GEORG GRODDECK: “THE PINCH OF PEPPER” OF PSYCHOANALYSIS

Abstract

The life and works of Georg Groddeck are reviewed and placed in historical context as a physician and a pioneer of psychoanalysis, psychosomatic medicine, and an epistolary style of writing. His Das Es concept stimulated Freud to construct his tripartite model of the mind. Groddeck, however, used Das Es to facilitate receptivity to unconscious communication with his patients. His “maternal turn” transformed his treatment approach from an authoritarian position to a dialectical process. Groddeck was a generative influence on the development of Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, Erich Fromm, and Karen Horney. He was also the mid-wife of the late-life burst of creativity of his friend and patient Sándor Ferenczi. Together, Groddeck and Ferenczi provided the impetus for a paradigm shift in psychoanalysis that emphasized the maternal transference, child-like creativity, and a dialogue of the unconscious that foreshadowed contemporary interest in intersubjectivity and field theory. They were progenitors of the relational turn and tradition in psychoanalysis. Growing interest in interpsychic communication and field theory is bringing about a convergence of theorizing among pluralistic psychoanalytic schools that date back to 1923 when Freud appropriated Groddeck’s Das Es and radically altered its meaning and use.

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Correspondence to Mark F Poster.

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A significantly different version of this article was published by the first author in the PINE Newsletter (1992). Volume 5, No. 1, pp. 1–10.

1Mark F. Poster, M.D., Psychoanalytic Institute of New England, East (PINE) Center; Brockton Veterans Administration Medical Center; Harvard South Shore Psychiatry Program; private practice, West Newton, Massachusetts.

2Galina Hristeva, Ph.D., Literary critic, Stuttgart, Germany; Research Associate of the American Psychoanalytical Association; winner of the International Psychoanalytic Association Sacerdoti Prize, 2011.

3Michael Giefer, M.D., Frankfurt Psychoanalytic Institute, Frankfurt, Germany; Board member of Georg Groddeck Society, Frankfurt, Germany; private practice, Bad Homburg, Germany.

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Poster, M., Hristeva, G. & Giefer, M. GEORG GRODDECK: “THE PINCH OF PEPPER” OF PSYCHOANALYSIS. Am J Psychoanal 76, 161–182 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1057/ajp.2016.11

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Keywords

  • Groddeck
  • psychosomatic
  • patient as therapist
  • mutual analysis
  • child’s attitude
  • maternal transference