Max Eitingon. Source: Israel Psycho-
analytical Society, frontispiece.

Max Eitingon (1881-1943) was born into a Jewish family in Western Russia. The year of his birth coincided with the assassination of the Russian Emperor Alexander II, 1818-1881 and Emperor 1855-1881. A subsequent increase in anti-Jewish "pogroms" [Russ., devastation] coincided with his family's move westwards, to Leipzig in Eastern Germany. Some twenty-five years earlier, a similar westward journey (via Leipzig; see Freud chronology, 1859) had befallen the family of Sigmund Freud, albeit for more commercial and economic reasons.

With his early education completed in Leipzig, Eitingon moved on to the study of Philosophy at Heidelberg, followed by Marburg. A shift in plans saw him move to the study of Medicine, at Zurich, where around 1904-06 he came into contact with the very active psychiatry-psychopathology group centred on Eugene Bleuler, 1857-1939, and C. G. Jung, 1875-1961, and - through them - came into contact with the work of Freud in Vienna. On the 30th January 1907 Eitingon became the very first non-Viennese follower to find his way to Freud at the Berggasse, forming a bond which would never be broken in life. After completing medical studies for his MD, Eitingon moved to Berlin c.1908, whilst maintaining contact with Freud and Vienna. In October 1909, for example, he spent three weeks with Freud, and according to Jones (1955, Ch. "The Beginnings of International Recognition"") this involved a continuing personal-training analysis with the older mentor.

Eitingon's major contribution to Psychoanalysis was never on the theoretical side, and citations of his publications are rare. He was a master of organization, joining the pre-War Berlin Psa. Society c.1909. During the 1913 difficulties with Jung and other Swiss analysts, Eitingon remained loyal to Freud, who in late 1919 would reward him with a "symbolic" ring of fealty, and a place as the sixth and for then final member of the inner "Committee" {see Freud chronology, 1912).

Following his war service 1914-18 as an army medic, Eitingon joined Ernst Simmel, 1882-1947 and Karl Abraham,1877-1925 in establishing the Berlin Psa. Policlinic. His geographical distance from Freud would lead us to expect a large correspondence over the years, though the only known to be published is a sparse entry in a volume of Freud's general letters (Freud, E.L., 1960). Eitingon would by 1928 and the Tenth International Psa. Congress, held at Innsbruck, be elected to the position of President of the International Psa. Association. Organizational and training matters were his speciality. With the advent of Hitlerism in Europe, Eitingon left quickly for Palestine in 1933 to pursue his Zionist inclinations. He was instrumental in forming the early Palestine Psa. Society (perhaps with earlier emigré, David Eder, 1865-1936, from England) and as late as July 1939 he would pay a last visit to the dying Freud in London. Eitingon died in his beloved Israel in 1943.

Bibliography

Alexander, F. et al. Psychoanalytic Pioneers. New York: Basic Books, 1966.

Freud, E. L. Letters of Sigmund Freud, 1873-1939. New York: Basic Books, 1960.

Gay, Peter. Freud. A Life for Our Time. New York: Norton & Co., 1988.

Israel Psycho-analytical Society. Max Eitingon in memoriam. 1950. Internet Archive. Contributed by the international Psychoanalytic University, Berlin and Prof. Dr. Lilli Gast. Web. 15 March 2021.

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


Created 15 March 2021