Paul Federn  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Paul Federn (October 13, 1871 - May 4, 1950) was an Austrian-American psychologist who was a native of Vienna. Federn is largely remembered for his theories involving ego psychology and therapeutic treatment of psychosis.

After earning his doctorate in 1895, he was an assistant in general medicine under Hermann Nothnagel (1841-1905) in Vienna. It was Nothnagel who introduced Federn to the works of Sigmund Freud. Federn was deeply influenced by Freud's Interpretation of Dreams, and in 1904 became devoted to the field of psychoanalysis. Along with Alfred Adler and Wilhelm Stekel, Federn was an early, important follower of Freud. In 1924 he became an official representative of Freud, as well as vice president of the Vienna Society. In 1938 Federn emigrated to the United States and settled in New York City, however it wouldn't be until 1946 that he would be officially recognized as a training analyst at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. In 1950, Paul Federn committed suicide following a recurrence of what he believed was incurable cancer.

In the late 1920s, Federn published important books such as "Some Variations in Ego-Feeling" and "Narcissism in the Structure of the Ego". In his works he elucidated upon the concepts of "ego states", "ego limits", "ego cathexis" and the median nature of narcissism. Although an ardent supporter of Freud's teachings, Federn's concept of the ego as experience coinciding with "ego feeling" was inconsistent with Freud's structural approach. Out of loyalty to his mentor, Federn had a tendency to downplay his own theories, even though the conclusions he reached were far different from Freud's.

Federn advocated an unorthodox approach concerning analysis of psychosis. He believed that a patients' attempt at integration should involve strengthening his defenses, while at the same time avoiding repressed material. He also believed that transference involving psychosis should not be analyzed, and that negative transference should be avoided. In regards to schizophrenic patients, he believed that their egos possessed insufficient cathectic energy, and that it was a lack rather than an excess of narcissistic libido that caused a psychotic individuals' difficulties with the object.

Federn was also interested in social psychology. In a 1919 work titled "Zur Psychologie der Revolution: die Vaterlose Gesellschaft", he explains the challenge to authority by the post-World War I generation as unconscious parricide whose goal is to create a "fatherless society".

Although Federn's psychoanalytical theories had limited influence, he had several important followers in Europe and America.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Paul Federn" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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