Ludwig Binswanger. Source: Alchetron
(free encyclopedia).

Ludwig Binswanger (1881-1966), was born in and spent his whole life in the small town of Kreuzlingen, part-way between Zurich and Constance in Switzerland. His German-Jewish grandfather, Ludwig "Elieser" Binswagner, 1820-1880, had founded the Bellevue Sanatorium, Kreuzlingen in 1857, and an uncle, Otto Binswanger, 1852-1929, was Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Jena. All these considerations help explain the greater independence of Binswanger from the "Züricher" group which c. 1904-1913 formed around Carl Gustav Jung at the Burghölzli Mental Hospital in Zurich.

Educated at the University of Zurich, Binswanger received his MD in 1907 and in March that year accompanied Jung on a visit to Freud in Vienna. Whereas Freud's relationship with Jung was tinged with neurotic doubts and desires for a younger "Crown Prince" to one day continue the work and nascent "Movement" around "the child" psychoanalysis which Freud had brought into the world, the relationship with Binswanger was more rational and would endure. In 1911 Binswanger became Medical Director of the Kreuzlingen Sanatorium, and one is led to suspect an as yet unpublished correspondence between him and Freud. Ernest Jones (1955, Ch: Dissensions) notes a letter of Freud to Binswanger, Thursday 23 May 1912, and probably viewed by Jones in Anna Freud's house in London, c.1950s, where Jones did much of the research for his Life of Freud. The letter noted Freud's pending visit to Binswanger in Kreuzlingen, long-promised in return for the latter's early visit to Freud in Vienna. On a tight schedule Freud omitted to also call on Jung in Zurich, leading the Swiss doyen to thereafter refer to Freud's "gesture of Kreuzlingen," which then assumed a role in the personal separation of Freud and Jung later that year (Jones,1955, McGuire, ed., 1974).

The World War of 1914-1918 affected Binswanger personally and spiritually, even though his country remained neutral throughout. In March 1919 he was active in the new Swiss Psycho-analytical Society which replaced the earlier one led by Jung. Along with Binswanger the new Council members included psychiatrist Emil Oberholzer (1883-1958), pastor Oskar Pfister (1873-1956) and psychologist Hermann Rohrschach (1884-1922) of "inkblot test" fame. Binswanger attended the reunion of psychoanalysts in 1920, held in neutral Holland at The Hague: The Sixth Congress of the International Psycho-Analytical Association. As a speaker his chosen presentation was "Psycho-Analysis and Clinical Psychiatry" (published in International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 1920: 1). His later theoretical breadth, which increasingly took in the new Existentialism and Phenomenology of thinkers such as Martin Heidegger and Martin Buber, to which Binswanger added the analytical psychotherapy he had gained from Freud, is beyond the present scope. See Bühler (2004). Binswanger died in Kreuzlingen.


Binswanger, Ludwig. Zur Geschichte der Heilanstalt Bellevue. Kreuzlingen, 1857-1932. (The History of the Bellevue Sanatorium, Kreuzlingen, 1857-1932). Kreuzlingen, 1932. [It could not have escaped Freud's notice that Binswanger's Sanatorium shared the name "Bellevue" with the Restaurant in Vienna where Freud had achieved his momentous "wish fulfilment" interpretation of the "Dream of Irma's Injection" on 24 July, 1895 - a Wednesday, which then gave the name for Freud's early Psychological Wednesday Society - to which Binswanger would be invited in 1907 for the first meeting of the two men.]

Bühler, Karl-Ernst. "Existential analysis and psychoanalysis: specific differences and personal relationship between Ludwig Binswanger and Sigmund Freud." American Journal of Psychotherapy. 58/1 (2004): 34-50.

Jones, Ernest. The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud. Vol. II. London: Hogarth Press, 1955.

McGuire, W. The Freud-Jung Letters: The Correspondence Between Sigmund Freud and C.G. Jung. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974.

Created 25 March 2021