Heinz Hartmann (1894–1970)
Publishing Era (1917–1966)
Heinz Hartmann was born on November 4, 1894 in an upper class gentile Viennese family of distinguished historians and academics. His parents, Ludwig Hartmann and Grete Chrobak, married in 1892. The marriage was remarkable in that the Chrobak family was devoutly Roman Catholic while Ludwig, originally from a Protestant family, became an atheist and adamantly opposed religious practices. Because all schools, public and private, were operated under the auspices of the Church, Heinz and his 1-year-older sister, Else, were home schooled at the family estate at Gerasdorf. Heinz received individual instruction until he was 14 years of age and from then on attended public schools. The home atmosphere was that of an international salon in character, emphasizing musical performances (the composer Johannes Brahms, 1833–1897, was a frequent visitor) and debates by intellectuals on political issues. With such extraordinary stimulation, Heinz thrived and was able to cultivate his talents. He played the violin, taught himself piano, wrote poetry, painted watercolors, and kept a pet fox.
Prior to graduating from the University of Vienna medical school in 1920, Heinz spent a year in the Army. Twice he was nearly killed not by enemy bullets, but by avalanches, each time dug out by his comrades. His years at the University were not confined to a rigid course of medical studies. He audited lectures on philosophy, psychology, and sociology taught by distinguished professors of his day. He also studied pharmacology and published two papers in 1917 and 1918 on the metabolism of quinine that serve as a testament to his expertise in the experimental method.
After graduation, he pursued several careers before turning to psychoanalysis. He remained as the staff of the University of Vienna Psychiatric and Neurological Institute clinics from 1920 to 1934, with the exception of one year, 1926, in which he undertook psychoanalytic training in Berlin to continue the training he had started in Vienna. In 1924, he published a paper that validated Freud’s theory of symbolization and demonstrated that mechanisms analogous to repression operate in putatively organic amnesias. This paper thrust Hartmann into psychoanalytic prominence.
Hartmann had arranged for a training (didactic) analysis in Berlin with Karl Abraham, however, because of Abraham’s premature death in 1925, the analysis never got started. In Berlin, Hartmann underwent his first psychoanalysis with Sandor Rado. In 1927, Hartmann published his textbook, Fundamentals of Psychoanalysis, the first such textbook, which eventually became a classic. He wrote it while in analysis with Rado. By the late 1920s, having moved back to Vienna, Hartmann had become a trusted member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute and grew to be the leading theoretician in orthodox psychoanalytic circles. As a theoretician, Hartmann developed an approach of first gaining theoretical distance from the clinical material, then defining its implications with exactness, striving to place it in the perspective of a scientific general psychology (Gitelson, 1965).
Hartmann married Dora Karplus in 1928; she was a pediatrician, who later become an analyst. Dora, the youngest of four children, came from a distinguished family of lawyers and professionals; her maternal great-uncle was Josef Breuer. Dora met Heinz while she was a medical school student at the University of Vienna, and he was a member of the medical faculty.
Although trained as an academic psychiatrist and as the staff of the University of Vienna Psychiatric Clinics, Hartmann grew to be deeply respectful of Freud’s contributions. However, Freud originally distrusted Hartmann, due to the psychiatric establishment’s ambivalence toward psychoanalysis. In 1934, Hartmann chose to resign his post at the University Clinic because of disagreements with the newly appointed head of the Clinic and political decisions made by a reactionary government. These would have forced him to compromise his personal and scientific principles in order to gain a professorship.
Anna Freud also was initially dubious of Hartmann’s concepts, but with her approval and under her auspices, Hartmann began to win converts to his enlargement of the ego’s role in adaptation. Although Hartmann was too academic for Freud’s taste, she recognized the need to innovate and cultivate creativity. When Hartmann left the University Clinic in Vienna, Adolph Meyer, the father of American psychiatry, offered him a position as full professor at Johns Hopkins Institute. To counter this possible move, Freud invited him to continue his training analysis, free of charge, if he would stay in Vienna. Hartmann accepted and entered his second analysis in 1934, which continued into 1936.
In 1937, Hartmann presented a paper before the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society entitled “Me.” This paper was later translated into English in 1958, asThe Ego and the Problem of Adaptation. This paper marks the beginning of Ego Psychology. With the Nazi annexation of Austria, Hartmann and his family moved first to Paris in 1938, where he joined the Paris Psychoanalytic Institute, and then to Geneva and later Lausanne, Switzerland, before settling in New York in January 1941. In Paris and Switzerland, the multilingual Heinz could work as a psychoanalyst. In New York, both Dora and Heinz passed the necessary foreign medical graduate licensure examinations. Dora, over Heinz’ objections, was analyzed by Ludwig Jekels, supervised by a long list of celebrated psychoanalysts, and became a psychoanalyst. Hartmann became a member of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and became a teacher and training analyst as he had been at the Vienna and Paris Institutes. As Freud’s heir apparent, he brought enormous prestige to the New York Institute and helped to heal its severe political infighting and nasty polarizing splits, but never became a public voice for popularizing psychoanalysis.
