and the history of ideas. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, professionals" - R.H. Balsam, Yale University, CHOICE

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements. Introduction by Philip Bromberg. Author’s Preface. Its Not What You Have Written Down. History Means Interpretation.Not Gentle Creatures.The Founding and The Final Hour.Throwing Stones at the Future. Like Shadows. A Child is Something Else Again. Index.Bibliography.

About the Author

Emily A. Kuriloff is a Psychologist and Psychoanalyst. She is in private practice in New York City and she is Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst at the William Alanson White Institute, New York.

About the Series

Psychoanalysis in a New Key Book Series

When music is played in a new key, the melody does not change, but the notes that make up the composition do: change in the context of continuity, continuity that perseveres through change. Psychoanalysis in a New Key publishes books that share the aims psychoanalysts have always had, but that approach them differently. The books in the series are not expected to advance any particular theoretical agenda, although to this date most have been written by analysts from the Interpersonal and Relational orientations.

The most important contribution of a psychoanalytic book is the communication of something that nudges the reader’s grasp of clinical theory and practice in an unexpected direction. Psychoanalysis in a New Key creates a deliberate focus on innovative and unsettling clinical thinking. Because that kind of thinking is encouraged by exploration of the sometimes surprising contributions to psychoanalysis of ideas and findings from other fields, Psychoanalysis in a New Key particularly encourages interdisciplinary studies. Books in the series have married psychoanalysis with dissociation, trauma theory, sociology, and criminology. The series is open to the consideration of studies examining the relationship between psychoanalysis and any other field – for instance, biology, literary and art criticism, philosophy, systems theory, anthropology, and political theory.

But innovation also takes place within the boundaries of psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalysis in a New Key therefore also presents work that reformulates thought and practice without leaving the precincts of the field. Books in the series focus, for example, on the significance of personal values in psychoanalytic practice, on the complex interrelationship between the analyst’s clinical work and personal life, on the consequences for the clinical situation when patient and analyst are from different cultures, and on the need for psychoanalysts to accept the degree to which they knowingly satisfy their own wishes during treatment hours, often to the patient’s detriment.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health