He collaborated with Rado in the editorship of theInternationale Zeitschrift fur Psychanalysefrom 1932 to 1941. In addition, he, along with Anna Freud and Ernst Kris, foundedThe Psychoanalytic Study of the Childin 1945 and was one of its managing editors. Later, Hartmann invited his Viennese colleagues Ruth S. Eissler and Rudolph M. Loewenstein to accept a coeditorship position forThe Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Hartmann’s work on ego psychology having just been published in theInternationale Zeitschrift fur Psychoanalyse, they found much common ground in the innovative material. In 1942, when the Loewensteins settled in New York, they found a gracious, hospitable Hartmann. Hartmann soon invited Loewenstein to teach at the Institute and even audited his course to give him pointers and feedback on teaching methods. Afterwards, Hartmann invited Lowenstein to join what was to be a 15-year collaboration with Ernst Kris (with the exception of 3 years after Kris’ death) in a variety of writing projects that extended the ego psychology themes Hartmann first laid out in 1937.
From 1948 to 1951 he was the Medical Director of the Treatment Center at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, from 1952 to 1954 as the President of the New York Psychoanalytic Society, and from 1953 to 1959 as the President of the International Psycho-Analytic Association and, succeeded Ernest Jones, as Honorary President until his death. The marriage with Dora lasted 42 years. He died suddenly in Stony Point, New York on May 17, 1970 at the age of 75 of coronary thrombosis, a disease that first afflicted him in 1944. Dora who never smoked, but who had a family history of lung cancer, died of the disease in 1974. Both were cremated and their remains buried in Fextal valley in Switzerland (Hartmann, 1994 , pp. 3–11).
Hartmann, who was fluent in German, French, and English, was devoted to music and was equally at home at the Louvre and the ancient ruins of Sicily. He lived a life of liberal humanism. His qualities as a human being were extraordinary. He was known and remembered for his theoretical ability, his brilliance as a teacher, intellectual acumen, his uncompromising integrity, his devotion to his family, and for his loyalty to orthodox psychoanalysis. He welcomed contributions from all fields as a way to encourage biopsychosocial thinking, awareness of cultural influence, and the propagation of developmental theory. He saw psychoanalysis as central to a general psychology (Eissler & Eissler, 1964 ; Eissler & Loewenstein, 1970) .
Remarkably, while Hartmann was the first and foremost formalistic theoretician, his writings from 1937 onward contain only meager illustrations of clinical application of his concepts and virtually no case examples. Apparently, as he associated increasingly with the ageing and dying Freud, Hartmann may have firmly identified with his withdrawn master’s increasing removal from clinical matters, turning to, and aligning himself with Freud’s theoretical abstractions, metapsychology, and the application of psychoanalysis to cultural and religious speculations (Roazen, 1984 , p. 518).
To appreciate the magnitude of the changes brought about by Hartmann’s contribution, we review briefly the impact of Freud’s publication ofThe Ego and the Idin 1923. In that work, Freud introduced a massive revision of his psychology. Prior to 1923, as we have seen, Freud’s positivist framework included nonsystematic statements about intrapsychic functioning subsequently gathered into five overlapping hypotheses: the economic, the topographic, the dynamic, the genetic, and the structural. Each of these hypotheses included statements about psychological elements in a functional relationship to each other. InThe Ego and the Id(1923b), Freud formulated the three-part structure of the mental apparatus: the id, ego, and superego (and the ego ideal). The progression in Freud’s thinking about the expanded roles of the ego and superego (and ego ideal) can be found inOn Narcissism: An Introduction(1914) and inGroup Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego(1921). This conceptualization that later came to be known as thestructural theorypermitted greater understanding of the individual’s negotiations with the external world and with interpersonal relationships in that world. The structural theory, however, was still closely linked with drive theory in that the ego was seen as drawing its energy from the id and developing as a result of frustration and conflict.
Hartmann’s legacy is that he drew attention to theadaptive point of viewand its role in development. The adaptive hypothesis stated that infants are preadapted to cope with the demands of the environment in which they are born. Both Freud and Hartman drew different inspirations from Darwin’s account of evolution. Freud emphasized the dark, archaic, instinctual relationship to other species, whereas Hartmann stressed the notion that animals were designed to adapt to the environment. Through the process of evolution, organisms interacted in a “continual reciprocal relationship” with their surroundings (Mitchell & Black, 1995 , p. 36). As the father of ego psychology, Hartmann was the psychological architect who moved the psychoanalytic enterprise beyond the intrapsychic focus of drive/defense and psychopathology to a general theory of human development. He moved psychoanalysis “from an isolated, self-contained treatment method to a sweeping intellectual discipline;” a discipline that indirectly encouraged contributions from nonpsychoanalytic sources (1995 , p. 35).
Even though the adaptive hypothesis can be considered a post-Freudian advance,it is very much an expansion and modification of ideas that Freud and his colleagues worked with in the aftermath of the horrors of the World War I. Following that war, Freud and his followers developed a deeply pessimistic perspective of human nature and emphasized the struggle to transform amoral primitive childhood urges into civilized adult behaviors and norms. In contrast, ego psychology took a different direction, as it began to take shape in the late 1930s both in Vienna and in England and was elaborated after the World War II mostly by expatriates who immigrated to the United States to escape Nazi persecution. Consistent with American optimism and the notion of unlimited opportunity, a sense of hopefulness about human nature took hold among psychoanalysts and a shift in attention from the chaotic id to the resilient possibilities of the ego received increasing attention. Berzoff and her colleagues (1996) state
“ego psychology encourages practitioners to think about the developmental processes across the life cycle, the unfolding of human capacities in response to the interaction between environmental influences and inborn developmental potentials, about the inborn forces that propel individuals toward ever more complex and goal-directed patterns of organization, and about the ways individuals either adapt to their social and physical environments or modify those environments to make them more compatible with personal needs and wishes.”